Take a look around you. Are you surrounded by clean, uncluttered space or piles of paper, old magazines, dirty coffee cups and little items begging for a home? If clutter has taken over your space, think about how it makes you feel. Is your stress level high? How productive have you been lately? Is your creativity ebbing; fresh ideas distant? Are things piling up in your mind, just as they are in your office and home?
It begins with a few sheets of paper – meant to be filed at the end of the day. Soon, that pile becomes a stack, the books and magazines that we reference don’t get put away, and eventually nothing seems to find its way back to its proper place. The clutter virus that spreads from one room to the next can have a significant impact on our physical and mental state. Productivity levels drop and fatigue increases. Important tasks fall to the wayside and lost items are senselessly replaced with new; money spent for no practical purpose.
The good news is that you have a choice: check out or cash in.
Clutter represents our state of mind. Who knows which comes first, the state or the clutter? But I do know that changing the state of your surroundings can have a significant impact on your state of mind. And clearing the clutter can even have an impact on your bottom line. I’ve seen many coaching clients change their habits to include keeping a clear space - and cash in significantly on the change.
If you don’t rein in the clutter habit you are choosing to check out. Remember that being in business for yourself means that every moment has a cash value. How much time do you waste looking for things? Does frustration lead to endless surfing on the web in hopes of a distraction? How much time do you spend escaping because you can’t collect your thoughts or think of the next strategy? Does fatigue slow you down? If any of this sounds familiar ask yourself if it is time to cash in your clutter and grow your business.
Experiment a little bit with these small steps and see how they affect your state of mind and your bottom line.
First acknowledge that you DO have the time to clean up. If you are surrounded by clutter, odds are that you engage in tasks that are non-productive. Take this non-productive time to clear up the clutter! Exchanging your mess for empty, clean space will allow ideas and solutions to flow again. You will breathe better and feel renewed. It’s like a new beginning!
Sometimes paper-clutter comes from engaging in avoidance. Whether you are stock piling unpaid bills and collection notices or sales leads that become too old to bother with and pages of ideas that you “know” you’ll never follow up on, these papers must go. The physical reminder of your problem will continue to taunt you if you don’t face the challenge and organize (and act upon) each piece of paper. If you can’t face it alone, ask a friend or family member to join you for moral support. Make a commitment to free yourself of this burden! Remember that you can take one small step at a time, which is far more empowering than denial!
Have the shredder and a garbage bag handy. Get rid of things you no longer need to hold on to. Resist the temptation to stack them somewhere else or file them away. Let it go and claim your freedom!
Create systems that work for you. I have clients who file each monthly bill in the folders assigned to them – or at least that’s the intent. It’s such a tedious task that these paid bill stubs never get filed. Eliminate this problem by either banking on line (yes, you do have the time to set it up) or by creating folders for each month, rather than each company. It’s much easier to file this way and at the end of the month the folder can go neatly into a storage box where you will still be able to find things with ease.
Instead of telling yourself that you will clean up at the end of the day, when you’re exhausted or eager to get to dinner, take 2 or 3 minute breaks throughout the day to pick up after yourself. Every time you get up to get a glass of water or go to the restroom clean up a few things to maintain a clean space.
If you can’t face the clutter or simply don’t know where to begin – call in the clutter experts! You may know someone who is insanely organized or you may want to call for professional help. Either way, it’s worth the time, money and effort to clear your space, learn new ways and clear your head.
Finally, keep a written log for a few days when you are operating in a clean space. Note the improvements. Note your moods and energy levels. Keep your observations on hand as a reminder for times that clutter begins to, once again, take control.
Do you have clutter buster tips or stories? Share them here!
Have you mastered your social media strategy? Do you know how to leverage the power of social media to create meaningful relationships, build your business and learn from your virtual mentors?
Ok, you can admit it. Social media is still somewhat of an enigma to most people and you may be one of them. Sure, we have our guru’s and a relatively small number of business owners who have experienced astounding success with their social media strategy, but the average entrepreneur remains baffled by the mystery of these communities.
Today I would like to introduce you to someone who you may want to know if you are serious about making the powerful social media engine work for you.
Eric Yaverbaum is the Best Selling Author of several books, including the famed Public Relations For Dummies. With more than 25 years of experience in public relations, Eric has earned a reputation for his unique expertise in strategic media relations, crisis communications, and media training. He co-founded Jericho Communications in 1985, the 11th ranked PR firm in the country to work for and served as its president before its successful merger in 2005. He then founded Ericho Communications in 2006 and has offices in New York City and White Plains.
