Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Do you notice how dark it gets in the morning these days? Yesterday, we went for a walk at our favorite Greifensee and on the way back bought pumpkins. It’s a sure sign that we are moving towards the festive season. I also noticed that I hardly get so many event invites like in November. It seems that the year now only has one month to network and exchange and that December is already considered “closed for personal business”.

As a business owner December this year could be a quiet month (if I want it to be) after a rather busy year. When you develop your business, run a side consulting project, build your network, volunteer for causes and use all the options at your fingertips to learn and grow, you could suddenly be overloaded. And from overload to feeling stressed is a short journey.

I am more effective in my work as a consultant and coach when I am in a relaxed mode, so planning and effective work habits are really essential for my business. Even if you are employed, do you ever ask yourself if you could leave the office at 6 pm if you were just a bit more organized? I told one of you last week, that I like to keep order in my work space and that cleaning up both at home and at work helps me to remain productive.

Here are two posts that might help you with gaining control when you feel stressed and claiming back your diary through seven productivity hacks.

I plan my year in advance and maintain a paper overview of events and important project milestones as well as holidays. For your annual planning it is important to know the cycles of your business. Find out when you have “busy” and “low” season. Use the “low” season for professional development, holidays, and creative projects such as paper and book writing.

You might want to read about the seven cornerstones for running a successful solo business.

Kind regards
Angie

PS: If you would like to give a coaching voucher to a friend or loved one for the upcoming holidays please contact me directly. Do watch out for #Decemberdeal on Social Media Channels. RT, Share and Like and get a reduction on our packages.


In a continuous effort to counter-balance my fear of failure, I like the experience of “lack”. I’ve been a solopreneur for more than four years now and slowly slowly I see signs that the business is out of the nappies and has become a kindergarten child, ready to stay on it’s own with her other small business friends during the day. When I come home all she needs is a bit of checking on (bank balance), a bit of nurturing (invoices and business development) and a bedtime story.

I “practice poverty” by letting essentials such as coffee run out, living with an empty fridge, not having printing paper, wearing old shoes and asking the hairdresser for an extension of payment terms.

I would not say that my company is “successful” or broke even yet. Compared to others our growth is slow and this year I took on a job to cover my living expenses. Still, we send out invoices every month and we have a number of regular clients. The client base is becoming bigger and to my amusement former clients send us their wives and husbands.

I love to be the “family coach”. As a career woman I believe that the interests of the career-driving and the caretaker role need to be more balanced in most marriages. I also believe in long-term relationships and I know that with most of you I will be contact for a lifetime. Still, there are days when I feel like a failure or when I am concerned about ending up under a bridge.

Running a business requires that you confront your fear of failure every day.

When you “practice poverty” you watch all your resources better. In the first-world we are used to luxury and constant access of resources. Switzerland is highly productive because of stability, access to resources and a highly skilled workforce. Here, we cannot imagine a life where you cannot afford to buy anything, not even a cup of coffee. My aunt thought I was kidding her when I told her I did not have money to buy coffee last month. She saw that I was paying easily for our holiday in Italy but she could not see how I live without a certain standard.

I invest in having a cleaning person so I can use my time for the business, my loved ones and myself. I have months where I cannot pay the rent or run out of money to buy coffee. I admit, I was never good with saving money. I always had enough since I went to high school. In order to improve my business cash flow I had to learn to manage my finances better. Maybe you are in a similar situation and profit from my advice below.

I have summarized my learning in “seven cash flow habits for solopreneurs”.

1) Budget vendor expenses and pay in advance

I tend to create a lot of work around myself. In corporations usually my team would be happy to be involved in several projects but in my own business my supporting freelancers can be overwhelmed with the amount of work I ask them to do. About two years ago I started to pay them in advance either on a quarterly or yearly basis. We sometimes stop to work before the end of the year as we are out of money. I had to abandon projects due to a lack of budget.

2) Invest in your Business Priorities

Once you have clarity about what your clients need and how you can help them be more successful you will also know where your priorities for investment should be. Invest in those and abandon the rest.

