Saying that I had fun interviewing Tim Paige would be the understatement of 2018. My cohost JC and I couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t even know if everything we discussed was “business friendly”. I hope you have a listen and enjoy the episode, yourself!
February’s theme in my Facebook group, the Fempreneur Forum, is Money Mindset. This is something that MANY Entrepreneurs struggle with, especially at the beginning, and especially for women. Women aren’t culturally conditioned to assume entitlement in ourselves, and that is one of the first assumptions we must blast through when we start our own businesses.
I have worked hard on my own Money Mindset since I started my first business in 2010. It’s not just something that comes intuitively — I had to weed through my logic, rationale, environment, and even the things I was surrounding myself with in order to come to a healthy and growth-oriented Money Mindset.
Throughout the month of February in the Fempreneur Forum we will be discussing this issue. Our workshop on February 27, 2018 will be a deep dive with a Financial Advisor on developing your own best practices and mindset as your business grows. First, I’d like to tell you about my own breakthrough experiences.
Employment Trains Us To Accept Only Regular Pay
One of the biggest mental landmines I see in my clients is an irrational expectation of destitution. One bad month and everything is ruined, I become a failure, and I’ll have to live under a bridge. It’s extreme thinking and it’s absolutely not true – especially if you have good liability and life insurance (this should be your first move in starting your business).
Most of us had some sort of gainful employment before becoming Entrepreneurs. We worked at the mall while we were going to school or may have had a salaried career. We learned a lot of valuable skills through this work, but we also learned something not so useful. We got used to regular money without having to manage sales, marketing, financial margins, clients, and processes. We did our job, and money came. Period.
This is clearly not the case when we start our own business. Logically, I think we know that this will be a transition. However, for some reason, the mind starts to freak out, and we start staring at the number in our bank accounts without remembering how it changes over time.
Yes, for a while that number may not be supplemented by sales in your new business. It may take time to get set up and receive your first client. This is especially true for brick and mortar businesses. But over a long enough timeline, money always comes, and that bank number changes.
The issue is when we don’t allow ourselves to believe that money will flow to us ever again. In fact, if you look over your business to date, I’ll bet you’ll notice that you received money at least monthly. Even though I was terrified that money would at one point stop coming in despite my efforts not ceasing, money actually came to me rather regularly. I just didn’t recognize it.
Mantra: There is always more money.
What are you worth?
This leads me to my next point. As Entrepreneurs, we have the prospect of earning an exponential sum. Did you feel that immediate resistance when you read that sentence? That’s what I’m talking about!
What do you believe you are worth? How much do you think you can or should earn – per hour, per day, per week, per month, per year? I ask you this because most Entrepreneurs have the ability to earn millions. I’m looking at you, restaurant owners.
Something happens when we believe we’re not worth much. We communicate that to potential clients and customers through our body language, reactions, and words. They’re less likely to buy from us. And we’re less likely to see opportunities to receive. Our lack of confidence becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Look around. Is there someone in your industry that earns millions each year? Why can’t that be you? I’m serious. If you own a local restaurant and only expect to earn $50k / year from it, you’re playing too small. I know for a fact that there are restaurants in your region that are earning way more than that. Certainly we know of the celebrity chefs and restauranteurs. Why can’t that be you?
Now, there is a caveat, here, and that is for those who don’t want to live that big. If you don’t want to earn millions, I challenge you first to consider why? Is it really that you don’t want the hassle of managing that money, or are you afraid of the work it would take to get there? If it’s the latter, why are you an Entrepreneur? Entrepreneurship takes a lot of work, but it’s your work, which is what we love about it.
If you truly want a small operation and nothing more, it’s still important to set your sights on what would make you comfortable as an income. Studies show that in 2017 comfort came around $75k / year. With inflation, I suggest setting your sights at six figures from here on out.
For the rest of you, start following the giants in your industry. What are they doing with their days? How do they communicate? How have they structured their businesses? We’ll talk about scaling business at a later date, but business structure is critical to exponential growth. Once you figure out how this fits your business, you will be unstoppable.
Mantra: I receive money every day.
Pause And Affirm When You Receive Money
Often we will get so caught up in the to-dos of the day that we forget to pause and reflect. This affects several facets of our mindset, especially our Money Mindset.
