Documents That Breathe Life Into Your Business

I teach classes in my community and for the SBDC. In each one I say “Your business plan should be a living, breathing, written document.” This means you are to write it before opening your doors, or in many of your cases, launching your website.

Once written though, it isn’t meant to sit on a shelf and draw dust. It’s meant to be your map to your destination. Imagine getting on a plane, fastening your seatbelt, listening to the emergency procedures. Now the pilot comes on and says, “I know some of you had hoped we’d land in San Diego today, but we are thinking of detouring to Seattle to pick up two passengers, landing in Dallas to let six passengers off, then if we have enough fuel, we’ll get the rest of you to San Diego.” Wow! It’s time to jump off that plane! 

You think this story is crazy and unrealistic, but 90% of you are running your business like this. You have no flight plan and you are blown in the wind in all directions.

If you are one of the 10% that do have a plan, you haven’t looked at it in a while---maybe even since the ink dried. My recommendation to my coaching clients is ideally you review it monthly. If not that frequent, at the bare minimum view quarterly. This is why I say it should be “living, breathing”. It is meant to be changed, tweaked, and modified based on internal and external factors that negatively and positively affect your business model. 

Once you tweak it, it helps you adjust your flight to avoid turbulence in the marketplace, passengers, or rather employees, that want to skydive, and provide you a safe landing to your destination.

By the way, what do you consider your destination? I’m guessing you have a dollar amount in your mind that is your ultimate goal. Have you considered your destination being legacy planning---allowing your business to outlive you through a successful acquisition or passing on to your children or key employees? 

I hope your business plan breathes life into your business for a safe landing! Here’s to a great flight; relax and enjoy the ride. 

The Disease of Business Ownership

Prospects contact me daily to inquire about coaching them to grow their business. The problem is they don’t know what the problem is. Oh, they think they do, but they don’t! 

One prospect who became a client came to me and said her team was the problem and she had to fire someone on the team and reallocate job duties. After several coaching sessions, this problem was only the tip of the iceberg. A larger and more glaring symptom was lack of revenue. After digging deep with this client, we discovered this symptom was caused by a disease found in the sales cycle.

Another prospect called to ask what he needed to do to make his new store successful; he hadn’t opened the doors yet, but had filed all his paperwork. I asked discovery questions about his demographics, startup capital, history of the business and more. The problem wasn’t that he was a first time business owner wondering how to open the doors on Day #1. The problems were multi-faceted like an onion, and as we peeled back the layers for 30 minutes, the first challenge was to find a solution to getting inventory to open the doors, given that he had poor credit and little capital. 

As an entrepreneur, you have blind spots. How do I know? Because I do! 

You see, I’ve owned businesses since 1989. Today I have two business coaches I lean on, invest in, and use to uncover my blindspots. In 2000 when I thought I was “smart, competent, and knew how to run a business after a decade of mild success” I didn’t need a coach. And, guess what? That’s when you risk falling into the category of 85% of business owners who crash and burn within 2 years!

If you are an entrepreneur and you call me to discuss your problem, or read my website to see what problem I solve and how I can help you succeed, you may not see your actual problem listed. The problem I solve is getting to the disease, not the symptoms causing you pain. Through a process of coaching calls, probing questions, and examining the six pillars of your business, and refining your business plan (which should be a living, breathing, written document), we will address the disease in your business. Once addressed the symptoms will stop plaguing you and you can move forward in health and vitality to increased revenue, engaged employees, and sustainable growth.

Building a Business From A Freelance Career

The life of a freelancer may seem fantastic, with the ability to set your own schedule and determine your pay, but it comes with a lot of hard work. You have to find your own clients, balance their needs with your own, and ensure your own income rather than relying on a paycheck. Freelancing can be rewarding, as can owning a small business. Some people desire to one day turn their freelancing into a full-time business, but this too takes time and dedication to succeed.

There are several differences between freelancing as a job and building a business from a skill you can provide as a service. Being a freelancer implies that you look for work on your own and provide contracts for individuals or businesses. A small business owner markets their business to get customers to come to them, selling products and services for a set price. Other differences between a freelancer and small business owner include:

  • The freelancer must do all the work, while the business owner manages processes to create revenue streams even when they are not present.

