Confession: I have other businesses besides my consulting.
I know… how dare I!
But that’s okay—many entrepreneurs wear many business hats. There’s no shame in our success game! We can absolutely be authentic and present in more than one venture. Like my kids, they’re all important to me and equally loved.
Yesterday I met with a mentor of mine who owns a few businesses in our area, and who is also co-founder of a preclinical pharma/biotechnology R&D service. Exciting things they’re doing. A LOTTTT of money he’s raised. He’s been though the gamut of investors, and shared with me some valuable insights on how to grow a startup:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask. “Talk to people. Tell them what you do, and that you’re looking for investors. Say, ‘Do you know anyone who might be interested in investing in our company?’ You may only be one degree away from $50,000.”
2. Don’t ever assume someone doesn’t have money. “One night out of the blue I got a knock on the door. It was a farmer who used to mow for me at Norwoods whom I hadn’t seen in years (He used to own our local golf course years ago). He said to me, ‘I heard about your company and that you’re looking for investors. Here’s $25,000. I want in.’ I had no idea this man had that kind of money. He believed in our cause so much, he paid me a personal visit to hand me a check.”
Sage advice indeed for anyone who needs to raise money for their venture. Be courageous, believe in yourself, and don’t be afraid to talk about your business—to anyone. Because you never know where you’ll find that perfect connection.
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― William Faulkner
A story about bad clients: Having been a book designer for several years, I’ve worked with literally (pun intended) hundreds of authors on their books. Designing is my therapy: I love helping independent authors sell their books with nice cover and page design.
But when they fail to understand my worth, we have a problem.
Case in point: Last year I started working with an author to design the interiors and covers for her book series. When I agreed to take on her project, she hawed around on price (even though I had seen an article written by her on about how to make a million dollars a year… uh, what?).
Nonetheless, I welcomed the chance to stretch my creative prowess in a genre I wasn’t used to. I gave her a volume discount for her series.
The first book project went amazingly smooth. I was proud of my work, and she loved it. Ah, the excitement of a first book published! I was her new best friend.
The honeymoon phase soon faded.
With her second book, she asked if I would “bundle in” some social media post designs. Sure, it’s only a 1/2 hour or so more of my time. I complied. Then I ran into some Word issues (no, not Word! lol) which took more time to fix. Sigh!
With the third book, she suddenly became very nit-picky, and ended up putting many un-billable hours into creating design modifications that weren’t clearly defined beforehand. I wasn’t too happy, but assuming this was the last book in the series, I said nothing.
After the third book was done, she mentioned book #4. Um, what? There was never any discussion about a fourth book! Dios mio.
Reluctantly, I put forth the effort and cranked #4 out, WITH the original volume discount, with the anticipation of knowing it was all finally done. Finally. I’ve spent enough of my time and money to make her happy. At this time I should have clarified, but I didn’t. So when she mentioned another book in the works, I knew I had to speak up and let her know I cannot do any more of her work at the current price.
I love, love this book. I realized that I have “money blocks”, or preconceived notions about what to charge for my services. Her advice has helped me break through a guilty mindset and realize that I’m worth more, because I provide more. Now I charge what I feel my value is worth — so I am able to provide my very best service.
With this balance in place, everyone wins.
So, after applying this new, improved mindset, I decided it was time to weed out the garden and see where things fall. I crafted this letter to her:
Hi [Client], I hope you are doing well.
As you’re probably aware, I’ve been focusing on growing my business as well as starting a new business venture, and lately, some interesting opportunities have surfaced that I need to explore.
These opportunities, along with my 20 years in the field, have made me realize that I need to maintain integrity in my craft.
Moving forward in my journey, I have to stay true to myself. And that includes making some adjustments in my pricing I feel will better align with the value I provide.
For that reason, I will now only be accepting dedicated book clients who have the budget to receive my premium service. This ensures I am able to put 100% of my attention and care into every project—without resentment.
That being said, I would love to continue designing your books—but I completely understand if this does not work for you.
Careful consideration was put into this decision before contacting you— but as a businesswoman who knows the value you provide to your own clients, I am confident you will understand.
Regardless of where our relationship goes from here, I wish you the very best of luck with your series – I know it will be great!
I didn’t apologize for my actions. I made the decision to value myself, and had already planned for the “worst case” scenario (which secretly, I wanted, because I was sooo burnt out on this project).
I knew she would respond in one of two ways:
As a professional writer herself who charges premium for her service, she’ll be able to relate to my position, and since she loves my work, budget for the price increase accordingly.
She’ll be upset and compose a long reply telling me why she’s upset.
