Tag Archives | success

A Website Realignment: Day 0

Here is the beginning of what I hope to be a great series of posts. This series will chronicle—in as much detail as I can provide without driving myself or you crazy—the process of reinventing my brand and transforming this website in form and function.

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Intellect Versus Intuition, or “The Thinkaholic”

Yoda it is.

I find that I use my head way to much. What I mean is I use straight thinking, logic, and rationale as a way of navigating many things that are presented in life. The alternative to using straight up thinking/logic is to use your intuition. An example of using your intuition would be how you can do, or handle, somethings on autopilot. There is not much thinking or contemplation about such things. You have either mastered the process, or know something so well that you do not give it a second thought. Driving home while talking on a cell phone (while not always the smartest thing to do) and being able to make all the right turns, stop at all the right spots (stop signs, red lights) all the while talking to someone AND successfully get home would be a concrete example. It’s the things you don’t have to think about to get them done that I am talking about.

On the flip side I have been on the thinking side of things way too much as of late. Not that I don’t have intuition guiding me on many things, I do. I can brush my teeth while thinking of something else, do the dishes while thinking of something else. It’s just that I find a great deal of time and energy is wrapped up in ‘thinking’ about things. Most of these things involve business and career. Making decisions about what moves to make, what course of action (or inaction) will produce the desired result. This can get really tiring–I’m talking flat out exhausting. Similar to how a workaholic will get to burnout, I think (love the irony) that I have been exhibiting the tendencies of a thinkaholic and I am feeling burned out.

I need a vacation from thinking.

What about you? Have you ever felt you needed a vacation from thinking?

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Small Business (Non) Spender

Coin Jar

Interesting post today on Dawud Miracle’s blog titled “Why you need to invest in your business.”

For those people running a truly small business (less than $150,000 in gross receipts annually) spending money on non-tangible items can be a tricky game. Your marketing and promotion budget looks like the jar above.

What I mean is spending money on new file cabinets, or a new desk for a business owner at this level provides a physical object–something to put your hands on. Whereas investing in a marketing plan, or paying someone to brainstorm on developing your brand is not a definable physical object that you can point to and say “that is what I paid for.” This is a tough proposition for a truly small business owner to entertain.

I think it is hard for business owners at this level to see beyond the quarter or next quarter. Business at this level is happening on a day-to-day basis. Business owners keep their view on the short distance game. Being able to “let go” and see the big picture can be a challenge.

I would suggest that a small business owner take time to define their goals with their business.

  • What do you want from it? Money? Independence?
  • Envision wild success. What does that look like?

The idea is to define what you want and from there devise a plan to make it happen. Breaking things down into smaller and smaller tasks is key to moving ahead and there are hundreds of blog posts about the topic of getting things done.

I think that many times small business owners look out and think they can’t get to the “pie-in-the-sky” goals and then just give up on it. Thinking you have to spend $10,000 to achieve your goals may actually be reality but that does not mean it has to be all at once. Do what you can with the resources you have now. Build a foundation that can support future endeavors and even handle a change of direction if need be. The key is to, as Walt Disney said, “Keep moving forward.

I know, being a small business owner, that I too can be a (non) spender. If you are a small business owner, do you spend on the non-tangibles? (marketing, promotion, etc?)

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Measure Of Success

Winners

How do you measure your success? I am terrible at it. Personally I have a hard time believing that I’ve achieved any sort of success at all. Here are some facts:

  • I do own my own small business
  • I am in my third year of business
  • Every year revenues have grown
  • This last quarter was my most profitable to date
  • I have many projects going right now
  • I have a pipeline that is full

Yet, with all this I still feel unsuccessful and have anxiety that it could all disappear. However, I do get unsolicited comments and testimonials from people telling me this or that about how impressed they are that I get so much done, or how successful I am. Thing is I hear it, but I don’t buy it.
What is the difference between what they see and what I obviously don’t see?

