Tag Archives: solopreneur

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

 


It’s 2016. 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 “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.pablo (2)

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 organisation 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 clients as a “solopreneur”.
If you don’t expose yourself on Digital Media the message I get from you is either
1) I am not self-confident at all and my professional experience has zero value.
2) I am a diva and so popular that people will look for me.
3) I am a digital marketing professional and hiding because I already worked it all out and will have enough work anyway.
If you don’t want to create that impression you might need to overcome your fear first. So here are my 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 make-up 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 a while so 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 salesy touch.
4) Self-promotion is a turnoff.
Instead of promoting yourself you should help and 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.
I hope these seven killer tips will help you to work on your digital presence as a job-seeker or solopreneur without getting overwhelmed. If you need my support please schedule a meeting with me.
Angie
PS: If you are struggling with career related topics such as this one you might want to read The Global Career Workbook.
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.