Posts

The 15 Biggest Challenges Of Solopreneurship And How To Overcome Them

Forbes Coaches Council

Working for and by yourself seems like a dream come true. But solopreneurship does have its share of challenges that business owners who work with teams and partners don’t typically face.

Here are some of the biggest challenges solopreneurs face and how to overcome them, according to the leading members of Forbes Coaches Council.

My answer is #11 – I hope you get value from it!

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/06/27/the-15-biggest-challenges-of-solopreneurship-and-how-to-overcome-them/#2be6dae835bb

Project Management – How to Get Stuff Done!

Project Management is in essence the structure and methodology by which you get everything and anything done.  Without a solid system, very often we focus only on what’s urgent and not nearly enough on what’s truly important.  This can lead to burn-out, overwhelm, and a feeling like you never get any closer to your dreams.

I presented this workshop at the Entrepreneur & Small Business Academy Meetup.  And while we had some very interesting venue challenges, I do think it was a successful event.  People seemed to get a lot out of it.  Patrick Schwerdtfeger, the host, posted the videos up on his website.  I warn you, the lighting is bad, so all you can see is the powerpoint presentation, but the sound quality is pretty good, and I think you can get the gist of the workshop.

Check it out:

http://www.tacticalexecution.com/2009/07/debra-russell-on-project-management/

The method I present in this workshop will allow you to align your day to day actions with your goals, your vision, your dreams.

Niche Marketing

Last week I delivered:

Niche Marketing – How Thinking Small Can Payoff BIG

At Sandbox Suites for the Co-Working Meetup Group.

Here’s a YouTube highlights video:

Thanks to Ian Griffin at http://exec-comms.com for the videography and posting

Save

Save

Save

Empowering Women Business Owners

Last night,  I was an Expert Retail/Arts Panelist for the Women’s Initiative Fast Track Incubator Program in San Francisco.  This pilot program has taken several women from dreaming of being business owners to creating prosperous businesses through training, mentoring and setting high standards and expectations.  I was very proud to serve on the panel that reviewed their portfolios.  What an inspiration these women are!

The Women’s Initiative has offices in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Marin Counties.  Their clients are high potential, low income women in the Bay Area who intend to become or currently are small business owners. They provide training, individual consultations, events and access-to-market opportunities to their basic training graduates.

According to their statistics gathered over the last 20 years, for every dollar invested, $30 are generated for the Bay Area.   Average annual income for their graduates increases by $20,000,  and the women who participated in their training last year will bring in an estimated $11.7 million in 2008.  That’s a stimulus package!

I encourage you to get involved through donations, as a mentor or volunteer.  This was my first involvement with them.  It won’t be my last!

Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment

Creator’s Block

Here it is a rainy March morning and as I sit down to write to you, I realize that I’ve been avoiding doing this writing for some time.  Would you call this writer’s block?  Perhaps.  And it occurs to me, that writer’s block – or creator’s block for the purpose of this conversation, can look different for different people.

But if you endeavor to live a creative life, and even more so, make a prosperous living from your creative endeavors, feeling blocked around creating can be an unpleasant, even painful place to be.  And of course, it just may get in the way of pursuing your dreams.

What Causes Writer’s Block or Creator’s Block?

Whether you are writing words, writing songs, painting, taking photographs, sculpting, designing jewelry or in any way creating on a regular basis, creator’s block can happen.  Perhaps it shows up by being “too busy” with other things.  Perhaps, you sit down and nothing comes – just blank.  Or you get “distracted” by email, the phone, the dishes….

In my experience, most creative blocks are caused by one of three obstacles:

  • Your inner critic,
  • Your outer critics,
  • And/or a lack of creative space – physically, temporally or emotionally (which leads back to the first two).

I’ve often heard from clients that they got blocked because they got a bad review or what they perceived as negative feedback and found they couldn’t create for months after.  Has this ever happened to you?  I’ve found that the artists most vulnerable to this are already fighting an inner critic and that external voice, especially from a mentor or someone you really respect, can just amplify the inner critic to the point where all creative juices stop flowing.  For artist’s who have a strong internal supportive voice, external feedback becomes just that – feedback.  Take what you can use, leave the rest.

When it comes to your environment blocking your creative endeavors, this can be tricky.  There are so many ways in which your environment can act as a block –  whether it’s your physical space (like the gardener who is right now outside with his leaf blower!), your temporal or time management, or your tendency to give other people’s requests for your time and energy more importance than your own creative priorities.

