Wednesday, August 20, 2014

9 Ways Your Employee Mindset Is Keeping You From Succeeding

Image credit: Donnie Nunley/Flickr
The most difficult thing I faced as an employee-turned-self-employed-entrepreneur-small-businessperson-freelancer -- or whatever the heck I am -- was changing my employee mindset. I wasted the first year of my new career being a "deer in the headlights". I kid you not, it took me a year just to learn to think like an entrepreneur! And I'm not exactly a master of the mindset yet, not by a long shot.

Maite Baron does a great job of summing up some of the biggest mental shifts one has to tackle ... and they are very difficult to put into words.

I would add to this list:

10.  You forfeit your right to blame anyone else for your situation. 

This is restating the obvious a little, because nobody else ever has the power to ruin your life, anyway...but there's nothing that brings this home like becoming your own boss.

11. You don't get to just focus on yourself any more.
If you're not constantly thinking about what your customers want and need, you're going to lose them. Period.

Do you have what it takes? Or, more importantly, can you learn it?

Read on...

~ Catharine Symblème

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By Maite Baron

Mindset is probably the major determinant of success in pretty much every walk of life. In other words, the thinking patterns you habitually adopt largely govern the results you achieve.

But different circumstances and situations require different mindsets, something that anyone looking to leave paid employment and strike out on their own, must be aware of. Unfortunately, not all would-be entrepreneurs understand the dramatic mindset shifts required, without which business success is unlikely.

So how, as a one-time employee, will you have to think differently to succeed?

1. You’re responsible for all decisions - good and bad. Entrepreneurs have an incredible opportunity to create something from nothing, in a way that’s not possible working for someone else. But this means making big decisions about what must be done, when and how. You can’t wait for things to happen, or for someone to tell you what to do, you must make them happen. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that opportunities may be short-lived, and so develop a sense of urgency that helps them achieve their goals.

2. You need to hold both short and long-term visions simultaneously. Work for others and you are mainly responsible for ensuring that what needs to be done now, is done. As an entrepreneur, you have to project your mind forward, thinking about the potential pitfalls and opportunities that lie around the corner, and making decisions based on uncertainty. This requires you to come to terms with the fact that what you do, or don't do, today, will have an impact on your business three months, even five years down the line.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

4 Brain-Dead Easy Ways to Support a Small Business Owner, Other Than Buying Their Stuff

By Catharine Symblème

It's Lonely at the Top


Being a small local business owner is a lot of work, and quite often business owners feel, not just financially unsupported, but emotionally unsupported and unappreciated by their families, friends, and communities. They see the Amazon boxes in the trash at the Post Office, watch their carefully-crafted Facebook posts being totally ignored, and suffer through theft, 16-hour days, unending bills, whining customers, employee headaches, and distant family lives with a smile plastered on their faces, because who wants to do business with a grumpy sourpuss?

If you have a small businessperson in your life, don't let that smile fool you. Underneath it can be a lot of pain, loneliness, and suffering.

Here are 4 brain-dead easy ways to support a small business owner, other than buying their stuff:


1. Ask them how business is going, then stick around and listen to their answer.

These definitions of "support" are from a physician services support page:

"...is frequent, ongoing, accessible and flexible" 
"...can take many forms – phone calls, text messaging, group meetings..."
"...includes empathetic listening and encouragement..."

It's interesting how "empathetic listening and encouragement" is encouraged and even expected in certain settings like healthcare and personal relationships, but is totally ignored when it comes to business owners. But in the same way that cancer victims invest huge amounts of their life energy in healing from cancer, business owners invest huge amounts of life energy in running their business, and they deserve as much emotional support. You would be amazed at how meaningful it is when someone stops in a shop or visits a Facebook page and simply asks, "how's business?"

2. Tell other people about their business. 

Buy their stuff, of course, but then turn around and tell at least one other person about what you liked about their stuff. 92% of people still trust word-of-mouth -- whether it's face-to-face or via social media -- more than any other form of marketing.

3. Find them on social media and "Like" or "Follow" their page.

This is so easy it's almost embarrassing to have to even mention it, but 99% of happy customers never bother to take 10 seconds out of their daily Facebook time, find a local business, and like it. 

