Here’s How to Get Inspired When You’re Feeling Stuck as an Entrepreneur

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.inspiration

Today’s Q is: 

Where do you find inspiration when you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in your business?

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100When I hit a plateau in my business the first thing I try to do is get out of my own way. I know that I have the tendency to make things harder than they have to be, so the first place I look for inspiration is outside in nature. I’ll often take my camera and head to the river for a long walk and some quiet time communing with the ducks. The stillness gives me the space I need to get out of my own head and let the ideas flow. More often than not I end up coming home with a pretty good idea of what my next step should be, as well as a fresh batch of pictures to work with!

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

BrendaFunky_me.jpgI’m not sure if I ever run out of ideas. The reason is because I get them from my clients. They come to me with new questions before I even know I have an answer.

 

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:

jessica-leeI love this question because I think it’s so important to feel inspired when working.  When I feel like I’ve hit a plateau, I know it’s because I am over thinking things and not letting the business flow organically. That signals me to step back and take a few hours off doing something enjoyable that is unrelated to business, such as taking a ride or baking.  Usually, once I get into a relaxed state, ideas will quickly start to flow again.

Another thing I do is keep inspiration boards on Pinterest.  I pin blogs that I admire and articles that I have enjoyed reading.  When I go back and reread these pieces, I remember what I loved about them, and this often gets my creative juices flowing.

I also have several book excerpts highlighted on various Kindle books.  Sometimes, one great quote or a few paragraphs from a chapter is enough to inspire me.  For me, it’s all about not fighting the current.  Trying to force things when they’re not happening naturally is not fun.  Relaxing, taking a step back, and having inspiration boards that I can refer to works really well for me.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

profile-reba100x100I find inspiration in almost everything, every person, and everywhere I go.  I try to look for the good and ignore the bad, so I watch for the little things from which I can draw ideas. Family is big in my life and there’s always someone telling of how they found a great item or need something to make their lives easier. I try to apply those conversations to my business.

Since my business is an online business, I’m a member in a lot of Facebook groups and forums with others in my niche. I go to those places every day and never fail to learn something new. Everything new thing I learn I can apply to my business, so honestly, I’m never short on inspiration. In fact, I have so many ideas; I don’t have time to handle them all. It’s rare that I hit a plateau with such great people touching my life on a daily basis. [Read more...]

Being Bold in Business for Bigger Wins

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their business from home.

Today’s Q is: 

As you look back on your business to date, where do you wish you’d been bolder and trusted yourself enough to take a risk?

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says: 

jessica-lee, being bold in businessTo tell you the truth, I wish I had been bolder and trusted myself more overall.  I’m now about 15 months into my business and the one thing I kick myself for is over analyzing every decision I made last year.  I second-guessed, analyzed, and researched every decision so much that it became really stressful.  For example, sometimes I would spend days trying to decide on a title for an article.

Over thinking slowed me down tremendously and kept me from being as productive as I wanted to be.  It’s only in the last few months that I’ve been much bolder about this.  I’m learning that I don’t have to marry each decision I make.  It’s OK if I make a mistake – things can always be changed down the road.

Stephanie L. Watson from Barry Publishing says

Stephanie, L. Watson, being bold in businessThis is a really loaded question for me. There are too many times since the mid 1990′s when I entered the online marketing and business arena where I did not trust myself, or take a risk when my gut told me to. Email lists, using & learning WordPress, Self-Promotion are all areas in which I failed.

I’ve developed a system that works for me now, and I am working on every one of those things and then some, today. But it took me going through both undergraduate school and graduate school before I got it. Not everyone has to do that to finally realize the opportunities that are available to them, but I needed all that to gain confidence in my abilities and trust in my ideas.

Back in 1998 or 99, I was invited to a conference for an online magazine based on my association with a particular community website — I felt so out of place. I had no idea what anyone was talking about. In my mind I was just a mother earning pocket money so she didn’t have to get a job. It didn’t matter that I had a great mentor who was trying to help me. I didn’t trust myself to move forward — and frankly, I was very intimidated. That’s when I decided to get a degree in Business.

I earned enough money to put myself through college helping local businesses build simple HTML based websites. I also performed administrative tasks, like creating snail mail invitations, basically working as a Virtual Assistant before we knew that term. This was before the advent of inexpensive email. I still remember when it cost 25 cents to send an email and being online was very expensive. My business slowly moved forward to being 99 percent online with the advent of AdSense and niche mini websites.

But, I still just saw it all as a hobby. When I finished school, I’d get a real job. My hobby put me through grad school. I graduated in 2011.  My children left the nest. Only then did I finally see that what I have is a real business. When I went to job interviews and realized what they were offering was far less than I was already making on an hourly basis, and that my freedom would be taken from me, I finally gave into the idea that I’m an online business owner and I need to trust myself.