Well, you guessed it—She chose option #2—which surprised me, because she was so particular about her branded look. But again, I wasn’t going to feel guilty about my decision. I was relieved! My conscience was a little clearer, I didn’t have to dread her next project, and now I was free to accept clients who were willing to respect me and my work in exchange for my premium attention.
No more wasting my time with unreasonable, free modifications! No more bad client issues.
After her lengthy rant, peppered with snarky undertones, she audaciously requested I give her my original art files. Wrong. I had to break the bad news that, honey, those working files legally belong to me—
but I’d be happy to license them out for a fee.
Of course, presumably to save face, she turned me down—without even asking what I would charge… odd.
Come to think of it, she never asked what my new costs were, either.
Sigh. I’m not an evil, greedy bitch, I just respect my business self a bit more these days. And I give less fucks what people think.
Mieux pour moi!
Since pulling weeds, I’ve had time and energy to refocus my purpose. I’ve become super-clear on conveying my services and expectations before the project begins. Now, I have new clients who respect that. All in all, a great lesson learned.
To my former client: I wish you all the success with your books….
Oh—and that million-dollar business. 😉
I highly recommend these books for entrepreneur success:
“When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”
Today, we’re going to focus on Step 1: Check Viability.
A common myth about blogging is the belief that a blog can be created about anything, but that isn’t true. Some subjects and niches just don’t transfer well as a blog. More than 95% of Jon’s students begin by targeting an audience that doesn’t exist. They start a blog around a niche that doesn’t attract any interest.
A good audience shares these traits:
People recognize themselves right away. You have to use the words they use to describe themselves – almost always describing the symptoms, not the cause. For example, a blog about Guys Who Struggle Understanding Their Masculinity probably wouldn’t work well… but a blog about Why Guys Get Friend-Zoned would be much more relatable.
Grouped into Smaller Perspectives:
A blog about freelancers in general would be extremely hard to become successful – the niche is way too broad. Think of your blog as a room: If your targeted audience was in one room, would they all stick together, or would they separate into smaller groups of similar interests? Focus on a niche that is one of those smaller interest groups.
Has a Distinct Continuum of Expertise.
The most successful blogs are the ones with a lot of novices and just a few experts. You want to target beginners who are passionate to learn more about the subject.
Shares the Same View.
A blog about Parents is too broad to succeed, as there are so many subsets (mothers, fathers, parents of teens, parents of babies, etc.) to this subject. Instead, niche it down to one subset: Mothers of Teen Daughters, for example.
Connects on Social Media.
A blog about Erectile Disfunction will never survive, because men just don’t openly talk with other men about it on social media. You wouldn’t get much traffic from Facebook or Instagram.
Willing to Visit.
Millions of people suffer from depression, but there are no blogs targeted directly to depressed people. Why? Probably because reading about depression makes them more depressed! However, a blog that targets families of depressed individuals would be much more popular, as loved ones have a desire to learn how they can help.
Is an Ongoing Interest.
Have a blog that will guarantee repeat visitors, not something that targets a one-time event. A good example is Women who are Planning a Wedding. Your audience will only be interested for the time it takes to plan the wedding. Once the wedding happens, they won’t come back! This blog will have a lot of “churn” – people coming in, and people going out – and you really won’t see a change in growth.
Has Millions of People.
A blog about Women with Size 5 Feet would probably have a loyal following, but unlikely to ever be monetarily worthwhile because the niche is too small. For a blog to grow and be sustainable, it needs a potential audience of millions.
Qualifying your blog idea with these eight traits will serve you well to know what is potentially viable to start a blog.
I’d love to share steps 2-5 of my summary on the New Method, in my newsletter. Sign up below!
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Popular Blogging Books:
Habits like blogging often and regularly, writing down the way you think, being clear about what you think are effective tactics, ignoring the burbling crowd and not eating bacon. All of these are useful habits.
In 1981, Faith Popcorn, a noted futurist, controversial public speaker, and best-selling author, coined the term “cocooning”. She defined this as, “The need to protect oneself from the harsh, unpredictable realities of the outside world.” In other words, taking some good alone time.
I’m currently cocooning. Not in an extreme sense (I don’t hermit myself 1000 miles away from civilization, although sometimes I’d love to), but in a practical sense—in an effort to separate myself from daily distractions and reflect on my own goals.
There’s a lot of noise going on in the entrepreneurial world, all around me. A plethora of talking heads all with the same smarketing (social-media-marketing) jargon regurgitated ad-nauseam: “Leverage”, Purpose-driven”, “Actionable”… And the cringe-worthiest term of them all, “Boss Babe”… Puke. Shut. UP.
