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

Nixing Negativity for the Good of Your Business

Negativity is a downer and productivity drainer – just like Dan Waldshmidt points out in the article I shared inThumbs up, Thumbs down my G+ post below.

At least it works that way for me, but in that G+ comment stream, one of my connections pointed to an article on Lifehacker (originally posted on Linkedin) which indicates that isn’t the case for everyone.  While “strategic optimists” look ahead to the best outcomes when planning to meet their goals, “defensive pessimists” envision what could go wrong and plan how to avoid those things.  How are you wired? Good news: studies showed that both types of people are equally capable of achieving. They just find their motivation to act in different ways.

Personally and professionally as a solopreneur, negativity makes me less motivated and less productive. I stay conscious of hurdles and risks, but envision a positive outcome.  And while it’s not always easy or possible, I do my best to minimize exposure to chronically negative people.  You know the type, the chronic complainers who can’t seem to find anything good about anything or anyone.  Thankfully, they’re fewer and farther between than they are plentiful!

https://plus.google.com/109275472958903148502/posts/UYnC6XeF6rA

I agree with Waldschmidt that avoiding negativity is a must – but we should never lose sight of reality in the process.  Those “Pollyannas” who are sunshine and rainbows forever…well, that’s just not natural! It’s not a weakness to feel down at times, get frustrated, or feel scared. It’s human nature. But dwelling on the downsides can be a major anchor to your small business if you consistently focus on what’s wrong rather than doing what’s in your power to put things on the right path or move in a new direction. 

Are you a strategic optimist, defensive pessimist, or somewhat of a hybrid? What impact does negativity have on your motivation and productivity in your business?

Image courtesy of anankkml / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Boo! What’s Most Terrifying About Being a Solopreneur

Fear. I think every solopreneur feels it to varying degrees throughout the stages of their careers. And with good reason; Fiery skeletons imagestarting and running a business can be scary stuff.  You have elements of uncertainty. You have to work hard – really hard.  You have to deal with things that are sometimes out of your control (personally, that’s the one that frightens me the most!).

As Halloween creeps up on us, I thought I’d share a few of the ghoulish and gruesome challenges solopreneurs face as we establish and build our businesses.

Face Your Fears: The Most Terrifying Things about Being a Solopreneur

Putting Yourself Out There – Networking

This is paralyzing for some solopreneurs. They hesitate to put their best foot forward for fear of sounding conceited, and they dislike networking.  No, not everyone is a “salesperson,” but you have to get out there (face to face and via social media) to build connections and let people know about the value you offer.

Dealing with Numbers – Business Financials

Business financials are spooky to many of us.  Heck, my hands got all cold and clammy just writing this.  When you run a business, you have to learn some of the basics though. You might also want to get the help of a book-keeping professional – even if only to periodically check your Quickbooks or other platform to make sure  you haven’t made any errors.

Wondering, “Am I good enough?”

Especially when starting a business, you might feel trepidation at competing with other solopreneurs and businesses who have been around longer than you. How do you get over that? Confidence and competitive research. Take stock of your strengths and capabilities and learn whatever you can about your competitors to discover what makes you unique and gives you an edge.

Too Little Work. Too Much Work.

If you do a lot of project work as a solopreneur, you might experience cycles of feast and famine. Not having as much work as you want or need can lead to some nervous nail-biting. But having too many projects at one time can also be hair-raising. How do you find the right balance? While not all of it is within your realm of control, you can level things out a bit with careful planning, choosing clients and projects wisely, and knowing your capacity limitations.

Experiencing Failure

Sheer terror! None of us go into business expecting to fail, yet failure comes in all shapes and sizes. Even solopreneurs who have run successful businesses for years deal with failures along the way. Who hasn’t lost a bid on a project or lost a client for some reason or another? Not everything will go the way you want it to all the time. You’ll slip up. Unforeseen circumstances will throw a wrench into your plans. Become mentally agile so you can roll with the punches, learn from your mistakes and misfortunes, and keep your eyes on the big picture.

Life as a solopreneur certainly does put forth some things that go bump in the night, but none should stop you in your tracks and turn you into a business zombie. Stand courageous and show those ghastly entrepreneurial fears who’s boss.

What things have scared you most during your career as a solopreneur?

By Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Be Like a Tree in Autumn: Shed to Grow Your Business

Right now in Lancaster County, PA, the leaves are in the process of turning from green to hues of orange, yellow, and brown. Autumn leaves Fall is a beautiful time here…and it’s a season that offers a lesson in professional and personal development.

