Shall I include a long elaborate intro or simply get straight to the point. Or maybe I’ll find a happy medium.

Being an entrepreneur is not the easiest thing in the entire world. Sure, we get to make our own hours, get to work from our bed, and get that 5 million dollar salary…Stop sign

Wait. Who am I kidding. Being an entrepreneur is hard work. That’s the bottom line. While there are perks, there are some just downright frustrating things that come with the territory. Now, brace yourself because some of these things are controversial, and many would tell you not to even mention them. But I think the world should know…

  1. When clients don’t pay or pay late. You would think this is a duh, but the amount of people who stand you up, even upon signing an airtight contract and having a delightful project completed and delivered, there are people who still don’t pay. Yet, I bet these same people expect payment from their customers or employer for a product or service rendered – and on time. Freelancers would like the same type of respect. If you can’t afford it, don’t sign the contract.
  2. Partial payment. Unless this is written in the contract partial payment is inconvenient and can be a pain in the butt. Freelancers have bills, and they’re not gonna go away simply because the client didn’t pay. Luckily, the smart or experienced freelancers learn how to work around this.
  3. Taking time to meet with you and craft proposals with no avail. Discovering the client’s needs, developing and documenting the scope of the project, determining timing, and determining cost and payment structure all takes time. The least a potential client could do is send an email, make a phone call, or heck, even hit us up on Facebook to let us know whether or not you’ll be progressing with the proposal.
  4. Clients who attempt to negotiate ridiculously low rates for services. Let me put it clearly. This gesture is insulting. It’s one thing to negotiate. It’s another to pay someone below what they’re worth. Do you realize you may be getting Fortune 500 work for ridiculously reasonable rates? That’s not being arrogant. It’s telling the truth. Entrepreneurs have worked for top-tier companies, and we’re simply trying to extend the same quality of work to smaller businesses.
  5. Accounting. Okay, I may not be speaking for all freelancers, especially those who are accountants (or business freaks like me), but keeping receipts, having an accurate and up-to-date account of all payments received, and even having an understanding of what hasn’t been paid is annoying. We’d rather be spending our time doing the things we love…like baking cupcakes.
  6. The legal side of the business. Getting licenses, filing withe government, creating contracts and all other legal stuff SUCK! But it’s a necessary evil to cover your butt.
  7. Financially investing in our business. Yes. We too have to pay for our business to run. I would love to have a non-existent marketing budget, not have to pay for my business license, get my supplies for free, and so on, but it doesn’t work like that. So we have to suck it up, and put part of our earnings toward our growth. Good thing we love what we do, otherwise this would be pure torture.
  8. Long hours. The long hours is kinda a love/hate relationship. We hate watching the time pass us by as we complete projects or work on new ideas. However, the passion, or sheer insanity mixed with Type A personality, keeps us going. Waking up the next morning with a full day ahead… Well, that can be pure torture. Coffee, anyone?

And on that note, I think I’ll end. Please, by all means, add the things you don’t like as well.

People’s nagging words can be the paralysis to your purpose; to the things that you’ve had the balls to even dream about (excuse my French). But it’s true. Sometimes, when we dream big and tell others how we want to try Beautiful Image Of A Glamour Model Behind Glasssomething new, become President or maybe even do something as small as learning how to ride a bike at an older age, there are a million people who can come up with a trillion reasons why you shouldn’t do it; why it’s a bad idea. Reasons such as you’ll get hurt or you don’t fit the persona of the president or maybe even you’re not small enough or pretty enough to be a model. Tell them you want to quit your job to pursue your dream of entrepreneurship and all heck breaks loose. They don’t take the time to tap into the positive outcomes, such as conquering a fear, embracing confidence where self-esteem once took residence, or even all the new skills you’ll obtain simply by trying. And most of all, simply providing a pat on the back because you have the gumption to try.

And haters don’t come always come from the external. You may be the biggest naysayer of them all. You continue to tell yourself why you can’t do ONLY thing standing between you and those passing you by is guts.

