Solopreneur Smarts: Collaboration & Partnership Require Care!

When Limits Are Freeing, Rather Than Limiting!

When Limits Are Freeing, Rather Than Limiting!

If you spend time in Facebook groups as you go about your digital marketing day, you probably see various variations on this idea:

Never set limits, go after your dreams, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. And laugh a lot – it’s good for you!
Paula Radcliffe

or …

In our society, the women who break down barriers are those who ignore limits.
Arnold Schwarzenegger

But I have a different view of limits. I see them as a powerful part of making the most of what you do, especially what you do well! I side strongly with these two quotes from an individual most would deem an expert in his field.

Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
Albert Einstein

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Albert Einstein

Limits Are Legitimate!

Have you seen any of the Holiday Inn Express ads? They’ve been running for years now, so I’m guessing you’ve seen one at some point. This is one of my favorites …

Why am I sharing this? Because, as ridiculous as the concept is, if you stop and think about it, you know you’ve come across brands and individuals offering products or services and wondered if they really had the expertise and experience to back their claims.

Would you accept any schmuck off the street as your helicopter pilot? Your surgeon? Your mechanic? Hell no!

So, why do we allow social marketing schmucks and big-talking braggarts into our small business circles? Why do we consort with gurus, ninjas, evangelists and mavens?

ENOUGH!

Limits Don’t Losers Make!

We all must set limits in order to manage, maintain and grow our businesses. We must also set limits which allow us to step away from our business in order to maintain other aspects of our life, including relationships with family members and creating time for hobbies and activities outside of our business scope.

If we don’t set limits when we’re managing a project, we’re likely to fall prey to scope creep.

If we aren’t deliberate and honest about what we can actually accomplish, we may find ourselves accomplishing little, or worse – nothing.

If we don’t set limits on the length and breadth of our to-do lists, we can become a slave to the list and lose out on anything we haven’t written down.

Limits let us get back to doing what we do well. That’s a good thing, right?

Limits Can Actually Lift Your Business!

When we set smart limits we allow ourselves the room to seek out and seize opportunity.

When I hired a virtual assistant to help with some of the daily tasks that were taking up too much of my time, I then had the time to explore new service offerings and a side project that I quietly “whisper-launched” last week.

Can you do your own taxes? More than likely you could muddle through them on your own. But is it worth it? Is it worth the worry, the time invested and the time taken away from something that actually showcases your expertise? Probably not.

There's something fabulously freeing about honestly admitting we cannot do something! Click To Tweet

Limit Smarter!

We are constantly seeing/hearing that we need to work smarter, not harder.

Legitimate limits are a smart part of working smarter. Limits, boundaries, realism … they’ve all been given a bad name by those I call the positivity pushers.

You can absolutely set smart and valuable limits while still remaining positive about your business and the solopreneur lifestyle. And those limits will let loose the time and opportunity to expand your expertise and increase your reach amidst the types of clients and peers with whom you REALLY want to do business!

Busy Is Just A Buzzword …

Busy Is Just A Buzzword ...

Have you ever met someone who constantly calls on you to lament or laud the fact that he/she is perpetually busy? These individuals just never have any spare time to smell the roses, to spend time with family and friends, to take a few seconds to sit down and simply savor the fruits of their labors.

I’ve known quite a few of these people. And funnily enough, I found many of them to be the least productive people I’ve ever met, despite their constant hustling and bustling and busy buzzing.

Busy Is NOT A Badge Of Honor!

Busy is, plain and simple, a buzzword. But it’s one that needs to be retired, and fast.

Busy is often incorrectly linked to productivity. Actually, the two terms are mutually exclusive and here’s why I say that:

Busy is about bustle and bragging. How often do we hear certain individuals boasting about how very busy they happen to be?

Yet, if you actually look for the fruits of their very busy labors, you’ll find the harvest surprisingly small, the payload never delivered.

Productivity is tied to things actually happening, projects delivered, deadlines met. You know, actual shizz getting done.

When Busy Becomes An Excuse …

Ever called on someone to take part in a round-up post, a Twitter chat, or possibly an interview for your blog or podcast? Of course you have. It’s part of being connected, being influential and part of creating and maintaining our online reach.

I’m willing to be that you’ve often been turned down with the phrase, “I’m sorry, I’m just too busy to take part right now.”

Here’s the deal. We could all easily use the buzz of busy as an excuse, but it’s a cop out. All business owners, if you fine it down, are busy. We all, every day, engage in the activities entailed in the management, maintenance and growth of our brands and business.

Thus, using busy as an excuse is bogus. Entrepreneurs, business owners, managers, even the lowest of lowly underlings can, and DO, make time for tasks, projects and ideas that matter.

Thus, when you tell me you’re too “busy” to take part, rather then providing a legitimate reason for your lack of excitement when asked to be included, I can only assume my request really doesn’t matter to you. And that’s A-OK hunky dory. but I’d really rather you just bust out and say so, instead of hiding behind the cult of busy.

