Ways To Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking

Public speaking has never been in my comfort zone.Scared woman biting lip

 

My heart starts to race a little even during those short and sweet roundtable sort of elevator introductions we’re so often expected to deliver when attending a new professional group or meeting.

 

What’s with that?

 

I had performed on stage in theater productions all through high school, throughout my four years in college, and in community theater. Shouldn’t public speaking be easy?

 

It’s not.

 

When put in “in the spotlight” situations, I inwardly freak out a little every time.

 

Just last week, as a sponsor of a chamber of commerce program, I presented the Business & Technology Student of the Month Award to a senior at one of the local high schools. As part of that presentation, I was expected to stand in front of the class and talk about my business and answer questions.

 

Those same all-familiar nerves picked at me throughout my entire 10 minutes center stage.

 

Do you get those crazy butterflies and anxiety about speaking in front of a group like I do? The odds are you do.

 

According to Statistic Brain, the National Institute of Mental Health’s research in 2013 indicates that 75 percent of people suffer from speech anxiety.

 

That’s three out of every four of us!

 

Note that this number has been challenged by Richard Garber who blogs extensively on public speaking. According to information Garber has found, approximately 21.2% of U.S. adults have a fear of public speaking and 10.7% have a phobia of public speaking. Check out his post, which calls out the stats that are being used in articles everywhere.

 

In either case, we’re not alone in our suffering from fear of public speaking.

 

But what makes standing up and talking in front of people so doggone scary?

 

In an article on Psychology Today’s website, Glenn Croston shares, “When faced with standing up in front of a group, we break into a sweat because we are afraid of rejection.”

 

That makes sense to me. While we may not be consciously thinking, “I hope they don’t reject me,” we fear messing up or looking foolish. Or at least I do when I’m putting my personal self out there.

 

So how can we get past our anxiety and feel more at ease with public speaking?

 

I’ve searched for and found some articles that provide what seems to be some very sound advice for those of us with nagging cases of glossophobia. Here they are along with one tip from each that I found particularly helpful or interesting:

 

Five Tips For Reducing Public Speaking Nervousness – “Whether you’re good at public speaking or not has nothing to do with your value as a person. It’s simply a skill that you can learn and become better at with practice.”

 

Thirty Ways To Manage Speaking Anxiety – “Eat for success–foods containing tryptophan (dairy products, turkey, salmon) and complex carbohydrates tend to calm the body. Eliminate caffeine, sweets, and empty calories.”

 

Eleven Easy Ways To Finally Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking – “Slow and measured breathing is a sign that you’re in control. Before you go to the front of the room, concentrate on taking a few, slow breaths. Repeat this a few times. When you start to speak, remember to pause and breathe after you make a point.”

 

7 Little Tricks To Speak In Public With No Fear – “All you have to do is admit that you are a bit nervous speaking to your audience. When you do this, the audience will be more forgiving if your nervousness shows up later on.”

 

How I (Finally) Got Over My Fear Of Public Speaking – “Even if you feel you’re not entirely ready, actively seek out speaking opportunities and take each one that comes your way, whether it’s simply presenting to a few colleagues or giving a talk to a room of 30 people.”

 

Of course, each of these articles offers other tips as well, so dig in and take note of some things you’d like to remember and try the next time you’re faced with speaking to a group. I hope that in my quest to be more comfortable with public speaking I’ve helped you, too.

 

If you’re one of the lucky folks who either doesn’t have a fear of public speaking or who has overcome it, please share your tips and tricks in a comment.

 

Thanks for reading! — Dawn

 

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

3 Facts About Self-Employment Your Friends And Family Probably Won’t Believe

When a national corporation bought the regional telecommunications company where I worked for 17 years, my position was among the nearly 60 percent of Realitythose company-wide that were eliminated. Rather than look for a job at another company, I decided to go the self-employed route.

I was excited, motivated, and yes, a little frightened. Some friends and family members were supportive. Some didn’t quite get it.

Sound familiar?

Now that I’ve been making a successful go of it for the past five years, pretty much everyone in my life has grown comfortable with my present career path. But it has required ongoing effort to help people closest to me understand what I do—and why I do it.

Here are some of the truths about your self-employed status that the people in your life might not understand or accept when you’re first getting started:

 

Working From Home Isn’t Unemployment.

