Lately I've had a series of conversations about the difference between having a practice and having a business. Yes, there's a great deal of overlap. However one can have a practice, doing their "work", without making a business of it. It's all about mindset.
Think of a massage therapist who has studied a variety of healing techniques to expand her services. She practices out of her home as well as a healing center, and has a good client base. Is this a business? No, not necessarily.
If this practitioner has a marketing plan, client management and retention systems, a budget, plans and visions for where the work is going, then yes, she has a business. She is in "business mindset," working both ON and IN her practice.
Moderate success can be obtained if she chooses to simply "do her work." However true satisfaction for the entrepreneur comes with a business mindset, with measurable goals and visions.
Is the "just want to be a practitioner" wrong? Absolutely not! But she needs to be aware that without the business mindset, she may not be not in control of the practice - she's merely drifting. The focus on the work as a business provides a firm foundation for growth, and that growth allows her to be of better service to more people. And that's what we're all about, isn't it!
Working on a major book launch recently, I was reminded how important it is to share resources with like-minded folks. Every time you have an event of major impact to your business, it's important to recruit as many partners as you can to share the load!
Think about emails or social media posts you've seen, where a group of people come together to share their gifts if you take some sort of action: buy a book, join a workshop or teleseminar. Not only is this incredibly valuable to you as a reader or guest to the event, it's incredibly valuable to the joint venture partners as well!
Let's say you have an important new product launch...for example, a series of online workshops. Whether you have a large or a small mailing list, you know you want to attract more people to the series than you can reach alone. This is prime real estate for joint partners!
In exchange for the opportunity to market their "bonus gifts" on your workshop website and to share the workshop announcements with their followers (and thus increase their marketing reach), you will be including their gifts in your own marketing for the series, and the gifts add greatly to the perceived value of your workshop series (simultaneously increasing your marketing reach). There are many ways to structure such a joint venture - read more about it online. But remember, you don't have to do it alone! Reach out to appropriate partners and share the rewards!
If you're in the holistic game, whether a body or energy worker, a reader, a health expert or any other medium, your business is dependent not just on what you do, but on what you say. How do you say it? And to whom?I recently posted about finding your writing "voice." But in today's high-tech world you'll want to find your speaking voice as well. Research shows that video is THE most effective marketing tool, and having video of yourself on your website (or at least online like on Youtube, if you don't have a website) is crucial to success. In fact, 51% of all consumer internet traffic is through internet video, with greater content recall. You and your message will be remembered if you offer video!
A high-quality product does not mean high expense. Excellent quality video can be made from a good smart phone, and today's digital video cameras are inexpensive. But it's not just the equipment that matters - it's YOU! Practice by presenting to yourself in the mirror! Give yourself a brief introduction to yourself! Try talking to a friend or relative with whom you're completely relaxed. Without judgment, notice your facial expressions, vocal tone and pitch, how well your personality comes across. It's YOU that sells yourself, especially in a service business.
There are lots of videos and resources to teach you how to create effective marketing videos. Take action now in the new year, and resolve to really shine your light to those who need what you have to offer. Just do it!
What do you think of when you hear that word - service? Do you think of military service? Customer service? Restaurant service? Religious service? What I want to talk about for a moment is this:
I believe it's a best practice to periodically review the service and services we provide. Think about the definition of what you do: "I provide massage therapy." "I educate about nutrition." "I write inspirational blogs." Whatever service you provide, how do you know that it serves your clients? Solicit feedback, get a year-end review, and if necesary, make any changes to your offerings or how you do your business.
Let's say for example that you provide microwave cooking classes. You do a great job of it. BUT, now that the dangers of cooking that way are known, does your service really serve? Time to update. And if a client relationship or a service you offer no longer serves YOU, then contribute to your welfare by making a change!
So you have great ideas. So you have a lot to teach others. If you don't have a way to communicate them, so what? Well anybody, and I mean anybody, with a desire to communicate can do so - whether through blogs, articles, stories, books, newsletters.
You could be the one who failed creative writing in school, or struggled with English classes, or who can't spell your way out of a paper bag, but that doesn't mean you should not try to write. All you need is a willing partner! Every great partnership begins with a shared need. Richard Rodgers would have gone nowhere without Oscar Hammerstein's wonderful lyrics!
Let me give you some starting points. Think about your ideas, what you want to communicate, and how - what medium you want to use. Jot down some concrete topics, and under each one, make note of a few major points you would want to get across. Essentially, you're making a simple outline - no, don't panic, this is NOT English class!
Find someone who knows your field, or who knows you well, who IS a good writer, who loves to communicate, and who "gets" you. That could be anyone: a ghost writer, a gifted friend or family member, a Virtual Assistant, a blog writer, anybody who has experience with writing and communicating ideas. Not to inject a negative note here, but be sure it's someone you trust, to whom you can show your notes without fear of interference with your ideas.
