Tag Archives: GrowMe!

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.

Every time a coaching relationship ends I have a hard time to let the client go. When you learn to be a coach you also learn methods for your psychological hygiene. What you don’t really learn in my view is how to let go and accept that the client will take the next steps without you.

Every coach has to let go...
Every coach has to let go…
We do not yet know enough about the real impact of the coach on the coaching relationship and the success of our clients. It would be arrogant to assume that I am having a big influence on my client’s development. My clients are highly intelligent professionals. They are thrown into circumstances where a little bit of guidance makes their efforts worthwhile. Whether they succeed at finding a job they love or at improving their satisfaction during a merger is entirely up to them.
When I say that I have a hard time to let my clients go, it is not because I feel they still need me. It’s more because I still need them. Every client brings in a special energy and challenge. Once we are performing as a team I really start to like my clients and I sometimes even want to be their friend. I know that as a professional I need to keep a certain distance and it is better not to expand the relationship for too long but having an ongoing relationship with a client is comforting. It’s a regular income too.
If you also have a hard time letting go here are five rituals for ending a coaching relationship you can work into your practice.

Ritual 1: Limit the number of sessions to a logical number such as nine.

In my experience, every transition takes around nine sessions if you follow short-term coaching approaches and believe in only selling as much as needed. It is obviously different if your sessions contain advisory elements or are built around advising clients or providing a regular service to them. I am talking about classical executive coaching according to the definitions by the International Coach Federation.

Ritual 2: Call the final session “final session”

As you know in coaching we construct and while we construct in the world of the client, we also drive the cycle of the coaching and cycles between the sessions. We should formalize beginning and end. Many of my clients even bring a small present to the last session. I never expect it and I am always a bit embarrassed but it is a great way to bade farewell.

Ritual 3: Run a debriefing in the final session.

In the final session, I always like to look back at the target achievement and at the whole process. What did the client go through, where were the major changes in the process and how do they feel about themselves now.

Ritual 4: Agree how you will keep in touch.

As a coach, public speaker, lecturer, author and business owner you are probably as busy as me. So you understand that it will be hard to “keep in touch” with all of your clients. What I ask my clients is whether they would like to stay on the mailing list for weekly updates and I tell them to let me know if they want to have lunch or a coffee. I also offer that they can send me weekly progress reports. I am proud to say that some of my clients contact me a year later to tell me that an exciting breakthrough occurred or that they remembered something I told them or that they just understood something better that I had tried to explain to them earlier. I always love those emails and cherish them.

Ritual 5: Wish the client well

After we finish the conversation about keeping in touch I tell my client why I like them and wish them well. That is the most emotional moment of the journey. Don’t forget to take notes in between when there was a moment that moved you in a special way. Then the coaching relationship is over. I tell my clients that I keep their documentation for five years in case they ever return. After five years I delete their documentation.
On a “normal” work day I plan an appointment for relationship building and I prefer to do this in person. I have become so accustomed to have instant access to a map and train time table that usually I don’t check where I am going until I sit in the train. Switzerland has perfected the train system. They are usually very reliable and on time. People get irritated here when the train is 5 minutes late. (Ha!)
Yesterday was different though. I had planned to go for a walk but it turned into a mini-walk to the recycling bin. In the afternoon I headed to my appointment. All seemed on time. In the train I found a connection and not for the first time the connection did not take me where I wanted to go but somewhere in the realm of the area. I got off, wished I had time to stroll in the mountains and snow-covered woods but I was running late already. According to my phone I should reach in 22 minutes. Then my batteries died. I hardly remembered the address. I was annoyed, ready to turn around, sick of these endless times where I felt I was going the extra mile even for a volunteering job. I found a bakery on the way, asked for directions. They had no clue. Then I found the street, but not the house. Because I checked all but one.
Strange how we humans can err. Finally (now about 25 minutes late) a young man offered to check the website of the organization I was looking for and yes, I was next door to it. I killed my anger and laughed. There was a lesson to be learnt here. For a long time I did not seek help from so many people. I found it strange that I asked people for the way and I must have come across a lot more desperate than necessary. The meeting was inspiring and I went back with a sense of doing the right thing, with a sense of having met two ladies who are aligned with my values and with whom it will be inspirational to work.
Then on my way back I noticed that I was in an area of the city that I hardly knew. I liked it and it seemed like a place I would feel at home in. It made me think that Zurich is so diverse but if you stay in the expat bubble you could easily forget there is a less affluent part of town which also reminds me more of the area I lived in when I was in Frankfurt. I know…it is not always about outer change…but sometimes your inner change has caught up and your lifestyle might not seem to fit with your values anymore.
I want to downgrade, I want to live without a car, I want to adhere to the Swiss value of modesty. I realize that I have a choice. On my way back I got delayed again because of an accident. Poor soul, a person probably died. I only saw the last cleaning up work but the fact that the road had been blocked for several hours indicated tragedy. Again, I walked for 15 minutes. I noticed in the session afterwards that even though I was a bit flustered my brain was stimulated and energy level higher. I’ve had this weird feeling since the year started that I was not working hard enough but looking at new social entrepreneurs I learnt that I probably just entered a new phase in the start-up cycle.
It is now time to pivot, adapt and optimize. We aren’t going uphill any longer it is a leisurely stroll on the mountain range, the sun shines, snow covers the view and once in a while there will be storm. It is time to let go of the old dusted image, the status symbols of a management career and embrace a simple yet heart-filled and wonderful life. I am filled with gratitude.
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.

journal-791286_960_720

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.