It’s Time To Bust The Busy Myth!

At some point, in the annals of marketing history perhaps, being “busy” must have reaped rewards and brought a bounty of benefits to those who put it to use.

Today, not so much. It’s a term that’s been used, abused and, when used today, can cause groans, grumbles and snorts of derision.

Busy is simply bluster. It's a bid to appear more bountiful, a bid to buoy clout and importance. Busy can't be measured with benchmarks.Click To Tweet

Focus too much on appearing busy and you’ll fail to take part in the activities that can actually benefit you, your business, your brand AND, especially, your paying clients!

Busy Works For Bees, Not Brands & Businesses

It’s time to realize that tossing around busy brings little benefit to your brand or business.

At best, it makes you appear a little boastful, as if you’re bragging. At worst, it can appear as if your brand and business fails to find the requests and queries of customers and peers all that important in the greater scheme of things.

Have you ever been brushed aside with the buzz and bluster of busy? How did it make you feel?

 

Be Nice To Your Bottom Line: You CAN Say No!

Be Nice To Your Bottom Line: You CAN Say No!

A recent Facebook conversation, with a large and well-meaning group, originating on Brian Fanzo‘s wall, prompted this article.

I’ve often written about the value of this very short and succinct word: No. But it seems there’s a rather misguided notion that in order to be nice you can’t say it. I find that frightening.

Why?

Because sometimes saying no is the nicest thing you can do. For a prospect, for your client, for your business, for yourself and for your bottom line.

You should say NO when:

  1. You don’t have the time do a task or job well.
  2. You don’t have the skill set to do a task or job well.
  3. You have to cobble together a solution because you don’t have access to the tools to get it done right.

The preceding examples are pretty cut and dried. But there will be times when it’s harder to suss out that saying no is actually in the best interest of all parties involved.

When did being nice become the end all, be all? When did being nice rise above being smart and professional? You can be both. They’re not mutually exclusive.

You can, and should, be polite and professional when doing business. But that doesn’t always mean you need to be nice. Especially in a time when being nice is so often equated with giving away your smarts, your talents and your business acumen.

At some point you have to stop giving it all away.

When Free Loses Focus

One main premise of social media marketing, of “being” social, is that you share for free up to the point that your prospect trusts you enough to buy. The key phrase we must focus on in this idea is “up to the point.” There must be an end to the freebies, else you never create the invoice that adds dollars to your bank account.

Free creeps into business in many ways that must be combatted.

  • The pick your brain call, coffee, lunch
  • The free 15 minute consult that stretches to an hour
  • The scope creep on projects that involves increasing hours and effort, but not the project price

At this point nice needs to get the nod to leave the room. Because at this point, being nice is negatively impacting your bottom line.

When Nice Is Not-So-Nice

Consider this. Is it nice when you have to forego a planned family outing because you’ve spent hours you should have been dedicating to paying projects on free calls that resulted in no revenue?

Or consider this. Is it nice when you rush a client job, possibly not delivering your best work, because you’ve spent the last several hours having your brain picked by a “friend” who will get you lots of exposure?

Saying No Doesn’t Make You A Jerk!

There’s nothing inherently evil about these two little letters. Problems arise via perception of the delivery. You can say no and maintain a working relationship. You can say no and still be polite and professional. You can say no without hurting feelings.

You absolutely can be a nice person and still be a shrewd and savvy entrepreneur.

Nice guys (and gals) really do finish last if the act of being nice negatively impacts their bottom line. Paying the bills, feeding your family, and investing in the growth of your business must come before being nice simply for the sake of being nice.

What Do You Think?

Can you say no and still remain nice? Remain professional? Remain a smart and savvy entrepreneur?

Let’s Talk Turkey: The Marketing Tools Aren’t The Problem

Let's Talk Turkey: The Marketing Tools Aren't The Problem

Last week I took a strong stance against the idea that content curation is a waste of time or a “dumb” activity. I found that I wasn’t the only online marketer with an affinity and allegiance to what we’ll call smart content curation.

I can only hope that today’s topic, which ties into curation, will result in a similar affinity.

Today I’m digging into the delusional idea that automating the sharing of content, content that you might have created, as well as content you might have curated, somehow impedes connection, conversation and the building of real and mutually beneficial relationships.

It’s Not The Marketing Tools, It’s The User

Not a single one of us can be connected or plugged-in 24-7-365. I’ll take it one step further and say that anyone attempting to be “constantly connected,” just isn’t running a very good business.

Why do I say that?

Because successful business owners know that marketing is only PART of what makes your business a success!

