Have you ever paid someone to clean your house?
My family has. In fact, I don’t wear shoes in the house. If you don’t wear shoes inside either, I’d love to know! We’re kind of like a club, us shoe-less dwellers.
Well recently, my mom was looking to hire a new cleaning company to clean her place once a week.
She first interviewed two guys with a company. They didn’t have a website, just a phone number. When she spoke with them on the phone initially, they said they could either:
a) Come and give her a quote
b) Come and give her a quote and clean the day they came
She opted to have them just come for a quote and not clean right away because she didn’t know how much it would cost.
But when they came, they quoted a ridiculously high price (given the space and how little work it really is) for the first clean (a “deep clean” they claimed) and then said they couldn’t provide a quote for every week after that until they drew up a proposal with their accountant. Mind you, her home is spotless! She does her dishes right away, has nothing laying around and always cleans up the kitchen and vacuums every night.
So first, they said they could come, quote and clean. Then, they said they didn’t know how much they will charge her until they draft up a proposal.
Well, which is it?
This made her extremely angry because they kept their prices, processes and intentions hidden.
So she called them back to tell them she didn’t find the first-time clean a reasonable price. They agreed and even mentioned they were talking amongst themselves how it should be lower. They claimed they were going to give her a call to talk about it but they never did. She called them first. Hmmm.
They changed their story multiple times which gave my mom a bad impression.
Next up, she found a woman’s cleaning business online.
This woman had a website that listed everything she did for a regular clean or “deep clean.” Things like:
She even had pictures of her customers’ homes and texts showing they were thrilled with her work. Social proof!
When she gave this woman a call, the woman was quick to clarify her rate is $30/hr with a 3 hour minimum. No games. No quotes. No changing her mind. This is her business, and this is what she does for each and every customer.
What a pleasure to do business with someone who is forthcoming about their services, what they charge and how they work.
If I had to choose between 2 service providers:
If Service Provider A had a list of everything they could do plus a generic contact form (or phone number), I would question whether they were really in business or just took on any client who was willing to pay.
If Service Provider B had a website with clearly laid out packages, prices and details ready to buy, I wouldn’t even waste my time with A.
A isn’t making it easy to work with them.
This isn’t restricted to service businesses- it’s everyone!
The Service That Threw Me For A Loop
I was approached by a publication to do an interview recently. I happily accepted but never received a response. A few days later, I followed up.
I was then thrown over to the publication’s business development guy. He wanted to talk, which I thought was odd. Why not just send over the interview questions via email like most publications do? We scheduled a call when he told me more about the reach of the publication and if it would be a good fit for me.
I asked about the interview process and he was vague. He said often people do multiple interviews/content pieces to build trust with their audience.
At the end of the our call, he said he would send the details over via email.
By this point, I knew what he wasn’t telling me: they didn’t want to interview me, they wanted advertising money.
The magazine conducted interviews with people for a fee. The magazine is editorial with a few advertisements strategically placed, but I had assumed they made their money from the ads and not from the people they profiled.
This was incredibly shady and the opposite of transparent.
As a business owner, press is free. If someone approaches you to do an interview, you’re assuming you won’t have to pay for it. Magazines don’t charge for editorial content- that’s a standard.
If the founder would have said from the beginning there was a cost involved, I wouldn’t have been so disgusted.
The way they went about it was all wrong.
People deserve to know all the important details up front, so they can make an educated decision for themselves.
When business do things like this, they bait people into their offer. It’s dishonest and disgusting.
Don’t waste clients’ time with discovery calls or ring-around-the-rates.
Slap your prices on your website. From this point on, anyone who expresses interest in working with you will already have their biggest question answered.
Because let’s be real- the elephant in the room is “How much does it cost?”
More Reasons To List Your Prices
Another benefit of transparent pricing? Self-education.
“What do you charge?” a client asks.
“Did you look at my website? It’s all on there.” you say.
You don’t want to work with people who are too lazy to click a link and read a little. Leave the spoon-feeding to someone else.
I like to work with stand-up honest people who excel at their craft.
I make an immediate judgment of someone based on how transparent they are and seemingly easy to work with. For example, if I visit someone’s website and they have a laundry list of services they can offer or a CONTACT button that forwards to a generic form, I click off right away.
Clients DON’T LIKE UNKNOWNS.
Let me repeat that.
CLIENT DON’T LIKE UNKNOWNS.
If someone has a question in their head, it just sits there and prevents them from taking action.
By listing your prices, you give them the gifted opportunity to make a decision and move on.
If your price is too high, they might bookmark you and come back when they can afford you. They might scoff and look at the next contender. But what they won’t do is waste your time with endless questions and beg for discounts.
If you’re afraid of letting your competition see your rates, get over it. Your rates should be what you think you’re worth, not the market rate.
You’re not here to apologize for costing so much.. because price is completely subjective. $5,000 might be a fortune to someone. But it also might just be “another designer handbag” to someone else. You aren’t here to appeal to everyone- you only want to talk to the people who CAN afford you.
Making your rate public pre-qualifies clients. Additionally, charging a flat-rate (instead of hourly) lessens anxiety for clients because they know exactly what they’re getting. Services can easily become a money pit, but five star businesses don’t take advantage of someone’s inexperience.
This principle also applies to other crucial deal-breakers like methods of payment.
A client of mine recently expressed interest in writing a book, so I immediately referred her to a company that helps with the publishing process.
They seemed to have great reputation.
My client came back to me a few weeks later and updated me on her experience. She spoke with a strategist first, who was super nice. Having read their website thoroughly, she didn’t have any questions to ask the strategist. She loved the process and was excited to hire them since it seemed like a good fit. She was immediately sent the contract which she read over diligently. She signed the contract, then was immediately sent an invoice to pay the first installment.
She opened the invoice, whipped out her credit card and was ready to get started with them when she saw the invoice only allowed for a checking or savings account transfer. Like me, she pays for all business expenses via credit card because of the protection it provides. Any big ticket purchases, for business or not, should be paid for with a credit card. It’s just the smart thing to do.
At this point, she was annoyed. Nowhere on their website or in her contract did it state they only accepted bank transfers. The person she spoke with initially didn’t mention this nor was it in any of their follow-up emails. Not only is this important information, but it would have saved her a lot of time. She wouldn’t have considered working with them if they were transparent about only accepting direct payment via a bank account.
They seemed so transparent, but this one piece of crucial information that wasn’t clarified left a bad taste in her mouth. And I feel terrible for having recommended them.
They might be great at what they do, but leaving out their forms of payment until the last minute comes off as sketchy. She isn’t the first person who wants to pay with a credit card, and she won’t be the last.
When something is the norm and you don’t participate, it requires clarification.
As it turned out, they did accept credit cards! But it took some teeth pulling to get that information out of them and in my opinion it’s not a great way to start off a business relationship. They just didn’t happen to include credit card payments as an option on the payment form. Why not? Who knows?!
But my client isn’t a mind reader.
Transparency can’t be understated.
The bottom line is: your services should be packaged and cost a flat rate that are front and center on your website.
Before anyone sends you an email or picks up the phone, they should know what their investment will be. This saves you time and aggravation while attracting premium clients who recognize and appreciate your transparency. You want to turn off cheapskates who only care about hiring the cheapest option- they won't value your work so you don't want them in your life anyway.
Clients have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.
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Writer / Free Thinker / Artist / Dog Lover / Visionary / Photographer / Everything but the kitchen sink
You know these people. Maybe you’re one yourself. I know I was.
They can’t pin themselves down to one title so they slash the heck of everything they are.
Human - slash - Thought Leader - slash - Aspiring Robot - slash - Fuzzy-sock wearer
They don’t do anything well enough to make it a business.
They go wide and not deep.
Slash Syndrome is the inability to excel in and advertise yourself as a single business that specializes in one thing.
Slash Syndrome effects us all.
We are multi-talented beings and it seems wrong to pigeonhole ourselves into a single talent. And while I’m a decent singer, eat vegan food and have a great sense of style, none of those things are relevant to my business. Advertising that I also do personal shopping would confuse clients and water down my message.
I’m guilty of having Slash Syndrome in the past. I thought by giving myself all these titles like Entrepreneur and Web Designer I would seem better or more important. But it has the opposite effect. It confuses people. Plus, I looked ridiculous.
It’s up to you to choose the one thing that you want to sell and only market that.
When you say you do 10 jobs, it makes me question your competency at all of them. Not to mention, it’s hard to remember. No matter what you think, no one spends the time memorizing all of your skills. Either you are different enough to be remembered, or you are not.
How do you create a memorable tag line?
On LinkedIn, stay away from titles like “Illustrator” or “Developer”. Instead, write a sentence about how you help.
It provides context, is different and holds someone’s attention.
- “I build your online business so you can travel the world " <--- that's mine!
- “I fill your empty yoga studio with students”
- “Imagine knowing EXACTLY how profitable you are”
Stay away from abstract titles that sound fancy and vague like “Change Maker” or “Making You Awesome”.
If you are going to make up a title, like Concept Concierge™, make sure it is self-explanatory.