So, if I could have just trusted myself more, that would be nice. However, I am where I am, and due to these experiences I can help other women who want to start online businesses realize, sooner than I did, that this is a real life business, not a hobby, that can produce real life changing income. If only you believe in it and do the work.

Courtney Chowning from CourtneyChowning.com says:

Courtney Chowning, being bold in businessWhen I first started online back in 2006 social media wasn’t what it is today.  In a way, running a online business was so much easier for me then.  I only had to worry about SEO and ranking in search results.  When social media started to get really popular I didn’t jump on board.  In fact, I still struggle with social media today.  I wish I would have been bolder in social media and putting myself out there to make connections.  I feel like I am late to the party and playing catch up.  But late is better than never and I’m making social media a priority this year.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

Reba Collins, being bold in businessThere’s no doubt there are a lot of areas where I could be bolder but I’m learning how to ‘feel the fear and then do it anyway’. I’ve been telling my kids that since they were tiny but so often I don’t listen to my own advice. Knowing that, I decided to make my word for the year – GUTS! I’ve got to have the guts to do the stuff that will make my website a success, there’s no way around it.

With PLR One Stop being so new, I haven’t yet run across much I wouldn’t do to make it grow. But that being said, I know I’m avoiding video and webinars. I will need to ‘feel the fear and then do it anyway’, and I will, I just need feel the fear a little bit longer :-) [Read more...]

Three Reasons NOW Is The Time To Put Yourself Out There

step-out-and-be-awesome

I want to convince you of this:  NOW  is the time to put yourself out there.

If YOU don’t do it, someone else will. 

I’m not suggesting there isn’t enough business to go around.

Whatever the niche, there’s room for you – if you rise above & do what it takes.

You believe that, or you wouldn’t be in business.

So why are you procrastinating?

Why are you holding back?

Why aren’t you putting yourself out there for more people to know?

No more delaying.  Now is the time.

The First Reason Now Is the Time: There Are Only So Many Kingpins. 

If you watch gangster movies – you’ve heard the phrase Kingpin. A kingpin is a leader, someone who influences others.

There’s plenty of business to go around, but there are only so many amazing opportunities to go around and Kingpins connect you to these opportunities.

These Kingpins are people you connect with who will connect you to new circles of people they influence.

A small Kingpin might introduce you to a few dozen other people in their niche, telling them about you; saying positive things about you and ultimately sending you business.

There are some Kingpins whose circle of influence reaches out into the hundreds, and there are some Kingpins out there whose circle of influence reaches out into the thousands.

I would hate for you to miss an opportunity to connect with a Kingpin.

I have made connections with people who in turn introduced me to their communities in ways that changed my life, and gave me instant, amplified reach.

It’s not that I’m amazing or that I can do something so much better than someone else – it isn’t.  It’s just that I put myself out there. I was the right person at the right time.

If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else!

Imagine right now that there’s a Kingpin who needs something done, and you can do it.

You’ve put yourself out there.  You’re producing and repurposing content.  You’re promoting yourself.  You’re taking an extra step each day into new territory, and you bump up against one of these Kingpins, and you’re available because you’ve made yourself available.  You fulfill their needs.  They like what you do and next thing you know, they’re promoting you to their circle of influence.

If you don’t do it –someone else will.

Someone else will have that date with destiny.  They will run into a Kingpin, meet the need, and enjoy the widened reach that comes with that relationship.

That should rock your world.

What if that opportunity is right there, and I’m not the one who went for it?

I don’t like missed opportunities.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve experienced it from both sides – from the point of view of someone who was in the right place at the right time who gained benefit from a relationship with a Kingpin, and I’ve been that person who didn’t take action and watched it happen for someone else with fewer skills and experience then I.

It’s not about being awesome and being perfect: It’s about being there.

Some of you are immediately resisting this idea.

You’re thinking, “Oh c’mon Kelly.  I’m so new to all of this.  I’m not going to be of use to a Kingpin.”

Yes, you’re new, and maybe you have the greatest impact on other people who are also kind of new.

Let me point this out: Of those people you’re serving, you don’t know who among them is going to be the Kingpin of tomorrow.

The first person I JV’d with was Alice Seba.  I was new to online business and she was too.  We both came online in 2002, and in 2003, we had enough of a relationship that we forged a partnership. That relationship turned out to be key for me because she ended up becoming really well known in our niche.

There are others I’ve met along the way and forged relationships that turned into partnerships and JVs.  Nicole Dean comes to mind and more recently, Melissa Ingold.  Today they’re Kingpins with a big circles of influence – but they were newcomers once.

