How to Work on Your Business After 12 Hours at the Day Gig!

One of the bigger challenges my part time solopreneur clients experience is making the time for their business “passion.” It’s no secret that these days that the workplace almost doubles as your home. The hours are becoming, and often feel, brutal. Some business meetings can start as early as 6:30 or 7am and the departure time can vary from 6-8pm!

If your obligations involve children or family to care for after work that means your “work day” can extend well into the evening! And so clients will say, “How can I begin to do something on or in my business at 9 or 10pm and make an impact?” They’re tired and burned, out both physically and mentally.

I understand because I’ve been there! I had to find time after a 12 to 14 hour work day to do “something” to move my business forward. It could be very frustrating. Sometimes I didn’t know what to do, sometimes I’d do the less important stuff, or I’d just plain run out of time! So since this is about truth and I believe in “full disclosure”, I won’t kid you or my clients. I won’t say it’s ok, we’ll figure out how to write a web page, newsletter, tweet, blog post or article in 10 minutes or less and you’ll attract an amazing number of clients – just like that! Sorry, it just doesn’t happen like that! It will take some creative planning and unique approaches.

Let’s begin with three strategies for how you can maximize the minimal time you have as a part-time (or full-time) solopreneur!

Strategy #1: Make a plan for the week…

What are the few, but important things you need to get done this week? Perhaps you want to “tweet” a tip or new program or service you have. Prepare seven short, high content messages or tweets to share with your followers. Once you’ve prepared these short messages, you can either post one daily or use http://www.socialoomph.com/ to set them up to be delivered automatically. You can reuse these messages as valuable information you provide to your online networks so that they’re learning more about who you are and what you offer!

Strategy #2: Use your calendar effectively

At the start of the month, identify the key marketing activities you want to accomplish. This could include your newsletter, email campaign, teleseminar, webinar, direct mail or a list building activity. Decide on 2 or 3 max that you want to accomplish within the month. Then begin to line up the daily activities on your calendar. Again focus on 1 – 2 per day that you can easily accomplish. By scheduling your action this way, you feel good that you’re accomplishing something and you don’t overwhelm yourself or lose your sanity!

Strategy #3: Got a timer?

Remember the old egg timers your parents may have used to boil eggs? Well, believe it or not, they’re back! Well, for your business, not breakfast! Yes, you can actually use a timer to help you manage your time, effectively. Let me give you an example of how this could work for you.

Say you want to do some research about what your client’s wants and needs are. You’ve found a group where they post questions, share experiences and participate as a community. Great find, right? (They do exist by the way!) So you want to spend time reading, absorbing and even responding in the groups’ forum. But you don’t have all night to do so.

Solution? Set the timer! Commit to 30 or 45 minutes of focused activity in the forum. Using the timer helps to keep you on your time track and psychologically helps you to zero in on the valuable vs. the trivial.

My coach’s request is that you take one of these tips and implement it before the end of this week. I know that given the time challenges you’re likely experiencing, using just one of these strategies can give you great results!

I’d really enjoy hearing how these strategies have helped, so tell me about your success, ok?

Business After Retirement – 5 Simple Tips to Start

Retirement is supposed to be the time in our lives when we are able to sit back, relax and reap the freedom of the golden years. What most people realize when they finally get there is that too much relaxation and freedom becomes boring. They start to realize that: they need to keep working to break the boredom, money should be coming in instead of going out, the cost of living is climbing outrageously, and they need enough money to have the financial freedom to travel to places they’ve always dreamed to be. Those are the few realizations aside from missing that feeling of accomplishment when they were still working. And that’s when business after retirement seriously comes to mind.

You need to plan ahead and build a good foundation if you are going to start a business after retirement. Here are the few tips that you might need to consider:

1. Assess yourself – are you a risk taker? Can you risk your retirement benefit? Because no matter how you look at it, starting a business involves monetary risk. Accepting that fact, you must also check if you have the ability and the will to work hard to be able to handle uncertainty. Most of all you must have the attitude of self discipline.

2. Pick the right business for you – if you are the kind of person who is driven by passion and wants to make a career out of it, chances are that you will attain success. The reason why increasing number of older Americans starts a business after retirement is know-how. After 50, you have gained the skills and experience that you are passionate about. That would really make a difference. For some people, owning their own business is fascinating. In this case, chose a business that has a demand and potential in times of growth and recession.

3. Come up with a solid business plan – As a retiree, you have a special advantage. You’ve probably had a career where you learned how to run a successful business, either through hands-on experience or through observation of how the business where you worked was run. Figure out what will make your product or service different or special, how you plan to attract customers and how you intend to beat the competition.

4. Find Great People – In a small business, the impact of a single team member can be enormous. Every person you add to your team must have a star quality – which means that the person must reflect your ideas and goals and will work with you through it. Is that possible? Absolutely. First, make sure you define what a star is within each role in your company. Then you can go find them.

5. Market and Sell – this is about getting the world to know about your business so customers come through your door or perhaps to your homepage. First, you’ll need to know and study your target market. Then develop or create a marketing message that will reach them. Make sure you maintain that message consistently and must be reinforced repeatedly so you can build your own brand or identity. Consistency gives the people a clear reason to be interested in your business.