And don’t get me started on “Thought Leader”. If you label yourself a thought leader, it’s probably because you’re obsessed with being viewed as a leader instead of actually being one. Focus on the tangible benefits clients get from working with you. If your ideas are that revolutionary then people will naturally follow along.
If you have your own solo business, you are an entrepreneur. It goes without saying, so no need to add “Entrepreneur” to your title. Everyone calls themselves an “Entrepreneur” these days, it doesn’t mean they are.
The guy with just a business card that has a @gmail.com email and social icons begging you to “Follow me!” is less of an entrepreneur than a sophisticated solopreneur turned Tycoon who has a brand complete with a website, business cards, stand-out LinkedIn profile and unmistakable packaged services.
Exception to this rule: if you need to be found by your title on LinkedIn because you get clients who search for a service, using your literal title like “Freelance Marketing Consultant” then keep it. It makes sense... for now. As soon as you craft your five star business you should change it. Because do you know how many people have that exact title? Over 300,000. Trying to make an impression with that headline is a doomed mission.
Does recovering from Slash Syndrome mean you should only be good at one thing?
Absolutely not. You should pursue areas of interest and hobbies with the vigor of a child. It will help you in your business and keep you sane.
The reason why you should stick with one thing in business is so your audience doesn’t get confused. One thing doesn’t mean one skill. I took conceptualizing, web design, copywriting and technical acumen and packaged it into my business of building online service businesses for sophisticated solopreneurs.
I’m not just a web designer or just a business strategist. I’m a Concept Concierge™. I’m the girl who builds your business from A to Z so you can take on clients immediately.
I still like to karaoke, read business books and doodle. I still excel at personal styling. I have earned a PhD in beach-going. I can tell you every vegan brand of skincare at Target and which celebrities are cruelty-free.
One of my talents isn’t more important than another- but some of them are more profitable. This is why I’m a Concept Concierge, and not a Clean Beauty Concierge.
So if you have the skills to juggle 3 puppies and market pet products, you are going to sell yourself as a pet product marketer and save your juggling for the next party you’re invited to. It doesn’t diminish your juggling capabilities, but it does make you memorable and easy to understand.
I can’t scroll 2 seconds on LinkedIn without seeing someone exhibiting Slash Syndrome. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to ask them “Are you good at anything?!”
Offering every service under the sun indicates you’re not good at any of it.
I just can’t take a yoga instructor / life coach / lawyer seriously. Do they teach yoga to their stressed out clients while they coach them and handle their divorce?
If you have multiple profitable skills that can’t be combined into a single business, give each idea the time and space to flourish or fail. It’s difficult to truly evaluate the progress of an idea unless it is your only focus. It deserves your full attention, because being a little bit of this and a little bit of that doesn’t further along anything. You’re just spinning your wheels and doing tricks for the "Freelance Circus".
Pick one five star business idea and give it your all for a few months. Phrase it in a memorable way and you will be remembered.
Keeping it relevant isn’t just good marketing, it’s good business. That’s how you become known for one thing and earn the respect of your peers and customers.
So slash your Slash Syndrome and join the elite with the power of ONE.
Want to command respect and premium prices doing what you're already great at? Sign up for my email course You're A Tycoon: Five Steps To A Five Star Business™ to learn my simple methodology for crafting a sophisticated service business.
Tycoons have empires. Your ultimate dream empire might consist of working one on one with clients one day a week, while collecting passive income from an online course and book. Maybe you see yourself speaking at events or teaching workshops. Or maybe you want to focus on passive income with multiple books, courses and services completed by someone other than you that you pay.
Your empire can be anything you want it to be.
But it won’t be anything if you don’t start at the beginning: providing a tangible service yourself to clients all the time.
All the time doesn’t mean 24/7, and certainly not even 5 days a week. But unfocused energy and plans won’t get you anywhere, which is why an online service business is your first big leap out of the Freelance Circus.
It’s okay if right now you’ll just be thrilled to make several thousand dollars a month in your pajamas at home, forget about writing a book or anything else.
We all have to start somewhere. And that somewhere is your online service business.
It’s the foundation of your empire and the catalyst for your future success.
But crafting a five star business perfectly the first time around is difficult. Unless you hire me to do it for you, you will waste precious time fixing, changing and validating. Overwhelmed. Confused. Lost.
There is so much work involved.. wouldn’t it be nice to have a roadmap?
Building a sophisticated online business isn’t easy, but Jet Set Business Prep™ makes it easier.
I’m proud to announce Jet Set Business Prep™ as the flagship course of 10 Carat Creations.
Being a freelancer is so passé.
So sashay over to the Ivy League of online courses and reserve your spot for its inaugural session.
As yourself: Why shouldn’t you work with clients as you luxuriously travel the world?
1. The term “digital nomad” has been soiled.
I prefer location independent. The term “digital nomad” has been ruined by people who are selling their lifestyle more than any services. Being a digital nomad isn’t a job- it’s just a lifestyle that means you can work from anywhere. You still need to make money by working! I will use the term digital nomad because it is a keyword that makes people’s ears perk up, but most of my clients also prefer “location independent”. It sounds much more polished.
2. You don’t just become a digital nomad.
Becoming fully location independent doesn’t happen overnight, just like running a profitable business doesn’t happen right away. I had saved a lot of money that allowed me to be entrepreneurial and work thousands of unpaid hours on my business. I diligently prepared for my travels.
I feel a new kind of freedom, but my business is my priority, because without my business I can’t travel! I still have a hefty responsibility- I’m not on a sabbatical or extended vacation. If I’m in vacation mode then I don’t do any work.
There was a time while working on my business that I thought I couldn’t do it- I actually went out looking for a job! I doubted myself a lot and couldn’t get a job which I saw as the Universe telling me to stay on my path. I’m so glad I did. Anyone claiming they ditched their life to travel the world and are suddenly soo successful is lying.
3. People don’t actually care that you’re living a fabulous location independent life.
No one cares that you just saw the seventh wonder of the world or that you swam with dolphins. The people who like your Instagram photos aren’t paying your bills.
All your clients care about is:
- Can you do what you say you will?
- Can you do it well?
The people who harp on the lifestyle likely aren’t selling anything of value. The business comes before the dream, always.
4. "Fully nomadic" is a fad.
The bubble will burst down the road when everyone realizes it’s not healthy to be traveling to a new country every month. You aren’t a failure if you only have a few passport stamps. Our view will shift from “nomadic” to “location independent” with an emphasis on the flexibility of working from anywhere instead of excessive and obsessive travel. Country hopping every month is very different from visiting friends, family and new places at our leisure.
5. The culture is toxic.
The “digital nomad” culture is not something I promote, because it has become a new version of “Keeping Up With Joneses”.
It’s like “Look at how many countries I went to! Look at how few belongings I own! Pay me to teach you how to travel the world!”
Ironically, I haven’t met any other digital nomads in person yet. I don’t visit digital nomad hotspots like Thailand (they have plumbing issues and that’s just gross to me) or co-working spaces. These just seem to perpetuate the hyped up lies.
I like my personal space and work best in a solitary environment.
I created the Digital Nomad Business Directory because I wasn’t seeing online service businesses in the digital nomad space. There are too many “digital nomad gurus” or coaches selling more hype than value so I became obsessed with finding other location independent professionals who are selling something useful.
Good service is hard to come by, whether it’s your hair stylist, housekeeper or accountant. I wanted a place to celebrate the best so they can act as an example to aspiring digital nomads. You don’t have to sell out to live this life!
6. Not everyone can handle a lifestyle filled with freedom.
Some people thrive in a structured environment like a job where they are held accountable by a boss and told what to do.
Everyone can’t be an entrepreneur. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
If you have a job you love and succeed in, why ruin it?
There’s this mystery aura surrounding location independence.
It’s like a whisper you’re not sure you heard, because working online from anywhere seems more like an illusion than reality. Like, that can’t actually be possible?!
Ask yourself: do you want this lifestyle because you genuinely love exploring new places? Or because you want to show off to your friends and frenemies on social media? If no one knew you were traveling, would you still do it, for yourself?
7. Being a digital nomad is not a job.
A person who can work from anywhere while traveling the world is a digital nomad.
The key word is work.
If you admire Instagram Influencers who only ever seem to lounge in a pool and get paid by sponsors then you should probably get a job in the travel industry because not only are these people unrealistic but in my opinion it’s a limited trend. There is no tangible skill involved plus it’s a very saturated market.
They are walking human billboards for brands and a dime a dozen. They lack discerning taste because they endorse companies that pay them. Their endorsement doesn't mean anything.
You are much better off selling a service online with a branded business that you can become known for and you own. Building your business on someone else’s platform is asking for trouble because if Instagram goes bust, you lose your entire income.
Escaping the 9-5 is possible, but you still need to work. Work is work, whether you’re in an office, at home in your pajamas or on the beach.
If you have a job, then I recommend freelancing on the side to:
a) Get a sense of what it’s like to work for yourself.
b) Understand first-hand the challenges of being a freelancer and why it’s not sustainable.
If you already freelance, I recommend slowly stepping away from whatever website you find gigs on (Upwork, fiverr..) and crafting a five star business with a niche and packaged services.
Do one thing and do it well.
For example, if you’re a graphic designer and you can technically design logos, flyers, packaging and more, pick a single thing.