3) Pay for Survival Tasks

You have survival tasks in every business such as invoices, accounting, making appointments, following up on conversations with prospects, digital media marketing and web-design. Not all of these tasks are your business purpose so you should pay someone to do them for you.

4) Maintain a Wish Book

To avoid impulse purchases I am writing all my wishes into a wish book. I used to buy a lot of books and many haven’t read yet. I don’t do that anymore. I used to have clothes that I did not wear. Not anymore. And I had a lot more shoes.

5) Date a Cook

In Switzerland dining out is very expensive and one of my good decisions was to date a man who loves to cook. Even though my cooking skills have lessened we enjoy a good home-made dinner almost every night. I am thankful for this.

6) Nurture your Spirit, Body and Soul

When we feel fulfilled either through our work or our contribution to the world or through little acts of kindness every day our spirit, body and soul are nurtured. When we feel full of love we do not need consumption to comfort ourselves.

7) Abandon Credit Cards

It’s almost impossible to live without a credit card in our society but I only have a business credit card now so I need to justify my expenses to my accountant. My bank does not give me credit either. So I cannot overspend. It helps.

 

I am moving out of my comfort zone with this post showing you one of my biggest weaknesses and how I handle it. Let me know if it helped you and if you have any questions.

 

Nine budgeting ideas for the start-up entrepreneur

It is very hard to stay focused as a solopreneur. One of the reasons is that you are everything to everyone. Without a strong purpose, motivating vision, regular routine and strict discipline I believe you can lose yourself in details and perfectionism.
I have been an entrepreneur for around four years now. I started to consciously work on my business and blog even before. One day, I handed in my official resignation at my employer. In my fourth year of entrepreneurship and after my best year so far I still have doubts sometimes. I still feel sometimes it is a bit too hard to be a solo show. Even though I know what needs to be done I shy away from the work and procrastinate phone calls, follow-ups and sit in front of my screen.1.30
Or I check my phone for tweets. I dream about funds or an inheritance appearing from nowhere. So far, I got out of every crisis. Year after year became easier. I look at other “successful” colleagues who seem to make a higher turnover even though they hardly leave their house. I am running around, travel to clients, meet prospects for lunch. I feel that most of the time I am not achieving everything I want to achieve. I suck up everything I can get in my brain on SEO, blogging, working smarter, client relationships. I read and read. I never read so much in my corporate life.
As a consequence of keeping myself on track, I have been thinking a lot about finding a good structure for my week and ensuring that I stick to it. I have this personality type which easily gets excited about new stuff but has a hard time finishing and implementing ideas. When I started to delve in the notion that it is hard to be an entrepreneur I came across this post about stress levels for entrepreneurs in the US. I got a bit concerned that maybe I am also becoming a candidate for a therapist.
Few hours later I had an annual review with my accountant. She congratulated me. I immediately played small by saying that 2016 will be less great. Why do we do this? It’s harmful and there is no crystal ball of turnovers that will tell me how the year goes. A lot of my larger projects came by lucky coincidences and long-term investments in my network.
You might be in a similar place so I pulled together seven cornerstones for more powerful solopreneurs to make the turnover you deserve.

The Seven Cornerstones for Powerful Solopreneurs

1) Annual Vision Review

I think you should review your vision every year. Are you still aligned with your why? Do you still believe in the manifesto you put out there, your grand idea how you would contribute and improve the world? Or have you settled for small? Played it safe?

2) Goals visualized per quarter

Visualize your goals not only for the business year with a vision board but break down your milestones into projects and visualize what success will look like per quarter. If you want to motivate yourself write don the future state. Example: Instead of writing “I want to be the No. 1 go-to-source in my industry” you write down “I am the No. 1 go-to-source in my industry.”

3) Invest in your support staff

As a solopreneur, you might work with freelancer and other suppliers to support you. Treat them like investments and ensure that they get all the training, seminars, courses and connections they need to thrive in their subject matter expertise. Coach and support them.

4) Focus on 20 VIP clients

If you work with clients in 1:1 relationships like me it is helpful to focus on 20 VIP clients at the time. Give them your best service and even if they give you great feedback ask them how you can improve what you do. Ask them how you can adapt your services to their needs even more.

