The Super Bowl is Over. Let's Get Back to Marketing.

Every year we notice a slump from the beginning of December through the weekend of the Super Bowl. In December, everyone spends their money on things other than business expenses. Then, in January, everyone stops spending altogether.

We've learned over the years that December is the natural time for us to spend a week off work, analyzing the year's activities, what worked well and why, and planning for the coming year. We set business and personal goals, then follow up all year long, monthly, quarterly, and again at year end.

We've also learned that expending effort marketing in January can be a complete waste of time—if we do it wrong. January is the time to keep it very personal, stay on people's radar, share freely, to make our marketing message "We understand you're not ready right now, but when you are, we'll be ready, too, and here's why we might be a good match when it's time." (That's not as succinct as I'd like.)

It's the Tuesday after the big game, and things are going to get back to normal. That means marketing can serve not just to stay on folks' radar, but to educate and attract, moving the right people toward our offerings, turning into the fun and games of doing business. (If you're not having fun marketing your book and your business, let's talk, shall we?)

4 Common Financial Crises for Small Business Owners and How to Solve Them

4 Common Financial Crises for Small Business Owners and How to Solve ThemAs a small business owner, you’re essentially writing your own paycheck. But that doesn’t mean you have an endless supply of funds anytime you need them. Instead, your earnings are dependent on a variety of factors, some of which are outside your direct control. So what can you do if you run into difficult financial circumstances? Here are a few ways to jump money-related hurdles.

… more … "4 Common Financial Crises for Small Business Owners and How to Solve Them"

Success & Failure: 2 Methods of Each

For the team at Chief Virtual Officer, our Business Manager, Joel D Canfield, has created some videos. This is one of them. All about Success & Failure. Enjoy!

You Don't Want a Job and I'd Like to Tell You a Few Reasons Why

You Don't Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your RewardsMy 10th book was released July 27th. It's called You Don't Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your Rewards. If you're already a self-employed, it contains loads of information from great psychological resources that'll make you feel good about your choice, and help you make the most of it. Here are a few of the ideas from the book, which you can buy from us right here.

[S]ince no one else is going to take the trouble of making sure that we enjoy our work, it makes sense for each of us to take on this responsibility. — Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, p. 101-2

Self-Employed Doesn't Always Mean Entrepreneur

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Some are cut out to be freelancers.

Entrepreneurs want to create. They want to be in the driver's seat. They do not fear the fires of risk. They like finding new people, making connections. They want to choose their own deadlines and make their own way.

Some folks don't fit that description. That doesn't mean they should get a job. It means freelancing instead of entrepreneurship.

Freelancing is hiring out your talents to a number of different people. It's like having lots of bosses. Except you get to choose them, not the other way 'round.

Working freelance (the word comes from "free lance," as in, a mercenary who was good at one thing: fighting wars, whoever was paying for it) means you don't have to convince clients they need your help. Your clients are entrepreneurs who appreciate the skills you bring to their business. They understand you. Your marketing is simpler because it's aimed at other business folks, not end users. Your pricing is less subjective. You don't have to set your own deadlines. You know what needs to be done every day.

Entrepreneurs and freelancers get the same benefits despite their different personalities.

You Have Control

One objection I hear to the concept of entrepreneurship is that "you're just trading one boss for a whole bunch of bosses: your clients."

Well, sure, if you're doing it wrong.

Control is not a gift you're given, it's a power you wield.

When you're the boss, you have control over the 4 Ts.

You control what tasks you do.

You control the techniques you use.

You control the time you work.

You control the team you work with.

I can hear you yelling about the last two from where I’m sitting. "My buddy is never around because he's always rushing to meet a deadline." "My sister's clients are all jerks, but she needs the money."

Covered in my other books, I'll briefly dispel those here:

If you schedule properly and maintain good client relationships, you should rarely, if ever, be forced to work at a time you'd prefer not to. I keep my goal dates (I don't even call them "deadlines") flexible enough that if I want a day off, I can take one. What that also means is that if I wake up at 4am and feel like working, I can, because then when I'm tired at 9:30 I can take a nap.

Working for jerks will make you a jerk. It is an immutable law that we become like those we associate with. Choose clients you wish you were more like. It takes guts to turn down money from someone you don't want to work with, and I'll admit to making this mistake more than once — and regretting it every single time.

You do not have to work 88 hours a week, nor do you have to work with jerks. You are the boss. If you work too much or with the wrong people, it is because you chose to, not because you had to.

Autonomy Over Balance

Anyone who always chooses the 4 Ts entirely at their own whim is going to struggle. We live in a complex intertwangled society, as gregariously social creatures. It goes against nature to seek total independence.

Another autonomy is over the balance of autonomy we choose.

When the economy shifts, I focus more on one type of project than another.

When I'm partnering with someone I want to build a working relationship with, I'll use the tools they're familiar with, at least at the outset.

When a beloved client really truly needs it now, I usually choose to pull out all the stops to deliver for them.

While I won't work with jerks, either as my client or as a co-worker on a project, I have worked with folks who didn't light my fire in every interaction. I've asked advice from folks who seem incapable of tact. I've read great information in deadly dull books and blog posts.

And every one was a choice. My choice. Choice to balance how much autonomy is right for this time, this day.

A Job Is Simpler

Life is complicated and messy. We tell ourselves stories to simplify it, to get a handle on it, to teach our children.

Oversimplification can be a useful teaching tool, a beneficial coping strategy. It can also fool us into believing that simple is better in cases where it's not.

Having a job is simpler, tidier, than the messiness of creating your own business, whether entrepreneurial or freelancing.

Simpler.

Not better.


Joel D CanfieldEven though you know who I am, we'll say it again, a little differently:

After losing two jobs in a row because companies went out of business, Joel D Canfield resurrected Spinhead, the web design company he'd founded in 1998. In the six years since his last job, Joel and his family have traveled full-time throughout the US and Canada for 18 months, created and refined multiple businesses, and spent nearly all their time doing exactly what they wanted to do instead of what they had to do. Read more about his newly released 10th book "You Don't Want a Job" at http://JoelDCanfield.com

As Good as the Next Guy

At the supermarket I noticed a package of batteries with this blurb: Lasts as long as Energizer.

So, they're as good as the next guy.

Is that any way to advertise yourself? Is anyone going to switch battery brands (or, more importantly, start working with a "virtual" partner on mission-critical tasks) because they're "as good as the next guy" ?

Marketers talk about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for a good reason. If you can't show a prospect why you are the only possible choice, why you are the perfect match for them, ask yourself: why should they choose you?

If you're only as good as the next guy, what happens when the next guy gets just a little bit cheaper, or a little better, or both?

(By the way, even if you're far better than the next guy, if you can't show a prospect why you're a perfect match, consider the possibility that they aren't a perfect match for you.)