Just do infographics.
Just do packaging.
Just do brand identities.
And sell it to a specific audience, like independent high-end beauty brands. Or personal trainers who specialize in a certain workout or diet.
These are just examples, but you want to be one thing to one group of people. And if everyone else doesn’t get it or need it, that’s okay.
There is no difference between working to fund your travel and working for the weekend. It’s the exact same thing, with the exact same mindset. If you don’t love the work you’re doing, who cares where you’re doing it? It still stinks.
Want to command respect and premium prices doing what you're already great at? Sign up for my email course You're A Tycoon: Five Steps To A Five Star Business™ to learn my simple methodology for crafting a sophisticated service business.
Let's start with the Social Media Influencer.
They are not building a brand. They become walking advertisements for other brands. They are nothing more than a wall to place their advertisement on.
Five star businesses are built on expert services and a brand that can’t be taken away from you. You are the face of your business and no one is sticking something else on your face.
If you love travel, turning it into your job will probably take the fun out of it.
You want to go to the beach and relax? Too bad, you need to bring 3 cameras, a tripod, 4 changes of clothes and 2 bottles of sunscreen for a photoshoot.
I don’t like or respect Influencers. Couldn't you tell?!
They are living and breathing advertisements. Sometime in the last 5 years, a shift took place.
Brands used to hold the power and consumers would flock to them and buy. Now, average Joes with a penchant for posting a lot make a living charging money to “endorse” a product.
I’m a millennial myself, so this isn’t coming from an older generation. I’m traditional, yes, but I don’t think there’s anything “outdated” about having my own likes, dislikes and opinions.
I don’t buy a product because Famous Franny The Influencer says it’s the "must buy”. If she says that, it’s because she’s getting paid. I put no faith or trust in other people’s opinions when it’s in their interest to endorse a product.
In the past, celebrities would be the only “Influencers” who got paid to endorse products. But their job wasn’t to perpetually advertise brands- it was to sing or act or educate. They had a job doing something they were skilled at.
Influencers are famous for the sake of being famous. Their life is a photoshoot. Now they have the upper hand. It doesn’t make any sense to me.
This isn’t meant to be a sole teardown of Influencers, but an explanation of why selling a service online is a lot more attainable and respectable.
Do you really want to build your business on someone else’s platform? I come across Influencers' profiles whose websites are like graveyards, if they have a website at all.
The uptick in Influencer marketing reminds me of when I was in high school and everyone wore Abercrombie or Hollister. No one had their own style. They just wore logos and slogans every single day.
No one can do or buy anything without other people knowing.
I don’t care that you got a haircut, went on vacation or stubbed your toe.
If we’re friends, I care a lot. But my genuine interest in your life is more than a like, comment or emoji.
Influencers have no personal/business separation. Your business is your life. Your life is your business.
It’s a very shallow existence, with everything being planned for the purpose of “how it will look.”
Brands say partnering with Influencers is a great way to sell because their audience puts a lot of trust in them and their expertise. This is ridiculous. Why should you trust someone who is getting paid to say what they say? Their word means nothing.
Even celebrities are capitalizing on Influencer marketing, sharing sponsored posts that advertise tea, clothing, fitness equipment and more.
"Are they that desperate for work they have to resort to sponsored posts on their feed?"
I've wondered that multiple times while looking at the 10th sponsored post for a snack.
And then there are Influencers and “Thought Leaders"
They are the unique breed of people who want to be known for their not-so-original thoughts and self-inflated authority. Complicated jargon only convolutes the end message. And when jargon is the basis of their messaging.. they have nothing substantial to say.
Influencers only have influence over people that can’t think for themselves. It’s not difficult to persuade people to think something when they don’t have a mind of their own.
My buying decision doesn’t hang on what someone else says or thinks, therefore an endorsement means very little in my buying cycle.
Being an Influencer is not a good reason to be known. Want to be known for something memorable that doesn’t include pushing product? Build an online service business where you provide actual value to paying customers who buy into your benefits.
Influencers haven’t earned your respect.
You need to earn respect to have it, but it can be gone in a second.
Oprah has earned our respect. She continually showed up, provided value and changed peoples lives.
Labeling yourself as someone important without the goods to back it up is just false advertising. And it’s too easy to do because many people take entrepreneurs at their word.
Everyone wants to be famous, but contrary to what social media tells us, being famous isn’t a talent. And it doesn’t pay the bills.
Just because everyone knows your name, doesn’t mean they respect you or want what you’re selling.
Fame doesn’t pay the bills.
Buzzwords like “authority” and “influence” don’t mean anything. If you have the ability to make people follow you, then your people aren’t very intelligent or independent thinkers.
I may be seen as an “authority” because I have actual expertise in the area of building a prestigious online business, but I don’t expect anyone to hang on my every word. Admire me. Agree with me. Disagree with me. I don’t care, because I just want to help the people I can help. If they get value out of what I do, say and sell then I feel great. I don’t need someone telling me I’m important enough to be listened to (and neither do you). Why not?
Because we are all important enough to be listened to. And spending time trying to prove we’re worthy is a waste of time.
“Authority” is one of the facets of a five star business, but it’s in the vein of proving your expertise, not your importance. You can’t command respect from a self-built pedestal.
Having followers does not make you a leader.
The philosophy behind being an Influencer is being able to “influence” people. While most people are sheeple and can’t think for themselves, I prefer to seek out and respect individuals who have a mind of their own.
I want my clients to form their own opinions and own them.
I want my friends to hate my taste in movies, if they actually hate it.
I want my mom to give me a funny look and chuckle when I wear a skirt as a top, because she thinks it’s ridiculous.
Have a mind of your own, because that’s rare and valuable and sacred.
There’s a better way to do business. I don’t really use social media for my business, aside from LinkedIn and the occasional Instagram update. In fact, I get anxiety just thinking about social media.
Don’t tweet, update, snap or text me.
Call me so I can hear your melodious voice. Email me at email@example.com and let's have a discussion.
I have a method to my madness.
I’m only interested in speaking to and helping individuals who are actively interested in changing their situation, building a solo business and traveling the world. The people who talk about it, dream about it and then don’t do anything to change their circumstances will probably never be my clients anyway and are just passing by.
So by giving the majority of my attention to you, my favorite digital-nomad-to-be, I can provide much more value and support than someone who randomly tweets or grams at 10,000 anonymous faces.
If you have taken my email course, I encourage you to reply with questions. I want to hear your story. And you will always get a personal reply. Because the heart of the business isn’t likes or followers or hashtags- it’s real live people with feelings and struggles and dreams.
By giving you priority attention and ignoring everyone else, we can create a meaningful relationship based on mutual respect.
When you treat your potential clients and eager fans really well, they will love you for it. Because anyone who spends their time trying to appeal to everyone while attracting no one on social media will have a much harder time creating intimate relationships.
The internet does not begin and end with Facebook
I'm not the only one who thinks this. Jaron Lanier's new book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now comes out soon and I'm excited to read it. There is life outside your newsfeed, I promise.
Here are some reasons why social media isn’t the end-all-be-all for your business:
It’s not a priority
You have a business idea. You thought of a name. You want to tell the world about it! So you open an Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts. But wait.. now I have to fill these feeds up with content?! Oh my gosh- what can I post?
Social media shouldn’t even be a thought in your mind until you’ve crafted your five star business. If you don’t know who your audience is and how to explain what you do in a simple sentence then you’re not ready to dive into social media marketing.
Marketing comes last. After you’ve identified and researched your niche. After you’ve packaged your services. If you don’t know your business on a fundamental level, you can’t expect anyone else to either.
It’s a waste of time
Social media makes solopreneurs feel like they are spinning their wheels and not getting anywhere. You’re not.
Focusing on a few limited channels you can build yourself up and start conversations with genuinely interested people.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve reached out to solopreneurs or businesses I admire. I love love love their work, their unique voice and how much they have helped me without even realizing it.
How many people have you personally emailed or messaged as a fan to say hi or thank you? Probably not too many in the realm of all the people you “follow.” Because it takes time. And interest. Which most followers don’t possess for your business, no matter how much you wish they did. And 100 character tweets don’t count. Be real: they probably wrote that deep “Ugh I love your work” tweet while on the toilet.
You’re probably not an expert in it
There’s a huge difference between using social media as a person with a “cool life” and as a solopreneur in the hopes of getting business. The learning curve to master “the business of social media” is long and tiring. I can openly admit I’m terrible at keeping up my few accounts and feel it’s a chore. But I created a very no-frills strategy with a lot of repeating content for maximum memorability.
Anyone can click a follow button or heart. It takes one second. It doesn’t mean they are emotionally invested in what you’re all about. A comment can be genuine or just for show. Just look at the all the bots that blatantly comment generic “Keep up the great work!” on your Instagram photos in an effort to advertise themselves. It’s just such a waste of time for me. And it might be a waste of time for you too.
I don’t find that people are sincere in what they say on social media.
It’s all for show and looks. They feign excitement to appear “empowered” or “supportive”. What if instead of all this false positivity, we had a conversation with a single person? Not for show. Not for likes. Not for looks. But just because we care about what they have to say. Imagine engaging in a deep conversation without Instagramming a single moment.