I think its a combination of these things.

  • We are using different measuring sticks
  • When one compares or measures themselves against super achievers and leaders of industry (while not necessarily a bad thing it can be discouraging if done over and over again)
  • Being very hard on oneself
  • Taking no time to enjoy the fruits of ones labor
  • Always seeing the glass half empty instead of half full

I am smart enough to realize that my measure is a bit out of whack. But how do I “fix” it? I think that the only way to get better at this is to take out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle and write “positive” on one side and “negative” on the other side. Then take time to write down all the positive and negative things one could connote with the topic at hand. The process of writing helps solidify things in mind. At least for me.

How do you measure your own success? Do you set goals and measure by achieving them? Or something else?

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Enjoy, Learn, Profit

Happy People.

Three things shared with me from friend Steve Barlament the other night at dinner. We were discussing my upcoming marketing campaign for my business and the fact that it will be my first ‘true’ marketing campaign. Everything to date has all been word-of-mouth which has been fine, but the level of success I would like with my business will not be achieved through word-of-mouth. The services of my business and skills I possess are not going to become the next viral wave to hit the Internet. It would be cool if that were the case, but it ain’t going to happen.

When I told Steve about the idea I am proposing for my marketing he said that there are three things that are key to any business endeavor. You need not have all three of these (which is ideal) but we agreed that if you can get 2 of 3 it is a valuable experience.

  1. ENJOY
    You should enjoy what you are doing, right? Otherwise you are toiling away valuable hours of your life on something that sucks–plain and simple. I did say above that having 2 of three of these components is important, but if this one is missing the other two had better be HUGE in scale to make up for this important component.
  2. LEARN
    It is always good to learn something new. Sometimes learning is an intentional experience, other times it shows up on your doorstep gift wrapped or not. In any event learning from what you do is key to advancing your mind, your cause, your life, and the evolution of humans.
  3. PROFIT
    “It’s all about the Hamilton’s baby!” When it comes right down to it, when in business it is about being in the black and making cash money. While we would hope that every hair-brained idea we think of would create profit it just doesn’t happen that way. It is a game of hit and miss.

So, if you can manage to get 2 out of 3 of these with any business initiative you should consider it a success. The level of each component is, of course, open to interpretation. However, when looking back up at the list right now I would love to Enjoy and Profit all the time but we all know that is not going to be the case. One thing is true, if you do nothing at all, you will not have a chance at any of this.

What do you think?

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OT: Stunned over the loss of ‘The Special One’

Jose Mourinho under stressI am a Chelsea Football Club fan and have been for years. I am an American and admit I could really care less for American football. As for what the world terms ‘football’ I have the greatest respect and admiration for those who play the game at the highest levels–primarily in Europe, in particular the English Premier League. Watching so much ‘footie’ or soccer at the highest levels has made my taste for watching the amateur game sour. But that is not what this post is about.

I visited the BBC Sport website to find out that Jose Mourinho has turned in his resignation as manager at Chelsea. You can read all the details here. I am floored with this news. Chelsea have spent millions bringing in some of the world’s top flight talent over the past few years. They have won the EPL championship 2 of the last 3 years, the Carling Cup, the FA Cup and 2 trips to the semifinals of the Champions League. Suffice it to say that “the special one” did live up to his hype in a very short time with Chelsea. He took a club with massive potential and brought it to the next level making it one of the most respected and reviled football clubs in the world. Chelsea fans love Jose, non-Chelsea fans do not. If anything they were entertained by him. He was the most colourful character on the sidelines managing a club in the EPL. He was always a great press conference as well and would say some of the damnedest things.

In the end I see this as a HUGE loss for the players who lost a friend and mentor who had winning and their best interests at heart, and for the fans. The fans who want nothing but success for the club and at the same time were endlessly entertained by what came out of ‘the special one’s’ mouth. I will leave you with this.