But that’s okay. Go ahead and let others pass you by. Stay in the rut. The rut is safe. Or at least that’s what you tell yourself, which is totally contrary to what risk takers say. Their motto: “High risk, high reward.”

Let’s be real. I can’t say I’m totally a high risk person. If I was, I wouldn’t be working my comfy, full-time job as a marketing professional at one an industry leader. Instead, when I got laid off from my previous job, i would’ve stuck with my plan to do the marketing business full-time with a couple of side gigs as security. But noooo. I needed safe. Heck. I needed to pay my bills, and that was the only way I could see that happening. And so taking another full-time job, taking my talents to another organization is what I did. And everyday I question why. Why didn’t I put caution to the wind to embark upon my dream? Well, because it wasn’t time. However, a dream deferred isn’t a dream not recognized. It’s just exactly what it is…a dream deferred.

It’s now time to put the petal to the metal, not letting opportunity pass me by. Instead, it has fueled me to work harder. Invest more. And get serious – even more determined than I was before. And though this time I’m moving more slowly, I’m moving more wisely. I’m working smarter and not harder, redefining strategy, branding a more. In fact, the shift has allowed a chance to be inspired, be focused and unleash creativity.

It’s giving me time to doubt, be stretched and even encouraged. And frankly, it’s given me motive to push you to look beyond your doubts, your external and inner hater, and simply do what you do as you unleash creativity in your own, unique way.

Hey. I’m not quitting my job today, and unless you KNOW it’s right, I recommend you think long and hard before you quit yours. In fact, don’t quit. Not yet. Instead, continue to let the dream spur you, inspire you, and provide motivation until you look and exhale, satisfied in a dream realized.

Until next time,

Regina

As we know, not much in life is free. And whoever said love was free lied. That’s like saying social media is free. Everything in life comes at a cost. If currency isn’t the cost, then you better believe blood, sweat, tears, time, energy or some other type of emotional or physical output will be required. That’s just reality. So when you read this list, rejoice only momentarily. Though these are free tools, please expect to invest blood, sweat, tears, time, intellect, and a bit of frustration to make these free marketing tools worth your while.

Now that I have that out of the way, here’s my list of top tried and true free marketing tools and resources:

Blogs & Websites

WordPress.com. Whether you’re looking to produce a simple blog or a full-fledged website, WordPress is my top pick. With customizable themes (and a little design talent), you can easily create a unique website or blog that you can truly call your own. Don’t get me wrong, those in the industry often can spot a blog from a mile away. However, blogs are becoming more acceptable for use as a website. Not only are small businesses using them, well-established organizations are also using blogs to publish and house content. WordPress.com also integrates easily with top social meida sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which makes it just that much easier to drive traffic to your blog. Finally, plug-ins, mobile apps, and other tools adds convenience while simplifying the management of your WordPress.com account. (Note: WordPress.com isn’t to be confused with WordPress.org. WordPress.org should be left to those who are more tech savy. Plus, you will incur costs as you will need to house a blog or website utilizing WordPress.org on an independent server.)

Social Media Management

HootSuite. Perfect for managing multiple social media accounts. Hootsuite integrates nicely with Facebook (including Facebook pages), Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress. Whether you need to post in real time or want to schedule posts, HootSuite makes it easy to do either. In addition, with a web app as well as mobile apps, Hootsuite lets you keep up with your social media accounts whether at a desk or on the go. And with Twitter notifications pushed to your cell phone, you have the option of being notified of customer engagement without the need of actually going into an account. The main areas of content I have with Hootsuite is 1) posting links and 2) posting images. For some reason, posting links seems to be fickle. You have to post it in the area with your content instead of the area that asks for a link. If you put it in the area that asks for a link, it will only post if you shorten it using the tools. Not good for me since I create custom links with bitly for future measurement. And neither links nor images seem to show the preview on the actual social media site. Since I believe previews and images increase engagement, I take the extra step to increase engagement. There is a paid option that allows more capabilities, however, if you only need lightweight management for up to five social media accounts, you’re golden.