I mean, how completely, utterly lazy can you be? 

If you're worried about being spammed with a bajillion posts from that business you just liked, don't worry. According to this article from Forbes, only about 1-5% of people who liked a Facebook page ever even saw that page's posts. 

Instead, likes and shares help businesses out more on the behind-the-scenes level by sending Google a "social signal". According to this article from Symblème Services, "Every time someone likes, shares, tweets, or +1's content about your brand, they are sending a social signal, and the more social signals means you have better chances to rank high on search engine result pages."

4. Go back to the business and tell them how you liked their stuff, or give them an honest online review.

Reviews are like pure gold to a business. Not only do good reviews attract customers, but even bad reviews provide feedback on where they can improve.  

Giving a small business thoughtful negative feedback, as long as you're kind about it, is more supportive than just offering them meaningless positive platitudes.

To upgrade that negative feedback from gold to platinum, suggest a solution to the problem.

Again: saying nothing, or offering meaningless positive feedback, is not support. If you offer feedback, mean it!

What about you? Can you think of any other ways to support a small business or businessperson besides buying their stuff?


Here's your opportunity to offer meaningful support to Quit Your Job and Thrive: 

“Like” us on Facebook
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“Circle” us on Google Plus

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photo credit: Infusionsoft via photopin cc

Sunday, August 10, 2014

I Survived That Which Was Supposed to Kill Me


The universe didn't let us survive all of those stupid stunts we pulled in high school, just to drop us in our 40's.


































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Friday, August 8, 2014

I Just Got My First Blog Post Curated!



Boom Shakalakalaka!

Check it out! It's called "Word-Of-Mouth Marketing: The Shocking Truth and What to Do About It"

(:-D < -- This is my big, shit-eating grin!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Why Our Conversations Around Startup Funding Are All Wrong



Every time you pick up a business magazine, look at the agenda for a lean startup meetup, or listen to an interview with an entrepreneur, you hear people talking about how to land funding for your startup, hailing companies that have managed to secure investment as the holy grail of success.

But bootstrapping? Building a company that pays for itself from the beginning? Figuring out how to keep costs low when you’re starting out? It’s barely part of the conversation, even though most budding companies would be better off taking that approach.

Why have we glamorized borrowing and spending rather than bootstrapping and going truly lean


A column by Thomas Goetz in May’s Inc. Magazine (can’t find the link) goes so far as to suggest it’s smart to max out your credit cards and go into debt for your startup. Other founders, too, tell tales of how they used all their savings and ended up living on a friend’s couch… before finally striking it big. (We almost never hear about the entrepreneurs who fail to strike gold after depleting their savings and spending every investment dollar.)

Why are we telling aspiring entrepreneurs that this is a good idea? Especially when many companies are just that at the beginning… an idea. In early stages and beyond, it’s far smarter to do everything in your power NOT to seek funding. And while you’ll likely need to put some money into your big idea, certainly don’t spend your entire safety net. Instead, invest grit and time and energy, and work your butt off to create a freedom fund, even if it means earning for a while through another job.

For some startups, funding might be necessary, like when you’re building a physical product or the success of your idea relies on scaling quickly. Some young companies look to investors for leadership and experience, too. But for most of us, the conversation should be around how to build an awesome company without taking funding, not how quickly you can convince investors to give you cash. (Click to tweet this.)

The big thing you lose when you get funding from investors


Why do I advocate bootstrapping over seeking funding?

Because for all the things you gain when investors decide to back your company, here’s the big thing you lose: autonomy. That idea that’s been your baby from the beginning now belongs to someone else, too. And while they might not quite be willing to stay up all night feeding it, they’ll probably want to make sure you’re staying up all night working on it. They have a stake in your success. This not only means a loss of control; it also results in a wee bit (read: crushing pile) of pressure.

Bootstrappers only have to answer to themselves and their clients/customers/users,which means more freedom to create what really matters to you. Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with some players in the entrepreneurship community who think you’re not the real deal because you’re not spending other people’s money. This school of thought is inaccurate: my company works with a number of startups, some funded and others bootstrapped, and the funded startups are no more of the real deal than the bootstrapped ones.

