The Often Unsung Benefit of Blogging

Blogging. You’ll find no shortage of articles telling you how important it is to your business. It directs traffic to yourThumbs up website, improves your placement in search results, establishes you as an authority in your field…need I go on?

But there’s something else blogging can do for you. And it’s something I believe we don’t talk about nearly enough…

Blogging helps us better understand – and project offline – who we are and the value we bring to our clients.

Here are some of the reasons why that’s so…

  • Blogging helps you find and develop your professional voice.
  • As you blog, you have an opportunity to think about the individual components of your business and how they impact you and your customers.
  • Blogging gives you a reason to dissect your systems and processes. Preparing to explain what you do to an audience helps you find holes and gaps that you might not otherwise find.
  • Blogging reinforces what you know and instills confidence in your capabilities.
  • Blogging often requires some degree of research – you expand your knowledge in the process.
  • Regularly writing about what you know and do and what’s important within your industry can help you feel more comfortable and confident when talking with prospects.

If you’ve felt like you’re simply going through the motions of blogging because you believe you have to for the purpose of marketing, look at it as a professional development opportunity instead. Blogging can do more for you than put you on the online radar screen; it can make you a smarter, stronger, more confident small business owner.

Important to note: Even if you hire a freelancer to write your blog posts, your involvement in identifying topics and specific talking points can give you these benefits!

YOUR TURN! How have your blogging efforts transcended marketing and helped you develop professionally?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Building Professional Connections: No Riding of Coattails Allowed!

“We need to get together and discuss how I can get involved in your networking circle.”

Awhile back, someone posted this comment on one of my social media platforms in response to a photo that I shared of me with some colleagues at a networking event. While some people might have meant that in jest. I know this person did not.

There’s so much wrong with his statement…I’d call it a request, but really it wasn’t. He didn’t ask. He told me what we need to do so he can further his business in the local community.

Connecting in the local professional community – No riding of coattails allowed!

When building a network of professional connections to grow a business, there is no “we” where responsibility for reaching out and nurturing relationships is concerned. Yes, it’s fine to leverage existing connections and occasionally ask for introductions to people who you might have some synergy with.  (As professionals, it’s professional courtesy – and the right thing to do – to graciously introduce connections whenever appropriate), but it’s wrong to expect others to do all the work for you.  To anyone who hasn’t shown the initiative or effort to make inroads on their own in their community…get off our coattails!

There are no shortcuts for building meaningful business relationships.

Building relationships and awareness in the local community takes hard work, continuous effort, and a consistent presence. Sometimes you even have to dole out some cash to join groups and pay registration fees for events. Why would you share the fruits of your investment with anyone who is obviously looking for free ride and has nothing to offer in reciprocation?

While helping others professionally is admirable and often mutually beneficial, giving a pass to people who are too lazy to build relationships on their own could damage your reputation rather than strengthen it. If they’re that self-focused with you, you can bet they’ll be equally as self-serving with the people you connect them with. By introducing them, you might be misunderstood as endorsing them. And that could put your professional credibility at risk.

Back to the incident that prompted me to write this post…

I did respond graciously to his request. I didn’t offer to sit down to talk with him, but I did share what I believe are some helpful bits of insight to get him thinking about  how he might start to forge relationships on his own…

  • I listed the networking organizations  in our area for which I’ve paid to be member so he can consider them for his own business development – and so he would understand that networks don’t grow by accident. You have to put yourself where the people you want to connect with are.
  • I explained how important my ongoing and consistent use of social media has been for nurturing relationships and expanding my network.
  • I told  him there’s no secret formula. It takes getting involved and putting in time and effort. You get out of it what you put into it.

Hopefully it has made him think about what he (not we) needs to do to start making connections and building trust within the community.

If I seem a bit territorial about my network, it’s because I am. You should be, too. We’ve worked hard to start – and maintain- our networks of connections. Why should we feel obligated to help someone with a strong sense of entitlement but a weak desire to pay their dues? I’ll always be willing to give other professionals a hand up…but a handout is out of the question.

 

By Dawn Mentzer – Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post.

 

 

Want to Make Clients Thirst for Your Services? Think Beer.

Blue Moon has its orange slice.Bottles of beer

Corona has its lime.