  • Freelancers cater to individual client needs for each project, while business owners build products and services and sell them as is.

  • A freelancer’s personal reputation is most important, while a business owner builds a brand image.

  • A freelancer solves all of their own problems (even if they have employees or subcontractors) while a business owner allows employees to solve problems for them.

  • Freelancers deal directly with clients (giving them their cell phone number or email), while a business owner directs all contact through the company.

Building a business from the ground up is harder work in the beginning, but it allows more freedom than freelancing when your business becomes profitable. There are several steps you can take now to turn your freelance job into a business:

Hire a great team.

Effective teams separate small startups from successful businesses. Not only will employees help you scale your services, but they can solve the day-to-day problems while you focus on the bigger picture. You can build partnerships, manage a marketing campaign, and communicate the company vision while your employees solve customer problems, answer phones, design products or complete services, and do all the other things you would have to do yourself as a freelancer.

Turn your service into a repeatable process.

Freelancers have to perform services themselves, while a smart business owner creates processes that produce the product or service via employees, a software, a website, or another tool. Even services that require human finesse, such as custom web design, can be automated with a team of competent designers and customer service staff.

Separate yourself from your brand.

A freelancer solicits for business, while a business owner markets their company to attract clients. Instead of approaching clients and asking them what they need, build a brand and attract customers who need your set of products or services (this is the difference between business marketing and sales as a freelancer). Turn your personal brand into a business brand, so that people don’t approach you directly for your service.

If you’re ready to turn your side gig into a real business, contact me to learn about my coaching options. I can help you build your business from scratch, and avoid the mistakes most business owners make when they first start. Get ahead and start making more today!

How To Charge More For Your Freelance Services

Who wouldn’t love to be their own boss? Flexible schedules, work-from-home benefits, and the ability to directly influence your rates and salary sound too good to be true. However, this can be a reality for freelancers and startup entrepreneurs. If you have a skill or expertise in a field and believe you can sell your services directly, small business ownership may be right for you.

The many benefits of this career path attract a lot of professionals, creating ample competition. Because of this, beginning freelancers often charge as little as they think they can get away with, hoping to attract clients with their low prices. The truth is, you don’t have to do that. People will pay for high-quality work because it benefits their business. If you have the skill and the clients to back it up, there is no reason why you can’t charge more for your services. Here’s how:

Create a higher demand for your business.

If you are an in-demand freelancer, clients will naturally have to pay more for your time. But how do you create that demand? You get other clients to rave about your work. And how do you get them to rave? You deliver exceptional results! If you are just starting out and don’t have a long client list, that’s okay. Work hard to delight one or two small clients, and use their testimony to attract bigger and bigger gigs until you’re earning the salary you want.

Add ancillary services to your packages.

Whether you write, design, program, or have another marketable skill, people are looking for experts like you. However, if you can provide more than one of these skills, your value increases exponentially. By providing more than one static service, you’re making your clients’ lives easier. In turn, you can charge more for “package” deals and simplify your revenue streams to a few select high-paying customers.

Understand your maximum value.

As mentioned before, most startup founders charge as little as possible for their services because they’re afraid of losing clients over price. However, businesses and consumers don’t mind paying more for something of true quality and value. You should base your prices on what you believe you can deliver to clients, not simply the lowest rate you can afford.

Never accept pay below your minimum.

When you begin your career as a freelancer, you need to set a minimum price for your services. This minimum can be an hourly or per-project rate, and you should stand firmly by it. If you believe that you should receive $25 per hour at the very least, don’t accept offers for a penny less. The same is true for setting prices in a startup setting. Base your pricing on what you need to grow your business, and don’t offer discounts unless you’re doing so strategically.

If you’re thinking about dipping your toes into a startup endeavor or freelance career, there are plenty more resources on my blog. I also offer coaching services to help professionals focus on their skills and earn more for their hard work. Follow the RoyceTalks blog for more updates and info.

Failures Help Build the Pillars of Success

As an entrepreneur, you aspire to be successful. You have ideas that you want to expand on and build into something great. Whether success means fame and fortune or maybe it means success on a smaller scale, it is important to you, yet defined differently by all.