For serious solopreneurs, self-employment isn’t a way to kill time until they find a “real job.” While some people might do it because they don’t believe they have other options, many choose the path for the flexibility, autonomy, and income potential. According to The Solopreneur Life’s annual survey in 2014, 82.8 percent of respondents said they have at least a bachelor’s degree; 38.5 percent attained master’s degrees; and 4.3 percent are PhDs. Most solopreneurs are well-educated and most likely could find a job working for an organization if they’d really want to.

You’re Running A Business Even Though You Don’t Have Employees.

Although you don’t have multiple departments or a payroll to manage, you’re operating a bona fide small business. You’re the person responsible for your accounting, marketing, sales, administrative duties, and more. And you pay taxes (a lofty amount!) on your business’s net income. In many respects, you have more responsibility and accountability as a self-employed person than you would have working for someone else.

Your Time On Social Media Has A Purpose.

You MUST spend time—a good bit of time—on social media networks to build your business. People I know have made comments to me to the effect of, “It must be nice to play on social media whenever you want,” or “Are you always on social media?” Besides my personal Facebook page (which I don’t really spend all that much time on), my presence on other online channels is part of my marketing strategy. People who only use social media for personal purposes have a hard time wrapping their heads around the frequency and consistency required to use it successfully in a professional context. Don’t feel guilty about using social media! But do stay focused on delivering quality content to your followers, concentrate on building professional relationships, and don’t get sidetracked by watching too many cute kitty cat videos.

Realize Your Efforts To Bust The Myths May Not Be Easy—Or Successful.

As you demonstrate your self-discipline and your ability to make a living wage in your business, you’ll likely gain the support of most of the skeptics in your life. But prepare to see some relationships drift away. Your interests—and your circle of friends—will change to some degree when you’re in business for yourself.

Self-employment is an adventure in professional and personal evolution.

Do your best to help people understand that, but realize not everyone will come to terms with it or stick with you for the entire journey.

Thanks for reading! You probably know this already, but you can subscribe to my blog via RSS or email so you’re notified about new posts. And don’t forget to connect with me on social media. I’d love to meet up with  you there, too!

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 Sure-Fire Ways To Push Your Social Media Followers Away From Your Brand

Jeff Bullas recently wrote a blog post suggesting twenty things you should share on social media to strengthen the connection between your brand and your Woman with thumbs downaudience.

Without a doubt, that’s info businesses can use to boost their engagement and build a positive social presence.

But don’t forget that just as there’s social media sharing that can benefit your business, there’s sharing that can work against it, too.

One Key Thing All Self-Employed Professionals Need To Remember About Social Media

As solopreneurs and small business owners, our personal social media accounts and our business accounts are entwined and associated with each other in the minds of our clients, vendors, colleagues, employees, and competitors. What we say and share as our personal selves reflects on our businesses.

You’ve probably noticed that some people don’t know where to draw the line. They over share or share things that potentially anger or alienate their followers. They seem clueless, not taking the time to think through the consequences, or they simply don’t care because, after all, they have a right to say whatever they want.

Want to risk turning people away from your business instead of drawing them to it? I’ve listed some ideas about what you can do on social media to accomplish that. These are things that make me cringe as I scan my feeds.

4 Things To Share On Social Media If You Want To Push Away Your Audience

“Woe Is Me”

Constant complainers are downers. We all have bad days, but venting on every little grievance can make you look like a whiner. It gets old. Fast.

Political Soapboxing

We’ll be seeing a good deal more of this soon as the 2016 presidential election approaches. While you don’t need to keep your affiliation a secret, blasting out politically biased posts won’t endear you to your entire audience. According to Gallup’s poll numbers from Feb. 8 to Feb.11, 2015, the split between the percentage of Republicans (43%) and Democrats (44%) in the U.S. (including independents leaning one way or the other) is rather even. So while nearly half of your followers might agree with your views, you can figure the other half don’t. And you’re not likely to change their minds.

Indirect Cowardly Call-Outs

They go something like this: “If you were my friend, you wouldn’t talk behind my back. I won’t name names, but you know who you are.” These often have a “woe is me” tone and seem to exist for the purpose of launching a pity party. If you—and you know who you are—have a problem with someone, go talk with them directly rather than initiate a public shaming.