Learning to set up your environment to support your creativity is a key skill for any creative entrepreneur.

All of these issues can be summed up into one: the inability or unwillingness to prioritize yourself – prioritize your needs, your values, your beliefs, your own inner voices and muses.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be open to other people’s needs or constructive criticism, but if their needs and voices are drowning out your own, then you have a problem.  And I’m betting a creative block isn’t the only way that issue is turning up in your life.

In the Artists Marketing & Business Academy, I have several classes designed to address these issues.  I also will be writing more about them in my blog.

How Can I Move Past My Block?

For this issue of the Newsletter, I’m going to focus on a method that has helped me tremendously and that my clients have used with great results.  When you are creating, whatever you are creating, use the following steps:

Step 1 – ideas, brainstorming, brain dump – no editing
Step 2 – sort through the ideas and brainstorming and develop an idea into a first draft
Step 3 – edit that idea into a first public draft and send it out for feedback
Step 4 – take the feedback and polish and hone the work
Step 5 – repeat step 3 and 4 until you are truly happy with the result!

Step 1 – The brain dump

The first step is to put all your ideas down on paper.  Good ideas, bad ideas, bits and pieces of ideas, unformed ideas – everything.  You want to have absolutely no filters here.  You may work this step in a structured way – you sit down to the page for 1 hour every day.  Or you may just carry around a notepad or tape recorder with you, every where you go.  The key here is to capture the ideas – good, bad and ugly – all the ideas down on paper.

This step can show up in many forms, depending on the medium in which you’re creating.  For a visual artist, it may be doodling in your sketchbook, jotting down ideas of themes or concepts.  For the songwriter, it may be bits of melody, lyric phrases, or even just a book of song titles.  For the novelist or screen writer, it could be bits of dialogue, scene ideas.

I was working with a novelist awhile back, and she was blocked.  My assignment to her was to write 1000 words a day – badly.  She was to write as badly as she could.  We were going for her writing to really suck!

The point is to just put the perfectionist on hold here.  This isn’t about creating a final product or even a good first draft.  It’s just to allow the creative juices to flow.

Step 2 – Creating the first draft

This step should be scheduled and given a decent chunk of time several days a week.  What you want to do with this time is to sit down and look through your ideas, your bits and pieces and starting with the pieces you feel most drawn to, flesh them out into a first draft.

You may work on more than one project at a time during this stage.  But what’s most important is that you set up this time as completely separate from either Step 1 or Steps 3, 4, or 5.  Again, we aren’t going for a final product here and you want to continue having the perfectionist on hold.

During this stage work on your projects enough to find out if there’s a solid idea.  Flesh it out enough to be ready to show to some people for feedback.  Get to a first draft.  And then put it aside for at least 3 days.

Step 3 – First round of edits on your first draft

After you’ve left this project alone for several days, come back to it and give it a read through.  Edit it, play with the language, the order.  Try different things with it, perhaps change the rhythm or the key it’s in.  Try using a different size brush or color scheme.

Again, do not mix this step with either Step 1 or 2.  The part of your brain that you use during editing and adjusting is not appropriate during the initial stages of creation – it only tends to block things.  Because this is when you begin to use your critical facilities.  This is when the voice that tells you that you can do better becomes useful.

But beware of spending too much time here.  Again, we’re not going for the finished product yet.  We’re looking to create a version that’s good enough to get feedback on, which leads me to Steps 4 and 5.

Step 4 – Get constructive critique and create a second draft

There are two critical factors for this step.  You must choose your people very carefully.  You want someone who is going to be ruthlessly honest with you.  You want someone who really knows your medium and your genre (and if they know your niche, it’s even better).  And you want someone who can communicate feedback in a voice you are willing to hear.

Some successful artists use family – although this can be tricky.  Most successful artists use experts in their field (which includes editors for the written word).  Some even use their loyal fan base.  Many songwriters use the TAXI submissions to get feedback to improve their music or the TAXI forums to get feedback from fellow songwriters.  Some writers will go to a writer’s group or their editor and agent for feedback.

Whoever you choose, remember to stay open to the pieces of the feedback that you can use.  Not all of their suggestions will be immediately useful – that’s ok.  Sometimes they may make a suggestion which you don’t want to use – but if you stay open, it may trigger you to discover the exact right change you need to make.

Sit with the feedback and go back to your project and edit it.