Richard Branson is one of those successful entrepreneurs having become a well-known billionaire who lives on his own island retreat. He created the “Virgin” brand. Whether it’s Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Money, Virgin Media, Virgin Trains or another of his endless Virgin lines, his brand is seen and recognized by everyone. His success can be used as an inspiration to you, an aspiring entrepreneur, as you work hard to create your own success.

Branson is quoted as saying, “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” This means that in his experience, success did not always come easy. It was something he had to work for.

In fact, success usually comes with a price. That includes failures, which in the long run, lead you to where you want to be. Even Branson had a number of failures when it came to the Virgin business. As he says in his quote though, he didn’t let it stop him from trying new ideas. He wasn’t embarrassed to try and try again.

Branson failed at creating a drink line, a wedding dress line, fashion line, cosmetics line, a music player, social media website and more. Still, despite all those failures, he remains to be one of the most wildly successful entrepreneurs in the world. His brand remains to be one of the most recognized. When you fail, you might get discouraged in your work or your purpose and your attitude may falter. That may lead you to give up. You may dwell on everything that went wrong and wonder why you should continue.

You can’t let failure get in the way of the multitude of successes you will achieve by pursuing your dream. You may feel like you have hit rock bottom. You just have to get yourself back up and stand on your feet.

Instead of looking at your failure as the absolute bottom, try to view your failure as an elevator. Your goal is to make it to the top floor to reach success, but you’ve made a mistake and you hit the wrong button so you’ve ridden the elevator back down a floor or two. Now is your chance to learn from your mistake, your failure, and choose the right button instead the second time around.

You won’t make the same mistake of pressing the wrong button because you’ve already done that once before and you’ve seen the consequences. If you take the time to consider your failures and learn from your mistakes, you can start to ride the elevator back to the top again -- to your success.

That’s not to say there won’t be many mistakes throughout your lifetime. We are only human, after all. But how else are we going to learn? Take every mistake and look at it as a blessing. Without it, you would never know you did something wrong. Then you can take that mistake and transform it into something positive and advance forward.

Take these other famous entrepreneurs, for example. They have known failure and yet they continued to try. Arianna Huffington was rejected by publishers 37 times and still has the Huffington Post. Bill Gates failed with his first company and yet managed to create Microsoft. Walt Disney was told he lacked creativity and now his work is known by everyone. Milton Hershey had to go through three candy companies before Hershey’s chocolate was a success. The list goes on and on. But today, these entrepreneurs have overcome their failures and made a name for themselves. They continued to try even after they were told that they couldn’t or they faced a failure.

They persisted, and that’s really what matters most. If you strive to be the best entrepreneur that you can be, then you can’t help but succeed.

Most entrepreneurs could tell you that their successes are rooted in failure. Though they didn’t let that stop them from pursuing their dreams and becoming successful because of it. Use their work as an example to yourself. Though failure may be disappointing and a hard lesson to learn, there is still success to be had. Failure is part of success.

A Chat with Shoshanna Cogan: Dumpster Diver to International Trainer

Shoshanna Cogan has achieved phenomenal success. She has gone from dumpster diver to international coach and trainer. Her resume today includes clients such as: United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica, federal governments, AmeriCorps, FEMA Corps, and many others.

Shoshanna is a Certified Conflict Mediator, a member of the American Society for Training and Development, and a successful women-owned business enterprise.

Thanks to our sponsor Mention "ROYCE" for special pricing.

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A Chat With Angela Klocke

Angela Klocke began motherhood at age 14 and today is a mother of three: ages 25, 21, and 19 with her second grandbaby on the way. 

She and her current husband of 18 years work as a team to raise her children from her previous marriage. 

Angela's past includes: physical, emotional, and mental abuse; sexual abuse and assault; several near-death experiences; domestic abuse; teen pregnancy and marriage; and a tragic end to her first marriage.

Angela presently works at a local pregnancy center, and has been a mentor there for several years, working specifically with young parents.

Angela considers herself a chaser of dreams, of light, of ideas. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading, traveling, discovering places I’ve never been, daydreaming, and making up funny things to share with people. She is currently writing her memoir and speaking on topics of abuse, healing, and choices.

