Tag Archives: solopreneur

It’s 2018. If you are not on LinkedIn you must either be a trust fund baby or you live in a world that I don’t know. I have encountered job seekers and freelancers (“Solopreneurs”), who still believe that they can thrive in today’s world without a digital presence. In short, they refuse social and professional networking as they feel they will be stalked or annoyed by others.

 

I started with online networking on XING in 2004. Before that, I only networked in P2P-Style. That means I would regularly have lunch with different internal and external colleagues to find out about what is going on in their line of work. In the early Millenium, the lunch date roster was your “dance card” and showed how popular you were.
It was almost embarrassing to lunch alone and if you were booked for several weeks this meant you had made it. It was part of the culture of that organization but networking helped me to understand background stories, to build trust and get support on a variety of topics.
If I look back I also pulled my team members, trainers, providers and friends of my network. The network expanded to external contacts and it got harder to maintain when I left Frankfurt for Zurich, but I started to build a new network, which helped me to build and maintain a start-up in a rather difficult economic environment. If I was looking for a full-time role now, I would certainly try and source it through my network. If I am looking to hire an intern, designer or specialist I am going to rely on my network.
I don’t really understand why professionals are afraid to put themselves out there. It must be fear of rejection or fear of identity theft. Let’s assume for this post that you want to be successful in your job search or you want to gain new clients.
If you don’t expose yourself via Digital Media the messages I get from you are:
  • I am not self-confident at all and my professional experience has zero value.
  • I am a diva and so popular that people will look for me.
  • I am hiding because I have enough work anyway and I’m on my way to being the next millionaire.
Now let me assume that you don’t want to create that impression and that you feel you should have a larger professional network with high-quality connections, who tend to be supportive and open doors for you. Let’s try out the seven killer tips for developing a digital media presence.

1) Focus on the Platform where your potential Hiring Managers and Clients hang out.

In all likelihood, you will meet most of your potential hiring managers and clients on LinkedIn. If you are a writer you might want to focus on Twitter or Goodreads because this is where readers will gather their information. On the other hand, if you provide makeup tips on short videos you should focus on youtube. As a photographer, you want to be on Instagram. Try not to overwhelm yourself by joining all platforms as one. In case, you don’t know where to go try Facebook first.

 

2) Develop your own blog so you have a digital home base but don’t expect people to find you right away.

In times of social media, it is hard to understand why you need to have your digital home. Imagine it this way: When you are on Twitter it is like you are attending a huge networking event where you exchange information with colleagues and potential clients. If you want them to look at information (content) that you produce you have to invite them to your home. And when you host a party at your place you have to give people directions how to find you and a good reason to party with you. When you go to a party you don’t expect to be asked to buy something or pay for your beer right.

3) Selling online will take longer than face-to-face and you need to build trust first.

The Internet is full of offers and scam. Before anyone wants to give you their email ID and bank details you will need to have their trust. You can develop trust by being a helpful source of information and by solving people’s problems. You can also build trust by being personal and by avoiding any sales touch.

4) Self-promotion is a turnoff.

Instead of promoting yourself you should promote other people’s work. If you help others you will not come across as a big-headed egomaniac but someone who cares about people.

5) Vet and check the information you share.

A retweet does not always mean that you endorse the opinion of the tweeter but at least you can verify that the information is genuine, up-to-date and that links are actually working. If you are like me you probably don’t read everything you would like to read but you know where to find the trusted sources and where to be skeptical.

 

6) It’s helpful if you encourage others to develop content and if you endorse your colleagues.

I know many people who suffer from imposture syndrome and who are modest. It helps once in a while to be told that work is helpful and that you are actually reading their updates or their input.

7) When people meet you in RL they should like you even more.

Digital Presence is great. If people deal with you in real life (RL) they should still be positively surprised. One of the reasons for lack of trust nowadays is that everyone is putting their own interest in front. Many people have a hard time to accept support because they are not used to genuine help. They are used to being cheated and pulled over the table and you want to stand out.