Solopreneurs: Don’t be afraid to “lose leaves.” Shed to grow!

Just as trees need to shed their old leaves to advance to the next stage of their lives, so do we need to at times shed to grow and prosper. Not everything  – no matter how well it suits us at one time or another – can continue to be an ongoing part of who we are and what we do. Sometimes we have to let go to move onward.

As a solopreneur, I think it’s particularly important to know when enough is enough and to recognize when something has run its course.  You have limited time and attention as a solo biz owner. There’s no time for what no longer serves you and your business well.

Just as the trees are undergoing defoliation and ditching what they no longer need, I encourage you as a solopreneur to take careful note of what’s hanging from your branches. Do you see any “leaves” you should drop to become a more effective and efficient solopreneur?

  • “Busy work” you can eliminate?
  • Services that don’t align with your business vision and goals?
  • Clients who create more stress than is worth the income they’re bringing your way?
  • Colleagues who serve to deflate your confidence rather than build it?
  • Networking groups that don’t deliver a return that’s worth your time and effort? (Note: You first have to spend some time and effort on them before you can judge!)
  • Online social networks you can’t keep up with?
  • Personal habits – or lack of good habits –  that are holding you back (not getting enough sleep, eating junk all the time, not exercising…)?

As the leaves of Lancaster – and wherever you are – continue their transformation this season, think about what you might change to make your personal and professional life a little lighter.  You might not find it easy to say “goodbye” to certain practices or people, but find the strength to do it. Change is vital for realizing and reaching your potential!

What “leaves” might you shed to make your business move forward?

By Dawn Mentzer

4 Business Untruths Solopreneurs Need to Ignore

Don’t believe everything people tell you about running a business.

As you start and build your business as a solopreneur, you’ll discover that not everything people tell you is right. While whatTime for Truth image they tell you may be true in their particular situations, that doesn’t mean following their advice will be right for your business. I’m now in my fourth year as a freelance writing solopreneneur, and along the way I’ve discovered a few myths (which I believe truly are myths for nearly all solopreneurs) in need of busting.

 4 Business Untruths You Can Kick to the Curb

  • You need to have something other than a home office. – Unless your business depends on you working with clients in your office, you can do just fine with a home office. If you need to occasionally meet with clients, you can see them at their location (always convenient for them!), take them out for coffee or lunch, or book a meeting room at your local library or other facility that offers conference rooms by the hour. I’ve never had a client frown upon the fact that I don’t have an out-of-home office. And with the growth of freelancing as a career, working from a home office is becoming more of a rule than the exception. Just be sure you have a home office that is purely a business space where you have all the amenities you need and where you’ll be free from other distractions within your house .

  • Before you can include a particular type of project in your suite of services, you need to have done that type of work before. – Yes. You must have the knowledge and skill set needed to work on a project, but it’s not always necessary to have the same type of project under your belt to get the business and do the job well. As long as your talents are transferrable, there’s no reason why you can’t add a service to your offerings or take on projects clients inquire about. DO be honest with your clients and tell them if you haven’t worked on the type of project they’re asking about. Then go on to say why you believe you’ll be a good fit regardless. In my own case, it wasn’t until recently when I was approached about writing the audio for marketing-focused video scripts. I immediately disclosed to my client I hadn’t worked on those types of projects before, but that I had full confidence I could do a great job for him. He was more than willing to bring me onto the job – and since then we’ve worked together on those types of projects several times over the past few months.
  • You can’t walk away from business – You can. And you should when clients or projects don’t align with your goals, values, or available time. Know the warning signs of difficult clients – unreasonable deadlines, unresponsive when asked questions or for feedback on work, disrespectful of your “off hours” time, constantly changing the scope of work. Also, carefully consider taking on projects you will absolutely abhor or that are outside of what you want to focus on in your business. Nearly a year ago, I opted to no longer take on proofreading projects. Why? I don’t enjoy them. AT ALL! I had to forfeit a good client as a result and have turned that type of work from other prospects away since I made the decision. I also ran into a situation where I turned business away from what could have been a quite lucrative ongoing endeavor. After just a brief amount of time dealing with the client contact, I decided the interpersonal deficiencies (OK, that’s my very nice way of saying she was a total B to me!) were something I was in no way willing to put up with on a continual basis.No matter the situation, respectfully explain why you’re not interested in taking on the work or doing business with someone.
  • You won’t be able to grow your business unless you hire employees. – Payroll, turn-over, Obama-Care…No thanks! But just because you’ve decided to be a business of one employee (a.k.a. YOU), doesn’t mean you can’t grow your revenue or your suite of available services or products. Much of what you can do depends on how well you manage your time and resources. Take advantage of the free and low-cost productivity and business organizational tools available to you. A few of my personal favorites are Trello, Evernote, and Toggl. Save time and effort logging into the online networks you access with an online password manager like LastPass. Use a social media management tool like Hootsuite. Outsource a few administrative tasks to a bookkeeping pro or virtual assistant. And if you’re looking to expand your business offerings to clients, partner with other freelancers who provide complementary services.