Step 5 – Rinse and Repeat until finished

You may go through Steps 3 and 4 several times.  Probably the hardest part is to know when you’re done, to know when more editing ends up doing more harm than good.  Be wary of ironing out all the ripples in the fabric of your creation.  There’s no such thing as perfection.  And if there were – it would bore us to tears.

If you listen to your inner quiet voice – you will know when you’re done.  And use your discipline to stop, declare the project done, and start marketing it!

One last note:  Your voice is the voice that matters.  When being open to feedback, trust yourself.  Stay open to their opinions, reactions, and suggestions.  But don’t sell out on yourself.  It’s a fine line and one that takes practice.  This isn’t about creating by committee.  It’s about always growing, developing and honing your craft.  No matter how talented you are, truly powerful art is always a marriage between talent and craft.  This method allows you to use the best of both.

The Economy and Your Business

For the last few weeks, the conversation in almost every client session has involved how the economy may be, might be, could affect my client’s business or financial life. Is this a concern for you?

So, how do you create a prosperous living doing what you love in this (or any) economic climate?

There’s a saying floating around out there among the financial and personal growth Gurus – “I refuse to participate in the recession.” I agree with their point, but I think we can come up with an even better, more empowering mantra to keep you focused and clear in this time of challenge, uncertainty and fear.

Creating the Context for Your Prosperous Business

About 80% of the status of our economy is based on what is called “confidence” in economic terms – consumer confidence, investor confidence, stock market confidence.  The definition of a bull or bear market – is just that – confidence or the lack thereof.  (And more than 92% of all statistics are made up.)

In fact, a famous economist, John Maynard Keynes, asserted that the Great Depression of the 1930s was largely attributable to a collapse of public confidence, which led to dramatic declines in consumer and business spending.

So what does that really mean?  The health of our economy is based on our BELIEF about the health of our economy.  And what do we know about beliefs?  Well, they’re NOT REAL.

So, while most of the country is choosing to believe in the recession, does that belief serve you in your efforts to build a prosperous business?  I don’t think so!

Now, as I mentioned in my introduction, the Gurus are advising this mantra – I refuse to participate in the recession.  While I agree with their intention, I disagree with their choice of phrase.

First of all – when you look at that sentence, what is the word that keeps popping up?  Recession.  You have to remember how the brain works – it doesn’t get negative commands.  So, what are you telling it?  Recession, recession, recession!

My other problem with this phrase?  It’s reactionary.  It’s coming from a place of victim.  It’s, frankly, buying into the beliefs of the majority and then saying, “No.” to those beliefs.  What you resist persists.  You’re just feeding more energy into those beliefs.

So, I ask you – what do you intend to create?

What is the state of mind or belief that will create a sense of freedom, joy and lightness?  What is the context that will motivate you into action to build your prosperous business?

How about – “I am in charge of my own prosperity.”  Or “My success is a reflection of my beliefs, intentions and actions” Or “I trust in the abundant universe.”  Or “My every action is drawing me closer to my Vision (oh, and you want to very specific about that Vision!).

In other words – if you refuse to participate in the recession – what ARE you participating in? “I am creating my prosperity with each breath.”   Use one of these, or come up with a phrase that works for you.

How do you know it works for you?  Say it out loud and check how you feel!  If you feel better, if it’s easier to breath freely, if it puts a smile on your face and revs up your engine to get into action – well, then it works for you!

So, create a positively focused context, use it as your mantra and get busy creating your prosperity!

Working Smarter, Not Harder

In February, we did a call for the Artists Marketing & Business Academy called, “Create Systems – Work Smarter, Not Harder” to begin to address one of the key mistakes artists make in their business. The essence of this mistake is to think of yourself in terms of a self-employed freelancer, going from gig to gig or commission to commission. This places you in an endless cycle of recreating the wheel. You spend all of your time looking for the next job, because if you don’t work, you don’t eat. Does this sound familiar?

The solution is to stop thinking of yourself as a freelancer and start thinking of your art as your business. You are a small business owner. Successful small business owners work on developing their business as well as working in their business. It’s a significant change of perspective. Think of your art as a product and think of your business as a series of systems that need to be honed to run smoothly without wasting resources. Create a plan to set your business up so you could actually take a few weeks off and your business continues to run and you continue to make money. Yes, I’m talking about a paid vacation!

If you dream of quitting your day job, if you dream of making a prosperous living doing what you love, you must learn to think of yourself as a business owner and run your business accordingly.