If I wanted to have an easy job… I would have stayed at Porto – beautiful blue chair, the UEFA Champions League trophy, God, and after God, me.” -Jose Mourinho

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A whole ramble of thoughts

This is my first attempt at speaking the text of my blog. I am using a headset with voice dictation software. The title of whole ramble of thoughts is somewhat appropriate seeing that I am going to try to speak about many things here.

First is the foray into voice dictation software.  I have used this stuff before but have never been successful.  This is proving to be a rather decent experience.  I must admit it is a bit strange speaking and watching the words show up on the screen.  So here is to the future of what I hope to be more frequent, interesting, and thought provoking entries.

Previously.
In my previous entry I spoke about modes of communication and since posting that I’ve given some more thought to the idea. It was brought to my attention by someone who read what I posted that there is real value in having a face-to-face meeting with people. I don’t deny the value in that experience.  However, when looking at the larger picture of where I am spending my time and what value is derived from where I spend my time it seems logical to me to be a bit more stringent, hell just plain stingy, with how I spend my time. That’s not to say that I will never have a face-to-face meeting with the person again, I certainly will.  I think what I’m getting at is assessing how important is it to meet with that specific person regarding that specific issue.  It’s more about assessment of the meeting than anything else.  Do you really need to spend that time doing that?  Or is there something more constructive you could be doing with that time.

del.icio.us
Also since my last post I have been trying to clean up my del.icio.us bookmarks and have been experimenting with some new social media sites.  One thing is for sure, the interface for editing and deleting book marks within del.icio.us is too damn time-consuming.  You are only allowed to select one item at a time when it’s clearly possible to engineer the screen for me to see 25, 50, 100 bookmarks at a time and edit them simultaneously and then submit them.  However, I have been pretty pleased with the experience of using the del.icio.us website as a way to manage my bookmarks.  I primarily work on a Macintosh and I also use a Windows XP machine to get work done. Having the ability to access all my bookmarks from both machines at any time is pretty sweet.

Pro Bono.
Presently I have about three or four websites that are in the very final stages of completion.  I should be publishing them within the next few weeks.  It will feel great to have these projects done. I have some new work on the horizon and I need to clear the decks before I can get started.   A couple of these websites are pro bono websites and I recently read a great article written by David C. Baker of ReCourses that spoke specifically to providing pro bono work for the public good.  He smartly suggested the idea of creating criteria that each possible pro bono project would need to measure up to in order for you to work on it.  He suggested gathering an advisory group that would review potential pro bono projects and objectively measure them against the criteria that you’ve established.  Furthermore, he suggested posting a simple one-page application on your website and having that promoted in the local business community.  This way you would receive applications for your pro bono services.  These applications would be reviewed by your advisory group and they would select the most appropriate projects for you to work on.  This is such a smart way to include pro bono work in your creative practice.  Presently, my pro bono work arrives in my workflow somehow out of the ether. I really don’t know how it ends up there. What I do know is that I plan to employ this strategy for working on pro bono projects in the future.

Closing.
This may be as many words as I have posted in a single entry.  This is largely due to the fact that I’m speaking these words and they are appearing on my screen.  It’s pretty damn cool .  But at the same timea bit disturbing to watch your words appear on screen.  I find myself pausing at weird times and that causes the thought process not to flow as well.  What I imagine happening is that I can eventually sit back and not look at the screen and the words will just come out of my head excuse me I need out of my mouth and into the microphone and onto the screen and here they are.  Overall I’ve only had to edit about five or six words from this whole entry.  The accuracy is amazing. Anyhow that’s it for now.

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My Business, Version 1.5

This past week of work, the first week of February, was an interesting one for me in terms of my career and my business.