And you’ll be pleased to know that this year, Eric joined forces with the top social media experts in the industry to launch four social media magazines (Tweeting & Business, FB & Business, LI & Business, The Big G & Business) which are projected to have a combined business circulation of 5 million readers. These magazines will deliver insights, strategies and powerful tips to assist you in your social media strategy. For today, Eric offers these “must know” tips to increase your social media savvy. Here’s what he has to say…
As John Bartlett once said, "I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own". If you pay close attention to some of the most successful people in social media today, you
will get a great education every day. For free! I follow the absolute best in order to form my own opinions. People like Jeffrey Hayzlett, Mari Smith, Nathan Kievman and Larry Genkin are four I have learned the most from!
10 Things a Solopreneur Should Know About Social Media
1. All social media are not the same. LinkedIn should be treated differently than Facebook, which is different from Twitter, which is different from Google+.
2. It takes time and frequency to build trust in any social media, just as in any relationship. Social media is a tool, not a destination.
3. Use all of your communities as a Business Development tool to source highly targeted potential clients/customers.
4. Use LinkedIn to establish Thought Leadership through the growth of a community of highly passionate and engaged people. You can even write a blog that is linked into Facebook, Twitter & Google+
5. You should join groups in all of your social networks. There are also some terrific resources out there for free. You can freely subscribe to any of mine. www.socialmediamags.com
6. Your posts will and should reflect the personality of your company. If you are not genuine, you won't last very long. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to sell you something.
7. It is okay for your customers to disagree with you on Twitter. That's why they call it "social" media and not "one kind" media. Best practice: Have a policy for how you deal with negative comments and reach out to those who support you. They are your brand ambassadors! This is true for all of your communities,not just Twitter.
8. If you choose to schedule your Tweets, timing is everything. The life of a Tweet is about one hour; schedule several times throughout the day. Make your presence consistent and meaningful. Hootsuite might make that easier. Follow suit in your other communities.
9. Make sure you are listening to communities on Twitter and any community you participate in! Make no mistake; consumers are in charge now more than ever. Pay attention to what they say. Some of the best product ideas, feedback and problems will come to you from your Twitter communities.
10. Use all your communities to cultivate business leads.
For an in-depth look at these tips and more to create your new social media strategy, join Eric and me on my Million Dollar Mindset show! Monday, August 15th at 2pm ET. Or, download the podcast on iTunes. Questions? Send them to me before the show or join us in the Toginet Network chatroom!
So you’ve escaped, or narrowly missed, corporate cubicle confinement, but now you’re met with some very different challenges. Sure, working from the home office certainly has its benefits, but many solopreneurs are surprised by confusing emotions resulting from a different type of confinement.
If you’re not careful, your freedom will come at a cost. One of those costs is the growing loneliness that many soloists experience; whether it’s at the very beginning of this new experience or after years of working on their own.
Wireless locations have certainly come to the rescue as many solopreneurs make their way to the local coffee shop, library or even a lovely park bench. And this is solution enough for many home-based business owners. But if you are an outgoing personality type this is probably not enough. I know – I’ve been there! Even if you are speaking with clients or customers on the phone all day it isn’t enough to fill the void left behind when we say goodbye to a regular dose of water cooler gossip and friendly luncheons!
Here are some tips that have worked for me, as well as my clients …feel free to add to the list!
Beware of the home office “rut”. It’s easy to fall into a work-pattern that includes sitting behind your computer for many hours a day. And guess what? It’s exhausting! So, at the end of the day you may not feel like going out to socialize or network. So, on come the pajamas and the television and poof! …you’re a hermit! Well, maybe not a hermit, but it can happen if you’re not careful. Scheduling is the trick here – making commitments in advance and sticking to them.
Schedule simple outings for a few evenings during the week. Go to a friend’s home, meet someone at a coffee house or for a walk, take in a movie – whatever gets you out of the house. If you have small children it’s a good idea to schedule dates with friends at least one night a week while your spouse tends to the kids. Also make sure to get in a date night with your sweetie!
Make the most of your weekend. Building a business takes a commitment, but you will get further faster if you give yourself time off to laugh, play and socialize. There’s a kid inside of all of us who needs to come out to play. What do you most enjoy? What takes the pressure off? Don’t lose sight of your playful side and life will be less stressful.
Get up, get dressed, and get out. I begin every morning at the local coffee house. Whether I choose to work or relax it gives me a destination, as I had for so many years in a corporate job. It also gives me a reason to avoid a long day in my pajamas! It’s novel to make money while you’re in your comfy gear, but the novelty wears off and neglect can set in. Dress for work and get out of the house every day.
Attend mid-day networking events. Daytime socialization offers great benefits. It breaks patterns, builds business and offers a reminder of why you do what you do. Speaking with other business owners will rekindle your passion and build your experience. Even if you live in a small town and have to travel, it’s well worth it. Put some educational and inspiration CD’s in your car and go on a mini-adventure!