Griping About Clients And Vendors

While it might feel good to vent, making statements that air issues you have with clients or vendors (even when you don’t single anyone out) can kill your credibility. Late payers, bad communicators, and disorganized project partners happen. Social media isn’t the place to address those things. Existing clients and vendors will wonder if you’re referring to them, and you’ll make prospects think twice about doing business with you.

What you choose to share on social media is your call. But when you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, realize expressing yourself can affect how people think about your business. Before you share on social media sites, and before you react to posts by others, take a second to ask yourself, “What’s my motivation?”

 

Hey! Are we connected on social media yet? Let’s fix that! Follow me via clicking on the social icons on my site that link to my profiles, and let me know if you’ve got business social media profiles. I’ll be happy to reciprocate! All my best—Dawn

 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why Your Small Business Needs a Freelance Writer’s Help

Anything and everything you write in representing your business makes an impression. Your ability to project your capabilities and competence can either build Freelance writercustomer confidence or tear it down.

 

How well do you represent your business in your written communications?

Are you…

  • Interesting and engaging?
  • Professional, yet approachable?
  • Clear and concise?
  • Consistent with your messaging in all your communications?
  • Able to create new content at a pace that keeps up with your competition?

Answering “no” to any of the above might indicate you could benefit from contracting a freelance writer to help you.

But don’t worry; you’re not alone.

According to a 2013 Content Marketing Institute study:

  • Fifty-four percent of small businesses said producing the kind of content that engages is a challenge. Twenty-one percent said that’s their biggest challenge.
  • Sixty-four percent of small businesses said producing enough content is a challenge. Twenty-six percent said that’s their biggest challenge.

Note that “content” can mean more than the published written word, but almost all forms of content need good writing as their foundation.

How Could A Freelance Writer Help You?

Your small business relies on the written word more than you probably realize.

Let’s take inventory.

  • Website pages
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Social media profiles
  • E-newsletters
  • Video scripts
  • Radio commercial scripts
  • Brochures
  • Direct mail postcards
  • Newspaper ads
  • Product and services descriptions
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Magazine articles
  • Text for Infographics
  • Customer service emails
  • Sales letters
  • Marketing emails
  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Follow-up emails to contact form inquiries

I could go on and on and on!

You Haven’t Worked With A Freelance Writer? What’s Stopping You?

As a freelance writer, I know well the arguments against using one.

Fear Of Cutting The Cord

What keeps a lot of small business owners from tapping the talent and know-how of freelance writers is concern over handing their communications over to an outsider. How could a writer possibly know where to begin and how to convey what’s important in a way that sounds like the business?

Make no mistake. When you get a writer’s assistance, you still need to be actively involved. As a writer, I rely on my clients to:

  • Tell me the features and benefits they want to showcase.
  • Share about their company culture and approach to business (casual, formal, edgy, etc.).
  • Share about their target audience.
  • Explain their goals and expectations for specific projects.
  • Provide examples of past communications pieces.
  • Share informational resources they think I should review before beginning a project.

So you see, you’re not completely abdicating your role in your business communications. You won’t be out of touch.

Doling Out Dollars

You might also shy away from hiring a freelance writer because of the cost involved. Yes, you’ll need to part with some dollars, but that money will be well spent.

The help of a freelance writer can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend writing content. For example, how long does it take you to struggle through a 500-word blog post? While it might take you three or four or five hours to get the job done, a skilled, proficient freelance writer can conquer it in a fraction of the time.

Think about what your time is worth. If you hire a freelance writer, you can spend more of it tending to responsibilities that absolutely need your direct attention.

Plus, many writers will work with you if you need to stay within a certain budget. For example, writers might cut you a break on their hourly or project rates if you’re willing to sign a retainer-type agreement that guarantees them income/work for a period of time.

And know that getting the help of a writer doesn’t require an “all or nothing” arrangement. You can keep your costs down if you can provide a rough draft or key details for inclusion so the writer doesn’t need to do as much—or any— research.

Finding A Really Good, Reliable Freelance Writer For A Fair Rate

The operative word here is “fair.” Fair doesn’t mean “cheap.” You can find plenty of writers who work for next to nothing on platforms like Elance and ODesk, but exercise caution when applying “bargain basement” mentality to finding a writing professional. Reputable writers typically will not write a blog post for $1 or $5 or $10 or $25. Writers’ rates vary depending on a number of factors like years of experience, length of posts, complexity of subject matter, research involved, and others.

