Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mistakes when starting a business -

Saw this info on one of the emails I receive and thought it would be good info for all of you thinking
about starting a business.  These principles apply even if self-employment is your goal -- any information is helpful to digest and incorporate in your minds eye when it comes to building a business.

Mistakes you'll make when starting a business 

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Boy's Rules

I just read this blog and thought I should include on this blog as I am always speaking to the heart of the matter...at least I feel I am.  Steve Blank is what is referred to as a 'serial entrepreneur' Learn about Steve Blank
who has a great blog that offers great resources on business and starting companies but the recent posting that I find so interesting is about how women have to circumvent the business world.  Read on  and let me know what you think.  Boy's Rules - Girls Lose 

Checking in on our business status -

Believe it or not the end of August is here and we are eight months down for 2010.  Next month estimated quarterly taxes are due and I find it a good time to review things and see how I'm doing.  Some of you have more time into the "self-employment" path than I do but regardless it's never a wrong time to put on paper the goods, the bads and things that need to be changed so you can evaluate and make adjustments so the last quarter of the year produces improved results.

Of course have you been entering your transactions in either Quicken or Quick books or even a simple Excel spreadsheet?  That is the question right?  If you haven't now may be a good time to get started as you will have a difficult time getting a picture of how you are doing without the historical information on hand.  However, as any self-employed individual will tell you..."I know (in their head they know) how I'm doing."

I've always loved that statement because to a great degree it is true.  The person who wears all hats is the most hands on expression of the business.  They know who their customers are, if they are asking for more services, if they are paying their bills and of course they know if the business is growing by virtue of how busy they are.  Yet, the specifics of how they spend their money and what that amounts to or what percentage of their revenue is spent on certain things usually remains to be seen.

People I have had the pleasure working with who were self-employed or just wanted their finances tracked were always, without exception, surprised when the data was organized and put together and they could see, in black and white, where their money was going.  It's quite a wake up call even if you believe you are the most knowledgeable about your finances. 

So, take the opportunity now, before you pay your taxes or the end of the third quarter (9/30) to take the time to put your information together in a way that works for you.  If you're not quite up to speed with Quick books or even Excel, just buy accounting paper and make your own financial statement.  The good thing about this exercise is you will continue to learn about what you know and what you don't know about your business.

Remember, any questions can be easily answered if you take the time to think about them and don't be afraid to talk with others who are self-employed as they are struggling with the same issues as you.  I've found it very interesting to walk into the local retail stores and if they aren't busy, talk with the managers and find out how they think things are going for their business.  You'd be surprised how willing people are to talk about their perception of the economy and how their business has made changes to accommodate the economic challenges and keep business profitable.  Sure, their business is different than yours but we are all challenged by these economic times and it never hurts to check in with other business people who live and work in the same world you do!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Short & Sweet and to the point that deserves a reminder!

The other day I was reviewed  a list I have of motivational business quotes and this is the one that struck me as being important considering all of us are building our future business in challenging times, wondering will it work?  Is the business out there?  Are we crazy???  The following quote summed up what I think are the most important points we need to remember:

"Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work.  But if you're not frightened b these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were."
David Rockefeller

Anyone who has reached any level of success has had to become good at all three parts.  Learning a skill, trade or profession takes training...be it on-the-job, school or the hard knocks of life but becoming an individual who is trained at something is the first step. 

Next is discipline.  I have almost had a romantic notion about writing and how wonderful a life it would be to be an author.  But when I've read interviews with successful authors what stood out was the discipline by which they met each day.  Write write write...each day, every day.  And finally, hard work.  There are those people who think that success just happens.  Let me correct that thought...success does happen after hard work that is consistent, focused and disciplined.

If you can integrate these three ideas into your goal of building a business the odds are with you that you will be successful...why?  Because most people give up too easily; too quickly and find success much to "hard" to achieve.  You know differently so go for it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Does work bring you want you want?

I think some of us get lost in the pressures of life and forget that this is our life and we need to be in charge of how it goes.  Some of you may have seen the article about a couple that decided to downsize and simplify their life -  But will it make you happy?   This article is not just about a couple making significant lifestyle changes but about an economy and culture that supports the need for more.  Working more, having more, buying more, doing more...more and more and faster and faster.  Don't get the idea that I think those who work hard and reap success are wrong.  Far from it - I think it's great that there are people like that.  Our economy needs them and so does the culture but that lifestyle is not for everyone...and that is my point.

Recently I was thinking about my situation and how challenging this 'building a business' is for me and I thought back to when I was in my late teens and early 20's.  Back then and even through my 30's & 40's I thought I was going to be "something".  Of course I had no idea what that "something" was but I had convinced myself that it was going to be big.  Yet, as the years passed and life presented various challenges both good ones and not so good ones, I did my best to make it through.  When I examined my patterns what emerged was my strong need for independence and choice.  Even though I worked as an employee most of my working career, I gravitated towards small companies or positions that would allow freedom & flexibility.  I worked hard, became a valuable employee and the benefit I gained and most valued was freedom/flexibility.   To do what?  To spend time riding my horse...to have breakfast on a weekday morning so I could sit and read.  To be able to enjoy a day when everyone else was working seemed to give me a a sense of satisfaction that I could do what I needed to preserve who I was.