What do you think lasts longer in someone’s mind? Their 5 seconds of fame online or the fact someone took time out of his or her day to listen, talk and empathize? That exchange of ideas and feelings will remain much longer than the high of the notification that their like just got liked.
It’s impossible to measure true “engagement”. All you can do is count on conversations and support.
There’s no guarantee your followers will even see you
Because of constant algorithm updates, it’s possible all of your followers won’t be able to see your post because the platform prioritizes which ones show up in your feed based on engagement. It’s not your fault people don’t “like’” your posts more than companies with a dedicated social media team on 24/7! Do you really want to put so much work into something seen for half a second by half your following?
Having followers doesn’t make you a leader
Before social media, I was brought up to believe that being a “follower” is a bad thing. I was encouraged to think for myself and not do what everyone else is doing. The mainstay question at my dinner table was “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” The obvious answer is no, but when you change the context somehow people revel in being a follower. It doesn’t hold a derogatory connotation anymore.
Following your favorite Influencer (gag me) is celebrated. Convincing people to drink your Kool-Aid doesn’t qualify you as a leader. True leaders aren’t measured by their followers. They hold themselves to higher standards and exhibit qualities like confidence, independent thinking, questioning etc..
True leaders don’t need external validation to know their ideas are good or revolutionary. Leaders do their own thing, and people naturally follow.
What they don’t do is scream and jump and wail their arms around like they’re having a temper tantrum in an effort to get the attention of millions. Leaders never say “Look at me! Look at me!”
Million of followers can’t make up for lousy leadership. A fancy title like “Influencer” or “Thought Leader” doesn’t mean anything either. The proof is in the pudding, so you should make sure your pudding is delicious.
You own nothing
You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again. You don’t own anything on a network you don’t own. You own your website and your email list. That’s it.
Only a few people will ever give you cold, hard cash
Even if you had a million followers, a low percentage will ever pay you to do anything for them. Luckily, if you craft a five star business you can charge premium prices. Which means you only require a few clients to really make money. So instead of giving everyone your equal attention, pay little or no attention to casual followers and invest everything else into your true fans.
So.. what do you do instead?
The biggest question everyone asks me when I say I am not a fan of social media is.. “But how do you get business?” as if there was no business in the world before Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat were invented.
The key isn’t to produce content exclusively for your platform of choice, rather disseminate the content you already own. This includes things like articles, videos, infographics and audio files.
Produce content you own
- Newsletter automation
- Quora answers
Pick one platform to excel at and disseminate the content
You need content to promote on social media, otherwise, you’ll be slaving away writing grams 5 people see. Choose one and stick with it. I happen to like LinkedIn because it makes the most sense given that my clients are employees or freelancers. Who isn’t on LinkedIn looking for a new job or more work?
But if you are a health coach, for example, you might find Instagram a better forum for your audience.
Once you have consistently posted on the platform of your choice, you can think about adding another if it makes sense. Sometimes one is all you need. Or none!
Some people say your content must be original for each platform but I disagree. In fact, I think repetition is the key to being memorable. Write one blog, post it in 5 places. Make your content work for you.
Clients don’t come from social media exclusively. Rather, they come from all the places both you and your clients are at.
If your ideal clients hang out on a certain forum, that’s where you should be.
If they hang out in a specific mastermind, that’s where you should be.
If they frequently use a popular blog as a resource, that’s where you should be (guest posting and commenting!).
When you remove social media as the centerpiece of your marketing efforts, you realize there are many more effective places to find and engage clients.
Put your clients first
Actions speak louder than words. If you spend a fraction more amount of time empathetically listening and supporting your vocal fans instead of tweeting to the air, you will instantly rise above everyone else. Do you have an email list? Cool. How often do you ask how your subscribers are doing? What they’re struggling with? How can you help them more? Reply in real time. They will love you for it.
A personal reply to an email goes much farther than a follow-back.
Cultivating relationships isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it. Because while everyone else is frantically scheduling their lackluster posts for the week across platforms, you’ll be making someone’s day by giving them your full attention. No promotion needed.
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
If you want to try ads, blogging, social media, videos, podcasts and newsletters- slow down! Choose one thing to do consistently for a few months. Otherwise, you won’t be able to:
A) Evaluate if it’s working
B) Figure out if you enjoy it or not
If you hate writing, blogging isn’t for you so there’s no point in paining yourself into writing blog posts every week. Your readers can feel your disdain, which ultimately hurts your business. By minimizing the least fun marketing tasks you have to do, you can maximize your message and distill it into the medium that suits you. Maybe you don’t like writing, but prefer talking out posts? Hit record and get that baby transcribed.
I personally dislike social media (could you tell?), so I focus on writing articles. Not being all over social media and focusing my energy on what I’m great at (writing and teaching) has helped my business grow faster and more authentically than if I followed what everyone else was preaching.
The Secret To Marketing
The secret isn’t to be all over social media.. it’s to just connect with your target audience. That is literally it! So instead of getting all riled up over whether you start with Snap or Insta or Pinterest.. take a moment to breathe.
Do some research.
Where are your ideal clients hanging out?
What communities are they a part of?
Where do they spend a lot of their time?
Where do they go for answers?
Be there. Whether it’s in person or online, just have an active presence.
Entertain and educate the pants off of them.
How can people find you?
- Business Cards
- Press Mentions
- Guest posts
- Backlinks from other websites that mention you
- Word of mouth
Better you have no social media accounts than accounts that aren’t updated consistently.
A rule of thumb: if you can’t commit to being consistent then don’t commit at all.
The sooner you can knock down the virtual walls standing between you and your prospective premium clients, the better.
No one really wants to talk to an article, a graphic or status update.
They want to talk to a human being. Because all the feels come from connecting with someone on a human level, not a superficial one.
Remember that next time you’re watching the meaningless hearts rack up on your latest post.
Have you ever wished you could just step into a really awesome business and make it yours?
Have you ever discovered another solopreneur's business and thought "Wow- that's a great idea!"?
Are you tired of freelancing because you spend all your time searching for and pitching clients?
Have you ever complained about your lack of creativity when it comes to building a business?
Like, you're amazing at what you do.. you just wish everyone else saw you in the same light?
But you don't want to deal with the "getting everything set up" frustrations most solopreneurs deal with at the beginning?
I hear you. It stinks knowing you're capable of charging premium prices with a five star business because your work is stellar, but not having the resources to put the elements together. Things like a logo, a website, copy and packaged services. Or not knowing if what you have already created is good enough.
You are sooo close.. but still short.
You can't travel the world until your business is up and running with processes and e-commerce, but you are dying to take on premium clients and command respect.
This week, I'm introducing something brand new and never-seen-before to the world:
Business With A Bow™
A Business With A Bow™ is an original pre-made online service business that's ready-to-wear and waiting for you to fill in the blanks so you can jumpstart your location independence.
It's a one-of-a-kind concept that goes live after you've customized it and gets you to the 99% mark of becoming location independent. You put in the remaining 1% and then can take on premium clients immediately.
After working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, I realized many people don't know what they want specifically until they see it right in front of them.
You might describe a feeling, concept or inspiration but often the reality of that doesn't match up to what's in your head.
This is how I shop too- I know it when I see it. Often I visit a store just to browse and walk away with something even more fantastic than I ever could have dreamed up.
So I thought if I make decisions like this, surely others do too?
How amazing would it be if you could take home a business that has everything you need to be a Tycoon by opting out of the years-long struggle to get up and running?
I also realized I have this long-time nerdy hobby of making up pretend businesses (logo, website, services and all) that could be real but never did anything with them..until now.
While clients who want a completed custom concept from A to Z like seeing it come to life in a Concept Concierge appointment, a lot of solopreneurs would be just as happy skipping that step and jumping straight to picking a concept already created instead.
In short, I supply the business, you supply the services.
I don't take a cut. You own it 100%.
Interested in going from trapped to traveling the world?
Turning people away isn’t just a tactic of the popular kids to keep their group exclusive.
It’s a very valuable business strategy that actually makes you more money in the long-term and short-term.
There are are several situations in which you’d want to cut off clients at the pass, which sets you up to be more profitable.
As a solopreneur, your time is precious. Glaring red flags are almost always shown early on in your relationship. These are the kinds of clients that cost you more than you’ll bring in if you take them on.
They want you to do something out of your scope.
We all know these people. Let’s say you’re a divorce lawyer, but a friend recommends you to a friend who needs a lawyer for a small business project. You could easily take on the client, even though you know you won’t do a very good job. It’s not in your speciality, but you say yes as a favour and an exception this one time.
The client completely pulls your hair with absurd requests, questions and a sense of entitlement. Not to mention, your results are less than stellar and the clients complain about that too.
You could have saved time and money by just turning the client away.
They can’t or won’t follow simple directions.
You tell them to email you, and they tweet you instead. Or you ask for a phone number, and they ask to video chat. Or you ask for images in a certain format, and they ignore you.
Not only is failing to follow explicit directions disrespectful, but it also hints at either a lack of common sense or sense of entitlement.
I’ve encountered many people who, for reasons unknown to man, are unable to follow multi-step directions.
Stay away. If this is your first or second encounter, politely tell them this won’t be a good fit.