Here’s why: because they figure out how to make money, and they figure it out quickly. Isn’t that the goal of every company? Sure, some companies aim to make a difference in the world or look to scale without bringing in revenue initially so they can grow big enough to sell (and hopefully make a bigger profit). But a company isn’t really successful if it can’t figure out how to bring in cash — and bootstrapped companies that succeed figure out how to make that cash pretty early on.

To be fair, entrepreneurs who fall into one camp or another often have different goals. Founders of startups seeking funding are usually looking to build a business that turns into an empire, one that acquires other businesses or perhaps is acquired itself. Bootstrappers, however, are sometimes, though not always, lifestyle entrepreneurs.

I founded my content marketing business, for example, not because I wanted to create a company I could eventually sell (although I see now how that could be a possibility eventually), but because I wanted a business that would support my life. That doesn’t mean my team and I don’t work hard — but we believe you can work hard and do amazing work while prioritizing family, health and/or travel.

Which route is right for you?


These two groups — seeking funding verses bootstrapped — typically behave differently, with one plowing ahead, hiring and pushing itself to become a growth company (which has advantages and disadvantages), the other growing more conservatively depending on how quickly revenue is coming in (also for better or for worse). I’ve taken the second route, adding to my team — now 10 part-timers — as revenue increased.

Businesses like ours tend to hum quietly in the background, often earning hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue a year or more (and creating jobs!) while startup entrepreneurs take the stage. But I wonder, which type of business has a higher rate of success? A bit of research led me to this article in The Wall Street Journal, which reads:
Overall, non-venture-backed companies fail more often than venture-backed companies in the first four years of existence, typically because they don’t have the capital to keep going if the business model doesn’t work, Harvard’s Mr. Ghosh says. Venture-backed companies tend to fail following their fourth years—after investors stop injecting more capital, he says.
Apparently, you’re more likely to succeed if you do get funding. But look who does better long term: those of us who bootstrap.

So stay lean, and chase investors only as a last resort. It’s a far cry from the get-funding-now mentality that’s so pervasive in today’s startup culture, but it might just make you more successful and happier in the long run.

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Raise the Minimum Wage? Here's Something You Might Not Know...


If you're an employee in a small company, I'll bet you didn't know this:

You might be making more money than the business owner.

Seriously? You're joking, right? Why, last year, the company made $125,000!

No, see, that's just it...the COMPANY made $125,000. Not the business owner.

Let's break this down. Say you're a barista in a small coffee shop that sells coffee, coffee drinks, pastries, and a few sandwiches. 

Now, there are about a million different ways to do the numbers, but there is kind of a rule of thumb in the business world called the 30-30-30-10 rule. It goes like this: 
  1. 30% of the $125,000 ($37,500) goes toward COGS, or Cost of Goods Sold. In our coffee shop example, this would be coffee, milk, sugar, food, paper cups, soap, plasticware...all of the raw materials that go into making the coffee and food that is sold to the public.
  2. 30% of the $125,000 ($37,500) goes toward Labor. Yup, this is you and your coworkers, and if there's anything left over after they pay you, the business owner might get some of this, too.
  3. 30% of the $125,000 ($37,500) goes toward Operating Expenses. This is things like rent, utilities, taxes, and the salaries of employees who aren't actually making sandwiches and coffee, such as bookkeepers, managers, repair people, inspectors, and so on. 
  4. 10% of the $125,000 ($12,500) is what your boss lives on. 
That's $12,500 per year.

That's right, for a $125,000 business, the business owner pays their own mortgages and utilities and car payments and buys their own food with $12,500 per year. 

This works out to about $6.01 an hour. 

Of course, this $6.01 is for a standard 40-hour work week, and I have yet to meet a business owner who actually works as few as 40 hours a week, so they're actually making less per hour than that. 

Add to this the non-monetary costs of running a business, such as burnout, stress, unhappy family relationships, and loneliness, and I think it's safe to say that...

Yes, your boss is indeed certifiably insane. 

But it's probably not for the reasons that you thought.

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