Now that my path has changed it's course once again the same needs...freedom and choice...remain most important to me, but I have come to realize that I am not going to be "something" - instead I am just a regular person who is living the life I have built over time.  I am one of the those people who is being "something" by living life and enjoying it in a way that makes the most sense to me.  Getting to this realization has given me such a sense of peace and comfort.  I am happy with where I am and my desire to build a business.  My success comes with my ability to connect with and help others manage their finances while, at the same time, giving me time to enjoy my life.  Without even knowing it, I've finally become that "something" I always wanted to be...it's just that I didn't know what it would look like until now.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How to convey ideas to self and others?

Just this morning I was reading the NYTimes on-line and ran across a great visual addressing all the ideas of money, finance, planning for the future that each and every one of us considers.  It was done in such a unique and creative way I just had to share it.

Here it is -  The Sketchpad: Personal Finance on a Napkin  It draws you into exploring what the ideas are about and hopefully gets you thinking about where you stand and how you would rate yourself.

As we have all learned over time, no one person has the correct answer for all which is why it is important that we take responsibility for educating ourselves about money and the ideas around managing it.  Not that we have to be a whiz at every aspect of financial planning, investments, life insurance, as that makes no sense, but it is our responsibility to ourselves to have at least a global understanding so we can choose people who can help us get to where we want to go.

That, of course, suggests that we know where we are going.  I think that answer isn't always available to folks who work hard in a jobs that only allow them to cover their basic needs.  If you are just living check to check, you may not be able to take the time to think about the future or even believe there is a financial future for you.  But believe me, even those folks who can only save a few dollars here and there are trying to plan for tomorrow.

Take a look at this article and enjoy it's message.  Hopefully for those of you who, like myself, are visual learners, you'll start thinking again how you can better manage your own personal finances.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tracking your Progress

How do you keep yourself motivated?  How do you link your marketing efforts to results? 

Without thinking we are always working to build our business.  When you are relaxing or cycling, taking a walk or even watching your favorite TV program...your mind is probably drifting to thoughts on how to get more business and create more success.  I don't know about any of you but I am always thinking about how to build my business.  Sometimes I wish I could shut my brain off and stop the process but right now it is so important to me to make ends meet that I am almost obsessed with the idea.

One thing I have done from the very beginning is to keep a journal of everything I do.  If I send out marketing letters I write down how many and to whom they went.  If I put an ad on Craigslist I write it down.  If I call someone and have a conversation about business...I write it down.  If I am actually working for a client I write it down.  Writing it down is important for me.

Why???  Because I review constantly what I've done and where I need to follow-up.  As I've said before and stressed over and over following up is key to getting to where you want to go.  If you have no record of all the effort you've made to get clients, there will be days when you feel like you're going nowhere...spinning your wheels and it "just ain't so!" 

So to stay motivated and feeling good about moving forward find a way that works for you.  Track your progress so you can evaluate results.  What did you do that got you a client?  What did you do that provided nothing towards your effort?  Did the cold calling prove to be a good investment of time?  Did you follow up with these people?  Continue to search your book and you'll find the questions that are specific to your efforts and they will show you that you're working hard to build your business...and that will get you up and working each and every day!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cold Calling --- UGH???

What can anyone say about cold calling?  It's not every one's cup of tea but...it is a way to make contacts and build your business.  Personally, it's something I have pushed off for as long as I could until recently.  I will my experience with you with the hope it will motivate you to give it a try. 

Well,  the other day I walked into three banks and introduced myself to the Branch Managers.  All three individuals were very pleasant and helpful and offered valuable information on how the bank approaches referrals.  I'm a spontaneous kind of person, so I never have a set presentation in mind.  I just reach to each individual differently and have a casual discussion about the services I offer.  I make a point of learning something important about each person and use it as a way to point out the things we might have in common.  In these cases two of the three women I spoke with were real success stories and it was my pleasure to have them share these stories with me.  However, I am mindful of not taking up too much of their time and I always offer to put on a small seminar on a topic like basic checkbook management for their clients as a way to give something instead of just asking for the bank to be a referral source.  Being able to give and be generous is what I am all about and so offering to help in a way that is easy for me to do has proven to be a good thing.  After I left each bank, the experiences were so positive that they gave me a boost of encouragement. 

Don't forget though that follow-up is key when making cold calls.  In these cases, I've followed up with a letter thanking each individual for taking the time to meet with me but scheduling time in the future to drop by and say hello is critical to building long-term relationships.  I have been told that follow-up is what separates so many people from success.  Many people think that their first letter or meeting will get them the job.   That's just not how it happens...it's being able to repeat the connection, take the time to say hello show your sincere effort to not just work for the business but to build the relationship...that's when things start happening.

What can you say about cold-calling?????  I read INC Magazine and here is a link to one of their articles on tips for cold calling.  Cold Calling Tips  Remember, what works for some doesn't work for others and ultimately you have to create a scenario that works for you.  However, when you are clear in what product/service you are offering...believe in what you are doing...are sincere in your efforts...and operate from a place of honesty and integrity, cold calling becomes easy and YOU become your best ambassador of goodwill.


I want to apologize for slipping up on my writing frequency.  I was reminded by a friend that it is important to keep in touch...to keep writing and commenting so all of you know I'm still there.  

Thank you my friend for the reminder!