TweetDeck. This is one of my favorite social media management tools. Frankly, TweetDeck is what got me hooked on Twitter. If you’re using Twitter from the Twitter.com website, do yourself a favor and use a different program to access Twitter. It’s so much more fun. TweetDeck was my first choice, and I haven’t gone away from it yet. (Though there was a scare before. I digress). Like HootSuite, TweetDeck is perfect for managing several social media accounts. TweetDeck is another free marketing tool that plays nicely with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I have found it a little harder to link Facebook pages to TweetDeck and I haven’t found the mobile app to be as friendly as Hootsuite. The inability to manage Facebook pages and the lack of a mobile app I like is what places HootSuite above TweetDeck in my book from a professional point of view. However, due to it’s desktop application that allows you to view multiple columns simultaneously, TweetDeck is a winner in my book. (Not only does TweetDeck allow you to show columns related to specific social media accounts, TweetDeck also can be customized to show columns including tweets related to a search term or hashtag (#) even if you don’t follow the user. This is perfect for industry research or stalking the competition. (Come on. We’ve all done it.)

Email

MailChimp. I’ve done the research. MailChimp won over Constant Contact as the preferred email tool. Here’s the scoop. MailChimp allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 1,999 subscribers (mailchimp.com – view the details). If you’re just getting started or don’t have a massive email list, it’s a no brainer. MailChimp provides email templates, stores your email lists as well as integrates with Facebook and Twitter. Moreover, with MailChimp, you have access to important stats that help you determine the effectiveness of your email program. Here’s the caveat, I highly recommend you invest the time into choosing the right template and customizing it based on your needs. If you need to hire a designer to help with your template, please do so. And if you need to hire a consultant or content specialist/strategist to help determine the appropriate content strategy for your email program, please do so. Otherwise, you may just be spinning wheels. That’s worth the investment.

Yesware. As a plug-in on Google Chrome and Gmail, this is one of the best friends a person in direct sales could have. Not only does it allow you to create templates for sales letters, Yesware also allows you to track your emails. And it doesn’t just show you whether or not the email has been opened/viewed. Yesware also tells you the number of times the recipient opened/viewed your email as well as how long ago the email. Note: This is only free up to a certain number of tracked emails.

Research

Public Library. Remember all that work you did trying to identify your target market. From books to databases, the public libaray may have what you need to make market research a little easier. Since the tools may not be staring you in the face, do this: walk to the information desk and ask about the available small business resources. It will definitely take time to do your research and put the tools to work for you. Large organizations have access to sophisticate marketing tools and you may have that access also. Remember, my goal is to promote smarter marketing. Stop wasting time pushing messages to the wrong people and stop being in the dark as it relates to industry trends and best practices. It’s time you grow your business up with sophisticated tools that will only benefit you in the long run. #enoughsaid

Webinars, White Papers, Blogs, eNewsletters, Magazines: Okay. Organizations don’t provide free webinars (seminars via the web), white papers, blogs or newsletters simply out of the kindness of their hearts. All of these efforts are part of their marketing strategy. With a variety of goals in mind, from positioning themselves as experts and industry leaders to generating leads and awareness, organizations provide a wealth of information through these tactics. Though you may not be ready to bite on a paid service, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of the free knowledge they’re providing. Since this information can become overwhelming, be sure to only attend, download, and subscribe to items that are beneficial to your organization. And even with that you have to be sure to be conscientious of information overload. My top 5 organization to follow are: Social Media Examiner, HubSpot, Marketing Profs, AdAge, and Mashable. (Note: Certain organizations may require you to download specific software to access their information or attend their webinar. For “print” applications, the most common software needed is the Adobe PDF reader.)

Free Classes/Seminars: Your local SCORE chapter – who is part of the Small Business Administration – and other organizations may provide free offline classes and seminars. Take advantage of these. First, determine the local organizations that provide assistance to small businesses. Then make an appointment to see a rep to learn more about the organization. Ask if they provide classes, workshops or other resources. And don’t forget to visit their website often and sign up to receive their emails as this may be where they push information regarding upcoming classes, seminars or workshops as well as other useful information.