The more time you spend as a solopreneur, the more advice you’ll get from others in business. Remember, not everything you hear will apply to you. When you receive well-meaning guidance, listen. Then consider how it meshes with your own unique business and aspirations before acting – or not acting – on it.

Your turn! What business myths have you busted in your solo-business?

By Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Get Unstuck from a Rut

The Roller Coaster Ride of Being in Business

As fall fair season ramps up here in south central Pennsylvania, I can’t help but reflect on the parallels between being in business as a solopreneur and the thrills of amusement park rides and carnival games of chance. Starting your own businessRoller Coaster is exciting and invigorating. You meet twists and turns, and you often don’t know what’s around the corner waiting for you. It’s a rush!

But after a while, some of that adrenaline naturally subsides as you settle into the business of doing business. That doesn’t mean you no longer have passion for what you do; it means you’ve become more secure, confident and have a better handle on what to expect. Oddly, that positive sign of professional development can make you feel like stagnant and stalled.

Hitting “Refresh” To Regain Your Small Biz Mojo – Getting Out of the Rut

Recently, Carol Roth featured a post by Shanna Mallon that offers some great tips for giving the humdrum the heave ho and breathing new life into your entrepreneurial attitude.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/105256981924882031557/posts/8FMDu8vaaG5

My additions to the list:

  • Get out and learn something new in the name of professional development – There are all sorts of free and low-cost seminars and informative sessions out there that you can attend to stimulate your brain and broaden your knowledge. Check out programs at local chambers of commerce, SCORE chapters near you, public libraries, etc.
  • Experiment – Do you focus on a tight niche? Consider taking on a project that you’re confident you can ace, but that is outside of your normal realm of work. For example, a writer who specializes in blogs for business consultants might consider doing a feature article for a travel and tourism publication. Use your transferable skills to add some spice to your workload.

What about you? If you’ve found yourself in a rut, what have you done to beat the monotony and find the fascination again?

by Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of foto76 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

F is for “Freelancing”…and 8 Other F-Words Freelancers Can’t Ignore

F is for “freelancing,” and it also stands for a few other words that strongly represent what being a freelancing solopreneur isF-words for Freelancers all about. As today is a Friday, I thought it appropriate to keep the tone light and the content fun with a list of some fwords that freelancers and all solo-pros can relate to:

Faithful – When you make freelancing your career choice, you need to faithfully show up for work – physically and mentally – every day and stay the course.

Focus – Distractions are a freelancer’s worst enemy. Your level of productivity and progress toward your goals depends on your ability to block out the noise and remain on task.

Fastidious – As a freelancer, you always need to be on top of the details and aim for accuracy in all you do.

Frustration – It goes with the territory. There are times when not all will be going your way and you won’t like it one bit.

Failure – You’ll succeed at some things as a solopreneur, but you’ll also fail at times as you grow your business. Realize that you can learn from those moments and become better and more successful as a result.

Fair – To earn a reputation as someone other professionals like to do business with, you need to be fair in how you treat all people. Don’t jump to conclusions or judge based on first impressions. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills.

Firm – As a freelancer, you offer value. Project confidence in what you bring to the table and stand firm when the occasional prospect questions your worth and puts you up against the wall for a lower rate. It’s not always easy to hold your ground, but never undervalue your expertise and services.

Fears – Like every small business owner, you’ll encounter uncertainty and risk that could threaten your ability to succeed and sustain your business. It’s scary. Don’t feel inferior for having fears. The important thing is that you face them head on and do what needs to be done to overcome adversity and move past what stands in your way.

What other F-words can you add to the list? I drew the line at 8, but I know there are probably 800 more!

by Dawn Mentzer