When you are younger, you can afford to make a mistake, go out of business, even file for bankruptcy and still rebound. When you are older, there is simply less time to bounce back from significant business problems. Still, the wisdom of the years never fails.

Making Lemonade: Starting a Business After Ending a Career

What do you do when the money tree starts sprouting lemons?

It’s increasingly common these days to find middle-aged, mid-level managers suddenly faced with huge shifts of circumstance. Down-sizing, bubble-bursting, plant-closing, and consolidating are just some of the forces creating a class of sudden solo-preneurs.

At 50-something you face particularly difficult job-hunting challenges. Your salary range is high. Your network is decent after so many years, but jobs at your level are few. You’ve been there, done that, and thought you were finished with all that new trick-learning.

A big upset like job loss can provide a shift of perspective– an opportunity to take stock. What is really important? What do you want to pursue at this point in your life? Is being your own boss the way to go?

I spoke with several silverbacks to share their wisdom gleaned from these life changes with a new member of the pack.

Dean turned 50 in January of 2005. In May he was fired from his position as marketing director of a high-tech firm. He’s angry at the ease with which an employer could let him go.

“Control is a big issue for me. Do I really want to have someone tell what, where, and how? It seems like I work a lot but don’t reap the benefits. If I were on my own I’d have all the benefits and all the risks.”

Dean is deciding whether to find another job with the security of a regular paycheck and benefits, or start his own business. He finds information on the internet helpful but wishes there was a Big Brother-like program pairing people and businesses to help him sort through the options.

Carl was 51 when the ordinance plant where he was safety manager closed its doors.

“I had a lot of friends in the business. I could have easily picked up another job but I would have had to relocate halfway across the country. I didn’t want to do that.”

Bob was an engineer whose position was eliminated after 23 years with the firm. This sent him into a deep depression that lasted for months.

“I couldn’t even drive.”

With the help of his psychiatrist, Bob recognized what was most important in his life–his wife, his son, and his lifelong hobby, bird-watching.

“My doctor told me to go bird-watching every day. While out there on the wetlands I had a vision. I couldn’t go back to the corporate life.”

It takes a lot of stamina and belief in yourself to move ahead with plans for a business. Carl spoke of his state of mind at the time:

“I wasn’t frightened. I’m a survivor. I screwed up when I was younger– went bankrupt, lost a lot of material things. One good thing about failing is that it gets you over that fear of failure. You learn from your mistakes.”

Both men did a lot of research, internal and external. Bob determined that he loved birds, kids, nature, education, photography, and the environment. Anything he pursued needed to involve those. Once he was clear on the essentials the how-to landed in Bob’s lap.

“I saw an ad in a magazine to call for franchise information. My mind immediately took off with the possibilities. I began looking at retail spaces thinking ‘I wonder how that location would work?’ I saw the ad on a Saturday. That Tuesday I called the company. On Thursday I had the package and on the following Tuesday they had it back.”

Carl was taking his time, looking at options. His values included a love of people and a desire to create a positive environment.
His plans started with casual conversation.

“My buddies owned this building. There had been a restaurant there years ago but it had been mismanaged. And somehow the idea of starting another one came up. At first we were clowning around, yucking it up over a few beers, but then we started getting more serious.

Bob made use of the infant, but still helpful internet of 1995. Carl used lower tech methods to estimate his market.

I spent 15 days from 4:00 am to 11:00 am counting cars at that intersection. I figured if we could get a big enough percentage of them to stop we’d be in business.

Bob used a book called, The Insider’s Guide to Franchising [Webster, B. 1986 Amacom, New York] to help him review his offer. Carl was mentored by a successful friend in the restaurant business who helped him think things through. They developed their business plans and opened their doors.

The first year was tough for both businesses. Miscalculations and errors sent both owners reeling.

At first Carl knew nothing about preparing and serving food.

“The restaurant was overstaffed and overpaid. I felt held hostage by the people who worked for me. Things were pretty shaky there for awhile. Some days I wondered if we could open the doors.”

Bob got overwhelmed with paperwork and screwed up his accounting records.

“Plus I went crazy at Vendormart. I bought four times as much inventory as I should have. Nowadays the franchise pairs successful stores and newbies so that doesn’t happen, but those safeguards weren’t in place back then.”

In September Bob’s store will celebrate its tenth anniversary. It has been recognized three times among the Top 30 Most-Improved stores. In February and June of this year his store was number 2 out of 320 in overall sales.

Carl was advised that he’d know if the restaurant would make it within four years. It was clear after three that they’d be fine. Today after seven years they’re looking to expand.

“We’re not getting rich but we’re self-supporting, and the relationships are priceless.”

What advice do they have in hindsight for Dean and others like him?

Bob says, “Find what you love and create your opportunity. Be willing to change–be retooled. Don’t get stuck in a rut. And you gotta have another source of income when you’re starting.”

Carl adds, “We grossly underestimated the working capital we’d need. And if I had it to do over I’d own the building. There are improvements I’d like to make but I’m restricted by the landlord.”

So back to Dean, who’s looking at buying an existing restaurant business, if he doesn’t decide to return to marketing. Where do you want to be in a year? What will you say when I check back with you?

“I made the right choice. I’m doing exactly what I should and I’m excited about it.