Reward yourself with reminders of your freedom. If you sit behind your desk all day you may begin to wonder if working from home is really all that attractive. But if you take a break during the day (again, schedule it in and limit it to about an hour) to take yourself to lunch, go for a walk, to the gym, to do a bit of shopping – whatever you enjoy, it will serve as a simple reminder that the world is your oyster and life is good!
Go to conferences. Entrepreneurs love to learn and stretch their imagination. The internet offers much to satisfy this need but nothing replaces a good conference. Again, it will not only build the brain, but it will build your business as well. The common ground that conference attendees walk upon is a great connector and you will meet some of your most compatible peers, customers and friends during this experience. Budget in at least one per year, but one per quarter is optimal.
Invite your social media friends to share in a virtual cup of coffee. Many of us have “good friends” who we’ve never even met in person. Speaking to them on the phone every now and then will expand your social networking experience in a meaningful way. It helps to know that your resources and friendships extend far beyond your home town.
Avoid “bad” foods and get exercise. If you tend toward feelings of isolation and loneliness, sugary, carb-filled foods will take you closer to the edge. Stock up on healthy choices and get into a routine that keeps you fit and happy. Schedule in daily power walks, trips to the gym or another form of exercise. It clears the mind, releases stress and supports healthy brain chemistry. No time? Don’t believe it! You will be far more productive when your body is happy and healthy.
Find a work buddy. I have peers and friends nearby who also work from home. From time-to-time one of us will set up camp in the other’s office for a few hours. It provides a simple sense of camaraderie and a mock office environment that feeds the need for the “team” experience. To make this work, set your ground rules, which will include a “do not interrupt” clause. We usually take mini breaks about once an hour to ask questions, exchange ideas or just have a good laugh.
If home office truly isn’t working for you, there are many options to rent office space at very affordable prices. I have clients who pay as little as $200 a month for a desk, internet connection, printer and a water cooler! You will find these opportunities by searching “virtual office space” on line. If you live in a small town you may find many options to rent-share or take on a small space inside of another business.
It takes a little imagination and some commitment but you can beat the blues! What solutions have you found? Share with us here on The Successful Soloist!
Too many entrepreneurs neglect to make themselves a priority in their own business. The entrepreneurial spirit creates resistance to joining the ranks of corporate America because we value our independence and crave financial freedom. Yet the challenge of balancing priorities and making sound choices prevents many small business owners from achieving either. But with vendors knocking on the door and in-laws awaiting their monthly loan payment, how can soloists make their own financial needs a priority?
Let’s start at the beginning and take a look at some of the common mistakes made by small business owners as they launch and grow.
Start-up investment – Soloists often make the mistake of leaping in on a hope and a prayer that they will get enough clients or sell enough product to make ends meet. If you are considering the leap from job to self-employment, consult your accountant or a qualified mentor/coach to help you calculate the costs and a realistic financial projection. The excitement that you feel for your new venture will certainly cloud your judgment in this area. Don’t quit your day job until you have banked enough cash to carry the load. This includes both personal and business expenses, for an adequate length of time. And, of course, be diligent about your marketing plan so you know exactly where your clients will come from.
Cash Flow – Run your business by the numbers. My confession: For years I have kept a little “Beanie Baby” ostridge on top of my desk. It’s my reminder to NOT keep my head in the sand about cashflow and numbers in general. Sure, it’s scary to visit that P&L statement, but if you don’t face your numbers you will make mistakes – and mistakes compound themselves when they are not corrected pronto. Be smart about your cashflow. Set terms for collections and be diligent in collecting monies in no more than 30 days. Never make assumptions about how much and when a client will pay you and avoid spending money you don’t have.
Trading Dollars for Hours – Take a look at your business model. If you are a consultant, coach, massage therapist or the like, you are probably trading your time for a set amount of money. You have created a financial ceiling for yourself. And, you will most likely burn yourself at some point. You will always rely on your ability to attract the next client and, unless you are a very high-paid consultant who budgets for retirement, you probably aren’t planning for the future. Consider creating additional revenue streams with products, membership sites or another creative form of income. Many solo practitioners find products sold by network marketing organizations that are a great fit for their business. Some create information products and some can sell companion products on-line or at their location.
Scale up to a Salary – If you have investment dollars and are paying yourself from a bank account, rather than profits, try to split the bank. Avoid the comfort zone trap – fooling yourself into believing that your business is doing fine because you can pay your bills. How soon will you be able to withdraw less from savings and more from your business each month? What expenditures can you avoid so that you can take a draw and/or salary from your profits? Remember, you cannot truly prosper until you begin to pay yourself a fair wage, put money in savings and reserve funds for growth and unexpected expenses. Create a business and personal budget, account for every penny you spend and stick with it!
Do you have other tips or personal experience to share? Tell us how you’ve succeeded in taking home a healthy paycheck!
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