Can you believe it’s already March? Where did the first two months of the year go? Are you on schedule to reach your goals for 2012? Or are you feeling frustrated because this was supposed to be the year you grew your business but you’re already off track because of time constraints, lack of confidence or overwhelm?
If you’re like many aspiring entrepreneurs, you have a BIG dream and good intentions but just can’t seem to make it happen. And it’s killing you because you want so badly to do your own thing but you don’t have the support or anyone to go to for advice or resources.
You could hire a coach but what you really NEED is a circle of entrepreneurial friends to bounce ideas off of. Do you wish you had someone to confirm that yes, you do have a viable concept? Friends who share the journey with you.
Like most of us, you probably don’t have people in your daily life who understand the way your ideas tug at your heart and beg for attention. Your friends and family want to protect you from what they imagine is the risk of going out on your own. They want you to stay in what they perceive as a secure job that puts food on the table even if it’s sucking your soul dry. Those who love you may even discourage you from following your own path because they want to “protect you” from something they just don’t understand.
It’s easy to lose momentum when you don’t have anyone to be accountable to. Dreams wither in isolation and if you share them with the wrong people, the seeds are squashed before they’ve had a chance to take root.
That’s why I love mastermind groups. Being part of an entrepreneurs mastermind is like having an advisory board for your business and a support group for your dreams. In his book “Think and Grow Rich”, author Napoleon Hill defined the mastermind as a “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” My experience has been that while having one other person is helpful, having a group of 4 to 6 feels more like putting 8 or 10 heads together.
If you tend to lose confidence, procrastinate or have trouble staying motivated, the accountability of a mastermind will keep you moving in the right direction. Participants brainstorm ideas, share resources, challenge each other to create and implement goals, give honest input and feedback and fresh perspective.
In January of 2012 and again in 2013, Barbara Winter, best-selling author of “Making a Living without a Job”, and I invited a select group of aspiring entrepreneurs to join us for an intensive mastermind weekend. We holed up in a hotel suite in Las Vegas with six dreamers who walked away do-ers They brought their how-to questions to the table and left with answers and action steps. Of course they were got the benefit from our combined 7 decades of self-employment PLUS a new tribe of entrepreneurial pals for continued support after the event.
Since many of you have expressed disappointment that you missed out in January, we’ve decided to offer more Mastermind Magic this Spring in Nashville. HERE’S THE SCOOP.
Are you stressed about money? This time of year, I keep hearing friends say their biggest stress between November and December isn’t getting it all done but paying for all they want to do. Do you charge gifts in December then face a big credit card bill in January. Do you resent having to go to a job you hate to pay off those bills?
My solution may seem counterintuitive to you but it will forever change that pattern of stressful December followed by exhaustion in January.
I’m suggesting you buy YOURSELF a gift. Yes, even if it means putting more money on your credit card because it’s the most important gift you will give.
What if you could give yourself a gift this year that meant:
- No more dreaded office parties.
- No more last minute rushing around because your time is your own.
- No more stress over how to pay off those bills in January because when you need more cash, you create another profit center and give yourself a raise.
No, I haven’t lost my marbles. There really is a gift you can give yourself that will ensure 2013 will be the first year you face the holidays on your own terms.
CLICK HERE to find out what Barbara Winter and I have planned that will make 2013 the year your dreams of an ideal livelihood become reality.
Fledgling and aspiring entrepreneurs frequently confide in me that they want to start or grow their business. They start out with great enthusiasm but lose momentum and fall into paralysis mode at the thought of marketing. They use words like “sleazy” and “underhanded” to define internet marketers. I keep hearing, “ I really want to start a business but I hate the marketing part.”
As a new entrepreneur, it makes sense that you hit a wall when everything you read tells you that the only way to build your business is to create free mega tele-summits where you give a few bites of valuable content and then spend the last fifteen minutes of each call plugging a high priced program. It works. but YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THAT to succeed. I don’t and some of my entrepreneurial friends don’t either. We write on our blogs, share with our friends on Facebook and Twitter and charge reasonable fees for our valuable services. We don’t hold free calls and then offer pricey programs. We promote paid tele-classes where we offer valuable information.
I’m not making a judgement on that type of internet marketing. It just doesn’t feel right for me. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I love marketing. I love good marketing so much that on the rare occasions I watch television, there are a few commercials that I actually look forward to viewing again and again. I giggle every time I see a certain home insurance commercial featuring an exceptionally domestic canine. I’ve never thought of buying a Subaru but their recent ad campaign featuring a father and daughter makes me want to hug the ad team.
As a small business, you might not do a lot of paid advertising. As a solo entrepreneur, you are better off developing ongoing relationships with people who have like interests and will become long term fans. That’s marketing-the art of connecting with those want or need what you have and letting them know about your products and services. You don’t have to use the popular formula if it feels “bait and switch” to you. If you offer something of value in an authentic, straight forward style, there is nothing “sleazy” about it.
