• Career,  Work

    How to Decide Which Path to Pursue

    So many people have a ton of great ideas — they just have no idea which of these they should pursue, and they are terrified of getting it “wrong” — of choosing the “wrong” thing.

    There are, however, ways to move forward, and feel confident in your decision. Here are 3 tips to help you choose…

    1 | THERE IS NO WRONG CHOICE

    Sure, whatever you choose may or may not be a right fit for you. But, you had to make that choice in order to make that discovery. It’s a lesson, so learn it and then move on to the next thing. Know that you can always make another choice … you are never stuck.

    2 | YOU MUST TAKE ACTION

    Just going over and over the options inside of your head will never do you any good. It only serves to make you frustrated, and leaves you going around in circles (speaking from experience!). The only way to truly know if something will or will not work for you is to get out of your head, and do something with your options.

    Maybe you try this new job or path for a while (an internship, perhaps?). Or, maybe you talk to someone already working in that line of work about what it’s really like, day-to-day. You could even try shadowing someone at their job, for a time, to get a feel for the type of work and its environment.

    But again, you must get out of your head if you want to truly find your answer.

    3 | MAKE TWO LISTS

    Several years ago, when I was stuck in a job that I hated, I got out a piece of paper and make two lists: Jobs I’d Loved & Jobs I’d Hated (really, it was more like lists of tasks at each of my previous jobs that I’d either enjoyed or couldn’t stand). I listed out everything I could think of, whether these jobs had been paid, or volunteer, or even just odd jobs done for family members. Some of the items on my lists included:

    Loved: lots of sunlight | freedom to make decisions | no strict dress code | able to generate ideas.

    Hated: micromanaging boss | confined to a single spot all day | uniforms | being on-call.

    Having these two lists, and the awareness these gave me, helped my next job to be so much better! It was near-perfect for me (as far as 9-to-5’s go). I had a ton of autonomy, didn’t have to get dressed up, was never called to cover a shift, and my boss was pretty cool!

    :: – :: – :: – ::

    Really, the main point to remember is that you can always make a different choice. Heck, what I went to school for isn’t even close to what I now do for a living! But it took a lot of trial and error to figure out my true path. Nevertheless, I’ve found it and can now confidently reassure you that you, too, will eventually find your way.

    LEAVE A COMMENT and tell me three of the options you are currently considering. I’d love to hear about what interests you!

  • Career,  Work

    What It’s Really Like to Be Self-Employed

    When you read about entrepreneurship, or start looking into becoming self-employed, you’ll hear the usual things: set up a website, have a social media presence, understand your target market, and make sure there’s a need for what you want to offer. And, sure — all of those things are important.

    But there’s a whole other side to self-employment that no one really talks about! There are skills you need that no one prepares you for, and there is stuff that comes up that you weren’t expecting.

    Here are 9 things that took me by surprise in this entrepreneurial journey, so that you can be better aware of what to expect:

    1 | THOSE CLOSEST TO YOU (FRIENDS, FAMILY, SPOUSE) WILL PROBABLY NOT BE SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR DREAM

    They’re certainly not going to be as passionate or excited about it as you are… but, that’s okay, as it’s not their dream — it’s yours!

    It helps to get yourself into Entrepreneur groups — surround yourself with others who get what you’re going through — and to turn to them with your highs and lows in business.

    Family will probably worry about you and, meaning well, encourage you to go out and get a “real job”. Don’t let that deter you. Just know that they aren’t going to understand, and continue to do your thing.

    2 | YOU WILL NEED RESILIENCE & PERSEVERANCE TO BE SUCCESSFUL

    As an Entrepreneur, you will learn that failures are simply a part of the success process… so long as you learn from them. If you keep getting up, and keep pressing forward — if you’re willing to fight to see your dreams realized — then, in time, you will succeed. You just have to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep going.

    3 | (ALMOST) NONE OF IT IS ABOUT YOU

    This one really took me by surprise. When I first became self-employed, it was all about me — how much money I could make, what kinds of things I wanted to do or liked doing, colors and fonts and design styles that matched my tastes.

    Yet, over time, I’ve come to realize that it’s really about the audience I want to help. They, after all, are the ones with the power to determine whether what I’m offering is worthy of their time, or worth their hard-earned dollars.

    My audience and their needs and desires are the most important factor… everything I do as an Entrepreneur must take them into consideration. What do they struggle with, and how can I help? What colors and designs appeal to them? What do they want or need to learn about through my content? What will they see as valuable? It’s all about serving my audience.

