The Right Way To Earn Small Business Bragging Rights

Leadership expert Steve Gutzler wrote a post that made me pause to think about the qualities of being self-employed that I tend to Bragging guyemphasize when talking with other professionals.

 

Upon reflection, I realize I too often share about my packed project schedule or the fact that there never seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. It’s as if being overworked or overwhelmed are valid markers on the path to success.

 

They’re not. There’s no glory in excessive stress and leading a professional life that seems to control us rather than the other way around. What’s the point of being your own boss if your business is the boss of  you?

 

Sure, we need to work hard to build sustainable businesses, BUT that’s not what should earn us bragging rights as solopreneurs and small business owners.

 

What should give us something to gloat about?

  • We can choose the types of projects we want to work on.
  • We can choose the clients we want to work with.
  • We don’t have to ask anyone permission to leave work early on a beautiful summer afternoon.
  • We can plan our work schedule around our kids’ ball games and play rehearsals.
  • We can enroll in any professional development course we want without someone telling us it’s not relevant to our position.

 

Having lifestyle flexibility is nothing to feel guilty about. It’s OK to step away from work and enjoy other things.

 

And you shouldn’t feel like less of a business professional because you have the ability to do that when others don’t.

 

Isn’t it time we wore THAT as our small business badge of honor?

 

Of course, having the ability to do more than work all the time means finding the discipline and resources to plan better and work more efficiently.

 

Accomplish that and you’ve really got something to brag about!

 

Your turn! What do you find yourself quickest to communicate when talking with others about your experience in self-employment?

 

Image courtesy of bplanet 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

Dealing with Small Biz Stress: How Solopreneurs Can Take Control and Get Better Life Balance

Solopreneurs come from all industries, diverse business backgrounds, and  with varied expertise and skills. I find it Yoga personfascinating to discover what other solo biz owners like most about being solopreneurs – and what they find most challenging.  Although we’re “solo,” we’re all in it together really. We can learn from each other and all become better small business owners as a result.

My Q&A with Solopreneur Dr. Ann Lee.

Ann owns Health for Life Clinic in Lancaster, PA. As a solopreneur in the healthcare field, she faces some unique business challenges, but there’s also a lot that she has in common with the rest of us. Within this post, not only does she share what she believes are the perks and pitfalls of solo biz ownership, she also provides some helpful advice on how we can all better deal with the stresses of solopreneurship.

As a solopreneur, what do you find most rewarding about owning your own small business?

Ann: The freedom and creativity you can have with owning your own small business . . . if you have an idea – you can implement it quickly and see right away if it works or not. You get instant feedback, and can work on improvements quickly. Clients can give you feedback, and they can see them incorporated the next day. You can really make a difference in people’s lives, and clients notice and appreciate the work that you do.

As a solopreneur, what do you find most challenging about owning your own small business?

Ann: Because your business is your lifeline, you will dedicate and sacrifice a lot of time and effort into it. It is totally rewarding in the end, but it is up to you to set your own boundaries and still have a ‘good work life balance.’ So the most challenging is setting those boundaries.

In your practice, what health complaints do you hear most from patients who are solopreneurs or professionals which can be attributed to the stresses of being in business?

Ann: The most common health complaints are those attributed to stress: high blood pressure, insomnia, digestive complaints, sore/aching muscles and joints, chronic fatigue and dependence on coffee.

What are some lifestyle changes business professionals could consider for alleviating stress and performing better mentally and physically when under pressure?

Ann: The most challenging thing to do, as I mentioned before, is actually scheduling time regularly throughout your schedule for mini-vacations or stress relieving activities. If you don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen. And if you don’t make it a priority, it doesn’t happen either. I find professionals who schedule relaxing activities regularly such as golf, yoga, meditation, perform better and are able to create better business relationships. There are many options available for relaxing activities that resonate with you and fit into your schedule.

A simple nutrition tip is to never skip breakfast, to start off your day with a full tank of gas.

To maximize restful sleep, it helps to unload your thoughts on a piece of paper before going to bed, or to have a to-do list always on hand so that it doesn’t stay on your mind to ruminate over while trying to go to sleep.

Ball’s in your court!

Some wonderful takeaways, right?! I think Ann hit on one of the biggest challenges we all face as solopreneurs. We put so much time, energy, and focus into our businesses, but we often neglect the bodies and minds our businesses need to succeed. I know I could definitely do a better job at getting enough sleep, stepping away from the stress, and living in the moment when with family and friends. How about you?

My thanks to Ann for sharing her experience as a solopreneur and for giving us sound, sensible advice. Now it’s up to us to use it!

Dr. Ann Lee of Health for Life ClinicAbout Dr. Ann Lee
Ann Lee, is a naturopathic doctor & acupuncturist, serving Lancaster, PA in complementary & alternative medicine, with a specialty in infertility (natural fertility). At Health For Life Clinic, Inc., she provides patients with comprehensive, personalized healthcare through acupuncture, naturopathic and holistic medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, herbs, and lifestyle improvement. For more information about her and her practice, visit her website.

Connect with Dr. Ann Lee…
Facebook
Twitter
Linkedin

By Dawn Mentzer

Yoga Image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tending to Business (and all else): The grass is always greener where you water it

Given the undeniable truth within this particular quote by some wise but unknown person, I can’t believe I had never seen it until just recently!

“The grass is always greener where you water it.” – Unknown

When you’re self-employed and fully committed to work, family and community, you’ve got a lot of territory to cover – and to sustain. The watering can that is your time, attention and energy isn’t bottomless; you can only tend to so much before you risk drought conditions here or there.

As a solopreneur, at times I’m very efficient at rationing my time and energy. At times, life balance escapes me. I suspect you’ve experienced the same as you juggle home, work, and volunteer responsibilities. So what can we do about that?

Analyze. Assess. Adjust.

1. Analyze

Exactly how far out of balance are you, and why do you find yourself tending more to one area of focus than another? It could be a specific project that’s demanding more time temporarily, a new initiative that needs to launch, or perhaps you have an ongoing operational inefficiency that’s consistently hijacking your efforts. Maybe you’re dealing with circumstances affecting family or friends that need your concentrated time and attention.

First and foremost, get a grip on the situation so you understand the cause and the magnitude.

 

2. Assess

In what ways is the lack of balance affecting you, your business, and your home life? Can the areas getting the short end of the stick sustain themselves while you get things in order? Are you feeling a sense of accomplishment or is the imbalance draining you of motivation? Are others suffering to an intolerable degree?

If you know the imbalance will be temporary, you might be able to let things run their course and essentially fix themselves. But if you’ve got what looks like an ongoing situation that will continually drag down other aspects of your life, you’ll need to consider the next step…

 

3. Adjust

Do something about it! When you’re in a small business/home/volunteerism balancing act, you need to nurture all aspects of your existence so none of them wither and die on the vine. Periodically you may need to tend to one commitment more than the others, but you can only do it for so long. Prioritize, purge insignificant and low-priority work from your plate, and communicate with all professional and personal stakeholders so everyone is clear on what you’ll be doing – and NOT doing.

I’m personally in an “adjust” mode at the moment and feel empowered by thinking through the process this way. My hope is that it works for you, too!

What about you? What do you do to maintain balance in your work/home/community obligations? When you’ve got competing priorities, what comes first?