While I’m not a big beer drinker, I think both brands give us small biz peeps something worthwhile to think about.

What can we serve on the side to enhance and augment our core services and give our clients an experience they want to order over and over again?

You might say, “But malt beverages are way different than what I provide to my customers.” While that’s probably true, it doesn’t mean you can’t apply the same logic to differentiating your business.

Bottoms up! Brainstorm about what will make your clients say “Cheers!”…

Think about what complementary topics you’re savvy about that you don’t offer as billable service offerings, but for which you could offer some advice or share relevant resources. For example, I bill clients for my work as a freelance content writer, but I often provide clients, prospects, and even other writers with guidance on social media, networking, and online efficiency tools. Those things are my lime wedges and orange slices, and I’m sure that with a little thought, you’ll discover you’ve got your own to serve up in your business.

It’s all about value! What can you add to your offerings to make your brand more appealing? What garnish will help make your brand the one clients thirst for?

 

Your turn! What ways have you discovered you can provide additional value to your clients?

 

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

 

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Image courtesy of Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Take Action Against Distraction in Your Small Business in 2014

“Bounce rate.” If you’ve got a website, you know less is best when talking about that particular metric. But the bounce Multi-tasking womanrate of your site isn’t the only bounce-related thing that can spell trouble for your business.

As soloprenrenurs and small biz owners, we take on every aspect of our businesses, so it’s easy to become unfocused and “bounce” from one uncompleted task to another, then back to the first one, and then move on to something else before bouncing back to the original task. That zaps productivity. And problems with productivity can quickly manifest themselves as an inability to fit in enough billable hours. And not enough billable hours means less revenue than you may have been banking on. Ouch! Bouncing can be painful!

But you already know that and saying it out loud doesn’t change the fact that you’re faced with needing to tend to not only the work you do for clients, but also to the day-to-day administrative responsibilities that come with the territory. So we multi-task, trying to get more done in less time. Unfortunately, while trying to take care of as many things as possible in a single bound sounds great in theory, in reality we’re only human and therefore incapable of doing it well.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article by Jonha Revesencio about multi-tasking and how digital stress affects the human brain.  According to the infographic within her post, some neuroscientists believe online multi-tasking (particularly email) can put our brains into overload and trigger a “fight or flight” reaction that causes us to lose focus and always aim for tackling what we perceive as immediate opportunities and threats.

And this post by Rachel Blom about interruptions from social media shares that parallel tasks (tasks done simultaneously) take us 30% more time to complete than if we’d do them independently (one after the other).

Multi-tasking might also do some damage to your gray matter, according to this article and infographic on Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News. A mere two percent of people can multi-task successfully, while the other 98 percent of us could lower our IQs by letting email, phone calls, and social media interrupt our work. Another astounding stat from that article: on average, people who use computers for work are interrupted every 10.5 minutes throughout the day.

Yikes!

So how can you get it together, get things done, and resist the urge to do everything at once. Take action to resist distractions!

Here are a few defense maneuvers to help you resist multi-tasking your days away…

  • Schedule time on your calendar daily for all tasks and responsibilities.

    By dedicating specific windows of time for email, social media, client work, accounting, etc., you won’t feel as impelled to bounce aimlessly from one to another.

  • Close your email and social media tabs on your computer when you’re supposed to be working on something else.

    Make them out of sight, out of mind. You’ll find they won’t lure you away nearly as easily from the task at hand if you don’t have them front and center.

  • Put your smart phone out of reach.

    Even a 1-minute phone call can throw you off course when it unexpectedly interrupts your work on a project. Plus, you might be tempted to check your incoming emails, texts, and social media interactions if you hear the notifications ding and your phone is within arm’s length. Better to put it across the room – or in another room – until you’re free to attend to it

  • Schedule some “wiggle room” into your day.

    While you might not always find it possible, try to block out a half hour once or twice each day for the unexpected. That way you won’t get completely behind on your work if you need to field an impromptu call from a prospect or discover a task is taking you a little more time than you anticipated. You can find more on my “wiggle room” suggestion in one of my earlier Insatiable Solopreneur posts this year.