    4 | YOU MUST GIVE IF YOU WANT TO RECEIVE — SOW, IF YOU WANT TO REAP

    A common misconception of new entrepreneurs is that you can set up a website, and put up this great sales page with your amazing offer, and — bam! — you’ll start making the big bucks! Yet, it doesn’t work that way. Firstly, because you need to actually tell people that your offer exists (they won’t just stumble across it, and be amazed), and secondly because, when you’re first starting out, people don’t yet know you. In order for them to buy from you, they first need to have a good understanding of who you are (as a business) and what you can do for them (see point #3, above). So, patience is needed, while you educate others about your business. Which brings me to the next point…

    5 | THERE IS SO MUCH WRITING!

    They say “content is king” — and for good reason. In order for your audience to get to know and like you, they need to be educated on who you are and what you are offering them. You need to show them that you know what they’re dealing with, and why you are the best person to help them solve that problem. How you do this, as an online entrepreneur, is through writing.

    You write content for your website and blog, you write posts for social media, you write content for your email newsletter, you write copy for landing pages and sales pages and ads … it feels as if writing is your main job, even though you never signed up to be a “writer”! (Don’t like to write? That’s okay — you can hire someone to do it for you. But be aware that, first, you’ll need to be clear on your message, and on the tone you are wishing to convey).

    6 | MARKETING AND SALES ARE KEY SKILLS YOU MUST HAVE (OR BUILD)

    A lot of people have a really negative view of sales, and think “marketing” is a complicated thing. Thus, they try to avoid these two skills. Yet, the reality is, most of us are just misinformed about what each of these things really is, and we only have our experiences with others’ attempts at these to base our knowledge off of.

    Based on what I’ve learned:

    Marketing is simply creating awareness of your business, and what you can offer other people. That’s it, in a nutshell (not so complicated, huh?).

    Sales, on the other hand, is simply educating others about what your offer can do for them, and then giving them options, and the choice of whether or not this is right for them, at this time. The idea that sales is “pushy, icky, slimy, convincing, or coercing” is wrong. When sales is done correctly — from a place of being of service to your customer, and allowing them to choose what’s right for them — it takes all of the “ick” out of it, and ends up being a win-win for everyone involved.

    And truth be told, you cannot have a “business” if you aren’t willing to sell, or to marketing your offerings. These are foundational skills.

    7 | YOUR PERSONAL GROWTH GAME WILL BE STRENGTHENED

    … that is, so long as you’re willing to stay in the fight, and keep pressing forward!

    I never would have imagined how much being an Entrepreneur would grow me, personally. It really is more about who you’ll become in the process, than what you do. I’ve become more patient, more resilient, mentally stronger, and I’ve developed more of a servant’s heart through running my own business.

    There are also many mindsets and limiting beliefs you’ll need to work through in order to grow and succeed. It’s definitely not easy! But it is so very, very worth it.

    8 | COACHES, MENTORS, & GUIDES ARE KEY TO MAKING PROGRESS

    … and I’m not just including this point because I am a coach/mentor/guide! I honestly wouldn’t be where I am, today, if it weren’t for the wonderful people and coaches who gave me their time and shared their wisdom and insights with me, along the way.

    There were times, in my journey thus far, where I was so confused and frustrated, and I could not see a way forward. Yet, in reaching out to, and then talking through things with these coaches and other entrepreneurs, they helped me to untangle the messes inside my head, work through the mindsets or beliefs that were holding me back, and they gave me the encouragement and support I needed to remember why I’d started on this journey in the first place. I am forever grateful to each and every one of them for their help!

    Side note: I didn’t always have the money to hire someone, so I took advantage of the free 30-minute calls offered by these fellow entrepreneurs — often in exchange for a testimonial they could use. So know that, no matter what, the help that you need is always available. However, if you can afford it, I also highly believe in the value of investing in a coach. You gain so much clarity and confidence in being open and vulnerable with someone else, and letting them hold you accountable!

    9 | STRUCTURE, SCHEDULES, & TIME MANAGEMENT AREN’T REALLY THE “EVILS” WE WANT TO BELIEVE THEY ARE

    I’ve always been fiercely independent, and hated limits and being “confined” in any way. In fact, like many who branch out on their own as Entrepreneurs, they whole reason I wanted to be self-employed was so that I could have the freedom to do things my own way, on my own schedule, and without the restrictions one typically finds in a traditional work environment.

    Yet, after several years of “winging it” — doing whatever I felt like doing, each day, without any real rhyme or reason — and not seeing the kind of success I’d hoped for, I came to realize that it really is important for entrepreneurs to create (and then follow) some kind of schedule.