Put safeguards in place that test clients in advance of you speaking with them. An intake form and calendar booking are perfect examples of this. I have both, and if I see someone booked a Concept Concierge appointment without educating themselves on my process and what’s required from them I will politely cancel with an explanation.
The short-term monetary gain is a long-term hellish situation.
They change their mind every 5 seconds.
Whether it’s simply indecision or bipolar disorder- you shouldn’t care. If they are incapable of making small decisions (like which image they want on their book cover as an author) they will without a doubt make your life miserable when they need to make bigger decisions. It's an indication of a much deeper problem you aren't qualified to help them with.
They ask for your opinion when you need theirs to make an executive decision.
Solopreneurs turned Tycoons should always be in control, but that doesn’t mean you don’t listen and hear your clients feedback. If your clients have great difficulty making decisions you need them to make and instead always default to you, your alarm should go off. The outcome will almost always be that they blame you for ruining everything.
They complain about your rates.
Any client who cries the blues about money usually has it, they just don’t want to spend it on you. Which is an insult itself, but also a large cue for you to quietly back away.
If a client doesn’t think you are worth what you're charging but pays you anyway, they will constantly second guess and mistrust you for the duration of your contract.
On the other hand, premium clients have the money to pay, can clearly see you’ll be worth the investment and then pay without a peep.
Because the truth is, the people who really can’t afford you now are too embarrassed to admit they don’t have the money. Instead, they will save every penny until they can pay your rate and be treated like any other client.
They ask questions that were already answered.
This is an actual message I receive on a regular basis:
“So what do you do and how can you help me?”
They want to be spoon fed all of the information that is publicly available on my website and LinkedIn profile with a few clicks and reading comprehension of a 5th grader. I wonder if people like this look at your profile or homepage, click CONTACT, write you a long question that could have been answered by reading, and never return to your website again.
Anyone who isn’t capable of clicking a link, reading your website or doing simple research is not someone whose money you want.
They will expect you to coddle them every single second of the day. Even if they’re capable and just refuse to do the basic work, they will 100% be a nightmare. Laziness isn't becoming.
You want a proactive premium client who is smart enough to read and comprehend all the information you’ve put out about your business, realize it’s for them and ask intelligent questions to qualify themselves.
Some intelligent questions I’ve been asked include:
- I haven’t worked with 5 clients yet.. can you still build me a business?
Answer= Not yet. Please come back after you have experience with 5 different clients or projects. Neither of us will get very far without your real-world experience.
- Do you need anything from me to build my business, like pictures?
Answer= Usually not. I take care of all the design assets.
- I understand you build businesses for freelancers.. just to clarify can you help me specifically do XYZ? I couldn’t find any information on this on your website.
Great question. I can do XYZ but I can't do XYZ..
Unintelligent questions include:
- A blanket “Can you help me?”
Answer= Did you even look at my website? I can help you if you are a solopreneur selling a service online.
- How long will it take for you to build my business?
It says 1 week all over my website, on LinkedIn, on your forehead…
I recommend ignoring requests that they could have easily answered themselves with a quick read of your profile or website. They are definitely not someone you want to work with, so why waste your time responding?
What kills me is that in the time these people take to write a question, they could have already had the information they seek.
They don’t use proper grammar.
People who care about how they present themselves use proper grammar and spelling. No one is perfect and even I have published a few things several sets of eyeballs didn't catch right away, but when I see the mistake I correct it.
If you receive an email from an inquiring client that reads:
“i just have a qestion.. im not sure if you can help me butt my problem is….”
just forget about them.
I mean, get back to them and politely send them away if you have time to kill. But don’t engage in any further conversation about potentially working together because the writing is on the wall- literally!
If someone doesn’t take them self seriously enough to present themselves with finesse, he or she certainly doesn't care about your high standards and will never “get” you or your five star business. Let them work with someone else on par with their spelling and grammar skills.
I personally don’t pay for services or products from a person who doesn’t have a strong command of the English language (if their primary language is English). It speaks to their character and attention to detail.
Illiteracy is a strong dis-qualifier. It’s a great indication of their competence and the pride they take in their work.
So how do you make more money by turning these clients away?
Simple. You make more money by not wasting your time with people who waste your time.
No matter how much you want the business in the here and now, taking on these clients always leads to regret.
Benefits Of Turning Clients Away Quickly
You are left with a small but well-qualified pool of potential clients to impress. The above types of people aren’t worth your time, energy, tears or late night meltdowns.
You can confidently charge what you want, and you will be paid without questions, hesitation, confusion or anger.
A client who pays $5,000 for a service that is a pain in the butt will undoubtedly take up more of your time than a premium client who is a pleasure to work with.
You lose money by taking on clients that you know in advance are walking disasters.
By turning them away, you make room for more of the clients you love so much you’d invite them to your birthday party. More isn’t always better.
It’s not only more effective and efficient for you to focus on a select few premium clients at a time at a premium price, but because you’re not working with everyone and anyone, your clients will relish the exclusivity that your frazzled competitors can’t afford to provide.
It’s not mean to be ruthless in your evaluation- it’s a common practice casually referred to as “making sure it’s the right fit.”
I’ve turned away countless potential clients because they wanted work that was out of my scope, on their short timeline and for a discounted price.
Remember, working for yourself is about both being in control and genuinely helping others. They aren’t mutually exclusive, so the sooner you realize running a circus for a business isn’t fun or going to make you millions, it’s time to change how you look at your clients.
Podcasting is really big, right? I remember starting work at Squarespace in 2013 and discovered all of my coworkers learned about the company through their favorite podcast. Squarespace sponsors A LOT of podcasts. But this was news to me!
I never listened to podcasts. I didn’t even know what kinds of podcasts existed. I much preferred driving to music, taking the train to music and reading in silence.
When Ira from This American Life came in as a guest speaker at one of our Town Halls, everyone totally lost their mind. I had never seen guys fangirl so hard. Me? I had no clue who he was and simply admired his Jewishness.
As everyone around me kvelled over their favorite episode of TAL and that they got a selfie with the one and only Ira, I sat quietly.
You would think being around people who were obsessed with this one medium would make me obsessed too? Not in the slightest.
I’ve listened to a few podcasts because I happened to follow the guest, but I generally just don’t like listening to people yap in my ear. I also don’t like hearing people yell at each other on the radio, or talk the morning away in between songs. I also hate ads.
So when I thought about using podcasting as a form of advertising and press for my own business (having heard it does wonders for other people) I immediately reached out to several hosts and booking agencies.
Only to realize halfway in.. I hate podcasts as a listener. Why would I think I’d like them any more as a guest? And most importantly, why I am forcing myself to do something I really despise?
Don't Force Yourself To Do Something Everyone Else Seems To Like and Do
I have nothing but the utmost respect for podcasts. Podcasting is a tough business, and I tip my hat to the many many visionaries who have carved out amazing niches and make a living from them. When you write a book, podcasts are the place to be to build up momentum pre-launch. And podcast listeners are very loyal.
A lot of work goes into each episode, and they are incredibly valuable and educational for dedicated listeners.
But it isn’t something I like or enjoy. I wouldn’t force a little girl to tap dance if she really hated dancing. I wouldn’t force a boy to play baseball if he preferred swimming.
So why, as adults, do we blindly follow what other people like and say is great without checking in with our own personal preferences? After all, we are the ones doing the work.
Just Take A Moment To Question Yourself
This is why I ask my clients what forms of authority building they are comfortable with. If you have never edited a video in your life, then it’s okay to decide video content isn’t part of your strategy. Cross it off the list. If you aren’t really passionate about blogging, your audience will see it. You’re not giving it your all.
Business trends come and go and the internet loves chasing a shiny new object.
When you have a business as a solopreneur, whether you’re a designer, lawyer, accountant, editor, fire-eater or psychic, everyone will tell you how to run your business. Everyone will recommend the latest trend or “hot marketing tip” that made Joe 10 million bucks in just 1 one year. There is a sucker and 5 new marketing courses born every minute.
None of it matters.
All that matters is if you’re interested in doing it. I’ve spoken at length about how much I hate social media. Not only do I find it a total waste of time personally, but I clearly don’t enjoy it. So while everyone else has a Facebook page, Twitter account, dedicated hashtag and Pinterest board, you’ll find me over here writing about what I think and how you can craft a business that’s a cut above the competition. Because I love writing!
I have a client who took a really long time to start writing. She just wasn't in the headspace for it to happen, and she knew that blogging without clarity or purpose wouldn't produce something of quality. She's a great writer but didn't force herself to do it when she wasn't feeling it. This resulted in her writing well-developed and attention-grabbing posts.
What Do You Have A History Of Doing Well?
I love writing so much, I wrote this epic story for a high school English essay about how Marc Jacobs was the ruler and the universe revolved around fashion floating in outer space. I also wrote about how the hardest decision I had to make that week was picking my nail polish color. A lot goes into the decision, you see. And it takes some planning. Needless to say, I got an A.
Writing brings me joy and vocalizes my unique and usually out-there opinions in the best way possible.
But if you hate writing with a burning passion, podcasting or videos might be for you!
