Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quit Your Job and Thrive is Moving!

So, guys, here's the deal.

In January, I'm going to shut down this blog so that I can focus on my business blog, Symblème Services Online (symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com).

Would you be willing to follow me over there?

How 'bout if I offered you a free Christmas gift as a thank-you? (You can read about it at the end of this email.)

The posts would have a very slightly different flavor...but they'd still be me.

Here's an example:

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What Jethro Has to Do with Roi


I just quit my band today.

The other guys were just a bunch of old retired friends who wanted to get together and play for fun. They all have steady incomes, either from

retirement or jobs, and I sat in with them.  We played together for about four years. Had a lot of fun, played all kinds of music, from jazz to Jethro Tull. Even had a steady gig playing for pizza and tips for awhile.

But mostly we played for free.

Now, I'm not gonna mince words. I'm good. I used to play professionally for the Santa Fe Opera.

About a month ago, I realized that offering my quality of playing for free wasn't just bad for my pocketbook; it was actually detrimental to musicians who were trying to make a living by playing. (Including the other players in the Santa Fe Opera! Yipes!)

I mean, why would people pay for good music when they could get it for free?

Plus, as my business picked up, my time was getting crunched, and therefore more valuable. There simply weren't enough hours, or even minutes, in the day.

I realized that I had to cut back on areas of my life that weren't giving me enough return on my time in order to focus on those that were.

So I put my foot down and said "no more playing in public for free".

But I realized that that wasn't good enough. It put our band leader in an uncomfortable position of having to continue to field requests for free music, and then ask me whether I was available if HE could pay me, even if the venue wouldn't...

It just wasn't working.

So today I told him, "I'm sorry. I can't play with the band any more."

Good ol' ROI. You can't really ever get away from it, can you?

As business owners, we all struggle with time and money crunch. We're always asking ourselves, "what's the return on investment?"

As a result, sometimes we have to make tough choices. Such as whether to give up something that used to give us joy in favor of something that will benefit our business. Or giving up some of our profits in order to hire someone to help us with our marketing.

It's a tough decision. And only you can make it.

But if you decide to hire me, know that I will do my utmost to ensure that your investment is a good one.

If you decide to take that risk, here's where to click:

symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com

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You'd get 2-3 of these puppies a week.

I really hope you'll take a moment to visit my new digs and subscribe. That would mean more to me than all of the other Christmas gifts in the world. And it wouldn't even cost you a thing.

As a thank-you, I'll give you a copy of my ebook, "The Utter Moron's Guide to Getting Online: Build and Maintain an Online Business Presence in 2 Hours a Day or Less".

This'll be the new and updated PDF version with pictures and everything.

You can either keep it for yourself, or give it to a small business owner you know.

So whaddaya say? Will I see you over at Symblème Services Online?

I hope so. 'Cause I'll miss you if I don't. :-(

Love,

Catharine

Thursday, December 11, 2014

7 Completely Random Things You Need to Know as a New Business Owner

The other day, I sat down the other day and scribbled down a bunch of random insights.

There's no rhyme or reason, or even a point...but I thought, why not share 'em with y'all?

So...here they are. Some are serious, some are silly, but they're all part of my current learning curve.

What about you? What have YOU learned this week?

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1. Who's your audience?


Who do you serve?

Audiences come in two basic flavors:

a. Customers made up of the public at large. Restaurants, retail stores, and many other brick-and-mortar establishments fall into this category. The businesses who serve these audiences are known as "B2C" or Business to Consumer.

b. Other businesses, including business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers. For example, I call myself a "Business Evangelist." My job is to promote other businesses, and since my "audience" is primarily business coaches, authors, and other solopreneurs, I'm officially a B2B business.

Also, interestingly, my clients' clients also tend to be other businesses. Which makes me a B2B2B I guess. :-)

Once you establish which big bucket everyone goes into, you can refine from there. If you have a clothing store, are you reaching out to high-end professionals or budget-conscious college kids? If you are a business coach, do you specialize in startup entrepreneurs or Fortune 500s? 

2. Quora is a good place to ask and answer questions, look smart, establish yourself as an expert, and direct traffic to your blog or website. 


It's also a good place to copy blog posts if you have a blog.