You have some great ideas for a business and maybe you’ve taken some first steps to get it going but suddenly you are spinning in place because you’re overwhelmed by too much information and not knowing where to begin so you do nothing.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. That feeling of overwhelm is one of the main reasons I hear fledgling entrepreneurs give for not moving forward in their dreams of self-employment.
Are you feeling like there’s just so much to do and so much to learn, you can’t keep up with all the new information? Every time you open your email inbox, there’s an invite to a tele-class about something you absolutely must learn in order to make your business succeed. If overwhelm is keeping you from either launching or growing your business, here are a few recommendations to help you get unstuck and get moving forward.
-Limit the time you spend on social media. Stop concerning yourself with what everyone else is doing and focus on what YOU can do with your own business.
-Accept that you are not going to stay on top of each and every new change in online marketing. You can spread yourself so thin trying to learn every new platform that you do none effectively. Just start with what you know and once your business is growing, gradually take a bit of time each day to learn something new.
-A good rule of thumb is to spend more time on output than input. It’s easy to let the time get away from you when you subscribe to too many e-newsletters. Pick two or three that resonate with you and unsubscribe to the rest. I know, it’s hard because you feel like you don’t want to miss anything but if you don’t limit your input, you’ll spend more time reading and less time doing and you’ll never get your business going.
-Think baby-steps. Commit to take one small action a day. You’ll get a lot closer to your goal if you do one tiny step a day than if you wait until you have time to do it all.
-Hire a mentor or a coach to keep you focused and on track but be careful who you listen to! Everyone claims to be a “coach” and while there are some wonderful mentors out there, there are a lot more who are teaching what they’ve never done themselves. Those programs that certify coaches do not require someone to have had their own successful business to be a business coach. If you choose to work with a coach or mentor, ignore their “certification” and find someone who has successfully started and run businesses other than coaching.
-Join a mastermind group. Being part of an entrepreneurs mastermind is like having an advisory board for your business and a support group for your dreams. Many mastermind groups charge tens of thousands of dollars for monthly group calls and one or two in-person meetings but you don’t have to pay that kind of money to benefit from a mastermind group. You could start your own group of like-minded entrepreneurs but it’s been proven that a mastermind group with a facilitator is more effective.
If you’d like the ongoing support of a group, join Barbara Winter, best-selling author or “Making a Living without a Job” and me in Denver for the Second Obstacle-Buster Mastermind. Find out more about it HERE.
Recently I polled some of my readers who say they want to start a business but haven’t begun. Here are the things they cited as their biggest obstacles. The results may surprise you.
- Lack of Support from Friends and Family
- Not sure Where to Begin
- Concern about Isolation
- Legal and Business Structure Questions
- Health Insurance and other Benefits
- Lack of Record Keeping Knowledge
- Technical Overwhelm
- Lack of Start-up Capital
The list itself didn’t surprise me. What did was the percentage of people who responded that lack of support was one of the biggest barriers for them in starting their own business. Because I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and have always surrounded myself with other business owners, I sometimes forget how many people have no one to bounce ideas around with. I forget that most of you have people in your lives who actually fear self-employment and think they are protecting you from risk by squashing your dreams.
It’s no wonder you’re having trouble getting started launching your dream business if you don’t have a tribe of entrepreneurial friends to support you and help you stay motivated.
Because so many of you have expressed a need for start-up guidance and on-going support, Barbara Winter and I are offering our “Obstacle Buster Mastermind” workshop again in May.
This is your opportunity to bring all your concerns, questions and roadblocks to an intimate group of entrepreneurs who will help you bust through the roadblocks that have been holding you back from finally starting your business.
Read what attendees of our last Obstacle Buster Workshop had to say HERE
FYI-I’ve addressed all of the above concerns on this blog in the “Start-Up Now” category.
Is your dream too tidy? When you sit down to plan out your next business moves or other creative project, do you work on your laptop or a legal pad? You could be limiting the scope of your imagination or stifling creativity by trying to fit a big idea into an 8.5 X 11 inch space.
The past few days, I’ve been chatting with attendees of the upcoming Inspired Livelihood Obstacle Busting Mastermind. The purpose of the pre-workshop call is to help them gain clarity on their idea so that when they arrive in Las Vegas we will focus on how to make it happen.
As I listen to all these exciting ideas, my possibility cogs spin and I realize how we limit our dreams by confining them to the size of our desktops. That may work if you are a linear thinker but a lot of us, particularly artists, think in more dimensions and need to give our dreams room to grow.
If you have an idea for a project and want to get crystal clear on what shape it will take, try this:
- Get several pieces of poster size paper or a roll of craft or butcher paper and some markers. NO erasable pencils because for this exercise, there’s no such thing as a mistake.