Just Say No
Ultimately, you want to choose the best marketing mediums that let you shine. If you’re visibly uncomfortable or annoyed, no one is benefitting.
The same principle applies to the work you do. If you don’t love what you’re helping clients with, how can you change it to be more in line with your passion?
If you don’t love your process of working with clients, how can you improve it?
If you discover you need more prep time before working with a client, give them a deadline to get preliminary information to you.
If you would rather get your teeth pulled than speak on stage, decline the invitation to be a guest speaker at a conference.
If you’re really struggling to outline your book, don’t write a book!
Life isn’t full of everything we love, but if a marketing strategy or your business is causing undue stress, take some time to re-evaluate your priorities.
Successful solopreneurs actively prevent time-suck through self-awareness.
With this knowledge, you can work smarter not harder.
Your business should run like a well-oiled machine. That can’t happen if you let the oil drip.
There are plenty of options for everyone, but more importantly, there are plenty of options for you.
Think about that next time you feel nauseous before walking onstage to give a public speech you cursed the moment you just couldn't say no.
These are all real people I’ve known, but I changed their names to protect their privacy and illustrate how their potential was wasted.
They all had the skills and opportunities to start their own business and change their life, but they didn’t.
Emily is a florist.
She makes gorgeous floral arrangements.. at the local supermarket. She’s been an hourly employee in the floral department for ages. Her talent is beyond compare, and she really takes the time to communicate with shoppers ordering custom arrangements. She is super helpful, nice and very knowledgeable.
She wanted to buy a storefront at one point to open her own business but it fell through. She’s in her 50s, but her ability to create masterful flower arrangements isn’t slowing down.
Whenever I think of her, I shake my head. Not only could she dump the shifts, but she could make SO MUCH MORE MONEY by working for herself. She has a clientele at the supermarket and all she would have to do is share her new information. People would follow her, especially because she has a great reputation and has been there for years. She talks and talks about starting her own business, but hasn't done anything to pursue it.
I don’t want to presume to know everything about her situation, but it’s sad and wasteful to me that she hasn’t pursued something of her own.
Jane is a manicurist.
She is 26. She’s been a manicurist for 5 years and has worked at several salons. Her commute is an hour and a half in a van the salon owner drives each way. She’s picked up early in the morning and then dropped off late at night. Her days are 10+ hours long, and she’s always tired. She has a lot of new expenses, like a car and insurance. Because of her schedule, she doesn’t get to use her car as much as she wants so it sits on the street all week.
She is friendly, speaks perfect English and is top notch in nail care. Her manicures and pedicures are flawless, and she is attentive to her clients' needs. She files their nails into the perfect shape, cuts cuticles without being harsh and has hands of steel for intense massages that get all the knots out with a resounding “Ahh.”
Up until recently, she was living at home with no overhead. She didn’t pay rent or buy food. Her expenses were low. She always talked about how she wanted her own business. She wanted to sleep late, work her own hours and make more money.
Her opportunity was right there! With little risk involved since her level of financial responsibility was low, she could have started offering her services to people informally and slowly figured out a niche.
But she’s stuck in this cycle of wanting to be free but doing nothing about it.
People pay for manicures, pedicures and massages every single day. If she finds the right market, she can put a spin on her talent to provide a solution people will pay for. It’s sitting right in front of her but she’s too scared to try.
Bobby is a controller.
He’s in his 50s and has many years of experience under his belt. His level of responsibility at his last job was beyond most CEOs. He took care of everything, even and especially things not in his job description. His boss didn’t know how to run the company, so it all came down to Bobby. His father retired many years ago, but still does people’s taxes and accounting in his spare time. His father has a following, which Bobby can tap into. Bobby has done some big-ticket financial projects on the side of his job and has a large built-in professional network.
His job never treated him well, disrespecting him by placing further demands on him without compensating him for it.
Recently, because the CEO can’t manage his company, another employee from a different branch of the company in a similar position decided to fire Bobby. He had a personal agenda against Bobby. This employee fired him while the CEO watched and said nothing. All these years of hard work, dedication and loyalty meant nothing. He was discarded like yesterday’s news.
He could have started his own business several years ago which would have set him up to be independent. The writing was on the wall at this job and it was only a matter of time before he had to move on. Why should he or anyone wait until it’s so unbearable and you have no other choice? Starting a solo business on the side gives you security when that day finally does come.
He has what most people spend years building up- an existing network. He has contacts from all over and it would have been easy to re-educate them on his new business.
Now, he’s scrambling to find a new job even though he is tired of working for other people. But change is scary and so in his mind, it’s easier to stay with something known (although unsavory) instead of exploring unchartered territory.
Sara is a social media manager.
We went to school together. She’s in her 20s. She struggled to find a job after graduation (it is very hard, especially entry-level positions in NYC!) and was supporting herself with a combination of dog walking and freelancing. She was mainly doing social media for this one steady client. After months of applying, interviewing, test assignments and running around the city she got a full-time job.
When I was freelance web designing and working with clients, a few asked me if I also did social media management. I don’t, so around the time she got her job I asked her if I could refer my clients to her.
She said NO.
I was stunned. She didn’t want any additional work beyond her 9-5.
Even though she was living with 6 other people in an apartment. Even though she really needed the money.
It was an opportunity thrown her way and she spit all over it. She had enough experience to start her own business on the side but chose to have a job and a social life over a little more effort for financial freedom.
I wouldn’t call her lazy because she really worked hard to get everything she has. But she wasn’t too bright in that moment, where she turned down an opportunity for potentially long-term success that only took up a relatively small amount of time.
Maybe these people aren’t ready yet.
Maybe they will strike up the courage to take just the first step towards a solo business. Maybe they want it, but know they don’t want to put the work in so they stay complacent.
Most people only want to do what’s absolutely necessary even if they can see the riches on the other side of the fence. They can't see beyond the box they put themselves in.
This doesn’t have to be you.
Having a solo business isn’t for everyone. There is no getting around that. I wish I could say everyone can start a business if they wanted to but I would be lying. It takes courage, awareness and foresight to even begin.
As Henry Ford said:
Whether you think you can, or you think you can't -you're right.
You are not here to be your client’s friend. You are here to do your thing, get paid and enrich their lives. From there, a meaningful friendship can form with some of your clients.
There’s an epidemic of unprofessionalism running rampant.
If you treat clients and prospective clients like a coffee date, you set the tone for how your business is run. Every impression you make is everything to your brand and reputation.
More and more solopreneurs use lackadaisical language in an effort to appear fun, cool and approachable. I have analyzed hundreds, if not thousands of websites and too many of them fail in this area.
As a curious visitor, when I see anyone touting “I’m like your bestie” I mentally gag and leave their site.
It’s so unprofessional. When you say things like this, how do you expect for anyone to take you seriously?
You look like a fool. And people will treat you like one too.
It seems everyone has become more casual and standards are at an all-time-low.
Classics never go out of style.
Stay Away From Trendy Language
If you’re a beauty consultant that helps women clean up their makeup, for instance, will talking about how “On fleek” or “Lit” their look will be really set you apart from literally anyone else out there saying the exact same thing?
Trendy language has its place in casual conversation, but as a professional, it’s your job to act like one too. I am counting down the days until “Boss Babe” and “Girl Boss” is no longer a part of our language. Huffington Post agrees.
I also don’t need to be greeted with “Hey Beautiful!” because my self-esteem isn’t in the toilet.
It’s the worst kind of sucking up, and we all know suck-ups only kiss butt because they can’t deliver on anything else.
Not to mention, it comes across as fake and forced.
Don’t Be Condescending
Words like “girlie, hun, honey, and gal” are not appropriate in the business arena. If I’m paying someone to help me who is a supposed expert in their field, I am not looking to be talked down to. This language isn’t comforting- it’s condescending in the worst way. Recycling popular terms not only makes you look dumb, but it calls out your blatant unoriginality if you need the words of others as a crutch.
Clients deserve to be treated like the intelligent and brilliant individuals they are. A mutual respect is required, and that just doesn’t come from a “gal” paying your invoice.
Treating people like idiots or children (even if they are) is unprofessional. The idiotic people will weed themselves out because your messaging goes over their head. You’re a cut above and they just don’t speak your language.
Trying to be “cute” just makes you look stupid. It’s so much better to put thought and polish into your message. I can spot a fraud a mile away. They use the same terminology everyone else is using, and the worst perpetrators are “business or life coaches for entrepreneurs.” Everyone is a coach these days. They regurgitate the same buzz words and expect you to bow in their presence.
People don’t respect people desperate to be liked. They reek.
But they do respect people with a solid platform of dignity and grace.
Stop Cursing Already!
For some ungodly reason, I have come across many many solopreneurs who curse frequently on their website, in their materials and when they speak.
As a solopreneur, you should NEVER curse. It’s tacky. It’s unprofessional. And it’s a cop-out.
There are several other words in the dictionary to choose from- pick one of those.
I don't know what possesses people to curse (frequently or at all) in their professional business. When you curse, that’s an automatic strikeout. Throw a few expletives around the dinner table when you’re debating whatever socially charged topic is en-vogue. But for the love of EVERYTHING, please do not curse for clients.