Collaborate on how you want to express your ideas. Do you want to write a book? Communicate with clients with a newsletter? Of the media listed above, what appeals to you?
Consider the amount of material you have to share. Do you have many separate ideas that would appeal to a magazine or blog site? Or do you have a wealth of material on one topic that would communicate best in book format.
Organize your thoughts with your partner, create a fleshed-out outline, decide on your target market (to whom do you want to "speak"?) and GO FOR IT! Nothing will ever happen unless you try, and as we all know, regret is a very unpleasant experience! Create, express, communicate, write - "build it, and they will come!" There is little more satisfying than seeing your name in print - I should know! *
* (see Signs Along the Path, a Guide to An Inspired Life, a Kindle or paperback book, co-authored by Holly with John Davis.
Think back to when you were a child. Did you have a special career in mind? A passion to be a police officer, or a dancer, or perhaps a painter? When you got older and entered high school, did you discover a talent for debate? For shop class? Is there something that really stuck with you? Something from those childhood joys that is with you today? For instance, did your love of debate lead you into practicing law?
When I was a child, I loved to sort – buttons, blocks, cards. In my career, the tasks I’ve performed and most enjoyed have been, logically, those that create order. I love to clear up organizational messes, create and fine-tune procedures and processes. I enjoy making other people’s jobs easier by doing so. These same skills make me a very good process and project manager.
I was an administrative, marketing and executive assistant for over twenty years when I was laid off in 2009. I’d always worked under other people’s agendas, doing everything I could to please Corporate America and to keep my job. At the time I was laid off I had been acting as an assistant to a spiritual motivational speaker in my spare time, and in working with him I had met two other spiritual entrepreneurs who asked for my help. Over time, I found myself working for a wide variety of people in marketing and promotion, client services, proofing and editing, scheduling, and organizing. I was provided a great logo, I created a website and promo materials, and made it official: I was now the proud owner of Lightseeds Office, a virtual assistant service. It has taken some time to develop, but I am now doing the kind of work that gives me joy, with my own agenda and at my own pace.
Did you know that nearly 14 million Americans are self-employed – 7% of labor force? 80% of people age 45+ consider changing careers; only 6% actually do. Does that mean that all the rest give up and settle for what they know, whether they enjoy it or not? I’d love to know what percentage of those that are self-employed are following their bliss, as opposed to working in whatever field they happen upon.
Whether you want to be an entrepreneur or not, let’s explore some ways to recapture the joys of your early dreams, and bring that to the present so you can act on them to create your future, whether it’s working for yourself or for someone else. Why settle, like I did for so many years? Let’s go on a journey to discover where you really want to be as you reinvent yourself.
Setting your GPS: Where are you now?
When you set out on a journey using your GPS, you can set your destination, but you won’t get far without allowing the navigator to determine where you are.
Think of your resume, your experience, training, titles, credentials, etc. What do you dislike about your current work life and your career? What do you enjoy? What of your credentials do you use? What do you not care about?
Where have you been?
In the same way, think about what you have left behind. What did you love early in your career or your youth that you don’t do now? What did you dislike you don’t want to return to? What got you where you are today? Many years ago when I was in retail I absolutely loved display and setting up new product. I can relate that to my current love of doing the same thing electronically: creating marketing materials and websites – electronic rather than physical layout and design.
What is your destination?
Now that we’ve discovered what your past brought you to, and what your present offers, let’s set your GPS for where you want to go. Carry forward the items that please you from your past and present into your future.
What’s your bliss? What tasks give you joy? What talents give you joy? Think of those re-inventors I described earlier. Can you see yourself taking people on photography tours? Describe what your ideal day would be, whether career related or not.
I love doing workshops, making PowerPoint presentations, event planning. I love design, layout, sorting, creating order. I love building the foundations for people to live their bliss. Define your goal. “I love gardening/decorating for Christmas/decluttering/baking/detailing cars, etc etc. I could do that for people who hate to do it.”’
You can set your GPS, but you’re getting nowhere fast unless you take action! Your GPS may tell you what turn to make, but it won’t say anything else until you actually make that first turn. Now that you’ve discovered some ways to reinvent yourself, let’s look at the tasks along the way. What do you need to do to get from your current location to your destination? What “virtual Mapquest” will you use? Do your research - find out how to match what people want with what you want to offer.
Taking my example, I looked at the group of people I wanted to target as a virtual assistant – motivational, spiritual, holistic workers. I asked questions and studied online: What is your biggest pain? What do you not have time for? If you had abundant finances, what is the first thing you’d hire out? Based on that, I created a match between the skills I love to use (NOT just skills I have, but those I enjoy) and what they needed. I built my offerings on those things.