Last week was a transition period and if felt like it all week. January was a very busy month for my business with the first two weeks filled with many meetings about new projects while at the same time working on many of my current design projects already underway. At times it felt as if everything was up in the air and I had no control over anything. I guess this feeling of “losing control” is not uncommon. I read recently that the sense of control one feels as a business owner, or just a plain human being, is really nothing more than an illusion anyway. Who really has control over everything at every moment? I mean isn’t reality nothing more than your perception of the present? OK, I digress…

Anyhow, the beginning of last week had me scrambling to finish tasks on projects that I had worked on over the weekend, catch up on other projects that had been put on the back burner because of meetings in the first couple of weeks in January, and start to develop proposals for the new work that I had the meetings about the weeks before. Whew!

I did manage to make it through the week because I was looking forward to Friday. Friday, February 2nd, was my first official meeting with my new VA (Virtual Assistant). Now I can tell that I was very excited for this phone call because it was an actual “line-in-the-sand” if you will with regard to a transition for me and my business. I was now going to have someone other than me involved in the “day-to-day” activities of the business. Furthermore this person is invested to help my business succeed. As one of my business mantras in “your success in our success” so it is with my VA. This is cool for a number of reasons.

First, what I already said above. Second, once we iron out workflows, etc. this relationship will help me be more productive by allowing me to focus on what I do best, help my clients. Third, I should get to have a bit more sanity in my life by not having to do absolutely everything for my business. Fourth, I can’t think of a fourth at the moment but I know it exists along with a fifth, sixth, seventh, etc.

The most intriguing part of starting this phase of the business comes down to one thing for me, delegation. I must admit that during our one-hour phone call I felt completely disorganized (although I asked and was told that I was actually pretty well organized). Before we had our meeting I filled out and sent a few pages of questions relating to what things I need help with in terms of tasks. However, when I was on the call my brain was like a giant void.

The question was asked, “What can I help you with right now?”

A long pause–my brain scrambling for a task. I honestly could not put my finger on a task. How stupid I felt. Lucky for me we had already stumbled across a significant task, helping with data entry to get my companies new project tracking system online (btw, if you have not seen or heard of activeCollab, I highly recommend it!)

So, for now I will close this entry here. I could probably ramble on for longer but this is enough for now. I’m sure to have more to say soon.

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February first is around the corner

Next week the month of February will start. Other than making me realize that the end of the first month, one-third of the first quarter, is done it marks a time of transition for me and my design business.

I’ve been in business now for 19 months. I am closing in on the “24 month” threshold that is the old tale that any business that can make it past 2 years is going to last. I must admit when I started the venture of starting my own business I was unsure I would get enough clients to pay the bills. I’ve been fortunate to sustain and slowly grow my business completely through word-of-mouth.

However, now I find myself at a threshold. I spend a great deal of my time “managing” the business and work, and not doing the work itself. It’s a paradox I’m sure every person that has started out on their own has come to face.

I’ve decided to search for a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is a qualified business professional that can offer a wide variety of business support services. It really depends on what your needs are. I have gone through the process of filling out a thorough form, received inquiries from qualified candidates and then had phone interviews with four people. From those four I selected “the one.” I am starting the new phase of business this February first that will begin to allow me to focus on the things I do best (think billable!) versus the things I can do (think unbillable!).

It really is a simple solution. I find myself spending from 40-60 hours per month managing my business. If I get half of that back in billable time, my inflow will increase overall not to mention the good feeling that will come in having someone other than me invested in the success of my business.

More will come in the next few weeks as we start working together.

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A failure?

An interview I recently viewed on line was between a host and a spinmeister talking about the war in Iraq. They were going back and forth several times over defining what a failure is. The host saw the war efforts to date as a failure, the spinmeister saw it the other way.

Finally, after a very slow and clear statement, the host said,

“…the efforts thus far have been a failure.”

The spinmeister replied,

“I would disagree, it’s a success that hasn’t occurred yet.”

What? You can’t be serious?

I couldn’t believe my ears. So if something is foul, it just a pleasantry that hasn’t occurred yet? I cannot believe how twisted the art of spinning and “managing the message” has become.

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