YouTube: Make this your friend and search for your topic of choice. I bet you’ll find something. Once again, organizations and consultants are looking to generate leads. They’re willing to provide information in order to establish themselves as an expert. Be cautious of the information you receive. Remember anyone can put information on YouTube, meaning that the information they give you could be as wrong as someone calling a blue wall red. So if you aren’t well-versed on the topic, be sure to run the information by someone who is. Even a well produced video could give you horrible information. Just saying. As my friend says, “you’ve been warned.”

Other – You

Your Yapper (AKA Networking). From local meetups to simply talking to a person at the local starbucks, networking is a key marketing tool. I sometimes think people get tired of hearing about my consulting business. And they probably do. But guess what? When they’re looking for a marketing consultant, I am top of mind. Goal achieved. So, toot your own horn. Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have a need for your product or service, they may know someone who does. Don’t count anyone out. However, do be wise about who you should spend more time vs. those who would simply benefit from a business card, warm smile, and quick overview of your offerings. And here’s what’s even better about networking – people take the time to tell you about resources you didn’t even know existed. (Shout out to my friends and family for being on top of it. They’re always sending or telling me about something that they believe I may deem valuable)

Blood, Sweat & Tears (AKA Hard Work). This is your number one free marketing tool. Either you put the time and energy into it, you pay someone to do it, or it doesn’t get done at all. It’s as simple as that. Blogs don’t write themselves, emails don’t send themselves, and you can’t benefit from the research if you don’t take the time to gather AND process it. From anxiety to hours of writing to bonafide tears, I’ve experienced it all. Like I said in a different post said, “Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you.” I’m a personal witness. But I can also testify to the fact that it truly is worth it.

Live, love & prosper

You say, “I need a creative person on my team.”

I say, “be careful what you ask for.” Creative people (also known as Creatives or creative types) are strange beings. I’m one of them. We find excitement in things the rest of the world cares a little less about, and we’re okay with it. In fact, we have our circle that’s just like us. And organizations love us because we keep things fresh. We think out of the box. In fact, many like to live vicariously through us. We have guts! Guts to live on the edge. And we love it.

Since Creatives have a hard time conforming, there are those who have a hard time with how we operate. It’s not that Creatives are bad. We just like to have fun. Those of us who learn how to balance the road between comforming and creativity do well. The others, well…have you ever heard of a consultant…or a beach bum…or someone simply chasing their dreams?

Now that we have that out of the way, the fun stuff – spotting your creative:

  1. They’re either a hipster or a geek. Their either socially awkward or they like to live on the edge – or they may be both. Allow this in the organization. It’s good for their creative minds.
  2. They get a little too excited about words, colors, typography, photography, and the arts. It’s okay you don’t get it. This is just part of their natural make up.
  3. They have (or used to have) random hair coloring, ink on their body, or some redunkulous (ridiculous) hair cut or hair style. Face it. Living with the same hair color style is B-O-R-I-N-G. I change my hair who knows how many times in a year. It’s all professional and presentable. If I had to stay the same…[insert scream]
  4. 9 time out of 10, they’re going to say something you don’t want to hear. Be okay with this. This is why you hired them. Creatives invent and take things to new levels. If you stunt their ability to be creative and push against the grain, you may stunt your organization’s success.
  5. They think of something that you didn’t. Be open to their ideas. They use a different side of the brain than others, and they help explore opportunities other people in the organization didn’t (and may not ever) think of.
  6. They’ll look like they’re slacking. They may not come in on time and they may seem to socialize a little too much. Clocks and boxes are not meant for Creatives. They have to be able to express themselves openly. When you box in a creative person, you also box in their creativity. Don’t do this. When you get the right one, they will work their butts off.
  7. They’re in tune with the latest technology. Creatives are early adopters of technology. Why? Because it’s different and cool. They don’t like to conform. Don’t expect their technology to conform either. They are the first with the latest devices. They know what creative programs to use. They know when it’s worth getting the upgrade and when it’s not.
  8. They’re surrounded by other Creatives. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Where there’s one creative, you can be sure to find another, and guess what they’ll be talking about? Music, TV, typography, grammar, their blog, their website, their next personal project, their next professional project…you get the gist.
  9. Drama is part of their life. Yes. Creative people can get a bit dramatic. Expression – or should I say over-expression – is their thing. Frankly, they consider the dramatic expressions kinda fun. (Note: This type of drama is not to be confused with the petty “drama” that harms relationships.)
  10. Their cubicles are, well, different. From pictures to posters to trinkets to random personal or professional creations, you’ll see this at the desk of a creative. While everyone likes to make their cube “at home,” Creatives take it just a bit further. You will be wowed, inspired, or appalled by their unique expression. However, whether you’re wowed, inspired, or appalled, the one thing you won’t say is that it’s status quo.

