“Do Not Give Up. The Beginning is Always the Hardest.” – Fortune Cookie

It’s been a while since crafted a “Fortune Cookie Friday” post! For those of you not familiar, Fortune Cookie Friday Fortune cookie-April 2013involves me unwrapping – and interpreting within a small business context – the so often overlooked nuggets of knowledge inside one of those folded confections that accompany takeout Asian cuisine.

Today’s fortune: Do not give up. The beginning is always the hardest.

Could this have been any easier? This fortune is about as relevant to solopreneurs as you can get.

Starting out as a solopreneur or small business owner IS difficult. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re blowing smoke. Among the challenges that small start-ups face…

  • Getting others to see you as an entrepreneur instead of a [insert former position/career path].
  • Not having a consistent flow of income.
  • Funding of all the start-up essentials needed to get up and running.
  • Gaining traction in your networking endeavors.
  • Building a social media following beyond your BFFs.
  • Gaining leads’ confidence in that you’re every bit as good – and better – than your competitors who have been in the game longer.
  • Figuring out how to grow your billable hours and keep up with all of your other business responsibilities, too
  • Weeding through all of the marketing opportunities available and zeroing in on those that will give you the best results for your time and money.

And depending on your specific situation and type of business, you could probably add all sorts of new and different bullet points to the list.

But if you’re thinking of starting out as a solopreneur, don’t be discouraged! Self-employment has its perks as well. Among them…

  • Flexibility with your schedule.
  • The professional and personal satisfaction of building your brand.
  • New connections and meaningful friendships with others in the business community.
  • No dealing with petty corporate cliques.
  • The freedom to choose the professional learning and development opportunities you’re interested in and can gain the most from.
  • The freedom to choose your customers.
  • Increased self-confidence.
  • The sky is the limit! With time, talent, use of the right resources, and a lot of hard work, you can accomplish your goals.

So, yes, the beginning is the hardest when you start a small business, but keep your eye on the prize. Growth and success don’t come easily, but they do come to those who are willing to put forth the effort, who aren’t afraid to expend energy to the cause, and who can adapt to change.

What can you add to the challenges and perks of starting a small business?

Fortune Cookie Friday: “Good news will come to you by mail.” – But you need to work for it!

The first Friday in June has arrived – and with it, another Fortune Cookie Friday! Time to explore the wisdom within…

 

“Good news will come to you by mail.”

Well, that sounds promising! But in business, good news isn’t generally something that comes from out of the blue without any sort of effort behind the scenes to make it happen. As solopreneurs, we have to give good news a jump start. We have to pave the way for good news to reach us.

How can you set the foundation for good news to come your way?

  • Do your homework to make sure your services and products are fulfilling a want or need in the market.
  • Network to build relationships and establish respect for – and trust in – your brand.
  • Be responsive to client inquiries and feedback.
  • Go the extra mile to be a source of information and tips that will help others succeed.
  • Make use of your social media channels and email to do all of the above, but don’t rely on them completely. Communicate through phone calls and face-to-face meetings whenever possible, too.
  • Be fair to your customers – and to your business – in your pricing.
  • Be patient.
  • Genuinely care about what you do every day; it will show, and people will notice.

Do all of these, and good news will surely arrive!

What do you do to boost the volume of good news that flows your way? 


Dialing 8 Project

Consider joining the Dialing 8 Project! A forum for learning, sharing & getting the most out of your social media efforts for your small business.

 

Fortune Cookie Friday: “Your principles mean more to you than any money or success.”

Friday at last! And time for another Fortune Cookie Friday interpretation of a folded confection’s inner wisdom.Fortune Cookie wisdom

 

“Your principles mean more to you than any money or success.”

By definition, according to Merriam Webster, a principle is “a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption.”

We all have principles, but I doubt that most of us give them the attention of our conscious thought. In fact, I don’t recall ever really sitting down to take inventory of the “comprehensive and fundamental laws, doctrines, and assumptions” that guide me in my personal and professional life. What about you?