When I was struggling to recognize that I was receiving money, I started the practice of affirming when I received money, even when it was just a penny on the sidewalk. A penny, though small, is still money. If I found a penny, I received money that day. Period. I picked it up, stated to myself, “I just received money,” and put it in my pocket. Slowly, my change jar got full, and so did my income.
If you feel like you’re not receiving much money, start by looking back over your business this month. Did you receive any money? Closing even one account means something in your business is working and that you are receiving money. More importantly, you’re receiving clients / customers. This gets into an important part of my Coaching process with my clients – replication. I can’t get into it, here, but know that if something went right in your business, study it. Then do it again.
What is your money mindset? How do you protect your assets?
Having a business partner is very similar to having a spouse. You share dreams, finances, and a ‘baby’ (the business / product itself). This requires an enormous amount of collaboration, respect, communication, and a shared vision. So what happens when things start to fall apart?
In my previous articles about Partner relationships I’ve provided advice for setting up a good relationship, and how to manage it if it fails. Sadly, two of my clients are in the midst of difficult partnerships. It’s too early to get a lawyer involved, but handling the situation well is critical to their emotional health and the survival of the business. Here’s what to do if you find that something is a bit off with your business partner.
There could be a myriad of reasons a business partner starts acting strange, making mistakes, or not communicating like they should. However, if the behavior doesn’t seem to have a legitimate cause, or is becoming patterned, pay attention. It could indeed be a phase, or it could be leading to harder times. I recommend documenting any odd behavior or course correction conversations you may have so you have the facts in front of you. It’s normal to want to ignore any warning signs because changes is hard, but it’s better to have your eyes wide open than to be blindsided after spending precious energy picking up the slack.
Set Your Boundaries
This is something we should do in all our relationships, but especially when a partnership seems to be going sour. You must decide how much you’re willing to put up with before you take action, both for your health and the health of the business. Just as I stated above, it’s easy to convince yourself to roll with the punches out of fear of change or a sense of duty, but this is how partnerships blow up. Don’t wait until the kettle boils, so to speak. Decide how many conversations you’re willing to have, how many mistakes the business can take, etc, so you can address the issue head on and have energy left to do the work of parting with grace if you must.
Have an Exit Strategy
It’s hard to dream outside of what you’re already doing, especially if it is your dream. However, you won’t do what’s healthy for your business and partnership if you don’t have an exit strategy. This could be another business, job opportunity, or buying out your partner so you become the sole owner of the company. If you need to, meet with your lawyer to review your contracts so you have the utmost clarity on your options, and make a loose plan.
None of this is easy, but following the above steps will save you a good deal of heartache and pain in the end. My hope is that you are only experiencing a rough patch, and you will work it out.
If you have experienced a partnership souring, what advice would you add to this list?
This blog is the second installment in a two part series that gives away my secrets to networking. If you missed the first part, I suggest you read it first so my suggestions here make even more sense!
Farm Your LinkedIn For Coffee Dates
After I’ve connected with someone I’ve met at a networking event or through a casual encounter on LinkedIn whom I’m interested in building a relationship with, I’ll ask them to coffee. Coffee is casual. It is a great way to get to know someone without spending a long time with them. I’ve had to escape from coffee meetings that weren’t going well before, but I also have had coffee meetings turn into best business friends.
I do this on a regular basis. I have one of those crazy huge LinkedIn networks, and there is absolutely no way I see each of those connections in a year. Many are overseas, so I only see them when I’m abroad. But for those that are local, I will send a casual message saying that we haven’t seen each other in a while so let’s catch up over coffee. Even if it’s a person I have no specific business with, I still want to get in front of them. I want to remind them of who I am and renew the trust they once had in me (trust inevitably fades over time without regular interaction).
Leverage Your Network For More Connections
Sometimes your network won’t be able to help you acheive your goal — at least, not directly. You may not know someone who has expertise in an area that you seek or works at a business you wish to strategically partner with, but I’ll bet someone in your network knows someone who does.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs just starting their first business excel because they leveraged their network in this way. They realize a piece of knowledge is missing in their tool kit and they go out and find it, wherever it may be.
This is the gold of LinkedIn. You can search for a given company or organization, or certain skills, and then see who in your network is connected to the resulting profiles. It’s amazing! All you have to do is ask the person / people you feel best connected to for an introduction. Technology is, at times, dubious, but this is like magic compared to the way we did it before social media.