Creatives are meant to create. Creating means inventing or modifying. This is just a natural extension of our DNA – and  it’s a huge pro for all organizations. Creativity is needed for growth. Accept it. You need us. We need you too.

Live, love, prosper.

As business owners, the one word in the English dictionary that may make us cringe more than any other word may be “free.” Other words that may make it to the top of the list of painful things we hear from our customers are: “discount,” “can I pay later,” “can I get a “hook up,” – you know anything that would encourage businesses to decrease prices in the effort to capture the customer.

I know. I’ve heard these words more than enough. “Can I get the family discount?” “Can you do it on a volunteer basis?” And yes, just like you, I want to scream at every instance I hear these words – primarily because I know the investment of time and other resources it takes to execute.

Yeah. It may seem that there can’t be high costs in designing a logo or developing a marketing strategy or even managing your social media accounts, but the cost is in the research, technology, labor, materials, and time that could be spent on paying clients. Time is money…and if you have a normal hourly rate, frankly doing something for free can simply be a means of cheating yourself. However, there are instances when there is profitability in free.

How many times have you seen “1st session FREE”…or “Buy 1 Get 1 Free”…or “FREE Sample”…or “FREE for the first 30 days”…or “FREE XXX with the purchase of $50 or more?” You get the gist.

These statements generally have an unstated goal, such as “I need to clear inventory,” “I want to hook you as a customer,” “I know you won’t buy any other way (and yes, this has already been calculated into my financial plan)” or “we need to do this in order to keep up with our competition.”

Offering something for free can be a very effective marketing tactics. However, YOU MUST BE SURE TO HAVE OBJECTIVE AND YOU MUST WEIGH THE PROS AND CONS. 

Before offering a free service or product, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What am I looking to achieve? This is the first question you need to ask. Are you looking to gain new clients? To increase word of mouth? To get an on the spot purchase? To obtain a future purchase?
  2. What will I offer for free? You may have a full line of product or service offerings. It may be wise to offer smaller portion of the product as a sample or a service that is not as labor intensive as others but at the same time  educates the customer on you offerings and lets them know why they need you.
  3. Can I afford it? It’s wise to generally do some type of financial analysis prior to offering a free service determine how much it will affect their bottom line, esp. if they plan on losing money due to offering the free service. You need to understand how much they can afford to lose.
  4. Will you be able to keep up with the demand? Is your product or service so greatly desired that by offering it for free, you’ll get a greatly increased number of customers? (7-Eleven Free Slurpee day is a great example of those.) If you expect a high number of customers due to the free offering, you’ll need to make sure that you can keep up BEFORE offering it for free.. (Or simply manage your risk by limiting the number or type of customers who can take advantage of the free offering. (i.e. )
  5. What’s my risk? Will you have to neglect other customers to fill the demand of the customers looking for the free product or service? If so, this may not be a good option, or you’ll want to work this into customer’s expectations when determining project timelines. Remember, it costs less to retain an existing customer than to gain a new one.
  6. After they’ve bitten into the free offer, what’s my next step? This is the most important question of all. How do you plan to get them to make an actual purchase? Are you capturing email addresses? Do you give them a coupon? Do you send up a follow up email, and in what timeframe do you send that email? If you don’t have a follow up strategy, then all the effort put into offering something for free may have been in vain.

You’re on one side of the table. Your potential customer is on the other side. Your job…the pitch.