When I stick to the plan above, I find I feel less stressed, feel more in control, and think more clearly. Most importantly, I get more done and have far less apprehension about what’s on my “to do” list, because I know I’ve got a plan in place to accomplish my outstanding projects and tasks. If you’ve found bouncing is sabotaging your productivity and not leaving you the time you need for focusing on billable work, it’s time to break the multi-tasking cycle. Take action against distraction and discover the difference it will make for your business in 2014.

 

Your turn! What tips and tricks do you use to avoid bouncing through your day?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

 

Image courtesy of Pong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Big Influence Comes in Small Packages

As solopreneurs and small business owners, we all want to raise awareness of our businesses. We want to get noticed by the people who matter. That’s the same whether we’re networking in person or online via social media networks. Across social media, you’ll find no shortage of articles about “engaging with influencers.” We’re urged to seek them out to propel our brands to bigger and better things. Get the heavy hitters to take notice of you, and you’ll be golden, right? Maybe, but attempting to stand out in the crowd can be tough.

Caution: Don’t put all your eggs in the typical “influencer” basket.

It seems many small business owners think of influencers as the people who have tens of thousands of Twitter followers, a multitiude of Facebook fans, and gaggles of Google+ people following them. They hang on their every word, share their posts, and add their comments to the hundred or so that others left on the influencers’ status updates and blog posts. All in an attempt to get recognized by these ultimate authorities.

But how is that going to help your business? Sure, maybe you’ll get lucky and out of all the thousands of other people vying to get their attention, the A-listers will follow you and single out one of your blog posts down the road. But the chances aren’t really in your favor. I’m not being pessimistic. I’m being realistic. It’s not that they don’t care or that you’re not worthy; they’ve got so much interaction coming at them, they can’t possibly keep tabs and give time to everyone who engages with them.

Does that mean you shouldn’t read their blogs and share their content? I’m not implying that at all. Definitely do if you find them helpful and appropriate for your audience, but don’t put all your eggs in their baskets. There are people in your online network who have far fewer followers, but who stand to increase awareness of your brand far more than the heavy hitters.

Influence isn’t exclusively owned by the big guys.

Make it a priority to interact with professionals who have a lesser online following. Note that a lesser following doesn’t mean they aren’t influential, reputable, intelligent people. I follow a slew of less-widely-known people, marketing firms, and small brands who provide excellent content and insight. I believe it’s important – and ultimately more beneficial – for solopreneurs and small biz owners to put effort into cultivating those relationships online. Why? You won’t get lost in the shuffle.

When you interact with these people…

  • Your comments and input won’t get lost in the crowd.
  • You’ll find they’re more willing and able to reciprocate by sharing and commenting on your content.
  • You can become top of mind as an expert in your field to their followers if you’re consistent in providing value through your engagement with them.
  • You’ll have a better chance of gaining referrals because you’ve been able to escape the noise and build relationships.

Find the right mix.

So as you fine-tune your online M.O., aspire to find balance in your efforts. Follow not only the revered and famous, but also lesser know professionals who know their stuff and whom you find common ground with. By showing you’re in tune with what everyone is talking about AND demonstrating you’re capable of finding resources others may have overlooked, you’ll steadily build your own authority online.

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Is It Time to Say Bye-Bye to Your Business Facebook Page?

As a solopreneur/small business owner, I’m getting more frustrated with Facebook by the day. I know I’m not alone. JustGood bye note recently the platform admitted to what most of us suspected all along, they really aren’t interested in giving your posts exposure to your audience unless you’re willing to pay to play.  This article by Ad Age explains it.

As I’ve seen my posts’ reach dwindle from a decent yet still annoying 35 – 40% to as low as 6%, I’m asking myself, “Why bother?” Facebook has apparently deemed my posts  unworthy of the attention of my fans (You know, the people who consciously liked my page so they could see my posts?) and has chosen not to display them in their news feeds.  Given that my posting frequency, interaction, and content quality have been consistent all along, there doesn’t seem to be much I can do to change the downward spiral. Except pay for ads or to promote my posts, but I won’t.

Like many other small businesses, my purpose for maintaining a Facebook for my business has been to build and nurture relationships, not blatantly sell my stuff. While they say they’re making these changes to improve users’ overall experience on the site, I’m failing to see how that will succeed. Won’t showing only promoted posts and paid ads to users subject them to more “push” marketing content and less authentic content meant to provide value and engage them in conversation?

Are you considering deleting your business Facebook page?