So where can you go to find a writer you can trust to project your brand’s value?

LinkedIn – Search for professionals with the terms copywriter, freelance writer, or writer.

Other Social Media – Writers with marketing chops will make efforts to stand out on platforms like Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, etc. Search for “freelance writer,” “copywriter,” or “writer” to find relevant profiles and post an update asking your connections if they know of any great writers within their networks.

Local Networking Groups – Ask your area chambers of commerce and other structured networking organizations to make recommendations.

Other Business Professionals – If you notice that a company has exceptional copy, ask the owner or other manager who does their writing. They might be willing to share the writer’s contact info (assuming it’s not one of their employees).

Job Sites Like Elance, ODesk, and Guru – There are quality writers on these platforms. As I said earlier, don’t confuse cheap with value. Good writers typically won’t work for anything resembling minimum wage.

Keep in mind different writers have different specialties and strengths. A single freelance writer might not be able to serve all of your writing needs so carefully consider the types of communications you’ll need help with. Then seek a writer—or writers—who have demonstrated proficiency and experience with those kinds of projects.

And before you work with a writer, ask to see writing samples and for names of references who can vouch for not only the quality of their work, but also their collaborative nature. Some writers are easier to work with than others. Some are very communicative through the process, while others seem to disappear leaving you without really knowing where your project stands. Some take revision requests personally and become defensive, while others realize it’s part of creative process to craft content that best projects your small business brand.

What To Expect When You Work With A Freelance Writer

All writers have their own M.O. (modus operandi), but generally you can expect a writer to:

  1. Ask questions about the project to determine the scope of work, deadline, who else will be involved, who will be approving the content, methods of communicating about the project details, etc.
  2. Send you a proposal/contract with rates, down payment requirements/billing details, terms, conditions, scope of work, flow of work, deadline, communication methods, etc.
  3. Ask you detailed questions designed to draw out information needed for specific parts of the project.
  4. Send you draft content for your review and feedback.
  5. Send you revised content if you’ve asked for changes.

Final Thoughts As You Consider Freelance Writing Help For Your Small Business

While working with a freelance writer might be uncharted territory for you, you’ll quickly learn to enjoy the freedom to focus on other things. Not everyone can—or should—write. If your talents lie elsewhere, why spend more time than you have to on something you can so easily outsource.

A freelance writer, although not hired as a company employee, can become a valuable and indispensable member of your team who helps you succeed in communicating what makes your small business brand so special.

 

Over to you: Have you worked with freelance writers in your business? Please share your experience!

 

Oh, and if you’re looking for a freelance writer to help you get and keep the attention of your customers and prospects, let’s talk!

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Common Sense Tips For Using Humor In Your Blog Posts

We all love to laugh. But our individual tastes in humor vary—often considerably.Man laughing hard

Think about it. You’ve probably encountered moments when…

  • you laughed hysterically at a punch line on a sitcom, while your significant other managed a quiet and solitary, “Ha.”
  • you and a friend compared notes on the latest big screen comedy, and your reviews weren’t exactly in sync.
  • you cracked a one-liner that had you doubled over and in tears while those around you remained unamused.

As awkward as a mismatched sense of humor can be on a personal level, it can create reader perception problems for your business if you’re not careful when attempting to infuse laughs into your blog content.

How Can You Keep Your Attempts At Humor In Your Blog From Falling Flat?

My latest guest post on the TDS Biz Blog shares why humor is a slippery slope and how you can maintain your footing when incorporating it into your posts.


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

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Our Accessibility: Benefit or Bane to Solopreneurs and Small Biz Owners?

Accessibility. It has its advantages and disadvantages for solopreneurs and small business owners. The numerous Brand-New-Laptop-Tablet-And-Smartphone-by-stockimagesmodes of communication available to us give us many opportunities to consistently interact with our clients, prospects, family and friends. But always being within reach can also exhaust and overwhelm us.

 

How can I contact you? Let me count the ways…

It’s exciting – and almost dizzying – to think about how many ways people can communicate with us. It wasn’t all that long ago when face to face, phone, and email were the only line items on the list of ways to ask questions, follow up on inquiries, and make deals.