It doesn’t make these people relatable. It just turns me (and other premium clients) off. It’s disrespectful. It’s unprofessional. It’s just a big fat NO.
Act Like The Best And You’ll Attract The Best
True professionals leave a lasting impression. You don’t want people to meet you and think later “Oh my gosh, he/she was super nice!”
You want people to think “Wow- she is awe-inspiring and I want HIM/HER to be the one to help me.”
You should be unapologetically you but in the classiest way possible.
The now-defunct department store SYMS had a great slogan:
“An educated consumer is our best customer."
As a solopreneur, you don’t want to work with just anyone. You want the best customer because you are the best professional.
Why would you want to work with a client who hasn’t taken the time to learn about what you do and ask respectful and intelligent questions?
Use your words, your brain and your integrity.
Don’t try too hard to be liked by everyone. Trying too hard isn’t becoming.
Make Up Your Own Language
To craft a five star business that people remember, you need to use language unique to you.
Craft original terms and language unique to your business. By naming packaged services, you create a memorable brand that’s easy to remember. I offer Concept Concierge appointments, the first and only of it’s kind. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t remember the name of my products.
Strategically creating a new vocabulary just for your business goes a long way in separating yourself from other wannabes.
There's an entire dictionary of words waiting to be used. Go get them!
Eloise at The Plaza. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
Living in a hotel is a far-fetched fantasy of kids and adults around the world.
We grow up thinking hotel living is for the rich, then promptly bury our head in the sand.
College. Job. Work. 401K. Work. Save. Work. Rent. Work. Buy Home. Take 2 week vacation a year. Work. Retire.
You savour your vacations when things like maid service, room service and indoor pools give you a reprieve from your maid-less, Butler-less and pool-less residence back home.
I’m here to tell you that hotel living is no longer a dream.
It’s a reality within your reach.
And while some bah-humbugs will argue what I’m saying makes no sense and/or is too much work, they will live a maid-less life right where they are because they have no imagination or motivation.
You, however, deserve to live in a hotel if that’s what you want. And here’s the perfect argument to get you there.
When you add up all the costs of your current living situation (renting or owning) it’s probably a lot. And if owning property isn’t a must-have, renting costs could be put towards hotels as you work while you travel.
Renting Costs Usually Include:
- amenities fee
- essentials (towels, toilet paper, paper towels, plastic cutlery)
- cleaning supplies
- cleaning services
Owning Costs Include All Of The Above Plus:
- appliances (fridge, washer, dryer, dishwasher)
- maintenance (fixing, snow removal, lawn care..)
- lawnmowers, vacuums etc..
- updating (if an appliance breaks, it’s not fixed for you)
You spend so much time cleaning, coddling and decorating your home that you lose out precious hours that could be spent doing something you love out of the house.
Unless decorating makes you happy- that’s totally admirable if you have the chops. But if it doesn't, you give yourself more work.
You don’t get perks for paying your rent or mortgage.. other than a continued roof over your head.
But booking hotel stays easily gains you cash back and/or points that save you money in the long run. Especially if you use a co-branded hotel credit card. You can easily get a month of hotel stays free with continued usage.
In Manhattan, you can get a reasonably clean, albeit closet small studio for $4,000/month. Not including the cost of furnishing, cleaning, and up-keeping of course.
$4,000, however, can get you a fabulous room in many hotels around the world for the same 30 days. And if you split that with a significant other? It’s a bargain. Not to mention, a five star business gives you control over your income. If $4,000 seems like a lot to you, it won't be.
What you spend on a commute can instead be spent on travel costs. Isn't it time you kissed rush-hour traffic and disgusting turnstiles goodbye?
Hotel Costs Usually Include:
You don’t pay for toilet paper.
You don’t pay for extra long showers.
You don’t pay for appliances.
You don’t pay for cleaning products.
You don’t pay for maintenance.
You don’t pay for amenities. I’m looking at you Pool!
Your gym membership is eliminated.
Laundry can be done a few ways:
- By hotel staff as a service
- By you at the hotel laundry room
- By you at a laundromat
- By a service that picks up and drops off in the neighborhood
Hotels keep guest laundry rooms in peculiar places. I once did my laundry in the parking garage of a swanky hotel that had a make-shift laundry room in a semi-enclosed area... right next to like 10 Teslas. The things you see!
The benefits are endless…
Networking is free.
You currently might pay to go out and do things your friends or groups want to do.. just so you don’t miss out. You might also pay to attend Meet-Ups, networking groups or be a member of private forums.
At hotels, you can do what YOU want whether it costs money or not and STILL meet new and interesting people all the time.
I don’t go anywhere without my business cards, because no matter someone’s title, everyone is important and deserves the same respect.
It’s easy to assume your Uber driver just drives as his main gig and won’t be interested in furthering his career. But time and time again, my Uber drivers strike up a conversation with me and get really excited about my business. They want an online business or have a friend/family member who wants one. So I give them my card.
You’d be surprised at how many potential clients there are just about everywhere.
Without being overly pushy and self-serving, you can very quickly and easily get your business into the minds of people all over the world. It’s natural to be asked what you do, and it’s normal to tell them “I run this online business as I travel.”
Don’t shy away from pooling when ride-sharing! I’ve met some really nice people by sharing a ride too.
Living in hotels also means you become quite cozy with the staff. Who better to know about your business and recommend it to others? Hotel staff meet people from all walks of life, it’s like having a mini football team on your side.
And let’s not forget about your fellow guests! No matter what you do, the idea of working online as you travel is still relatively new and interesting to many. So even if you’re in a field that most might consider “boring” like accounting, it’s much easier to discuss when you have that element of travel thrown in. Your companion’s ears perk up and you’re off to the races.
Obviously, soliciting and harassing hotel staff, drivers or others into taking your card, recommending your business or even listening to what you have to say is a big No No.
But your exposure to new and different people goes up when you live in hotels as you travel.
But your exposure to new and different people goes up when you live in hotels as you travel.
Quite a change compared to that nosy neighbour of yours who does nothing but steal your mail.
Eliminate Repetitive Costs
So you pay rent or a mortgage, and you decide to go on vacation. You’re paying for vacation in addition to your mortgage and rent.
Your home is sitting empty while you’re having the time of your life at an all-inclusive resort. You can’t put your gym membership on hold for two weeks or not have your lawn landscaped.
Being responsible for two places is a waste of money.
Especially when living in a hotel affords you the option of choosing to be in “work” mode or “vacation” mode- all without leaving the city you’re currently in.
Hotel living isn’t as far-out as you might have previously assumed. All you need is an online business, a willingness to think out of the box and a zest for adventure.
Whatever you make monthly, think about how that could be spent if you didn’t have to typical monthly bills associated with rent or a home.
If you didn’t pay a cleaning girl weekly, you could afford a massage.
If you didn’t pay for cable, you could take a one-time class or workshop for fun. Or you can visit a city with the intent of participating in a multi-month long cooking course based on the local cuisine.
Experience More Food.. And Gain Confidence
With a home, you have a kitchen.
(Maybe not if you live in NYC though! You’re lucky if you have a full fridge.)
You buy pots and pans and dishes and gadgets to look pretty on your countertops.
Even if you hate cooking.
Even if food shopping makes you want to stab the cashier with an unused fork.
Even if you insist your mother not spend money on a spiralizer you won’t use.
Being limited in kitchen supplies means you can eat out and take-out until your heart's content. All the money you save without paying for utilities and amenities can be put towards eating something you actually want instead of that day-old peanut butter and jelly sandwich you whipped up yesterday morning.
If you’re a cook and enjoy making meals or baking, then this might put a damper on your plans to live in a hotel. Because while you can stay in suites with kitchenettes, they are not the norm.
Hotel living gives you permission to collect take-out menus like some people collect bottle caps.
Eating out is one of my favorite parts of traveling, especially because it boosts your confidence if you eat alone. There is definitely a time (Friday night) and place (hotel bed) for some pad-thai right out of the box, but eating at a cafe or diner by yourself can transform you in ways a Tony Robbins seminar can’t.
When you eat alone in a foreign (to you) place, you are required to be assertive and observant. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable eating alone at first, but the more you do it the better you get.
When the server gives you the wrong dish, you have to say “Oh no. That’s not mine. I ordered the..” which seems small, but communicating with strangers (and honestly just communicating at all) raises your confidence and sets you up to be the belle of the barstool.
When you live your life the same every day, it is in a bubble.
When your environment doesn’t change, you notice less.
But when your environment is constantly changing, your eyes and ears are always open. You notice everything and anything. Seeing the world with new eyes, from a just-made bed by someone other than you, is empowering.
And as we all know, empowerment is priceless.
“Everyone’s a critic” couldn’t be truer. Whether you have your own business or not, everyone thinks they have the right to comment on your life, your looks and your feelings. You’re questioned by your mom who thinks your new haircut is a little too short. You’re ridiculed for your love of Harry Potter by mere muggles. You’re made to feel like your anxiety in concerts and crowds is meaningless by your super social friends.
Haters don’t respect you. They don’t even respect themselves. Which is why they pick you apart- it’s easier than looking in a mirror.
It’s hard enough mitigating other peoples opinions, but when you decide to change your whole livelihood or lifestyle things can get worse.