- Spread them out on the floor rather than a desk. (If you can’t get down on the floor, use a large table but let the papers overlap so that you KNOW you are not limited to the size of the table.
- In the center of the paper, write your topic or project name. (This doesn’t have to be the permanent name.)
- Then jot down a word or symbol for everything you think of. At this point, it doesn’t matter where on the paper-When one idea sparks another, record it somewhere near that-just get it down-quickly. Don’t analyze it.
- Don’t worry right now about the order or whether or not you even know how to do whatever idea pops into your mind. This is about “WHAT IT IS” not how to do it. (that comes later.)
Nothing you do in this first exercise is a commitment. These are just random thoughts and ideas.
I suggest you say to yourself, “If this business (or project) could be anything I wanted and I didn’t have to think about whether or not I have the knowledge or resources to do it, what would it look like?” This is the dream stage. Don’t try to be realistic or worry about if you could sell this idea or the logistics. Just get your ideas down.
If you get near an edge of the first piece of paper, tape another piece to it. Don’t limit yourself to what fits on the paper. Even if you have to go out the room, down the hall and through the front door, make sure you don’t let running out of space on the paper stop you.
You’ll be amazed at how your ideas will expand into the space they are given.
If you have a BIG idea but don’t know where to begin to make it happen, there are still a few spaces left in the upcoming Mastermind in Las Vegas. Join Barbara Winter and me as we guide a small group of creative entrepreneurs through the obstacles to make their dreams into a viable business. HERE’S THE SCOOP
One of the most frequent questions aspiring entrepreneurs ask me is “Where should I spend my limited amount of start-up money?” My answer is that it depends on the type of business you are starting.
A brick and mortar retail shop does need more start-up cash than an online information product business. There is inventory, rent, security deposits and possibly some fix-up/build-out work to be done. There are ways around spending on these items with barter, consignment, trade and other savings options which I have implemented myself and have written about on this blog. I have started successful businesses on very little cash and that is my number one suggestion for anyone starting a new venture.
There is only one thing I would borrow money for at start-up, but first, I’ll tell you what
I recommend you do NOT spend money on:
- High priced legal and accounting services. Yes, there will be a time when these are vital to your business but a l lot of new entrepreneurs waste time and money on establishing an LLC or Corporation and setting up expensive accounting systems long before they need to. Unless your business involves liability, just get started. Get whatever licenses you need, start as a sole proprietor and start making money. Of course if you are selling physical items in a state with sales tax, you will need to obtain a re-sale license right away. Keep your business money completely separate from your personal money. Then, when you are generating revenue, contact an attorney and set up a legal business entity to protect your assets and a good accountant to help you avoid unnecessary tax.
*note:I do highly recommend you purchase insurance if you have a brick and mortar location where you could be liable for injury to a customer. If you have inventory you will need to insure it for fire and theft as well. If your stock is on consignment. check with the artist or supplier to see if their insurance covers it while in your possession.
- Fancy office equipment, fixtures or build-out. You don’t need state-of the art technology unless you are starting a tech-based business. I’ve started every business with a pen and legal pad, off-the-shelf receipts and a cigar box for cash. Wouldn’t you rather hit your break even point and start building up a reserve than have a snazzy cash register? If you are doing your business online, you do need a working computer you can depend on but you do not need a lot of pricey software, nor do you need the fastest, best technology. Try to work with what you have until your business is generating enough to pay for it.
- An expensive website. Too many new entrepreneurs wait until they have the perfect website to start their business. That’s a huge waste. What you think you want in the beginning is almost never what ends up serving you and your clients best once your business is up and running. Do pay for a self-hosted domain and use a free WordPress theme to begin. I am absolutely not a techie and even I can set up a WordPress site in a day. Later, when you are generating enough income to pay for it, hire a WordPress expert to help you fine-tune the site to suit your needs. Have them teach you how to do it so that you can keep it updated yourself. Ideally, barter for their services. ( I learned this the hard way. I paid a Silicon Valley way too much money and wasted weeks waiting for them to create my dream site. I wasn’t in business long before I realized it did not fit my needs and replaced it with a WordPress blog which I can make changes to myself as my needs change.
The one thing I would spend money on, even if I had to borrow it, is education or consulting. I’m not talking about an elite platinum group coaching club where you pay $20,000 to $100,000 to spend 4 days a year with a coach in a group of people. (Yes those do exist and people vie for a spot in them.) Rather I am suggesting that if you know what you want to do but not exactly how to go about it, you hire someone who has done it successfully to guide you through the obstacles. It will pay you many times over to get it right the first time.
If you can’t afford one-on-one consulting which can be quite expensive, find a small group mastermind led by someone who is experienced in helping people work-through solutions. It doesn’t have to cost a bundle and it will be the single best investment you make in your start-up. If you are ready to take the first step toward making your dream business happen in 2012, go HERE to learn how you can get your ideas in front of 2 life-long entrepreneurs and problem solvers.