 

Now, someone could ask you to bid on a project through any one of many possible channels of communication:

 

  • Face to face
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Contact form on your website
  • Your blog (in comments)
  • Facebook (messages or in a post on your business page)
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter (via a mention or a direct message)
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Text message on your phone
  • Instant Message

 

 

All of these touch points open the door to opportunities – some are especially significant because they can impel people to act in the moment and contact you immediately. Provided you’re able to respond quickly, you can glean new business or gain referrals that way.

 

The downside to extreme accessibility…

The drawback to being highly accessible is you need to monitor all of your communication channels every day, several times each day so you’re aware of when important messages arrive. If you don’t, you could miss opportunities or fail to address urgent matters before they escalate into emergencies.

 

Accessiblity requires follow up and follow through! And the pressure is on. Especially when expectations of a fast response are high. Did you know that 42% of people expect brands to respond to questions and issues posted on social media within one hour (via a post by Jay Baer on Convince & Convert)? Yikes!

 

And you can never assume a channel isn’t worth paying attention to. I can attest to that…

Typically, my direct message inbox on Twitter consists of auto-responses from other Twitter users thanking me for following them. They’re annoying so I tune them out until I have a collection built up – at which point I delete every single one. Again, that’s typically the nature of DMs; but there are exceptions. Last year, I missed out on a project when I failed to check my Twitter DMs for 2 days. A writer, for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, had left a DM asking me if I’d be available to work on an assignment she was managing. I discovered the DM too late, and I missed the opportunity. Had I checked my DMs every day, I might have landed that work. Live and learn!

 

How to make sure accessibility works for you, not against you…

 

  • Put a plan in place for monitoring your communications channels.

    Some channels require more attention than others because of how likely you are to receive messages through them and because of how quickly people expect you to respond. Consider setting some “rules of response” for each medium. For example, you might commit to responding to emails within 24 hours, non-emergency phone calls within 6 hours, social media mentions or messages within 3 hours, etc. Of course, you’ll need to set those standards according to your own capabilities and clients’ needs.

To make sure you’re covering all the bases every day, try reserving time on your calendar (as repeat appointments) daily for checking messages on your various channels. That will also help prevent you from feeling the need to constantly check social media and email when you should be working on billable projects.

 

  • Set the precedent for what methods of communications you prefer.

Let clients and colleagues know what channels of communication will work best when collaborating with you. For example, I prefer receiving requirements and information needed for writing projects via email or through a project management app. It’s clumsy and inefficient for me to receive info like that via text messages or through social media. And while I like to confirm and get clarification on details by phone, I don’t like to communicate that way to gather the bulk of what I need.

 

Of course, you’ll want to make things convenient for your clients as well. And you will by establishing a routine for working together. Your projects and working relationships will flow much more smoothly if you’re exchanging information and ideas in a uniform way rather than inconsistently using multiple networks to communicate. Setting a precedent will also help alleviate misunderstandings and prevent things from slipping through the cracks.

 

  • Set boundaries.

As important as it is to make yourself accessible to prospects and clients, you may also need to set limits around your availability. Unless your business is one that deals with anything as dire as life or death situations, do clients really need to call you at 11 p.m. (unless they’re across the globe in a different time zone)? Is it necessary for them to shoot you a text for a non-urgent question that could be effectively responded to via email?

 

Yes, you have an obligation to serve your customers, and it’s mutually beneficial to serve them exceptionally well. But you can excel at that without being at anyone’s beck and call 24/7. You’re a business owner, but you also have a life!

 

How has your heightened accessibility presented opportunities and challenges for you in your business? Are there any modes of communication that have proven most demanding or difficult to control?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

 

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Ways Texting with Clients Can Hurt Your Business

Lots of businesses have started using text messages to keep customers informed about special deals and to creatively Business woman reading text messageenhance the customer service experience. This article on Inc.com shares the ways businesses can use texting effectively. When implemented with control and purpose, texting can be a boon for business.

But if you’re a solopreneur,  incoming texts from customers can be a distraction.

In his blog post, “Another Tax Season Down — 2014 Tax Season Recap,” Jason Dinesen of Dinesen Tax & Accounting, P.C. shared some notable challenges with texting that I suspect other solopreneurs are experiencing, too:

Clients sending excessive texts and clients sending texts when they should be communicating via other means.