Focus on the WHAT not the HOW. Keep your eye on what your goal is, and take all the steps you can to achieve that goal. Don’t try to figure out how success will happen. You don’t keep checking your car’s navigator to see how it’s taking you to your destination, you just know it is taking you there and follow the cues it gives you. Likewise faith in the outcome and taking inspired action will get you where you want to go. If you worry over the details, your focus has shifted from your goal to the “how.” I didn’t worry about how I would become a successful Virtual Assistant. I just took action based on the signs I saw, based on what I learned, and it just happened.
As you continue on the journey to reinventing yourself, remember to stay flexible. You may have a goal in mind that, once approached, changes into something different. Keep your eye on what you want, stay flexible, and it will happen.
. . . to LinkedIn, that is! I just had the privilege of creating a new LinkedIn profile for (with) a new client, and was reminded of how fun the process is, and how powerful the connections to be made.
I understand that there are many people who don't choose to be visible on the internet, but in any sort of business, whether your own or as an employee, it is crucial to be visible and known for your skills and experience. This website currently is the world's largest professional social media site with over 150 million members worldwide. That's an enormous network of potential associates, clients, and employers!
If you are self-employed or job-hunting, LinkedIn is vital to making connections in your industry. A clear, complete and well-written profile serves as your public resume. In fact recently several potential employers used my LinkedIn profile rather than the standard Word document resume. Even if you are content in your current situation, a good profile will increase your company's visibility and thus client base.
Membership in LinkedIn groups is also a great idea. There are a wide variety of professional groups in the network with whom you can chat, make connections, expand your reach. For instance, I joined with two Virtual Assistant groups to share ideas and support.
If you have not created a LinkedIn presence, here are a few tips to make it more effective.
If all of this sounds intimidating to you, I know a great resource to help you through the process - Holly@LightseedsOffice.com!
I have to tell you up front that I am no "techie" - I know little about the technical aspects of computers and website and code and such. But I'm a layout/design/content kind of gal, and last year I was introduced to Weebly.com as a source of easy website creation.For the several websites I've been involved with, including, of course, this one, I'd used Squarespace, I'd seen WordPress, and I'd investigated freebies like Google and Yahoo pages. But when I started experimenting with Weebly, I must say that virtually anyone can use this resource to create an interesting and effective website.
The several things I appreciate about Weebly:
As you know by now, I believe that how you present yourself, online and in person, goes a long way in communicating your message to your audience. I've noticed many unintentional changes to American English that should be avoided at all costs to maintain a professional front. I have ranted about a few of these recently (see my earlier post) and now I'll focus on a few more items that are either ungrammatical or simply are not words.
1. Gratefulness: No such word! We seem to have a tendency to create nouns from adjectives, even though there are perfectly good nouns already in place! Try GRATITUDE instead. I am grateful that I feel gratitude.
2. Invite: a verb. You send an invitation to invite people to an event.
3. He wrote about you and I . . . Jim and me went to the store . . . confusion between a subject and object of the pronoun. Huh? Easiest way to remember is to say it without the other person. Me went to the store . . . I don't think so! Jim and I went to the store. And the other half of that issue "between you and I." Take the sentence apart to see if it still makes sense: "He wrote about you" is fine. "He wrote about I" is, well, not. It should be "he wrote about you and me" . . . object not subject.
4. Irregardless: No such word! The "Ir" doesn't belong there. Regardless is a perfectly good word on its own.
5. Do you want to lay down? Wrong! If you're talking about getting horizontal, the verb is "lie". Do you want to lay that heavy box down? If you're talking about an object, the verb is "lay." I won't even get into the past tense confusions between those!
6. Orientated: No such word! To get oriented to your new position, you should go to an orientation meeting.
7. It's literally killing me! Well I hope to goodness that's not true, because it'd mean someone is stabbing, shooting or otherwise attempting your demise! Remember that "literally" means "truly", "really", "absolutely."
There are more to rant over, but I'll stop now . . . you're welcome! I understand that languages evolve over time, where once-accepted words become archaic, and where slang becomes accepted language. However, grammatical mistakes like the ones above can make it harder to project a professional, expert image, so don't lay down on the job, irregardless of what you and me think. HA!
Hopefully you just read this title and said "Whah????? Has Holly lost it?" If you didn't, I'm shocked! You can be the best writer, the most connected intuitive, the most accurate accountant, but if you can't proofread your work, you may not come across as the professional you are.
I have read online articles, websites, blogs, emails, and other forms of business communication written by authorities in their field, with important things to say, but their writings contain blatant errors. Granted I've missed a few in my own proofreading (hey, we're all human), but I am adamant about editing and proofing. Think about the two sentences below. Which would lead you to contact the writer for more information? Which presents the writer as a professional who knows what they're talking about?
1. Everybody has to profread what their writing so the customer's know they are professional.
2. Everybody has to proofread what they're writing so the customers know they are professional.
Well, obviously (it is obvious, isn't it?) the answer is #2. Many of us have forgotten the basic grade school grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary we used to be good at. Let's review!
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