I witness someone on the daily asking a simple question on a popular Facebook Women Entrepreneurs page, and five minutes later there are 348 responses, 98% of which are pushing their own sales and service agendas like hungry koi, clamoring for the same crumbs.
Isn’t anyone authentic anymore?
I can’t resonate with any of them. I know the vast majority will never succeed.
Say No to the Noise
The point I’m trying to make is that it’s perfectly okay to just say no in order to focus on your own specific goals. True friends and loved ones will understand.
A balanced life is living 50% selfishly, and 50% selflessly.
We can’t give of ourselves fully to others if we haven’t first met our own needs. So go forth, be selfish. Do you. Say out loud, “I need some alone time!” Then go do it.
In my attempt to focus I have pretty much been a semi-hermit during the day: researching, writing, brainstorming, course-taking; quietly building an empire. Sitting at my computer, 7 days a week, 8+ hours a day.
Staying 85% off social media, and not being sucked into the constant, daily drama.
Every now and then I put up a cute or funny post on my personal page, just to let everyone know I’m alive. So far, nobody is the wiser. Good… good.
I’m. So. Boring. Right. Now.
But this is my passion. My true friends and family know this is important to me. And, I have the absolute best boyfriend in the world who supports me 100%. Truth be told, 50% of the reason I do what I do is so someday he do whatever the sam fuck he wants. He deserves it.
Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. — Anonymous
Turn off the Clutterfuck
Sometimes it’s necessary to channel your thoughts elsewhere. Power walking has always been my alone-time escape of choice, but now, instead of jamming to 70’s classic rock while I workout (typical GenX here), I’ve started taking these “mini MBA” lessons from the greats in an attempt to form a stronger, wiser mindset.
So even if my workday has been a complete bust, just knowing I’m learning from the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the world gives me that warm fuzzy of accomplishment. I’m able to go on another day.
For super-intense times, I’ll switch gears—pull out my paints and paint brushes, and go full art-therapy. The canvas is my bitch.
A Channel of Passion
Finally, in an attempt to organize and chronicle my distorted musings, I started this blog. It’s been a pent-up passion I’ve had for quite some time — a way to connect with other driven, non-conforming mid-life women like myself. It’s exciting to watch this form into something I can use to help others find their passion.
‘Cuz this, my friends, is the best time of our lives. Onward!
Ugh, done writing. Now, where’s that paint brush….
This group of job seekers are referred to as “The Unemployables”: too young to retire, but too old to get hired. These people have clearly fallen through the cracks into a monster pit of unemployment, and fear there’s no end in sight.
What Companies Won’t Admit:
Downsizing is an all-too-common way for companies to legally “clean house.” Unfortunately, many older employees fall victim to corporate prejudice.
For example, Acme Co. might single out a group of employees to lay off —generally older and/or higher-paid. Then, turn around and hire entry-level workers for half the pay. Or, downsize, restructure, and bundle several duties into one job.
A general mindset of companies is to assume older applicants have more of a liability and require a higher salary than younger applicants. This is a bleak reality for those used to mid-range, white-collar experience trying to find a job after 50.
As a result, this group tends to stay unemployed longer. It’s hard for them to land a decent job, even with a degree and many years of experience. Many have to settle for menial work.
So is there any hope for the Gen Xers and Baby Boomers?
The answer is, yes. Instead of lying about your age or spending thousands on a facelift, a little panache in your application gives you a better chance of scoring that interview.
Here are Five Tips for Finding a Job After 50:
It is no longer impressive to list the last 20 years’ of job experience on your resume , because this only confirms your age. Instead, create an “Other Experience” category and list your accomplishments without dates.
Rather than having a traditional resume that dates your experience chronologically, try a functional resume, which focuses more on your skills and experience. A functional resume highlights your strengths and works well for those with long-time experience. Having a functional resume along with a strong cover letter will strengthen your position and show you are confident.
Enter the interview with a positive, cheerful attitude. Put on your best performance and be ready to sell your expertise and track record of success in that position. Share your stories and achievements. Show them that you have a high work ethic and you are committed to doing your professional best to help them succeed.
Value yourself. Over-enthusiasm or appearing desperate will not win you any points. What gets you that job offer is your ability to convey that you are the best person to solve their specific problem. Stay focused and clear, but engaging and approachable.
Be flexible with your salary. Maybe you earned high-nineties in your last position, but do you really need that now? Think about it — your direct competition is fresh out of college and will work for much less. Show them that you are willing to accept a lower salary to get in the door. Remember to mention in your cover letter that your salary is negotiable or flexible.
By showing potential employers that age is more than just a number — it signifies your commitment and skill — you will stand a much better chance of being hired. Good luck!
All my life, I faced sexism and racism and then, when I hit 40, ageism. —Rita Moreno