3. Feedly is king if you share a lot of content.


I have a blog feed set up for each of my clients, each one going out and snagging articles that their target audience would find interesting.

The best feature of Feedly is that it tells you how many times that article has been shared -- so you can go through and cherry-pick the ones that have the most shares, and are therefore the most likely to get some social love.

4. The difference between marketing and sales.


Marketing is "big net" fishing: getting your brand out there to lots of people. Social media, blogging, mass mailings, Google searches, newspaper and radio ads ... all of these are forms of marketing.

Sales, on the other hand, is converting the leads brought in by your marketing into customers. Online, this is your website, and to a lesser extent, social media.

You can read more about this difference here.

5. Creating landing pages takes at least 10 times longer than you think it will.


In fact, anything having to do with website development takes at least 10 times longer than you think it will. Even if you know what you're doing. 

6. Running a small business is a constant juggling act that will sometimes make you want to throw everything in the air, walk out of your office, and sit in the corner drooling and making babbling noises. 


Especially since 90% of it isn't billable.

7. MOST IMPORTANT: "You can't get it wrong, and you'll never get it done." ~ Abraham/Hicks


If you for one moment you take any of this too seriously, you'll throw yourself in front of a bus. So don't. 

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Make Them Hate You

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." 

~ Sir Winston Churchill

I remember being six or seven years old, maybe eight, and having a friend in the sixth grade. She was big for her age, boisterous, even a little scary, and had probably been held back a year.

As a result this girl was kind of an outcast. But I didn't care. I really liked her. We had a lot of fun, and we never broke any rules or did anything that would hurt anyone else.

Now, I was a brain and a nice kid. And I think the teachers were concerned about our friendship. They didn't want my friend to be a bad influence on me.

So they talked to Mom, and Mom suggested that I back off our friendship.

But I didn't.

After about a month, Mom took me aside again.

Much to my surprise, she didn't chide me for disobeying her.

Quite the opposite.

I don't remember her exact words, but in essence, she praised me for ignoring the teachers' disapproval, trusting my instincts, and befriending someone who didn't fit in, even against her orders.

I have never forgotten that.

This is the big payoff for giving up trying to please everybody.

If you choose to just be yourself, right up front, all the time, yeah, you're going to piss someone off. I can guarantee it. But doing so separates the people you really want to work with from those you don't.

So don't be afraid of being yourself and scaring people away, even if they're potential clients. In fact, better to just scare 'em off before they even make contact with you. It saves both you and them a ton of time and trouble.

There are over seven billion of us on the planet. Of that seven billion, there are millions of people who are going to hate you, think you're a greedy, elitist snob, and talk smack about you to their friends.

There are also millions who will appreciate you for who you are, pay you what you're worth (on time, in full), and tell their friends that you' re the best thing since dime stores and Porches.

(This is one of the few advantages to being overpopulated.)

In fact, there are more of these people than you could ever serve in a lifetime.

Or even 30 lifetimes.

Savor that.

Isn't that a nice feeling?

Now, go make some people hate you.


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Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Thing About Your Dream That Nobody Wants to Talk About

photo credit: GreggMP via photopin cc
When it comes to having a nice-looking body, people want fast and easy.

They click on blog posts with flashy titles like "10 Easy Tips for Six Pack Abs" or "The Diet Pill That Puts Doctors Out Of Business". You know, the ones with pictures of body builders with competition-level body fat percentages that nobody actually sustains year-round because it would be unhealthy.

These kinds of articles are great for the diet and drug industry. They drive great web traffic.

But they have very little to do with reality.

The reality is, bodies like those take years of hard work, discipline, and careful eating to create.

It's not just a diet or a workout that you do for 30 days and then forget about. It's a lifestyle.

You want a great body? You want to get down to 10% body fat? (18% if you're a woman)?

You've gotta do the foundation work first.

It's the same with creating a dream life.

I notice that the blog posts in which I talk about how tough this is get very little traffic.

Nobody wants to read about the sweat, the discipline, the tear-downs and do-overs, the false starts, the empty refrigerators, the mistakes.

Everybody wants "10 Quick Tips to Success". Boom. Done.

Well, sorry folks, it doesn't work like that.