I am. I believe my time and effort posting and monitoring activity on my business Facebook page will be better spent building my interaction on Google+ and Twitter. Still, I realize it’s not wise to just jump ship and swim away from the fans who have been – when the omnipotent forces at Facebook allow them to see my posts – engaged and supportive.

Jenn Herman recently wrote a post providing some extremely helpful and practical tips on how to communicate with your fans about your plans to leave your Facebook page behind.  If you’re contemplating a transition away from your business page, you’ll want to heed her advice!

On Jenn’s checklist of how to prepare Facebook fans, she includes the tip “Don’t Go Cold Turkey.” I agree. A gradual exit will help ensure the vast majority of your fans are aware of your intent and have time to connect with you on other platforms before you officially cut the cord.

After your business Facebook page is laid to rest, you can still benefit professionally from Facebook!

All or nothing? It doesn’t have to be that way with Facebook. While I intend to put the ax to my business Facebook page, I’ll keep my personal profile alive and kicking. Heck, it’s the only way I’m connected with my fellow Oley Valley High School grads. AND a good many of the professional connections who are fans of my business page have also friended me on Facebook. AND I’m following their business Facebook pages (and will be until they, too, decide to delete them) through my personal profile. So as my personal self , I’ll have ample opportunity to build rapport and show support of their businesses on Facebook if they haven’t yet embraced other online social networks. Also, as appropriate, I’ll share content that’s business-related on my personal timeline. I’ve seen a lot of professionals do that successfully.

What about you? Have you seen your business Facebook page reach and engagement plummet? Are you planning to keep your page or ditch it?

P.S.  Please know I respect Facebook’s right to make a buck, but I think they’re approaching it the wrong way. They set the expectation among small business owners that the platform would serve as a viable, free tool for generating brand awareness and building relationships with customers. It was at one time, until they started tweaking their algorithms to the point where business page owners had to start standing on their heads and doing circus tricks to get their posts seen by their fans. Now not even the “tricks” work. Only cold, hard cash does…and not even for building genuine engagement. What if they’d instead offer biz page owners a subscription-based service (at maybe $9.99/month) to have their posts shown to page fans? I might consider staying if something like that were available. You?

By Dawn Mentzer

 

Image courtesy of gubgib / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Deck the Halls – and Your Small Biz: Add Sparkle With These 3 Professional Touches

As the holidays approach, we put an exorbitant amount of time and effort into making the season bright for all around us. It’s as it should be….but don’t forget to look ahead and think about how you can make things a little brighter for your small business in the New Year.

NOW is the time to focus on the things you can do to propel your business forward in 2014. Whether your past year was one that didn’t quite make its mark or one in which you exceeded expectations, you can always find ways to improve and add some professional polish.

Some ideas for brightening your small business in 2014

Refresh your website.

How long have you had your existing website? It might be time for a re-do. Does your site look dated? Does the navigation not serve visitors as well as it should? Is it difficult for you to change content? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, you might consider an update. Tip: Unless you’re a web designer/developer, don’t attempt on your own. If you think your audience can’t tell the difference between a self-created Weebly site and one that’s professionally done, think again. This is your brand we’re talking about. Your website will be the one place all your other online spaces, marketing material,s and messaging point to, so it pays to have one that’s well done and shows you mean business.

Pose for some professional photos.

As easy it is to spot  an amateur website, it’s also easy to spot a “selfie” profile pic. I’ve found professional pics to be one of the best investments I’ve made for my business. They put that finishing touch on your website and the social networks you use professionally. And if you’re invited to speak at an event or guest blog, you won’t look like an amateur when they ask you for a high-res head shot. Not all photographers will cost you an arm and leg.  Ask around and do some research to find one who will bring out your best without costing you a bundle.

Start your blog – FINALLY!

I’m secretly laughing to myself because I know at least four people personally who at this moment are saying, “Does she mean me?” Hmmm….maybe I do. I’ll never tell! But what I will say is if you have any doubt about how important blogging is for your business, read this article by Stephanie Frasco. Twice.

No complaining or whining about not having anything of interest to write about! You have a business. Your business has customers. Your customers find some value in what you offer them, so expand on that through your blog. What breaking news in your industry will help them live healthier lives or do business better? Have you launched a new service or expanded an existing service to enable them to save time by outsourcing an annoying task? What tips can you give them to extend the life of your products? What questions do customers most frequently ask about your services? Creating and sharing your own content via a blog is a powerful way to build authority, gain trust, and turn leads into sales.