    Without structure, it is really easy to lose whole days “lost in the scroll” on social media, or to spend your time working on things that seem important but aren’t really moving your business forward, or creating income (again, speaking from experience, here!).

    One of my favorite time management / scheduling hacks is Michael Hyatt’s “ideal week” (you can read more about that, here). He groups similar tasks together, and then assigns them to days of the week. So, for example: Mondays might be for marketing & promotion, Wednesdays for research & development, and Fridays for content creation (writing, recording videos, etc).

    Personally, I love how flexible this method is — allowing me to still choose what I’ll do on any given day, and how much time I will devote to each thing, so long as it falls under that day’s category. It allows me to still work according to my moods, and to not feel confined.

    :: – :: – :: – :: – ::

    LEAVE A COMMENT and let me know which of these stands out as most surprising to you! Or, if you’re already self-employed, I’d love to hear what you, yourself, discovered in your journey that the “business” books hadn’t prepared you for.

     

  • Career,  Work

    The Entrepreneur Mindset: It’s Not About You!

    When you first start out in business for yourself, it’s so exciting to get everything set up. You choose a name for your company, you set up your website and social media platforms, you pick out a color scheme, and you decide what you’re going to offer to your audience. Best of all, you’re finally escaping the 9-to-5 grind… or, you’re starting on the path towards that. It’s only a matter of time.

    After a couple of months of being “open”, and doing promotion and other things you’re supposed to do as a self-employed business owner, you start to get discouraged because, for all of your efforts, you’re mostly hearing crickets… maybe you got a little bit of interest, but it’s been nowhere near the fanfare (or income) that you’d expected.

    What’s the deal? Are you just not cut out for this whole entrepreneurship thing? Are you just not trying hard enough?

    Here’s a hint: Go back and re-read the first paragraph of this post, and notice the word that appears (in two versions), over and over throughout. Did you catch it?

    That’s the problem. It’s been all about you. In actually, “your” business is supposed to be all about …them.

    Who are they?

    “They” are your audience and potential customers. Without them, you’ll never have a business, only have a hobby. Because, they are the ones who are supposed to be paying for your offerings.

    Doesn’t it make sense, then, that it should be all about them?

    So, let’s come at this from this new perspective. Let’s go back to the beginning and put this together with our audience in the spotlight.

    START WITH WHY

    In this book (and TED talk), “Start With Why“, Simon Sinek talks about how the most successful brands (eg. Apple, Inc.) don’t start with what they offer, but instead, why they’re offering it. The reason for this is because we, as consumers, shop first based on our emotional response — and then we justify our decisions with logic. It therefore makes sense to start by thinking about why you’re offering this particular product or service, and why your audience needs it. Also, why did you decide to get into this particular business?

    whoWHO

    Next, you’re going to need to think about who needs what you’ve got to offer. Whose problem aligns with why you feel compelled to be an entrepreneur?

    After all, that’s what business is all about — solving the problems others have, and getting paid to do so. It’s an exchange of value.

    The tricky part, here, is finding a balance between who has a problem you can solve, but also who fits the profile of someone you’d most like to work with, or serve.

    Depending on your business model, this second bit may or may not matter. For example, if you’re opening a retail store, perhaps the customer’s personality type isn’t going to matter; whereas, if you’re offering a service like coaching others on-on-one (or, even in a group setting), it’s going to matter a great deal whether or not you and your customer get along!

    This topic needs far more depth than I have the space to go into, in this post, so I’ll do another post about it at a later date (or, you can dig into this more with me, one-on-one).

    HOW

    Simon Sinek also says that “customers don’t buy what you do; they buy why and how“.

    So, the next question you need to ask yourself is this: How will my product or service help my audience get what they want? How will it solve their most pressing problem?

    Notice that you’re not yet touching on what the customer needs. They may not even know, yet, what they truly need. All they do know is that they have this problem, and they want relief… they want it solved.

    So, answer the question they’re really asking, which is, “what’s in it for me?” How can you (your product/service) solve their problem?

    WHAT

    Finally, you’ll need to come up with what you can offer that answers all of the above questions. To recap:

    • Why are you offering this, and why does your audience need it?
    • Who needs what you’ve got to offer?
    • How does it benefit them? (What’s in it for them?)

    There are other questions you’ll need to answer, of course (like how you’ll offer these solutions, what you’ll charge, etc).

    The key, though, is to always keep your customer at the forefront of your mind in everything you do throughout “your” business.

    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

    How has this post opened your eyes to changes you could make in your business set-up or thinking? Let me know in the comments (or, message me!)