5) Publications, Talks, and Webinars

Nowadays, as a solopreneur you live of your professional reputation and status. You can build status over time through publications, talks, and webinars. Even if you are not in academia, consider publishing as an option to build your subject matter expertise and to contribute to your industry. You can start with guest blogging if you don’t think that you can come up with a topic to write about on a regular basis.

6) Reduce your service offering to your ideal client

One of the secrets to Marketing is to reduce the choice for your ideal client. Your ideal client has so many decisions to take already, make it easy for her or him to chose you. Don’t give them too many choices. Reduce the paper work to the absolute legal minimum standard. Develop a signature product or service, brand it and improve it.

7) Routine, Honesty and Self-Love help the Solopreneur to Survive

One of best ways to feel in control according to Ash Ambirge is when you develop and follow a strict routine. This is not always possible especially when you travel for your work too but I noticed as well that I am most creative and attentive when I ensure that I go to bed at the same time, get up early, have a regular intake of food and water and most of all know when to relax. Be honest with yourself when you walk through the valley of tears and check the numbers regularly. I know too many entrepreneurs who treat their business as a hobby. Congratulations if you can afford that. I can’t so I am checking my account at least twice a week. I know which invoices have not been paid yet and I follow up on leads. At the same time you need to love yourself enough to take time out and by that I mean that give yourself at least one day to re-charge. You want to be a role model so you should prioritize your health and mental stability as well. One of my colleagues goes to the mountains regularly when he needs to “clear his head”. One of my favorite strategies is reading novels or watching escapist movies.

What do you do to be a more powerful solopreneur?

Thank you for your comments.

Angie

P.S. Read more on procrastination http://jamesclear.com/akrasia
PPS: If you still feel you are not moving ahead please schedule a meeting with me. I have supported solopreneurs in Switzerland to get their business off the ground and my company has survived the critical baby phase of years 1 to 3.

by Angie Weinberger

When you are a business owner you often feel torn apart between taking on more clients and providing better service to your existing clients. Sometimes you might even feel that you deserve a higher quality in your personal life. Most business owners I know work every weekend and when they become mildly successful they realize that they have not been in touch with their oldest friends and even their family is often neglected.

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While your are transitioning from being in the start-up phase where every penny counts to being on a plateau of a revenue stream coming in from existing clients and before you develop your business further ask yourself these 10 questions:

1) How much turnover do I need in order to have a basic income that is sufficient to survive?
– Write down this number.

2) If I would have more income how would I spend it? Which of needs are not fulfilled with my basic income?
– Start a wish list or wish book.

3) Am I willing to sacrifice quality time for these wishes or is time with friends and family more important to me?
– Mark the wishes you would still like to see fulfilled.

4) Could I provide a better service quality to my current clients and raise my prices before acquiring new clients?
– Go through your services and write down what you could improve.
– Consider the value of your services and explain them to new clients.

5) Do I work for other providers and do I have clients in my portfolio that are not willing to pay for my new price level?
– Communicate your new price level to these providers and clients.

6) Do I believe that my services are so unique that no one else can provide them in the same quality?
– Review your services for the uniqueness and see if you can make them even more unique so people do not really care how much you charge.

7) Am I happy with my services and do I feel rewarded with my price level?
– Check your gut feeling with the price tags.
– Review all your services again and throw out what does not suit you any longer.

8) Am I still doing work that is not well paid? Is it for a good cause?
– If the answer is yes and the work is for profit and not for a good cause I suggest you decline it going forward.

9) Do I believe that I can make a difference in the world with what I do?
– If the answer to this question is “No.” talk to me.

10) Will I learn to say “No” more often in 2016?
– You can only say yes to this question.

The year end is a good time to review your prices and your service quality. Sit down with a glass of champagne to celebrate your success. Go through the ten questions above and practice to say “No” more often in order to say “Yes” to the right clients and the right jobs.