It could be that the reason you are not happy with your digital presence is that you are not clear about your purpose yet. Believe me, that this is a journey and it will sometimes need professional support. I hope these seven killer tips will help you to work on your digital presence as a job-seeker or freelancer without getting overwhelmed.
If you need my support please schedule a meeting with me.
Angie Weinberger
PS: If you are struggling with career-related topics read the Club Sandwich.

 

Our lives have become too complex. We can hardly survive a day without our smartphones anymore and when we are offline or have low batteries it creates feelings of anxiety and fear of missing out (FOMO).

I have conducted an experiment over the last three months. I would like to summarize the learning for you and you might want to follow me in this experiment.

I intended to find ways to simplify my life. I hoped I would find topics that seem to be more complex in our shared, multifaceted lives today and that I could deconstruct them and make them simple again.

To write this blog post I started a tool list (communication tools, apps, email accounts, sharing platforms and overviews) I am regularly working with. The tool list became very long. I am not even sure I finished it yet. It’s more a toolbox now than a list.

I immediately felt stressed when I looked at my tools. Even though I had already deleted a few apps from my iPhone, I did not feel calm and relaxed. I missed my connection to the world.

To give you an example I use nine different communication tools. One of them is email. I manage about five email accounts. In addition to Facebook and Messenger, I manage four Facebook pages. Most of it is automated but I need to respond to incoming queries.

If I compare my current situation to your situation I imagine that you receive a lot more relevant and actionable emails, messages and information than I do. One of the goodies of having your own business is that no one puts pressure on you, so I only read client emails and blogs I want to read.

I notice though that it is not always easy to focus when I sit on my computer. I have to close a lot of pages and put my iPhone on silent if I want to get work done.

One of the disadvantages of having your own business, especially in certain low times is that you also cannot delegate any work to others. Maybe you will find it amusing that for me booking a ticket from Dijon to Frankfurt is worth writing a blog post about. Issues like this one can become time-consuming.

 

This is why I also wanted to write an accomplishment list of ten tasks that I did not enjoy a lot. I had to get them done in the last few weeks and I noted how much time they took, where I found support and what I learned.

In the last steps, I jotted down my simplification principles. At the end of the post, I share further observations.

Accomplishment List

So after being completely overwhelmed with my tools, I wrote the Accomplishment List of the last three months

  1. Booking a ticket on train from Zurich to Dijon to Frankfurt to Zurich. – This took forever as I worked with three different websites, made a mistake and finally sorted it out on the counter at the Dijon train station (with my rusty French skills). Cost CHF 8.60
  2. Organizing my references and homework for the Global Mobility Master class. – I went through the homework via one platform and another website, printed handbooks because I could not read them well online and downloaded Zotero to organize my bibliography and references. It seems great. I also managed to get access to the ETH Library.
  3. Finding a way to cash a 100 USD cheque from Amazon. – Not possible in Switzerland. Will have to go to Germany to do this. Task is pending.
  4. Deleting a bank account in Germany, that I didn’t even know I still had. – Ongoing since October I think. I also try to explain to them, that I have been a tax resident in Switzerland since 2009 (and that I am not trying to evade German taxes but that this is actually legal.) Very nice person on the phone, helped me a lot. She also told me not to care. Then her colleague called to say that they needed the forms anyway. Email is not possible. I had to send a letter. Received one back because I used the tax file number instead of my AHV-number. Had to send another letter.
  5. Canceling a direct debit authorization for an insurance I pay into in Germany. – Cost CHF 7.50 because the second time I did not rely on email but sent registered mail with a snarky feedback written in handwriting on their letter.
  6. Getting an important corporate contract signed via Docusign. – A few issues in the process. Luckily, I checked with my contact and found out that she never received the final signed version.
  7. Writing and editing a new workbook of about 30’000 words – Fairly straightforward so far as I have decided to let go of perfectionism and pilot the content with a few readers via Mailchimp. I also notice that once I sit down I can draft a whole chapter in one or two hours. One issue I found is that Grammarly does not work with Google Docs. So I can draft in G-Docs but have to edit in Mailchimp.
  8. Moving two Swisscom connections to the new “Glasfasernetz”. – Too long to explain, approximately 10 phone calls, one personal visit and three months to solve. Seems to save me a few bucks. Not sure if my connection is better than before. I experienced more connectivity issues in January and February than over the last nine years. I used to have electronic billing, now I get paper invoices again. Back to the Future with Swisscom.
  9. Cleaning my windows. – I procrastinated on this task because frankly I hate cleaning windows. My approach was to get it done 80% – 90%. The windows don’t look perfect but a lot better than before. Took me about an hour. I can still improve the cleaning when it is warmer outside and when I am going to enjoy the sunshine on my windows. I think, I might owe my cold to this task. I’ve had it for two weeks. In hindsight, very painful and annoying.
  10. Developing a new kind of interactive workshop for the Global Mobility Master class, holding it and following up with the participants. – The preparation took forever. I could have probably used less material but felt it was a great learning and research experience for the students and myself. The technology we used is borderline illegal but there seems to be a new book scanner which is amazing. I also cut open a textbook in the process. All for science and the team.