A Facebook post this morning by Tama Kieves reminds us to surround ourselves with people who support us. Do you have people in your life who believe in you? Are you spending time with nay-sayers who make you feel that your aspirations are frivolous and unlikely to succeed?
It’s tough around the holidays to avoid dream-bashers if they are family members. Sometimes they are well-meaning and think it’s their duty to keep you “practical” and realistic. Remember that particularly when it comes to self-employment, most people who haven’t done it just don’t understand and believe a steady job means staying “safe”. People who’ve been in jobs their whole lives often see starting a business as risky but you know it doesn’t have to be and there’s no real security in a job anyway. “Others,” to quote Tama, “demand you climb into small boxes so that they feel safe around you.” Regardless of their motives, don’t let people who haven’t been on that journey discourage you from following your own path.
If you know 2012 is the year you want to finally move forward and make your dreams happen, the best way to do that is to connect with a supportive group of people who are moving in the same direction. People who see obstacles as speed bumps not roadblocks. My friend Barbara Winter and I have created just that environment for you. We’ll be meeting with a select group of entrepreneurs in an intimate setting where we can focus on your dreams and work as a group to find solutions to whatever is in the way of your living your ideal livelihood. As a group, we’ll look at your idea or business and design a concrete plan of steps for you to take to MAKE IT HAPPEN IN 2012. CLICK HERE to find out more.
We’ve all heard the stories. The guy who just happened to be seated next to someone on a train who loved their his so much he offered to finance it. The woman who happened to be at the same cocktail party as the only publisher in her genre. Yes, sometimes things happen that seem like “lucky breaks” but the reality is, these people met the right people because they were out there telling their story. You could be at a holiday party and meet the perfect person to help you break into your dream business but if you don’t have your message clear and share it, nothing will happen. You might be seated on a plane next to the best friend of your ideal client but if you have your earplugs in and your face buried in a book (as I sometimes do on long flights), that person will never know of your expertise.
Maybe you believe in coincidence but the only way you are going to make things happen is if you are clear on what you need to make happen and what steps to take to make it real.
Do you have a dream that you long to bring to fruition but no idea where to begin to make it happen? If you’re serious about starting your dream business, don’t sit around waiting for you lucky break. Outline a plan of small steps you can start taking now to move in the direction of your dream.
Speaking of luck, if you need help figuring out what those steps are or how to make money with your idea and how to do it without enough money to start up, join Barbara Winter and me in Lucky Las Vegas for a Mastermind Weekend where we’ll examine YOUR idea and brainstorm solutions to help you jump those hurdles and make 2012 the year you finally make your dream happen. Find out more HERE
Several months ago I felt honored to be invited to mentor a 17 year old high school senior. As a requirement for graduation, each student chose a year long community service project, which culminated in an awards program. Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the presentations and came away with an optimism about our future leaders.
Naturally, some of the students thought the project was “lame” and did only the required work with little enthusiasm. But what delighted me was seeing the pride on the faces of many others who were so inspired by the work that they far exceeded the obligatory hours. Their Power Point presentations, story boards, scrapbooks, oral or written reports showed they’d put far more time and energy into the project than was required.
I’m aware that young people often do volunteer community service because their churches encourage benevolence or they know it looks good on a college resume, but whatever their initial motivation, some of these kids discover empathy and purpose that hopefully will give their lives direction. Of course they feel the satisfaction of helping others but they also learn that goodwill and philanthropy isn’t just about volunteering and making charitable donations. That beneficence can be a way of life and a livelihood.
A proponent of socially responsible business, I found it encouraging that these young people gained an appreciation for and interest in environmental, elder care and youth services careers. As a life-long entrepreneur and self employment advocate, I was elated that they not only volunteered in civic and social service agencies but also witnessed adults gleefully earning their livelihood as proprietors of private recycling services and sports camps for disabled children. They discovered that they could be self employed elder advocates, or environmental lobbyists in the private sector. One young man exuberantly reported on his work with a rock band who did a playground improvement project in each town they performed on tour. Another student, a pitcher on the high school baseball team, when asked if he hoped to play professionally, said his project coaching an inner city basketball team inspired him to maybe start a baseball camp for less privileged kids. A girl whose project was testing river water for impurities, when asked if she wanted to be a researcher said, “No, I’m going to be an author. I’ve already started writing fictional stories that teach a lesson about our precious natural resources.”
Sure, many of these kids will be job seekers but I’m ecstatic that some are already thinking like entrepreneurs. They know that they don’t have to have a job to do well financially and that volunteering or check writing aren’t the only ways to do good. These grads are heading out into the world knowing that they can make a difference by making a living as a social entrepreneur. I’m still smiling.