Recap: How to Succeed at Self-Employment

It’s been a few months since we jumped in our virtual car and started the journey on the Roadmap to Self-Employment. Being an entrepreneur is an ever-changing adventure and yet the fundamentals always remain the same. By following these 9 steps you’ll be on your way to a strong foundation as you start and grow your business.

I’ve enjoyed sharing this with you. Know that whether going out on your own is just a glimmer of an idea or you’re already full-speed ahead solo, there are nuggets of wisdom and solid business principles here that will get and keep you on the road to small business success.

Here’s a recap of our journey:



Succeed as Self-Employed Business Owner
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Roadmap to Self-Employment: Review & Reinvent Regularly

Running a business is not a wash – rinse – repeat thing. Sure, systems and procedures allow you to leverage your efforts, but being an entrepreneur means you never get to go on auto-pilot. Even the best laid business and marketing plans need to be reviewed regularly. The most successful businesses know how to keep things fresh and respond to the ever-changing business climates and customer behavior.

What to Review and When

It pays to review critical plans and metrics regularly. If you set aside time to do so as part of your ongoing business operations you should never be taken completely by surprise. Here are some common things you will want to review and the frequency with which you should review them:

  • Business Plan – at least annually
  • Marketing Plan – at least quarterly
  • Finances – at least monthly with more in-depth analysis quarterly
  • Marketing Metrics – at least monthly, more frequently with active campaigns
  • Support Team Needs – at least quarterly

Taking a regular peek under the hood allows you to proactively respond to changes in your business rather than react in a panic.

How to Know if It is Time to Reinvent

It can be tempting at every bump in the road to undertake a major reinvention, rebranding, or re-course of action. After all, if the water isn’t boiling, change pots!

That said, it takes consistency and time to build a business so you don’t want to change course too soon but you also don’t want to wait too long. (Need I say again that there is no handbook of absolutes when it comes to owning your own business?). If you look to the entertainment industry, the most successful artists reinvent themselves at different times. For example, as Justin Beiber matures as a young man, his music and brand is changing. Madonna is the queen of reinventing herself. Sometimes it works and sometimes it crashes and burns. That is why you need to be conscious of what you’re doing and why.

Here are top signs that it is time to reinvent (a little or a lot):

  • Changes in customer or business behavior that requires you respond differently to them to succeed.
  • You’ve hit a plateau in your earnings.
  • You are bored and no longer as passionate about what you do as you once were.
  • A major disappointment or game-changing life circumstance happens.

Remember that sometimes reinvention is the best revenge. Whatever you do, be certain whatever reinvention you undertake is authentic and stays aligned with your bigger “why” and purpose.

Reinvent Your Business
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How to Reinvent Successfully

You can’t just snap your fingers and reinvent yourself or your business. It’s like starting a new business. It requires inspiration, thoughtful planning, reflection, and discernment. Follow these principles to make your reinvention a successful one.

  • Create space to allow the process to unfold. You can’t force it.
  • Test every choice against your own authenticity meter, bigger purpose, and desired life.
  • Be playful. Creativity requires equal parts creative tension, contained chaos, and playfulness. Allow creativity to flow during this process.
  • Explore possibilities. There is no logical, linear path to this process.
  • Embrace “not knowing”. This is where your need to be ok with uncertainty and dance in the mystery.
  • Create a roadmap to make the transition successful.
  • Manage priorities. You will likely have a juggling act navigating the old and new simultaneously as you make the transition.

Have Fun

At the end of the day, being in your business should be fun. It’s a journey that begs to be enjoyed along the way. If you regularly review and reinvent when called to do so, you’ll keep things fresh, grow your business faster, and create the longevity you crave.


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Roadmap to Self-Employment: Find Your Rhythm

Being self-employed is a distance run, not a sprint.  It doesn’t “end”.  Therefore the habits you put into place at the start of your business need to be sustainable.  Some might say achieving balance is impossible, and they are right. But, not in the way you think they are…

I believe balance is an elusive and unattainable goal.  More stress is created in people today because of their quest to achieve balance than in simply creating a rhythm to life that works for you regardless of whether that meets some nebulous balance criteria.

I think Danielle LaPorte says it best:

Life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress than the craving for balance itself.

I agree with her.  What I also know for sure is that we crave a balance of sorts.  It’s programmed inside of us. Think homeostasis. The tendency of a system (living beings) to maintain internal stability and a psychological equilibrium.  Equilibrium is not about a perfect state of balance however.  It’s about finding and creating that stability within what conditions are present.

