Tag Archives: entrepreneur

 

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.

Global Competency Model by Weinberger (2014)
Weinberger (2014)

 

For the last two weeks, we had started the journey of the “Future of Work (#FoW)” and we asked you what you would need to learn if you wanted to become an entrepreneur in 2018.

If you are an entrepreneur already, you probably know that health and time are your most important assets. You would, therefore, ensure that you exercise, relax and watch your nutrition. You would also guard your time and try to be helpful at the same time. Most importantly, you would celebrate your close friends and family. They will probably stand by you when the going gets rough or when the rent doesn’t get paid.

You are not able to hide behind a manager and let her do the tough jobs only so you can complain that she never lets you do anything exciting. As an entrepreneur, you will stand in the limelight and you will need to perform all of your billable time.

What I have learned over the last few years is that “learning new stuff” took a new dimension for me when I started my business because, in the beginning, you have zero help. You can source support but it is usually too expensive so you will do a lot of tasks yourself that were done by other people in the corporate world. You might have been used to a team and never had to change the paper in the printer. You had a PA who would claim your expenses. Maybe you had a business development professional who would spice up your proposals. You certainly did not have to raise invoices and chase their payments.

On a skill level, we can always improve or learn something. We even need to practice in order not to forget.

If you feel you already know everything, you could write a book or learn Mandarin or Arabic. This will probably humble you.

Most of you have one theme in common. You are overwhelmed and stressed. One of the reasons is perfectionism, another is the need to optimize life as if it was a business. Everything is a project. The first communion of your daughter an event. The light exercise is a fitness marathon. A date with someone is a juggling exercise and creates anxiety as you will need everything to be on the “promi-dinner” standard. Your apartment is mega-clean because you only accept hotel standard nowadays. Do you also fold the toilet paper into a triangle shape sometimes and lay a piece of chocolate on your partner’s cushion?

So how do you prioritize your learning?

Give room for creation.

When you are satisfied with your work because you have a strong purpose, the amount of time you put in is not really that relevant. Your creative process needs a different space than a factory-style task. Deep satisfaction comes from creation, not from the routine and administration. I also believe you can only monetize creation. Routine can be automated and outsourced.

We created the RockMe! App to increase stress for you. No joke. You will probably feel under pressure to achieve when you work with a coach. You might experience though that your energy is more targeted. You will achieve what is important to you and you will do it with pleasure. I advise you to write your three major goals for 2018 in present tense as if you had already achieved them. If you are a visual person try to find an image or photo for every one of the three future states you would like to achieve.

As soon as you start working with the app one of our coaches will check in with you on a regular basis to see how you are getting ahead. Will this cost you anything? Yes. You will need to give us feedback. If you find our work helpful, we assume that you will recommend GPT and the RockMe! App to all your contacts and friends. That’s all.

Become the leader you want to be and work with our RockMe! App. Contact Lucie Koch to have an account set up for you.

I wish you a productive week.

Kind regards,

Angie Weinberger

P.S.: Don’t forget to check out Lucie’s post on Expat children and Identity Crisis.

Plus, read this article if you are interested in 12 tips for working virtually in a multicultural team.

Do you sometimes wonder when you update a spreadsheet, database or presentation, why you went to university in the first place? Do you sometimes feel in meetings that your potential is not fully utilized? Or when you run a team, are you the Chief Entertainer? Are you the parent cleaning up the toys after the kids, trying to stop them from fighting about the electronic devices, the projects and the recognition (i.e. bonus)?

Do you regularly try to calm the storm when one of your colleagues thinks she is right and the other one says that she started picking on him for no reason?

Companies and organizations feel like kindergarten. I don’t want to sound mean but I as a leader you spend a large part of your day solving problems, easing difficult relationships, convincing colleagues to collaborate (instead of fighting) and cleaning up sloppy data entries from unmotivated service providers who lost touch to the end client and lost pride in their work as they are working in a data factory.

We need to deconstruct career and build a new concept for a fulfilled professional life. Last week we started to discuss the future of work and how it will affect your “career”. We encouraged you to think like an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs have a purpose in their life. They know why they roll up a stone every day, they have an aim for their daily efforts. Here are five questions for you to reflect on:

1) What if you wanted or had to become an entrepreneur early next year?
2) What would be your three main goals for 2018?
3) Which knowledge can you build on?
4) Which critical skills do you want to develop further?
5) Which attitude would you need and which beliefs would you have to let go of?

You can write the answers down for your or record them with us now. If you would like to record your answers in our RockMe! App please email Lucie Koch so we can set you up there.

We recommend you also listen to and read this:

Podcast by Sundae Bean on Expat Life Upgrade

“The future of work is a complex thing” featuring Luke Skywalker and Buffy by the Libby.

Kai Beckmann’s take on the future of work Are we Curious Enough for the Future of Work?

Join the discussion on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter with #FoW.

 

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