 

Go ahead; deck the halls, but don’t stop there.

As you’re hanging mistletoe and stringing lights this month, remember to think ahead about how you can make your business sparkle and shine next year. What steps big or small would sprinkle some professional pixie dust over your small business?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

 

 

The Plusses for Solopreneurs on Google+

Although Google+ has over 300 million active users, many solopreneurs and small biz owners still seem to view it with Google+ iconskeptism and doubt. Many have the impression it’s a ghost town…that no one they know or want to interact with is using it. Others don’t relish the idea of maintaining a presence on yet another social network.

I understand the arguments (OK, the first one not so much!), but if you haven’t already, I urge you to rethink using Google+ as business development tool. Like any social network, you get out of it what you put into it. I’ve found Google+ gives you a fighting a chance to get more for your efforts.

Here’s the short list of what I’ve found professionally beneficial about Google+:

  • Less labor-intensive to build a following

    I’ve been on G+ since Nov. 2011, and to date, 5001 people have me in their circles. Compare that to my business Facebook page which has been around since June 20, 2011 and has 289 fans and to Twitter where I’ve got 1,770 followers since Feb. 25, 2010. Up until recently, I wasn’t quite as active on G+ as I was on the other networks and still my numbers grew. Sure, social media follower counts aren’t everything, but in my case I’ve found the degree of quality interaction has risen along with my numbers. The key ALWAYS is to post content relevant to your target audience so the right people find and connect with you.

  • Effective at driving discovery of your content

While no one (to my knowledge) has proven that  G+ directly improves search ranking, it without a doubt increases exposure of your content online through shares by others. Just as I’ve found it’s easier to build a following on Google+, I’ve also discovered the people using the network professionally generally seem more inclined than those on other networks to share good content and engage with other users.

  • Doesn’t penalize you for branding yourself

Unlike Facebook, Google+ doesn’t care if your personal profile’s cover photo represents you professionally, and the folks at Google don’t mind if your photo contains more than 20% text content. My cover photo is my logo – which is almost entirely text.  You can post business-related content through your personal profile with abandon. No you can’t post spammy crap without penalty, but that’s the same for any network.

  • Doesn’t select what it thinks you want to see

    Unlike your Facebook fans, G+ users have complete control over how much or how little they want to see from you in their stream.

    Google+ lets YOU decide what you want to see. It doesn’t decide for you.

  • Doesn’t litter your followers’ streams

G+ lets you decide if the people who circle you see everything you +1 so you can actively engage with others without flooding your followers with your activity beyond your own posts and shares.

  • Pro-power of Communities

Google+ Communities are kind of sort of the equivalent of Linkedin Groups. The communities enable professionals with like or complementary interests to share information and engage in conversations that matter to them. Although I haven’t embraced the professional power of Google+ Communities nearly to the degree I should be, I feel impelled to mention them to you. They are the place to be if you want to expand your industry knowledge and build business relationships.

Keep in mind, as with any other social network, you need to commit to Google+ for the long haul to get results. Social media is about building relationships, building authority in your field, and building trust. THAT’s how you effectively covert connections into customers. It takes patience. It also takes using your G+ profile in a way that will build your brand. I use mine mainly for posting about small biz, solopreneurship, marketing, social, media and freelancing…it’s got a “business casual” tone to it, but I also regularly post content that’s non-business focused (and often humorous) so people get to know me better.

Have you been missing out by avoiding Google+? There’s no better time than now to get started using it to build our brand. Just remember…Ultimately, you control how other G+ users will perceive you through the type of content you’re posting. Don’t expect to make strides professionally through G+ if your feed consists of little more than kitty photos and “JackAss” style videos.

Your turn! What successes and challenges have you experienced with using Google+ professionally?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

Solopreneur Squared: The Benefits and Challenges of Having 2 Solopreneurs Under the Same Roof

As a “solo” solopreneur, you might find those around you don’t always understand what you’re doing and why it Solopreneur2sometimes demands so much of your time and energy. While my family has always been extremely supportive, they don’t know first-hand the challenges and stresses of trying to do it all. How could they – except through what I tell them – and I’d rather be spending quality time with them than complaining. Still, wouldn’t doing business as a solopreneur be easier if those closest to you would know what it’s like to walk in your shoes?