More than once, a friend has asked, “How did you get that opportunity / engagement?” The honest truth is that I just asked. I just asked to fill an open advisory role at the newly opened Incubator in town. I just asked if a new business training center needed more instructors. I just asked for a meeting with my favorite European app development company.
Your network is full of people who love to connect with and help others. As your business grows, you’ll meet other like-minded business owners who want the same — the freedom of an entrepreneur who does what s/he loves. Overwhelmingly I find that people just want to help each other succeed.
Sure, it’s possible you might hear that scary word — no — but it’s important to bear in mind that ‘no’ actually means ‘not now’. More often than not I don’t hear back from my busy colleagues at all and have to follow up with them a bit. They never meant to send a negative signal.
Asking for a new connection, update, meeting, or opportunity is harmless, and often is the only way to acheive what you’re hoping to do. So be polite, frame your need in a way that benefits them, and ask!
Example: When I reached out to the app development team about meeting while I’m in Europe, I framed it as an opportunity to talk to someone who happens to represent one of their special interest markets. I personally want the meeting for network growth, but they’ll benefit from the meeting by having a live person in a specialty niche to learn from. Definitely worth the ask, and no big deal if the answer was no.
What’s the first networking move you can make using this advice?
For many entrepreneurs, networking is an uncomfortable but necessary evil. To me, networking is some of the best fun I have as an entrepreneur. I have a natural knack for people and conversation, and I want to pass what I’ve learned in my seven years of networking as an entrepreneur to you so you can take advantage of the connections that are out there without feeling quite so uncomfortable. Read more
It’s no secret that I’m in the middle of finishing a book entitled “Stories of Elders: What the Greatest Generation Knows About Technology that You Don’t“. What most people don’t realize is that I Kickstarted the funds to travel and conduct the interviews needed for the book.
Kickstarter is an incredible tool for developing and funding a project where other funding may not exist. Since it was founded in 2009, Kickstarter has successfully funded over 125,000 projects amounting to over $3 Billion dollars (wow!). The website is highly trafficked, offering backers cool Rewards for their dollars — like the opportunity to try a product first — and the ability to be on the front lines of what’s new in the world.
Creating a successful Kickstarter Campaign, however, is not easy. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and the ability to communicate your story affectively. With these tools by your side, you might just have the start of your next big thing.
To prepare for my Kickstarter Campaign, I met with several other successful Kickstarter Campaigners to figure out the special sauce of a successful Campaign. Now, I’m bringing the lessons I learned from them and from my personal experience to you in this awesome guide, the current Featured Workbook in the Resource Library. Just use your password to log in and download it!
If you want the guide but you’re not a member of the free Resource Library, you can use this form to get a password. Enjoy!
Google. That is how I started my first venture — a nonprofit organization. I used Google to find a free course taught by the state. I then used Google to find, download, and complete the 501(c)3 tax exemption application. I Googled to learn about building a Board of Directors, how to structure the Board, what documents my Board should sign, and to read lessons learned by those that had come before me. Finally, I used Google to build my first volunteer / mission trip — from contracts, documents, orientation, best practices, legal issues, safety, and organizations that we could work with.
Google is the cornerstone of the savvy business owner. The big secret to starting a business you love isn’t having an MBA and years of experience with shiny titles from the corporate world. It’s having the passion to drive you forward, and the ability to find the answer to any question you have. Having a Coach to help you is definitely the most comfortable way to go, but Google is always available and can help you do anything.
Just this morning at a coffee networking event, I heard someone say, “I was up late working on my project because I’m not good at Googling”. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this, but it reminded me that I take my ability to Google for granted.
So here’s my quick guide for getting good at Googling.
Strip It Down
The people I see struggle with Google give it too much information. Google, like the library search system you may have learned in elementary school (am I aging myself?), doesn’t care about transitional words like “and” or “but”. However, it loves “or” to help you compare two things.
Don’t try asking Google a question. Just enter the keywords of what you’re searching. The person I was instructing this morning was looking for help on coding a form which wasn’t working. I told him to definitely include the main subject — C# (the coding language) — and the action he was having an issue with, forms. From there, I told him to describe the issue in as few words as possible.
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Use Synonyms
Using the above example in a search, I further instructed the person to start rotating words if he wasn’t finding what he was looking for. The constants in your search are the main subjects — in his case, the coding language and the action he was having issues with. Everything else can be swapped.