You have this one in the bag.

You tell them all you can do, and your prospect is definitely impressed. They’re drawn in with each word. They see it – how you’ll benefit their organization.

You’re even ready for the questions and requests that come your way. “Yes, Mrs. Smith, as a matter of fact, we can do that. There would be a small increase in cost, but we definitely can work it into the package.” (It doesn’t really matter what the “it” is. You can handle it.)

Then it came in slow motion. That request that you’re not ready for. However, instead of being transparent, you confidently say, “Yes. We can do that too.”

Liar. You can’t. For one reason or another…you don’t have the time, the expertise, the technical know how, or other resources to get it done.  But you said “yes,” and now you’re stuck. And even worse, your reputation is on the line. If you aren’t able to deliver, you may be screwed.

How could you have prevented this?

Just say no. If you aren’t ready to handle the customer’s request, be honest. Tactfully, let them know you can’t deliver what they’re asking for. Even if you lose the potential customer, you’ll keep your integrity, and your organization’s reputation won’t be tainted. Remember…you’ll always be able to pitch to more clients.

He Who Over Promises & Under Delivers

Being overly ambitious results in over promising and under delivering. As stated earlier, this will result in a huge blemish on your organization’s reputation – especially if your organization is a repeat offender.

There are several options that you can take in order to avoid being one who makes promises in which you can’t deliver:

1. Say no. As stated before, if you can’t do it, just say no. This doesn’t mean you have to let the prospect walk away unfulfilled. It just means you may have to seek 3rd party assistance to get the job done.

2. Be realistic with yourself. Know what you can do and what you can’t. Make sure you’re realistic about what’s on your plate, your skills, your resources, and what the amount of time it takes to complete what’s being requested.

3. Set customer expectations. Communicate timelines and needs in advance. Then continue communicating throughout the execution. Give status updates, communicate roadblocks and definitely give your customers opportunities to provide feedback.  Remember, you are in a partnership with your customer, and great  partnerships result from effective communication.

4. Be open to constructive criticism. Maybe you think you’re delivering effectively. However, your customer base doesn’t. Give them a chance to let you know. Allow your customer to give you feedback, both while you’re in teh process of completing a project

5. Obtain necessary skills or resources. If you find you are low on time or missing a certain skill or expertise, outsource the parts of the project in which you need help. If you’re budget doesn’t allow this, it will be better to say no than to get into a pinch. ~ On the other hand, if you’re simply need to enhance skills – such as presentation skills, design, writing, etc. – get training. Consult or hire an expert or seek out the proper education to help with development.

Reach for the Stars…

We’ve all heard this – and it’s not bad in theory. We all have goals. And this is great. However, if you’re ill-prepared, you will get burned. So, before you have to stop, drop and roll, make sure you have the skills and resources necessary to prevent unwanted blazes from down yonder.

Live, love & proser,

Regina

As I sit in the midst of organizing my office, I am inspired, encouraged, challenged, and even nervous about new beginnings; the beginnings of transitioning from a full-time employee to a self-employed entrepreneur, removing myself from the security of the day to day, and totally walking in faith.

I, like many others, don’t come from prosperous beginnings – no silver spoon in my mouth. Daddy didn’t leave me with a trust fund, and mom for sure didn’t come from a rich family. Instead, the opposite was quite true. Drugs and diligence. My father was addicted to drugs. My mom was a diligent young lady. I was the product of a divorce and remarriage at a very young age, where I still lived with a single parent in a double-parent home.

While dad wasn’t there, mom told me I could. While my father was running the streets, mom showed what hard work, dedication, diligence and encouragement looked like. And both, my mother and my father instilled that I was beautiful, strong and could do whatever I put my mind to.

Last week in church, my pastor said, “don’t despise humble beginnings.” Thank you Pastor Earle for those powerful words. Thank you for walking up my street and speaking directly into the crevices of my soul. Thank you for inspiration and guidance. And most of all, thank you for being my spiritual leader, correcting me when I’m wrong, encouraging me when I doubt, and looking out for my overall well-being.