Who better to ask that question than a pair of husband and wife solopreneurs? I reached out to Steve and Sherry Smith, who both operate as solopreneurs under the same roof in Lancaster, PA.  Steve runs both a marketing firm focused on helping business embrace new technology in their marketing efforts and a successful restaurant consulting business. Sherry owns and operates an interior design company that she started on the west coast, now pulling many of those design influences into her work for clients here in the east. Together, they juggle the responsibilities of their independent businesses and their family.

Check out this Q&A with Sherry and Steve to find out the behind the scenes of how they got started on the road to dual solopreneurship – and get a glimpse of what it’s like to have two solopreneurs in the same house. Plus, they share some good advice about balancing home and work life that’s relevant for all of us.

My Solopreneur² Q&A with the Smiths:

Who ventured into being a solopreneur first? Whoever did it second, what inspired you to follow?

Sherry: Ever since I met Steve he had always desired to be in business for himself, but honestly I believe both of us ventured into solopreneurship around the same time. I made my mind up to launch Design Elements, Ltd. in the spring of 2006 (after months of discussing with Steve and with his encouragement) and made it official in February 2007 after leaving a full-time position at the Tahoe Tribune….just 4 weeks after they awarded me ‘Sales Rep of the Year 2006’. Not good timing for them, but I had already laid a few months of ground work for the launch of Design Elements, Ltd. While we lived in Lake Tahoe, Ca., Steve had a few different experiences with solopreneurship, but the industry he kept coming back to was restaurant consulting.

What has been your primary motivation in being your own boss?

Sherry: Really lots of things: Passion for interior design and helping clients realize they can, with my help, create a space that reflects and enhances their lifestyle; being my own ‘boss’ and driving my own ship and all the good and bad that goes with that; also being able to create a team around me that allows me the opportunity to grow and guide accordingly.

Steve: I always have been a leader. From a young age as a competitive athlete, I seemed to naturally fit the role of team captain. In business, my mentors have been people like John Maxwell and Tony Dungy, both men of faith and excellent leaders. So this leadership has driven me to my charge which nowadays, at the age of 52, is the calling to help others succeed.

I imagine having two solopreneurs in the family allows you to share some resources; how does that help you in your independent businesses?

Sherry: I believe one of our major resources is our ability to collaborate on any type of project that each of us is working on. Because we have three businesses/brands under one roof (Restaurant Rescue Consulting, Local Mobile Apps and Design Elements, Ltd.), we are often bouncing ideas and strategies off of one another – and that ultimately benefits our clients.

Steve: I must agree with Sherry. For me, having her as a strategist is very powerful and enables me to better serve my/our clients!

Does sharing resources ever cause issues or problems? How so?

Sherry: Well…I would refer to the answer above about collaboration. Both of us have a tendency to interrupt the other with our ideas, questions, or general need for feedback. This “sense of urgency” on one person’s part isn’t always shared with the other :). It isn’t easy being married and being solopreneurs, and we do struggle with when to wear what “hat.” We are all in, and our efforts are 24/7, and there is sometimes a blurred line with being “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and being solopreneurs. We value each other’s skill set and experience and know that we have a synergy together that does help our clients.

What would you say challenges you most about having two solopreneurs in the family?

Sherry: In addition to knowing when to be “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and when to be solopreneurs, I would have to say the challenge of establishing quality family time with our daughter. I need to be better at telling myself to stop working and to focus on family. That is extremely hard for me because there is always a list of “to do” items that continually grows an evolves.

Steve: For me I’m not very patient sometimes and tend to want “my answers” immediately. So respecting each others space and time is paramount.

What would you say are the biggest benefits of having two solopreneurs in the family?

Sherry: Flexibility.

Steve: Amen… time for our daughter!

Do you find it difficult not to get overly involved in each other’s businesses? How do you draw the line and not step on each other’s toes?

Sherry: No, not difficult. I think Steve does his thing well with Restaurant Rescue Consulting, and I do my thing well with Design Elements, Ltd. We respect each other’s expertise in these distinctive industries and usually use each other as sounding boards on any variety of issues relating to leadership, coaching, marketing, sales within our respective projects.