I like to think of it as finding your rhythm.  Sometimes that rhythm will be fast and charge full speed ahead toward a crescendo (think: product launch) and other times it will be a tranquil and very slow beat (think: lying on the beach on vacation).  You can’t live in the high state forever because it’s not sustainable (think: dreadful music).  You’re also likely to be bored to death after a certain period of nothing but tranquility. Not to mention as a business owner you aren’t likely to make any money or have much of an impact without taking any action.  It’s the relationship between the extremes and the varying of tempo that allows you and your business to be in a sustainable rhythm and dare I say beautiful harmony.

While this rhythm looks different for every person, every person really does need a variety of tempos over time.  If you’re hyped up on caffeine and think that disconnecting or taking a break is not for you, you’re deluding yourself.  (Consider these perspectives: Taking Work on Vacation this Summer?, Am I the Only Blogger Who Loves to Unplug?, and R&R – Luxury or Lifeblood?)

I’m not suggesting being authentic by doing things you don’t want to do, but I am saying to find stillness and ways to disconnect that align with who you are. [Read more…]

Roadmap to Self-Employment: Know Your Numbers

Every action you take as an entrepreneur ties back into your brand and your strategy. So, how do you know if you’re being effective? How do you know if your business is viable? Profitable? Headed for the landfill? You do this via metrics and knowing your numbers.

In this series you’ve planned, gotten connected by getting out there, and you’ve set up systems. So, how do you know where you stand? It’s all in the numbers. This is what big companies would call ROI (return on investment). As an entrepreneur you also need to know your ROE (return on energy/effort) as well because you don’t have a team of thousands working for you. You need to know what you financial position looks like at all times to manage and predict cash flow.

So, how do you know where to start? I recommend starting with the obvious and then expanding from there. Remember, metrics are all about understanding your efforts and your business. This is not an exercise in creating numbers and spreadsheets as a hobby. You want meaningful measurements from which you can steer your ship.

In my own entrepreneurial evolution I have done a good job and a deplorable job of metrics. Because I have a degree and background in accounting, one of the first things I did was put in the infrastructure to keep my personal and business finances separate and then to account for everything (good job!). It’s only with time and growth that I’ve made more meaningful sense of the numbers, but at least they were there for me to know. Tracking my time and efforts? Initially I did nada (bad girl!). My point being if you’re not yet tracking what you need to be, don’t panic, simply adjust.

There are many other numbers you want to know beyond the financial if you wish to be productive and profitable. Let’s take a look at what those are and ways you can do so easily.

What to Measure

The more you can measure, the better off you’ll be. The key is being smart about what you measure and how you measure it. The more automated it can be, the better. Delegation is also a wonderful thing.

At a bare minimum you need to know:

  • Financial numbers
  • Time and costs to deliver your product/service
  • How you spend your time
  • Prospect to customer conversion rate
  • Web analytics for your online marketing
  • Metrics for other marketing efforts

You can expand each of these far and wide and get as simple or complex as you like. The most important takeaway is that you truly need to know what is actually happening in your business. Winging it does not work. Hoping does not work. Knowing the numbers works. [Read more…]

Roadmap to Self Employment: Why You Need Systems and Procedures

So you’ve started your business and your humming along.  You’re thrilled to be free of the restrictions and red tape of working for “The Machine”.  Yet if you truly want to be free, you need systems and procedures.

“What?! You say. I don’t want to be bogged down by such things! That’s part of why I left corporate!

As someone who abhors being restricted in any way, I can totally understand your desire to wing it, go with what moves you, and not be limited by anyone or anything.  Yet, whether you are a company of one or a hundred, systems will (paradoxically) free you.

When I first started my business I just did what I did.  I was learning as I went and was totally resistant to deciding or documenting anything I did.  That felt so, well, corporate busywork.  Sure I had some technology that I was using, but that is about as far as a system went.  It wasn’t until I realized how much energy, time, and potential money (not to mention sanity) that I was losing by being stubborn that I became open to the idea of running my solopreneur business as more of a company.

First, what do I mean by systems and procedures.  In my book they include any and all of the following:

  • Technology systems (web, software, hardware, anything that automates something or gets your “geek” on).
  • Steps you take to perform any function in your business. For example:
  • What happens when a prospect contacts you?
  • What actions happen when you sign on a new client?
  • What steps do you follow to deliver your service/product?
  • What tasks need to be completed when you complete a project?
  • How do you run your back office and administrative affairs?
  • What roles and responsibilities do any team members (employees, subcontractors, etc.) have and what steps do they follow to meet those duties?
  • What does your schedule look like? What constitutes “open for business hours” and “closed for business” time?
  • What are your policies and procedures for working with clients? (Think: client agreements and signed contracts)
  • What are your billing and payment policies and procedures?

The list can go on depending on how complex your business operations are.  [Read more…]

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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