When clients ask me how they can fit more into their day I tell them to forget time management. We manage our time when we have enough. When we are stressed and under pressure of delivery we forget all of the methods and act like crazy headless chicken or chucks.

Over the years of my early career having worked with bankers I learnt that time is money and efficiency was considered a must. Responsiveness meant that I would call back immediately and respond to emails as fast as possible. Today I feel this paradigm has shifted to social media, what’s app and text messages. Anyhow, when you are constantly in response mode it is hard to get any work done. Moving into more managerial roles I had to re-learn how I prioritized and as a company owner it was again different. If you also struggle with being productive I have five tips for you to claim back your diary. You want to have more time with family and friends? You want to start a new hobby or continue one you started years ago and then dropped? You want to go running regularly? If your answer is “Yes, but I don’t have time.” Practice one or two of the methods given below.

diary 2

►Have-Done Diary

In consulting firms you have to maintain a timesheet in which you document daily how you use your time. This can be great to give you an understanding of where you are focused. You can increase the value of this exercise by maintaining a daily diary in which you document your accomplished tasks (Have-Done-Diary). I recommend a notebook and handwriting for this exercise.

►Time blocks with pomodoro-clocks

Find your most productive time in the day and block 90 minutes for creative and conceptual work. Set a kitchen timer for the task to 25 minutes. Work without picking up the phone or checking emails or Social Media. Then take a five minutes break.

Then work for another 25 minutes and take another 5 minutes break and a third junk. See how much you accomplish with this method. This is called Pomodoro-Method and you can even get a timer on your browser.

http://tomato-timer.com/

 

For many professionals the most important brain time is the early morning but I hear there is the other camp of night owls as well. So it is up to you to find your best 90 minutes in a day.

►Use an easy categorizer to determine where to start

Our most important tasks will have 80% of impact on our success only take 20% of our time according to the Pareto principle. 80% or our time we usually spend on important but less urgent and urgent but less important tasks which will only contribute 20% to our success. When you are overwhelmed use an easy categorizer. Work with an A, B, C categorization whenever you add a task to your diary or task list. Use your time block for A tasks.

►The Island

In your day build one island of peace. The island can be lunch with a good friend, a massage, running or sitting outside watching birds. The island of peace needs to fulfil two criteria:

1) You cannot take your smartphone or it has to be switched off.

2) You are not allowed to take away tasks from this place.

►Repetition, Routine, Checklists

Repetition, routine and checklists are great ways to take the stress out of tasks that need to be accomplished but should not require a lot of focus. I prefer to work on such tasks in the late afternoon or evening. Examples are packing for an event, preparing your travel cost claim. Color-coding, tagging, printing and filing

If you feel that you are constantly looking for documents, try color-coding folders according to topic, tag documents, put descriptors on paper files, file papers weekly, throw out junk, advertising and ask yourself before printing: What will be the added value of having this document on paper? Will I read it? Will it end up in a pile? Will I review it?

In my experience we print a lot of documents, magazines, whitepapers without looking at them ever. Do you also have 50 books and only started to read them? When you are like me you probably should stop yourself from buying more books until you are at least through 25 of them (and have written reviews on Amazon).

►Outsourcing housework

Finally I encourage you to outsource your housework from grocery shopping to cleaning. Most of the housework you might still be stuck with but at least you can win about three hours per week if your house is cleaned by another person. You will also notice that you keep the house tidier if you have regular external help. I also sublet my office so that I have to keep the space relatively clean. If I did not have regular client contact I would probably have post-it’s everywhere and drafts in progress on the floor.

Now practice one tip per week and let me know what happened.

 

►Read more:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229772

 

http://acuff.me/do-over/

 

http://www.briantracy.com/blog/leadership-success/practice-the-abc-method/

 

http://blog.idonethis.com/franklin-focus-on-daily-progress/

 

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/3367/10-Management-Lessons-From-Donald-Trump.aspx

 

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/06/16/not-to-do-lists-drugs-and-other-productivity-tricks/

 

 

►Related:

http://globalpeopletransitions.com/how-to-get-rid-of-clutter-in-five-steps-spring-cleaning-for-more-productivity/