Steve: Yep…what she said!

If you could give just one piece of advice to couples who are thinking about running two independent solo-businesses, what would it be?

Sherry: Know each other’s goals and plans for achieving success in each other’s respective businesses, and then be flexible, because plans never go exactly like they are on paper. Ideally, give each other more grace, patience and understanding….on both sides of the track – in your marriage and in your business.

Steve: Respect and patience!

Anything else you think is important to share?

Steve: Legacy..What can we give? Who can we serve? How can we teach our daughter? This is what matters most!

Sherry SmithAbout Sherry Smith
Sherry owns and operates Design Elements, Ltd., a Lancaster, PA-based interior decorating/design, home staging & redesign company focused on creating solutions to fit clients’ unique styles and preferences. She originally started her business in beautiful Lake Tahoe, CA, and has brought that West Coast influence to Central PA. From color consultations to complete remodels, Sherry has experience with space planning, style identification, furniture and fabric recommendations, lighting and fixtures selections, and case goods and accessory options for homes and businesses. 

About Steve Smith
Steve is a founding partner of Local-Mobile-Social Marketing, a Lancaster PA firm that helps businesses understand Steve Smithhow to market themselves effectively with new technology in this new world. He also runs a successful consulting business, Restaurant Rescue Consulting. Over the past 30 years, he has opened and operated more than a dozen start ups in the hospitality industry. His experience includes working with recognizable brands including Intrawest, Vail Resorts, and TGIFridays. His laser focus on aligning marketing strategy with business goals and objectives has enabled him to deliver his clients results that make a stronger bottom line.

5 Things Freelance Professionals Need to Get Over

To run your own freelance business, you can’t afford to be your own worst enemy. There are times when it gets toughMan jumping over obstacle having your work scrutinized, waiting for  responses from clients, prospecting for new business, and putting your foot down. But these things come with the territory when you freelance, so to get on with business, you need to get over a few things first.

Don’t let these things hold you back in your freelancing business:

Sensitivity to criticism

The beauty of what freelancers do is generally in the eye of the beholder. Clients are subjective…their unique styles, likes, and dislikes will play a role in determining whether or not they like your work. There’s no room for Prima Donnas in freelancing. Accept that not everyone will love all of your work all of the time.

Perfectionism

You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. No freelancer is. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes – but own them and do what it takes to make them right. Most important, recognize if there are areas of business where you make mistakes repeatedly. You might need to take more time when tackling them or outsource tasks when possible.

Dislike of networking

Want to get quality clients? Network, network, network – online and in person! I know a fair share of freelancers who very much dislike mixing and mingling in social settings. Avoiding networking activities puts you at a disadvantage. Face-to-face networking can give you a major edge as prospects hear your voice, see your smile, feel your personality up close and personal. You’ll need to embrace social media, too. Used consistently, it builds professional relationships and goodwill because it makes it easy to show support of and interest in prospects and clients.

Impatience

Freelancing requires a willingness  to wait. It takes time to build a portfolio of work, a solid base of clients, and a reputation as the “go to” pro in your field. Sometimes it can take years before a contact turns into a client. Beyond that, the day-to-day stuff requires patience, too. You’ll encounter prospects who don’t respond to your proposals, clients who don’t get back to you with feedback on your work, and occasional payments that won’t arrive by the due date you posted on your invoices. Instant gratification is rare in freelancing – you need to develop a tolerance for waiting.

Discomfort at following up about client payments

That said…while practicing patience in most things, stay politely vigilant about following up on client payments that are overdue. Freelancers aren’t high-volume service providers who can afford to let payments go 30 days…60 days…90 days past due. I’ve found missed payments are not intentional and almost always an oversight. Generally, I wait 7 days past the due date and then send an email to inquire (always in a non-accusatory tone).

Traveling the freelancing career path requires the guts and gumption to put preconceived habits and inclinations aside. You won’t always find it comfortable to change your thoughts and practices. But after you start reaping the rewards from altering elements of your M.O., you’ll find it easier to get past the other things that might be holding your freelance business down.

What have you needed to get over to go forward in your freelance biz? What methods and ways of thinking have you found most difficult to set aside?

By Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net