I benefit from those associations not because I met them when they were big, but because I met them when they were small.

Put yourself out there. Craft Relationships. Be ready for the next amazing opportunity.

The Second Reason Now Is the Time: The Lifetime Value of a Customer.

What are your financial goals for the year? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reach them.  That’s just common sense.

There is someone out there right now who needs what you have to offer – they’re actively seeking out the right person – maybe they need a VA, and you’re a VA.  They need a writer, and you’re a writer.  They need a coach, and you’re a coach.

The sooner you connect to a client, the better.

Well, let’s put numbers to it.

You’re a relatively new VA, and you’re charging $25 a month on a 10-hour retainer.  That’s $250 a month.  It’s $3000 over the course of a year.  Do you really want to leave that money on the table because you weren’t willing to go for it?

You’re business coach like me, and you charge $500 a month for coaching, that’s almost $6000 in a year from one new client.

Let’s not forget that our income isn’t just coming from our hourly rates.  There are all of those delicious additional streams of income from information marketing and affiliate programs.

The sooner you develop and promote products, the sooner you can profit from them.

The sooner you identify and promote good affiliate products, the sooner you can see that income stream growing.

There is NO good excuse to procrastinate on these things and every day you let slip by is a impacting your future financial success.

Do you want to be closer to your financial goals?  If you want to get there sooner, if you want to finish out the year with higher numbers, then start sooner.

Don’t procrastinate.  Don’t think: There’ll be a better time later.

Six years ago, my niece had given birth to quadruplets, and my son and I were doing the night shift with the babies.  We were sleeping during the day, which left me about four hours a day for my business.

A gentleman contacted me about building a site for him, and my first thought was to turn him away.  It’s was not convenient, my time was at such a premium. As I listen, I realize he has big plans.  He wants to launch 300 sites in the coming year, and I decide to go ahead and take some action with him right then.

It meant working a little harder than I would have liked to at that moment, but I had a feeling I’d regret turning him away.

In the course of next year, I earned more than $15,000 from that client. The number more than doubled over the next few years.

The lifetime value of that customer was very much worth making myself available sooner rather than later.  If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else who got that client.

The Third Reason Now Is the Time: The Law of Inertia.

There is an interesting thing that happens with newcomers in the business world.

Somebody new appears and immediately rocks it.  They’re blogging, podcasting, and releasing products before you know it.  They become a rock star in a short period of time because they’re willing to go for it.

Others come along and they play a careful game of ‘when I’m more ready’.  They get caught up in an addiction to learning and don’t put enough of it into action.

It’s the Law of Inertia: An object at rest tends to stay at rest.

The person who doesn’t take action tends to stay where they are.

The person who takes action tends to go places.

I’ve got a thought for you that might be the ‘shove’ you need to get moving.

People around you are starting to think that you’re full of crap.

How many of you have said, “This is it – I’m finally going to do it!

And a few months later said, “This is it – I’m finally going to do it!”

You may believe it every time you say it, but WE (the action takers) are coming to understand you’re full of crap.  You’re all talk and no action.

Yep, as much as we’d prefer otherwise, people form opinions about us based on what we DO, not just what we SAY we’re going to do.  Once people form a negative opinion, it’s difficult to overcome – but not impossible.

Just don’t be that person anymore!

Take action and for crying out loud, follow it up with more action!

I know, it’s easier said than done – but I’m here to tell you YOU CAN finally take real action.

If you’re dead serious about it and you’re willing to make yourself accountable to others in a tangible way, I believe you can do it.

If you ARE dead serious, I’d love the chance to hold you accountable.  I love working with solopreneurs who’ve made up their mind to act and want to be held to it through a tough coaching relationship.

Interested in learning more about working with me?  Check out my coaching info here.

Solopreneur Strategies for a Down Economy

downward

When the economy is down and your target market seems to be holding their dollars tighter than usual, what can solopreneurs do to keep business flowing?

Status Check Your Marketing Funnel.

Make sure that you’re doing all that you can to reach as much of your target market as possible.  I’ve actually seen some entreprenuers pulling back from their usual marketing activities becuase they perceive that their market is cash poor and unlikely to respond.   That’s a mistake.

Yes, your market may be cash poor today – but that can change in a heart beat and who will they spend their dollars with but the person who has remained on their radar most consistently?

When there are fewer fish, the answer is not to cast a smaller net.

Widen the top of your marketing funnel.  Seek more ways to share your knowledge and expertise.  Step up your blogging activities, do more guest blogging, seek out podcast interviews and let folks know that you are open to creative joint ventures.

Do You Have To Lower Prices?