This blog is about the journey to my dream life. But nobody wants to read about this part. Because right now, I'm doing foundation work. Defining what I'm good at. Figuring out who my target audience is. Developing a marketing strategy. Establishing a new circle of friends. Learning how to manage finances. Getting rid of the last vestiges of employee mindset.

All of this sans applause.

"Succeed first, and then we'll be impressed."

For the few of you who read this and haven't made the jump from your jobs yet, be prepared to do the hard parts alone,

And yeah, you're probably have to do ALL of the hard parts -- even the stuff you're not very good at, like marketing, websites, and finances.

Or picking pictures for you blog posts. I totally suck at picking out pictures.

But know that the folks who have made it, and the folks like me who are making it as we speak,

We understand. And we're here for ya.

So don't be afraid to get in touch.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Safe? Who Said Anything About Safe?

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe."
...

"He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” 

C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I'm sadly amused when people who want to quit their 9-5's start talking about what kind of health insurance they're going to need to get after they quit working.

Those are the ones who are never going to make it.

You see, they've come to rely on having an income stream.

But what would happen if that income stream went away?

What if they woke up one morning and found that the economy had collapsed, their partners had been laid off from their jobs, their businesses had folded, the dollar wasn't even worth the paper it's printed on, and NOBODY had any money, anywhere.

Not even to lend.

The folks with the income addiction wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of surviving, because they have no idea how to construct a new business without money.

You see, you've gotta think outside the box of conventional wisdom, which says that you need to have a safety net in place before you move forward.

There is no safety net. Ever.

It all boils down to this:

If you're not offering something of real value that will stand on its own two feet without being propped up by a bunch of money, then you're selling nothing but air and butterflies.

(Not that I have anything against air and butterflies.)

You're much better off learning to do without.

Do without credit cards. Do without loans. Do without health insurance or tech toys or savings or any of that stuff.

Learn how to live like a minimalist.

Then, if things head south, you'll know that you can fall back on this kind of lifestyle.

You'll know how to rebuild from scratch.

You'll figure out that all that stuff was never really that big a deal after all.

And the fear of losing it will never hold you back again.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

5 Things Business Owners Must Sacrifice in Order to Succeed


photo credit: slagheap via photopin cc

Making room for something better

The word "sacrifice" has come to be associated with things like endangering our lives in the service of country or community, like firefighters and emergency and military personnel. Or it might mean giving all of our money to a noble cause and becoming a pauper.

Such sacrifices are seen as very heroic, but they also carry an almost self-destructive connotation.

It's sort of like the pig and the chicken who wanted to thank the farmer for taking such good care of them. The chicken wanted to offer the farmer a breakfast of ham and eggs.

The pig replied, "That's all fine and well for you; you're just giving the farmer a nice gift. But for me, we're talking about total sacrifice."

However, in the case of the Law of Sacrifice, the word "sacrifice" is energetically more in line with the word "exchange".  We give up one thing in order to make room for something better.

The thing that we give up might feel very precious. It might be an attitude that has served us well, a grudge that we're holding against someone, or a certain way of doing things that is comfortable and yields predictable results.

But clinging to these things can keep us trapped, like a monkey who seizes the candy in a hollow log but finds that her fist with the candy in it is too big to fit back through the hole.

If our choice is between hanging onto that candy and getting away from an oncoming bear, better to choose freedom earlier; we're more likely to be able to get a head start.

Here are 5 things business owners must sacrifice in order to succeed:

1. Anonymity

It can be tempting to tell ourselves, "My work speaks for itself. I don't need to have anybody else to speak for it, and I don't need to go out there and speak for it myself."

The trouble is, how is anybody going to know about your work unless you tell them? And if you can't trust your own work enough to stand behind it with your own name and toot your own horn about it, why should anybody else trust it?

Sacrifice anonymity for pride.

2. Golden Shackles

Many business owners take any profits left over after the bills are paid and buy expensive toys or go on posh vacations. This is fine once in awhile if your bottom line can take it; everyone deserves to be rewarded for their hard work.

But if you're finding that every extra penny is being sunk into buying and maintaining toys and gadgets, it might be time to look at the law of sacrifice

 Sacrifice golden shackles for investment opportunities.

3. Past mistakes

As entrepreneurs, we're gonna mess up. And sometimes, we're gonna mess up right royally. And it's fine to learn from those mistakes.