Principles run in the background for the most part. They subconsciously keep us on track ethically and they drive our motivation. As solopreneurs and small business owners, most of us strive for some level of money and success. But obtaining either of those is far greater if you’ve got principles like these guiding your efforts:

  • Work hard to achieve.
  • Welcome new ideas and approaches.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Accept responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Aim to deliver excellence in all you do.
  • Always look for ways to improve and grow.
  • Be involved to make a difference in your community.

Your underlying principles might be similar; they might be different. Either way, you’ve got some whether you’ve pointedly thought about them or not. Why not take a few minutes to reflect on them and how they’re driving your efforts at work and at home?

I’d love to hear from you! Comment here to share your guiding principles. Do we have any in common?


Dialing 8 Project

Consider joining the Dialing 8 Project! A forum for learning, sharing & getting the most out of your social media efforts for your small business.

Fortune Cookie Friday: “You always bring others happiness.”

Another Friday…another interpretation of a fortune cookie’s inner wisdom. Fortune cookie

 “You always bring others happiness.”

As I think about it, I really, really do like making people happy. I think most people do. And if you’re a solopreneur or freelancer, pleasing clients is one solid way to increase the likelihood of your business thriving and surviving.

What are some of the ways you can make – and keep – your clients happy?

  • Produce quality work – consistently!
  • Be responsive. If at all possible, never let an email to a client go unanswered for more than 24 hours.
  • Show gratitude. Let your clients know that you appreciate them.
  • Support them on social media. Like, comment and share their posts on Facebook. Retweet or favorite their tweets. +1, comment and share their Google+ posts. Comment on their blog articles. The possibilities for generating good will are virtually endless!
  • Recommend their products and services to others.
  • Be accessible. Make sure that they know you’re open to answering questions and exploring new ways that you might serve their needs.

No rocket science involved here; just common sense and awareness of how the little things can make a big difference in nurturing business relationships.

Your turn! What can you add to the list? What ways do you delight clients and keep them coming back?


Dialing 8 Project

Consider joining the Dialing 8 Project! A forum for learning, sharing & getting the most out of your social media efforts for your small business.
Image: Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Best Prophet of the Future is the Past? Not always!

Another Fortune Cookie Friday is upon us! For those of you not yet familiar, every other Friday or so, I take theFortune Cookie Wisdom: The best prophet of the future is the past. profound wisdom found within a fortune cookie and interpret its meaning relative to thriving and surviving as a solo small business owner.

Today’s thought to ponder: “The best prophet of the future is the past.”

Do you agree? I’m 50/50 on this one! Yes, history can – and often does – repeat itself. But I believe that we, as entrepreneurs, control whether it does or does not.

Play it again, Sam

When something’s working in your business, you naturally keep doing it. In this sense, the past certainly does dictate your future actions and predict the outcomes you would expect. So don’t be on a mission to fix what isn’t broken – but always be open to making changes that can bring even better results. Even the best practices can get stale over time, so keep an open mind to fresh ideas.

Lesson learned

As a business owner, you’re going to make some mistakes. Whenever you do, you have 2 courses of action to choose from:

a. Don’t admit it, blame someone else, and/or ignore its impact.

or

b. Accept responsibility, consider its effects and make a change

History will certainly repeat itself if you choose a. Sticking your head in the sand (or other comparable places), pointing the finger at someone else, and dismissing the ill effects or lack of results as “bad luck” will put you in a vicious cycle of poor decisions.

On the other hand, holding yourself accountable, carefully evaluating what went wrong and why, and recognizing how it has hindered your business will lead you to making positive changes. And that will stop bad history in its tracks!

Final thoughts from an Insatiable Solopreneur

None of us are perfect. None of us will ever be. But, when we accept that and open ourselves to improvement, we can be in control of our potential and our ability to succeed.

What do you think? How much control do you believe you have in your future as an entrepreneur? Does history always repeat itself?