Let’s use my nonprofit as an example. I needed to know how to file for tax exemption. Finding the form was easy enough — I knew it was an IRS form and it was labeled “501(c)3 application”, so those where the words I entered. But I work best by example, so the next thing I needed were other nonprofit examples of the different sections within the form, specifically for organizations specializing in my field.
This is where I started rotating words. I didn’t care if the examples came from the IRS, so I left that word out. I could have searched “501(c)3 application examples”, but I probably would have gotten a lot of really general examples, some good, some bad. So I changed my wording to “501(c)3 applications disaster relief”. It’s not an actual sentence, but just a bunch of keywords. That’s how Google operates, and that’s the most important thing for you to learn.
If the results weren’t quite what I was looking for, I could have tried changing “disaster relief” to “relief organizations” or “humanitarian aid”. This is where the synonyms work great. My constant would always be “501(c)3 application” because that’s what I was working on, but the rest could swap out until I found what I was looking for.
Hack Google’s Search Options
There are several other things you can do within the search bar of Google, but Google doesn’t publicize them well. I call them hacks, but they’re actually refinement options that make your search even more specific. If the subject you’re researching is very narrow due to your nice, business structure, or innovation, then narrowing your search is a bad idea. However, the internet is vast, and narrowing is usually very useful.
Here is Google’s fabulous guide for using their search refining hacks. You can search specific sites only, exclude words that seem to come up in the options Google gives you but don’t fit your goal, and even force Google to focus on a certain word within your search.
Get Into Other’s Heads
My final tip is to try to get into other people’s heads. This can be hard to do, but this is how I do it. I think about the topic I’m searching, then consider every way I have ever heard it referred to by others. That might include in-person experiences, television shows, conferences, radio, and dialectal variations. Living in the United States means I have heard many ways to refer to everything. In doing so, my mind doesn’t actually remember specific moments, but it pulls up a rotation of ideas and words.
I also try to dumb down my searches. Not only am I stripping them of extra words, but I am using the simplest words and phrases. Most web designers and copy writers suggest your online content be at a 5th Grade reading level. If that’s the case, then the words you’re searching for are also at a 5th Grade level (because all Google is able to search are the words put online).
Does this help? Share your experience below to help others and ensure I give you the best advice!
Remember what business was like before social media? No? Oh…
Today, starting a business includes being online. This is the number one way your clients and customers get to know you. Even customers of brick and mortar stores check out their website first 80% of the time.
In addition to your website there is social media. It’s easy to get lost in the noise. There are so many to choose from and it can be extremely time consuming. So often do I speak with small business owners and entrepreneurs who are driving themselves crazy managing five or seven different accounts. Don’t do that!
I developed an awesome Workbook for people just like you: Entrepreneurs who are growing their business and want to leverage an online presence to support that growth. I take you step by step to help decide where your people are and what platforms to use. The only social media platform that is universal is Facebook (yeah, sorry), but luckily it’s easy to link to others.
In addition to choosing which platforms to use, my Workbook help you streamline so you’re editing only one source. That’s right — you don’t have to jump from Facebook to Twitter to Google Plus in order to be able to manage multiple platforms.
Love this idea? Want to get started? Head over to the Resource Library to download the Social Media Workbook. Not a Resource Library member yet? It’s free! Just sign up below to unlock the tools to help you start your dream business.
What happens when you have too many business ideas? This is one of the best and worst problems to have. It’s the best because you have endless options in your career as an entrepreneur. It’s the worst because it usually creates a stall.
I chronically have too many ideas. That’s why I’ve introduced myself as a serial entrepreneur in the past — I wasn’t sure what else to say! While intriguing to the person I’m meeting, it also is vague, which means my networking game was a bit off. I needed to sort through and prioritize my ideas so I could focus on one at a time and grow into the next.
As a wise panelist said at the EntrepreneurYOU Conference put on by the Michigan Women’s Foundation last week, “Start with the idea that will generate income first.” There’s a lot more to it, so let’s start sorting through your ideas to find the best one to launch.
One of my coaching clients has this very problem. She has too many ideas, and doesn’t know where to start. She knows she wants to be a serial entrepreneur, too, but which one is realistic as a beginning?