I find texts from clients acceptable and helpful when they’re sharing they’re running behind schedule for an appointment or if they want to see if I’m available for a quick, unscheduled call. But texting beyond that can become problematic.

The Issues with Text Messages from Clients:

    • Expectations for an immediate response to non-emergency issues – People expect text messages to be answered more instantaneously than email. When we text, we usually do it because we want to communicate quickly. We text when we’re running late for an appointment. We text while we’re at the grocery store to ask whether our kid wants original or Cool Ranch Doritos (Important, right?). As a solopreneur, you can’t always respond to texts of a non-emergent nature immediately. That could disappoint or even anger clients.

 

    • They’re disruptive – Think about it, if all of your clients start texting you about this or that throughout the course of the day, you’re getting pulled away from your real work every time you hear that ding or buzz from your phone calling out to you. And then there will be the texts that arrive during dinnertime with the family, at midnight, or some other obscene hour of the day when you need some much-deserved time away from your business.

 

    • Important info could slip through the cracks – If clients send you important information via text, it’s not as easy for you to save and file it with all the rest of the details about their account and projects. I’d be less than thrilled if a client were to send me notes about the key points they want included in a new brochure or on their website via a text message. With texts, the details live on your phone and are separated from the rest of what you have on file about your client. Although apps that enable you to send text messages to email (Google Play’s Email My Texts App for $4.90 and iPhone’s Messages app), you’re still stuck doing extra work to keep your act together.

 

How do you set text messaging boundaries with clients?

If you present clients with a service agreement that lists your policies and procedures, you might consider adding verbiage to address text messaging. If you don’t have such an agreement in place, you can try explaining to clients that you’d prefer them to contact you by email  (or call or whatever you prefer).

Another option: ignore the text initially. Don’t text back. Pretend that the text was actually an email, and then send an email (not a text) with the subject: “Following up on your text message.” Make sure that the timing of the email response is in line with how long it would have typically taken you to respond to your client had she sent an email in the first place. Then, of course, mention corresponding by email works best and ensures no important information will get overlooked while you’re working together.

You’re in control

You might find it challenging to keep texting with clients under control, but ultimately your actions will set the precedent for how you communicate with your clients. The key is to be clear about how you want to communicate, and stay consistent in how you communicate and how you respond (or don’t respond) to clients’ text messages.

Your turn! What’s your take on accepting text messages from clients?

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Four-Letter Word I’m Removing From My Business Vocabulary

Can you guess what it is?

B – U – S – Y

Perhaps not what you were expecting, but that’s the one: “Busy”Strikethrough of "busy"

The reason? We use…no, we OVER use…it to such a large degree it has become nearly void of meaning. Ask someone how their week was: “It was busy!” Ask someone how work is going: “I’m so busy!”

Busy, busy, busy. We’re all busy in our own minds, and we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve lost all sensitivity to and sympathy for the busyness of others. I don’t think most of us even empathize with other busy people because we always think we’re busier than they are. I know I am. You probably are, too.

Banning “busy”

I’ve decided that no matter how hectic or crowded my professional and personal plates get, I will no longer refer to my schedule’s condition as “busy.”

That doesn’t mean I won’t let people know if I’m unavailable to attend a meeting or work on an assignment; it just means I will choose other words to more meaningfully express my situation. Something like, “I’m sorry, but I have other commitments this week. Could we look at some alternate dates toward the end of  next week?”

Saying you’re busy means nothing because “busy” is relative. We all have different tolerance levels for taking on responsibilities. Others will have a greater understanding of – and maybe even an appreciation –  for your workload and schedule conflicts if you communicate your busyness in other terms.

No more “busy” starts today

Starting today, I hereby banish the word “busy” from my vocabulary. If you catch me using it to describe my present or future calendar’s condition, I expect you to call me out on it.

Not only will banning “busy” result in more accurate conveyance of my working availability, I expect it might also alleviate some stress. Ever notice how just thinking about how busy you are seems to push your blood pressure to the ceiling?

Unfortunately, eliminating busy from your pool of acceptable words won’t remove tasks and projects from your schedule, but I expect it could remove the propensity to think so much about how busy you are. And that could free your brain to better focus and accomplish more in less time so you’ll be less busy all the time. Here’s hoping anyway!