 

Simplification Principles

Based on my learning I have drafted these simplification principles. It might help you to use them or create your own.

  1. People over Robots!
  2. Move from DIGITAL to ANALOGUE on purpose. My pink notebook is always with me. I use it to write my Morning Pages, Have-Done-Lists and anything else that comes to mind during the day.
  3. Reduce everything and delete unused apps from i-phone. Limit apps to two pages.
  4. My phone is off from 9 PM to 6 AM. It’s not allowed in the bedroom.
  5. Use Post-it for visualization of important stuff. The idea is: One thought, one post-it.
  6. Say “No, thank you…” or “yes, if…” to any proposal for meetings, work and tasks right away. Commit fast and decline fast.
  7. When asked for meetings give two options only.
  8. Always set a deadline by when another person should come back to you.
  9. Try to connect on three or four channels with existing clients, especially if they have booked a paid appointment with you. If they still don’t respond, assume that they have died and let them rest in peace. (#sarcasm).
  10. Reconsider the word “urgent” to mean “please respond within seven days”. (Really, I don’t understand why everyone thinks that a personalized email shall be ignored for at least 48 hours.)
  11. A message on Whatsapp does not require “dear first name” as a greeting and “kind regards angie weinberger” as an ending. Use Whatsapp on desktop only. Saves time for typing.
  12. Wear black most of the time. On Wednesdays add a color.
  13. If you don’t know what to wear because you don’t know if the occasion is formal or not, wear a black suit and say that you are a consultant by wardrobe.
  14. ALWAYS travel the day before an event and leave the day after. Plan enough time to travel but also to prepare and wind down after an event. (Note to self: Don’t think you are 29 and hang out with your fellow students until the bar closes.)
  15. I don’t have to be on Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram just because everybody else is. Facebook is shortly to be blacklisted too.

 

I will share further observation in another post.

PS: If you consider volunteering please read Nadia’s post on LinkedIn on why she volunteers for Capacity Zurich.

Fear is the biggest showstopper in your life and mine. A colleague asked me last week how I managed to quit my (well-paid) full-time job to start my own business.
“Are you courageous or were you afraid too?”
I told her that I was really scared. I had almost pulled out of my decision to leave my former employer when my manager gave me a book called “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
I had a few tough moments over the last four years, the lowest point was probably last year when I supported a group and had to clean the bathrooms and bins and accidentally threw away my friend’s house-keys in a effort to clean up. She rummaged through the garbage and needless to say was not happy with me.

But in all those years whenever I confronted my fear and worked through my insecurities (usually with the support of my mentor or my coach) my business made a leap. You don’t have to be as crazy as me and jump ship. Leaving a job and all security behind especially when you depend on your income to support you is kind of insane. For me it was the right decision at the time and the way to go. Today, I take a more relaxed approach to my business as I have a part-time role and I grow my business on the side. It is a matter of choice in this country.