I started by asking her about her. I wanted to know what her passion is. It’s easy to see when a person lights up during a conversation, and I kept notes as she spoke. Sometimes too many ideas confuse one’s passion — I help sort through all that.
We then talked about her work experiences. What aligned best with what she wants to do? Some entrepreneurial ideas are passion based but not experience based. This is when I say they need to ‘cook a little longer’. Potential customers, investors, and referrers will trust an entrepreneur with more experience in their chosen business area than those that don’t have it. Thus, if you really want to start a interior design studio, but you have no experience, you’ll have an uphill battle.
I also asked her about known startup costs. It’s hard to be 100% sure of the cost of starting until you’re deep in the research, but one typically has a general idea. For example, a brick and mortar business automatically takes greater investment (and likely a Small Business loan) than an online company. Cost of supplies, transportation, and marketing are also all factors.
Finally, we took a look at which business ideas are foundational to the rest of the work she hopes to do. That is, most business ventures have a similar theme that can be built off of, but some (like my web company) are a little off base to the other proposed work (like my nonprofit). Any business experience can be extrapolated to support another business, but the more closely tied one is to the next, the better.
That’s the formula. Passion + experience + cost + business ties = your order of operations. Sounds easier said than done, right? It is, so I created a worksheet to help you. Writing (or scribbling) out your thoughts is one of the most helpful things one can do to sort out their thoughts. Enter your email below to gain access to my Resource Library to print the Business Pathfinder worksheet and browse several other tools! If you’re already a Passion Posse member with access to the Resource Library, use your password to download the worksheet.
If you’re still not sure which business is best after you’ve used the worksheet, I’m only a phone call away.
A good deal of what I write about pertains to businesses. These tips and tricks can be used just as well for nonprofit organizations, too. What I haven’t done is help you start a nonprofit organization — something that I did back in 2010. Since then I’ve served on three nonprofit boards and helped several people start their own nonprofit organization. It’s about time I write a blog with instructions to help you get started.
Building a Board
This post is assuming that you will do some business planning (perhaps using a tool like the Business Model Canvas) before you get to this step. You’ll need to be able to present a cohesive idea to potential board members — a vision they can identify with that also fits their skill sets. After making your business plan, this is the first great leap to getting a nonprofit started.
You only need three board members to file with the state. However, you may want more involved, depending on the size and reach of your goal. I always went with odd numbers so a tie couldn’t happen during voting.
Make sure your board consists of many different skills, even if some overlap. This is especially important in filling the skills you don’t have yourself. A board will provide the support you need to get things off the ground and running smoothly before you hire your first employees. If they don’t compliment your and each other’s skill sets, you’ll find this a tiresome process. Nonprofits already have a high burnout rate; don’t set yourself up for failure before you even begin (like I did — doing it all by myself!).
Filing your nonprofit corporation papers with the state works much the same as filing a LLC or corporation. The difference is the cost of filing and the structures needed in order to take this step.
In the state of Michigan you need at least three board members in order to file your papers. When I put together my board I just asked some trustworthy friends with big hearts to be my board so I could get past this step. Over time it became clear that, while they totally believed in me and the cause, they didn’t have the skill sets that I needed to be successful.
You may, eventually, want a lawyer involved to refine your state paperwork. However, if you’re starting from scratch, I recommend saving the cost for the first six months until you have a proof of concept and benefactors.
Once you have the papers from the state, you can file for your EIN number just like with a for-profit business. You need these two documents to both open a bank account (most banks offer free checking to nonprofit organizations) and file for tax exemption from the IRS.
Becoming Tax Exempt
At this stage you and your board should know what kind of 501(c) organization you wish to become. The IRS classifies nonprofits in several groups, and it is critically important you understand the requirements for each (ie. a 501(c)3 organization cannot be involved in political affairs). Make sure you do your research and choose accordingly.
Most states offer classes about 501(c)3 organizations. You may wish to consider taking a class on filing for your IRS paperwork since it is a long process. In short, the IRS application is a minimum of 40 pages. You’ll also need to submit your organization’s bylaws, board member profiles, codes of conduct, and conflict of interest clauses. I realize it sounds like a lot (and it is), but this is when your board members should step up to divide and conquer.
My biggest recommendation in all of this is to not do it like I did — alone. It was a stressful time, and while I learned a lot and am stronger for it, it’s always better to have help.