To all the entrepreneurs, and those thinking about entering into the challenging, yet rewarding, life as an entrepreneur, keep pressing forward, and don’t think twice. Don’t look at what’s in front of you, but depend on Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things not seen” (Holy Bible). Don’t be discouraged by meager beginnings. Don’t despise your past or your today. Instead, walk in faith, be encouraged, and remember “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or imagine according to His power that is within you” (Ephesians 3:20, Holy Bible).

I wish you much success.

Live, love, and prosper,
Regina

For some it looks like entertaining. For some it looks like motivational speaking. For some it looks likes marketing, public speaking, training, finance, dance. And the list goes on. The point is…there are many things that many people are passionate about. Then there are those, myself included, who take their passions and turn them into a full-fledged business. I’m not speaking of a side hustle where you’re looking to gain a few extra dollars. I’m talking about a full, bonafide, licensed business. If you’re one of these people, raise your hand. This post is for you.

Now that we’ve separated the serious from the…ummm…the not-so-serious, here are 3 key points to consider in order to build a solid foundation for your business. (Note: this isn’t a comprehensive list you need to approach, but this will get you started.)

1) Determine whether or not you’re ready. Am I ready to do this? This is the first and most important question you need to ask yourself. Operating a business costs money, is ridiculously emotional, requires sacrifice (when your friends are playing, you’re working), will take lots (I repeat LOTS) of hours, and requires an immense amount of work. You have to be self-motivated, be able to take criticism, and be able to pick yourself up when you you get discouraged or receive the answer “no.”

2) Develop a hustler’s mentality. After you’ve determined you’re ready to operate a business, then it’s time for you to develop a hustler’s mentality. No, I’m not speaking of a motive of stealing and cheating people out of their money. The hustler mentality that I’m speaking of is the one where you’re constantly on your grind, doing what you need to do to gain business. Hustlers are on their grind whether it’s raining, snowing, sunny or hailing, not letting anything stop them from growing their business. This is exactly the same for you. You gotta be out there pushing yourself, realizing that every encounter is a possible opportunity to for business. Every waking hour is an opportunity. (This doesn’t mean to take time for rest or fun. It just means that even in rest and fun, the potential for a client may be under your nose.)

3) Deal with the boring stuff. Accounting, financing, business structure, licensing, marketing, legalities, taxation….most of these aren’t “sexy,” and most aren’t fun. However, are all issues you need to address. Since what you’re doing is no longer just for fun, you want to make sure you’re protected and organized properly. You don’t want to be had, or operating an illegitimate business. If any of the above are out of your realm, CONSULT OR HIRE A PROFESSIONAL.

Here’s a head start on some of the questions you will need to answer:

  • Will your business be for profit or not?
  • Will you operate your organization as a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation?
  • How will you finance your business? Will you be paying for costs out-of-pocket, will you be looking for a venture capitalist, will you take out a loan, or a combination of the above?
  • Who’s your target market?
  • Will you require contracts?
  • How will you accept payments?
  • Will customers be required to pay in advance, at the time that services are rendered, later, or a combination of the above.

These are just a few questions that you need to answer. A business plan provides a great foundation to these questions, and if you’re looking to get a loan, you’ll need to complete a one. There are a lot of great resources for developing a business plan on the web and potentially, in your local library. In addition, the Small Business Administration through the US Government, your state government, and your local SCORE chapter are also provide free resources for those inquiring about and operating their own business.

When I think about convenience, there’s one story that epitomizes convenience. Convenience score: 10 (on a scale of 1-10). The story:Maze

In Atlanta (and maybe even in other bustling metro areas) there’s this guy who’s known as the traveling barber. His M.O. – he comes to you. His target market – doctors, lawyers, and other elitists. His prices – well, let’s just say the price matches the pockets of his clientele. Simply put, this guy can charge $100 for a haircut that would normally cost the average person between $13 and $20. That’s a $76 dollar premium for something as basic and everyday as a hair cut. (Numbers estimated) Continue reading “What’s Your Convenience Rating Doing to Your Business?”