But the problem with focusing on past mistakes in an effort to avoid making them again is that we actually tend to re-create them.

This is why some people migrate from one bad relationship to the next...and the next...each partner displaying the same traits that they hated in the last one.

If we leave a relationship because we hated living with a control freak, guess what? We'll probably end up with another control freak.

Sacrifice trying to avoid mistakes for long-term vision.

4. Working IN your business

A friend recently told me "If it's important, do it. If it's urgent, don't do it."

We're our own worst bosses and our own worst employees. It's easy to get caught up in the endless to-do lists and damage control.

But we businesspeople need to make it a priority to carve out time to work ON our businesses, not just IN them.

It's like the jar that we fill with the big rocks and then fill in around it with the smaller rock, and then sand, and then water. Take care of the big stuff: the goals, the 10-year plan, the 5-year plan, the branding, the message, the strategic view...and the little stuff will fall into place much more easily.

Sacrifice working IN your business for working ON your business


5. Trying to do it all yourself

Americans pride ourselves on being rugged individualists.

We tend to be control freaks. We want to do it all by ourselves. That way, we don't have to share the credit.

After all, it's why we started our own businesses, right?

And in a way, this is laudable. If we didn't have this kind of drive and ambition, we would be forever stuck in do-nothing land, grumbling about the jobs that we hate.

But this can also keep us stuck, because "the wine bottle can't see its own label".

It's helpful getting another pair of eyes to look at our big pictures and give us honest feedback.

This is what business coaches are for. Many of the top guys -- Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, Larry Page -- all of these top CEOs use business coaches heavily, and look where they are!

It's also helpful realizing that there are things that other people can do way, way better and way, way faster than we can...and it makes sense to ask these people to help us so that we can focus on what we do best.

Sacrifice rugged individualism for collaboration and asking for help.

6. A Final Thought

Remember, the Law of Sacrifice isn't about self-immolation.

It's about giving up something that is slowing us down for something that will take us where we want to go more quickly.


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Friday, November 7, 2014

Is It Possible to Stay In Love With Your Business for the Long Haul?

photo credit: Accidental-Tourist via photopin cc
Exes

I've been divorced twice and am on my third marriage.

I've lost count of the number of jobs I've held, the number of lovers I've had, the number of diets and workout routines I've tried for 3 months, 6 months, a year, three years...only to quit, give up, get dumped, be laid off, leave, stomp off, get fired, lose interest, move on...

Is your life, like mine, littered with exes? Ex lovers? Ex spouses? Ex business ventures? Ex hobbies?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stick with something or someone for the long haul?

To work through the rough patches, stick together through thick and thin, and grow to really, truly trust on the very deepest level that another something or someone has your back, no matter what?

Can you even imagine it?

Or, deep down, like me, do you even believe it's possible?

My band sings a Tim O'Brien song called "Like I Used to Do". The bridge and chorus go like this:
I still want you the way I wanted you then
If I could do it all over, I'd do it all over again
And those old ways of mine, I've left them behind
Those crazy days are through
The only thing I still do like I used to do
Is carry this torch for you
How do you keep that torch burning for your business over the long haul?

How do you keep that torch burning for your relationships?

How do you keep that torch burning for anything?

***

Think back

Is there something that you've been doing for a long, long time that still makes your face light up?

For me, it's music. I've been playing the flute for 40 years. Well, 39...but basically 40. And even though I don't practice every day -- or even every month! -- I know that when I pick up that silver instrument, I know it so well, so intimately, so thoroughly...I know its shortcomings, my shortcomings, its quirks, exactly what I can and can't do, exactly how much it can be pushed before the note cracks, how to ask it for exactly the sounds that I want, the amount of vibrato to use to get exactly the effect that I need...

And within those limitations, the two of us, silver stick with keys and human with lips, breath, and tongue...we're the ultimate team.

I know the flute has my back. Music has my back.

And if you ask me about music now, even after 40 years, even though it has never supported me in a monetary way, my face lights up.

Every single time.

And I'll talk your ear off, just like I am now.

What would it be like to feel like this about a business?

What would it be like to feel like this about another human being?

I don't know.

But in 40 years, I hope to be able to tell you.

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