 

Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post
By Dawn Mentzer

 

4 “Un” Words to Remove from your Small Business Vocabulary

Words wield power. While we pay a lot of attention to them in our marketing efforts, it’s easy to forget the words weUnnecessary - Un words to remove from small biz vocabulary (and sometimes others) use in our thoughts and when we talk about our businesses have an impact, too. Some words lead us to self-defeat. Some lead us to grandiose expectations of our capabilities. Either situation can indirectly and subconsciously cause us to sabotage our own businesses.

 

Four “Un” Words to Undo in Your Small Business

Unable
Get over it – you can do this! Especially when you’re in the early stages of starting your business, you’ll encounter people who are a constant source of dark clouds. They’ll make you doubt yourself and your abilities. Ignore the naysayers who provide no constructive criticism or suggestions. Assuming you’ve done your due diligence before starting your business, focus on the strengths you have and the opportunities available to you. Forge forward and prove you are able through your progressive success.

Unaware
While you can’t believe everything you read online, the internet hosts credible resources on every aspect of business under the sun and moon. Seriously, there’s no reason not to have a working knowledge (or find out who does) of marketing, tax responsibilities, business bookkeeping, social media, sales, productivity tools, etc. Read reputable business blogs to boost your awareness on topics, and reach out for expert assistance if you don’t have the skills or know-how to take care of certain aspects of your business on your own. With so many local experts online, you don’t need to consult someone six states away if you’d rather have a sit-down face-to-face meeting with a professional your friends and neighbors know.

Unafraid
It’s OK to sometimes feel a degree of fearfulness in business. Not paralyzing fear, but a healthy sense of concern can help keep you on your toes. Note that motivation can’t come from fear alone, but it can serve to complement your efforts to build a successful business. It can drive you to put necessary checks and balances in place to ensure your business is doing things the right way. And it can  push you to be ever vigilant about making improvements to serve customers better. Fear can make you feel grateful, not cocky, when things are going your way.

Unbeatable
Speaking of cocky…never ever get too comfortable in your position over your competition. Inflated self-confidence is the key ingredient in complacency. Complacency breeds laziness and lack of caring. Your business needs you to care no matter how much success seems to be on auto pilot. Regardless of how well things are going, you need to constantly look for ways to improve and take the initiative to do business better. Why? Because your customers deserve it…and your competition is!

What other “un” words do you think solopreneurs and small biz owners should unfasten from their business vocabulary?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

The One Thing ALL Small Businesses Need to Communicate

As a small business owner or solopreneur, your communications skills – or lack of – can directly affect your bottom line.Lady using tablet Professionals with a flair for engaging people and getting their message across clearly have more success in building relationships and converting leads to clients. Some people seem to be born with those interpersonal gifts,  but what if they don’t come quite as naturally to you?

Don’t be discouraged! You don’t have to be an accomplished writer, polished speaker or master networker to communicate effectively.  By ensuring that one single element is at the foundation of all your business interactions, you can set the stage for people wanting to learn more about your brand – and put the odds in your favor of gaining and retaining loyal clients.

Respect!

Whether you’re interacting with prospects by phone, in person, through email, via your blog, or on social media, demonstrate respect for your audience.

Put respect at the center of all you do when interacting with your prospects, clients and colleagues…

  • Respect their time.
    Be prepared.  Think things through. Be organized and have purpose so you communicate what your audience needs to know without going on tangents that waste their precious time.
  • Respect their intellect.
    Although you might know more about something than they do, check your tone and approach so you’re not perceived as condescending. Also, ask them for their insight, opinions, and feedback whenever appropriate.
  • Respect their need to take things slow.
    Never ever be pushy about selling your wares! While hard-sell/now-or-never tactics may have worked in the past when all we knew was one-way, push marketing, they’re now annoying and a turn-off to most people. Especially as a professional services business owner, you’ll find it can take months or sometimes years to nurture relationships that turn prospects into clients. Sometimes it’s because they view your offerings as more of a luxury than a need. Sometimes it’s because they have budget constraints. Sometimes they’re just so busy running their businesses they don’t have time to really think about working with you. Be patient. And stay top of mind (social media makes this so very easy!) so when they are ready or need the services you provide, you’ll be the one they call without hesitation.

Communicate with respect…and you’ll gain respect for you as a professional and for your brand.

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net