Having a choice is having power. Having a choice means that you are in the driver seat. Having a choice means that you may not be in the mental prison you feel stuck in. If you wish to understand more about fear you might want to read my older posts on this matter: Conquer your fears little Jedi and your wishes will be granted.

Kind regards
Angie

PS: If you are looking for a shortcut you can set up a meeting with me. Watch out for #Decemberdeal on Social Media. Like, RT and Share our hashtag #Decemberdeal and get a discount on our packages for 2017.

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.


Pricing in the professional services industry is nothing else than a value we give to an experience.

When we spend, there are pain points such as getting the car repaired and there are pleasure points such as a manicure. Sometimes we love to spend money on an experience that gives us a good feeling about ourselves or improves our general well-being. You probably feel great when you can buy a bottle of champagne on a weekend trip or book a wellness spa instead of an ordinary hotel.

We are normally way beyond the basic needs of the Maslow pyramid. Most of the people I know don’t really know how much a liter of milk costs. We happily spend money on holidays and luxury items. Being in a managerial function, this is what you do. You slave away and on weekends and holidays, you indulge. You want luxury in your lives. I used to consider myself a “high maintenance chick” with a feel for quality clothing, weekend trips to NYC and a no-budget policy for daily expenses. I used to say that I apply Reaganomics to my personal life (I spent more than I earned).

Today, I am more sensitive to this topic. As a solopreneur, I learned what it meant not to have money at all. This was a healthy experience (which has now found an end). What about you? You just started your business a year ago. You still can’t pay the bills. You still depend financially on your spouse, your parents or in-laws or the state? Or maybe you are an expat spouse, who has not found a job yet?

I hope these four methods will help you put a price tag to your service offering.

#1 Create your Client

So, before you even think about service packages and pricing create your clients. Imagine you can decide how your client functions. Understand what bothers them. Understand how they would love to spend their time. Understand what their pain and pleasure points are. Keep an inventory and write down the story of your ideal client.

#2 Target the Threshold

For some reason it is always easier to pay an amount that is slightly lower than the next bigger amount even though the price might be ridiculously high in the first place. For example I accept to pay CHF 95 for a manicure but if it was CHF 100 I would not buy this service anymore. Target the next big number but then stay slightly below. You should do market research and find out what competitors are charging for similar services but your clients normally don’t just come to you because of your price. Often it is a mixture of trustworthiness, competence that you are eluding, recommendations and good reputation. If your service was interchangeable they would get it online for free.

#3 Package the Pain

The pain is in the beginning. I prefer to pay for packaged deals for example for a holiday and I prefer to make the payment a few weeks before the holiday. I have introduced this idea to my clients as well. For you as an entrepreneur, it means less minute-counting, fewer invoices, less hassle and better cash flow (if you can agree advance payments). BUT for your client: It means that they have the pain once and then for a long time they feel good and enjoy your service.

#4 Reduce the Rebate

In the beginning of our business we tend to work with a small group of people we already know. We give them better prices than our usual clients. While it is natural that you want to give a favourable rates to your family members and their friends consider the impact this will have on your annual turnover. Over time you need to reduce those rebates and freebies. I prefer to work pro-bono once in a while and clearly call it charity. I don’t like to work with clients who cannot afford me or don’t know how to pay for the coaching.

If you feel insecure about your performance or if you test a new service you can run a “pilot”. Ask potential clients and friends to spend their time and to give you feedback and suggestions in exchange for a “free ride”. Make sure that you communicate the real price value of a free service. In Switzerland, you have to have a price list. Even if you won’t share your prices on your website, you can send a price list to clients on request.

If you feel under pressure from larger clients, let them know on the invoice which services you provided in addition to what you got paid for. This happened to me in the early days when I was too accommodating in order to win a corporate client. I avoid these deals now. If you gave reductions or rebates in the early days of your business, reduce them over time or return to the price you have on your price list.

Let me know how you will you create a good pricing model for your services and contact me if you struggle.

 

Angie