A Chat With Toni Crabtree

Toni's diverse career includes 17 years in the financial industry, 9 years in public education and 7 years in health and wellness. The stress of her work with inner city students while caring for her mother through several life-threatening illnesses left Toni exhausted, obese, and on 9 medications every day. After successfully taking control of her health and getting off all those meds (with her doctor's approval), Toni realized her true mission. Her life-long interest in food, cooking and nutrition combined with her skills as an educator, mentor and business woman led to her to start her own coaching practice. Nothing makes Toni happier than providing the guidance, support and accountability necessary to help her clients reach their goals, and to live into the futures they've always dreamed of. 

Toni and her husband Rich are the owners of Crabtree Healthy Living. Toni is a frequent speaker on a variety of wellness topics.  She has served hundreds of clients from Canada to Mexico and coast to coast in online group coaching programs and in highly personalized one-on-one programs. She is one of the co-authors with Royce Gomez on the international best selling book, Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life.

A Chat With Donna Levine Tobey

Donna Levine Tobey had a son that was involved in church, smart, and well-liked. One day a lady gave him a "pain killer" that was actually meth. It killed him instantly. Not only has Donna, a single mom, had to overcome the grief from losing her son. She also struggles with biopolar disorder and admitted herself to treatment after Jonathan's death. Today she is a champion, encouraging other parents who grieve the loss of their child through her organization Mad Over Methadone.

A Chat With Bobbi Govanus

After a thirty year career in retail selling everything from socks to stocks, with only a computer and a plan, Bobbi Govanus launched her own small business and soon realized that she had discovered a true niche within the computer training industry.  Her company served 1000 trainers and customers seeking coveted certifications across the world. 

In celebration of these and other accomplishments, Entrepreneur Magazine recognized Bobbi Govanus as their "Home-based" Business Owner of the year and Minnesota honored her as their Women in Business Advocate. 

In 2015 Bobbi created the Reinvention Retreat at Sea that annually brings speakers, coaches and authors together to coach and assist attendees who want to make the rest of their life, the best of their life.  Bobbi published her first book in 2014, How to Pilot When We Were Raised to BE Stewardesses,Reinventing your Life with Passion and Purpose.  This book explores the importance of choosing your own destiny no matter what obstacles you must overcome to do so.  She has since contributed to two additional books that help people to discover their destinies.

A Chat With Barbara Abramson

Royce Gomez, author and speaker, interviews Barbara Abramson, editor of Good Men Project. Barbara shares how she married the wrong man to being married to her Knight in Shining Armor and living a life of joy and purpose. Both of these women share commonalities; they are co-authors of the international best selling book, Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life and have both published on the Huffington Post. Barbara hails from Orlando where she and her husband reside.  

Variety During A Winter Storm

I said "Yes" to variety during a winter storm.

Colorado is infamous for its winter storms of Spring. This weekend blew in one of these storms. This weekend also happened to be the same weekend my friend needed an animal sitter while going to a funeral. 

So I said "yes". I found myself watching 3 horses, 2 goats, 4 cats, 2 dogs, and nearly 50 chickens. Now I'm no farm girl.....I've never handled goats, gathered eggs, or feed chickens. The sustained 60 mph winds and 30 degree weather blowing snow in may this job even more complicated. 

But, I had plenty of writing assignments to keep me busy while I spent the weekend on the farm. One writing assignment was unusual for me.

A lady and I were speaking during a networking event last week. During our conversation I learned she had a nonprofit with a mission that aligned with my passion. Her organization needs funds, and I have books that can provide those funds. She and I spoke about me selling my books to donate proceeds to her organization.

So I said "yes". I found myself writing this unusual assignment during this blustery, winter-y weekend.

An unusual weekend all around--donning overalls to feed chickens, then coming in to the warmth of the house to write a commercial for the sake of this organization.

Variety is the spice of life; if this is true, my weekend has been spicy. I am sure of one thing, because I say "yes" my life is full of variety. I am fortunate to live my passion every day. 

The Bush

On one hand the bush looks dead--no leaves, no pop of color. Look more closely and you'll see signs of life.

One one hand the bush looks weak with it's slim branches dancing in the breeze. Look more closely and you'll see the strength of it's trunk holding it firmly in place.

On one hand the bush looks prickly as you stare at it's numerous shoots. Look more closely and you'll find the soft blooms of spring will sprout.

Life--often like the bush--what we focus on determines what we see.