My experience with pricing over the last year has been interesting.  I tripled my rates for blog design and continued to book new clients on a regular basis even as other talented designers complained that they have had to drop prices to keep busy.

If I could ask marketing experts I bet I would get a wide range of answers to price question.  Lower prices can motivate someone on a tight budget but you’ll work harder for every dollar.  (And that just might be the way it is for awhile…)  Before you decide to lower prices, you could invest some time into sharpening your sales message to better convince your customer of their need for your products and services in the first place.

And Wait, There’s More!

One great idea is to add something to your package rather than reduce the price of your package.   Think about all of those great ‘free gift with purchase’ offers that have grabbed your attention in the past.   You could create a special time limited ‘bundle pack’ or offer a ‘buy one, get one’ deal.

I’ve been influenced by dozens of special deals over the years.  I’ve bought products so0ner than planned and hired service providers without a lot of advance planning – all because they presented me with a no brainer situation.

I know there are lots of other great strategies… what tips do you have for overcoming tough times?

How to Find Out What People are Saying About You Online

dog-listening-phonograph

Did you know that it’s possible to see what people are saying about you on the internet?  There are a number of automated tools that will allow you to monitor your name, your company, and other words related to your brand.

If you are in sales or you own a business, monitoring your reputation is crucial.  People are talking about you online, whether you like it or not.  You need to be aware of what’s being said.

There are a few things you can do to set up an automatic monitor that lets you know whenever anyone talks about you online. [Read more...]

Stretch With Me Anyone?

reachI’ll admit it. I feel so stretched right now.

When Wendy first spoke with me about Sparkplugging I felt both a thrill of excitement and a stab of fear. The idea of stepping up to the role of General Editor was appealing on so many levels but one small part of me was really freaked out about it.

Why? Why did something so wonderful seem so scary to me?

An issue of Peer Comparison.

I admire Wendy so much and I had a hard time imagining myself in a position she has filled in such a unique way. I think about everything Wendy has accomplished in such a short time and I wonder if I have what it takes to boost Sparkplugging to the next level?

Finally, I resolved my hesitancy by realizing I don’t have to try to be like Wendy to do well in this position – I only have to be ME. [Read more...]

Join me in NYC on the Today Show, Tuesday March 10!

I’ve had some really amazing things happen since I started blogging. Though I have to say that few compare to what is going to happen next Tuesday, when I am going to be on the Today Show!!!

Quick details:

Show airing on NBC, Tuesday March 10th 2009.

I really don’t know what time I will be on, but it will be between 7am and 9am EST.

I will be speaking with someone from AvenueA/Razorfish of the (really fascinating) study put out them and CafeMom on Digital Moms. We’ll chat about creating online businesses based on social media and blogging, and how advertisers are in hot pursuit of us so-called “Digital Moms”.

Also, since I’ll be in NYC Monday and Tuesday, I’m hoping to do a impromptu Tweetup while I am there, so let me know if you are there!

It’s all a little ironic and funny – while simultaneously restoring my faith in the fact that God/the Universe/Whatever-you-want-to-call-it always has everything under control.

For those of you who didn’t see this post, then you wouldn’t know that just about one month ago, I almost gave up on Sparkplugging. I had a Very Big Business Deal completely fall to pieces due to the economy. I admit I was devastated, crying myself to sleep for several nights in a row. I quite honestly wanted to simply walk away from all of this, but I really didn’t feel I could be that hypocritical. I’ve spent nearly 3 years blogging about being an entrepreneur and one of my most stuffed categories is “Overcoming Obstacles” – how could I face all of you if I couldn’t follow my own advice on bouncing back from disappointments?

So the funny thing is that in the last 30 days, besides landing the best publicity of my career with the Today Show, I’ve also started working on a HUGE project with Rockfish Interactive. They are the brains behind the hugely successful 11Moms Walmart campaign. And the whole reason that this happened was because when I was at SeaWorld with GeekMommy, I told her about the deal debacle and she put me in touch with them.

To say the least, the last month has been a little overwhelming – I’ve lost a Deal, landed a Deal, and also landed an appearance on the biggest morning show on the planet. Gulp.

I kind of want to shake my fist at the sky and say something like, “You could have let me know you had this all covered when I was crying myself to sleep last month!” But I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because I feel totally blessed right now.

So you know that saying that goes “No door closes without another one opening?“.

Um… YEAH. :)

By the way, now that the cat is out of the bag, there are several other moms being featured on the Monday installment of the Digital Moms series, Alli from AlwaysAlli, Shannon from CouponPrincess, and Melissa the ConsumerQueen will be there, and Lisa from Crazy Adventures in Parenting is getting her vlog featured as well. Congrats to these fine mommies too!

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