There are a handful of other key items that are pretty ding-danged important to overall business success, including:

  • Actually doing work for your clients so you can send out invoices!
  • Sleeping, as without it your brain can’t function.
  • Face-to-face client meetings. Shockingly enough, we occasionally have to get in the car and drive to a coffee shop or office complex to land a new client.
  • Phone calls. As much as I loathe and despise the phone, and will do almost anything to avoid a conversation via this tool of torture, I still have to pick up occasionally to answer questions and make initial impressions with prospects.

When Always On = Inattentive

Consider this. You’re at a coffee shop with a prospect. But you’re that guy or gal that proudly professes that you’re ALWAYS ONLINE. You’re in the middle of a lovely conversation with your prospect. You seem to be a great match. Then your phone buzzes. You have a mention, a retweet, or an alert.

What do you do?

If you immediately hold up a finger and ask for a minute (yes, I’ve had this happen to me), the tool IS the problem. But neither the phone nor the app is the tool in this scenario. The person who can’t disconnect for a thirty minute consult, however, is absolutely a TOOL.

It may seem that I’ve gone a bit off topic here, but I hope you’ll see that I’m trying to make a point regarding the human factoring into the idea that marketing tools are a bad bet.

Marketing Tools Aren’t Inherently Evil

I’m going to pull out one of my handy catch phrases here. The value of a marketing tool is absolutely tied to the intent and purpose of the human making use of the tool.

Mailchimp, AWeber, ActiveCampaign? Not evil. These email tools don’t spam people, the individuals using them do! Drip campaigns aren’t the problem. It’s the drips that don’t personalize the sends, don’t make the content shared valuable and viable, that give the tools a bad name.

Buffer, Hootsuite, Sprout Social? Not the bad guys? The individuals who automate posts with no intention of ever monitoring mentions and actually engaging in conversations around their shared posts, though? You bet they’re the bad guys.

Using tools improperly shouldn’t end up being a problem for the developer of the tool. The blame should rest firmly on the individual that can’t remain human while making use of the tool.

Use The Marketing Tools To Evolve As A Better Marketer

The development and use of tools is a large part of the evolution of our species. Problems arise when we become so entrenched in the wonder of the tool, that we forget to be a human being.

Smart users of marketing tools, especially those that automate content delivery, understand that the delivery is only part of the strategy.

The delivery of the content is just the beginning. Where do you plan to go from there? This is where successful marketers embrace the balance between human interaction and the wonder of delivery tools.

Successful marketers monitor mentions! When they see their content shared they strike up a conversation. Even in less than 140 character bursts on Twitter.

Why do they do this? Because the conversation just might lead to a connection request, a new follower, a new subscriber. Because the conversation might lead the initial sharer to seek out the content of the secondary sharer. And if that content smart and savvy, all the better. A new content resource can be added to your curation system.

And when you share the content of your new connection? There’s a chance to continue the conversation. Deepen the connection. Maybe even build a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship! A relationship that leads to collaborative partnerships that might just bring in a buck or two!

The Tools Aren’t The Tools In This Scenario!

If the title above is confusing, it’s because you’re not thinking of this alternate definition of a tool!

Used with understanding and the proper intent and purpose, marketing tools, especially those that automate the delivery of content we’ve created and curated, make for better marketing.

Because when you can save time on the delivery, you can spend MORE time on the conversations!

Better Business Love: You’re Not A Robot!

Better Business Love: You're Not A Robot!

If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in our life!

I’m sorry, but to resort to some pre-Super Bowl football language, I’m going to have to throw a flag on that play!

I absolutely, without doubt, every ding-danged day – LOVE what I do for a living. Owning my own business means I that I engage in what I call “better business.” I get up and go right to it most mornings. But, yes – there’s a but …

I work my proverbial pardukey off each and every day, including evenings, weekends, holidays and sometimes while I’m on vacation. Working hard, working long hours, building your business – they’re part of loving what you do, part of building that better business! Sometimes I work through illness and sometimes I have to cancel fun plans to meet deadlines or to keep on track with monthly tasks, reporting and goals. I still love what I do, but I do, occasionally, have to give things up.

It’s the me that I put into the effort that makes me love what I do, what I produce. My love for what I do doesn’t control me, or automate my actions. My love for what I do allows me to better control my business. I make decisions, some more difficult than others. I don’t just forge forward each day on the same path, automatic, automated and robotic.

We’re not robots, we’re human beings. We get tired, some days we’re feeling more up or decidedly more down than others. We get sick, get the sniffles, have bad hair and pajama days as we settle in front of the computer. This, our humanity, is what we pour into our businesses.

Sometimes we get angry, sometimes we get snarky, sometimes we get sarcastic. While we don’t want to let these feelings pour unabated into our business, the occasional sharing of our “human side” can actually appeal to present and potential clients.

Just as you wouldn’t automate everything you share via social media, you can’t automate everything about yourself when you’re running a business. To say “you’ll never work a day in your life” if you love what you do demeans that love. Because we go all out, give our best and make the most effort when we’re really into something, when we really love what we do.

Hopefully this is another ridiculous blanket statement debunked.