All The Bullies Put Your Hands Up
I had a very early lesson in haters. I was bullied horrifically starting in sixth grade and it continued through high school (and even the occasional anonymous college message). I had lots of haters, or as I like to call them- fans. Because in a twisted way, they were only mean because they never had the guts to be me. They were jealous.
I had zero tolerance for B.S., even at age 11. I would break off friendships when I saw the other person wasn’t nice or the kind of person I wanted to surround myself with.
Manners were a big one, and I quickly dismissed people who never said thank you after I gave them a birthday gift.
I also dressed very fashionably (Teen Vogue was my bible) which was a stark contrast to the Hollister look of the era. I was a straight-A student. I actively participated in class. I had more in common with adults than kids.
Things escalated and soon I was a pariah. I had no friends. I was constantly made fun of for having no friends. There was no Instagram or Snapchat or even Facebook early on. We had MySpace and AIM, and I received no less than five insults a day on my MySpace “board”.
I was none of these things, but it didn’t make the slap hurt any less.
I also received several anonymous IMs from classmates with the same oh-so-original insults. I remember one saying “You’re so annoying.” I wonder how long they took to think of that one?
I didn’t even talk to anyone.
In school, I was miserable. Everyone whispered about me. People laughed in my direction.
To this day, when I hear someone whispering and laughing I automatically think they’re making fun of me because it’s so ingrained in my head.
No one wanted to be my partner for in-class projects. Every clique had it out for me, and I was commonly harassed by a rotating group of them.
The administration did nothing.
Law enforcement did nothing.
I received numerous death threats and my mom was actually concerned someone would harm me in school.
To this day, I remember standing in gym class and a girl coming up behind me and whispering in my ear “Go die.”
Let's be real: haters hurt.
I’m not going to lie to you, I wasn’t born with an armour of steel. I came home every day and cried. It seemed never-ending. My mom, being the empathetic and brilliant one she is, kept explaining the problem isn’t me, it’s them.
It just feels so lonely when the attacks keep coming with no end in sight. I begged my mom to homeschool me but she couldn’t.
One of my main bullies deleted my work from school computers not once but TWICE, with no punishment from staff.
I hated school so much I completed my senior year of high school at the local community college to get a jumpstart on university. I couldn’t wait to be out of that high school. I didn’t go to homecoming. I didn’t go to prom. I didn’t even go to graduation.
They could all suck it.
Build Up Your Armour
Being constantly attacked has a profound impact on you-you learn to either buckle under the pressure (and I would never let them win) or strengthen your sense of self. If I didn’t know who I was when I entered school, I sure did when I left.
I learned who to listen to and who to ignore.
I learned that the only opinion that matters is my own.
I learned that nearly everyone I meet as an adult can be traced back to a personality type from my school days.
When I meet someone I don’t like, I think “Oh, they’re just like so and so with these problems.” Insults don’t sting as much.
If you are a human with a beating heart, haters hurt. But once you learn not everyone’s opinion matters, it becomes easier to dismiss the losers and focus on you. It takes practice and doesn’t come overnight, but standing up for yourself is critical in asserting your position in the world.
Think about it: if someone is taking the time to write something negative about you on the internet or say something to your face, they are taking time away from literally anything else they could be doing with their life. It's incredibly sad and I feel sorry for them. The only way they can feel better about them self is by tearing other people down. That's no way to live.
I don't agree with most people, but I also don't take time out of my day to publicly humiliate or argue with them.
So next time you encounter a hater...
- Tell them your business is none of their business (and if they know all the answers why don't they start their own business? hmm)
- Ignore them (this works really well because they are usually looking to get a reaction from you)
- Politely tell them off (in a calm, level-headed way of course!)
Make More Money By Being You
A solo business has you at the center of it. Clients want to do business with a person they feel a connection with. If you compromise yourself or your values to appeal to everyone, you still won’t have business because you fail at resonating with anyone specifically. People are supposed to fall in love with you and your unique take on whatever you do. It's just not going to be everyone.
Being you and not a watered down version of you will always incite unrest amongst the insecure. But you don’t have to justify yourself or placate these morons.
To be a solopreneur turned Tycoon, you have to be okay with people not liking you.
If you aren’t, you’ll never stand out or get business or be remembered.
Haters are an indication you’re doing something right.
Talking about the same sugary topics your competitors talk about or having the same attitude they do will do very little in attracting YOUR ideal clients.
Solopreneurs should have something to say. And you deserve to say it without backlash. But that isn’t how the world works.
So if you have something different to bring to the table (even if it’s on a not-so-new topic) you should BRING IT.
Because YOUR clients want to hear it.
Everyone else can go suck an egg.
I wear glasses. I’ve worn prescription eyeglasses AND sunglasses for over 10 years. No matter how many carrots I pile on my plate, I need help to see. Luckily for me, I really enjoy wearing glasses. They are my personal fashion statement, and shopping for a new pair is a religious experience.
Here's a sampling of my glasses history.
For years I went to Lenscrafters to buy glasses. They made glasses in just 1 hour, which is unheard of. I would strategically walk around the store, pull out any frames that caught my eye and tried them all on a million times in the mirror. Lenscrafters is expensive because they carry designer frames. I’ve worn glasses by Coach, Ray Ban, Ralph Lauren and Dolce and Gabanna, just to name a few. The glasses I got would be mine for two years, so I had to absolutely love them. And love them I did.
So when I heard about this cool new startup that charges way less called Warby Parker 5 years ago, I just had to get a pair of their glasses. My first pair were sunglasses (the Piper style) and I loved them so much. I told everyone and anyone about Warby Parker.
I wore them for over 2 years proudly. But earlier this year I was given a new rx and alas, had to part with my beloved Pipers. I went back to Warby Parker for a new pair I had been eyeing for months. I looked forward to getting these so much it was all I thought about. I even had my family shop at Warby Parker for their new glasses too.
When I received my glasses, they seemed off and were uncomfortable. But I didn’t think anything of it because there’s always a curve with a new RX. My family, however, weren’t so lucky. We went into a store so my mom could try on frames in person and order on the spot.
The list of things that were wrong is, in fact, a list:
- The employees weren’t sure if there would be a reflective coating like on the sample and they weren’t nice all
- Her glasses were ordered, and when delivered she finds out there is no coating
- She goes back to another Warby Parker store to order something different and picks out glasses she loves
- When delivered, she tries them on and finds the prescription is COMPLETELY wrong. Everything is off.
- Suspecting the person who measured her pupil distance messed up, she calls customer service and explains the problem
- They tell her a new measurement can be taken if she sends a selfie into them
- We go to Lenscrafters, where we ask them to check the accuracy of both our Warby Parker frames
- Hers is completely off. Mine is slightly off as well.
- My mom is exasperated and returns the glasses
- We buy new frames at Lenscrafters and pay 400% more
- It was worth every penny
Paying More Saves You Money
Why? Because Lenscrafters is reputable, consistent and accountable for their actions. They know their product, are helpful and extremely accurate. Warby Parker doesn’t realize they are dealing with someone’s EYES. To mess up prescriptions is to ruin someone’s eyesight, and the consequences are dire. Lenscrafters might be several times more expensive than Warby Parker, but they deserve it. While I liked Warby Parker when they were starting out, overall they have gone way downhill. I wouldn’t trust or recommend them.
Nickel and dime-ing every single thing in life just doesn’t make sense. If someone else can spectacularly do what you can’t, let them do their thing and pay whatever they ask. What you save monetarily you always make up somewhere else- aggravation, frustration, confusion, and hassle.
Make More And Save Your Clients Money
I’ve learned many times over that you get what you pay for. This is no different when it comes to selling yourself as a solopreneur. If you are offering a coveted or even just necessary service, but doing it consistently and above everyone else, then people will be more than happy to pay you a premium price to do it. You set expectations from the beginning and build a reputation around it.
I am an advocate of value-based pricing, which is pricing based on the value you’re providing and not the time needed. If my glasses take the tech only 10 minutes to make and they charge me $500, I’m still happy because I am confident in what I’m receiving and I didn't have to do it myself.
When you undercharge as a solopreneur, educated prospective clients will question you and in turn question your ability to deliver.
But if you surpass everyone’s expectations by elevating yourself to a higher playing field, there’s no shame or worry in charging more. You become the easy choice. Delivering the goods to perfection the first time around ends up cheaper for your client than if they had to hire multiple sub-par people that never really got the job done.
Because if a client is only interested in the cheapest person to do the work, they will never value you even if you get paid what they want to pay.
I currently charge a lot to build an online service business in just 1 week for location independent solopreneurs. As my value increases, that will go up.
You can make a Concept Concierge appointment to get your custom business concept and a first draft of your website in 72 hours. Then it’s fleshed out and polished in 1 week.
Literally nobody else does this.
How Much Is Their Time Worth?
But it’s worth that and more for my clients who commonly make back their investment in just a few months.
Could they have hired a cheap web designer and slaved over the copy, positioning and tech themselves? Of course. But that would take months, not days. Their time is precious, and so is their sanity.
Instead of asking themselves “Why would I pay so much for someone to build my business when I can technically do it myself?” they ask “Why wouldn’t I want to start taking on clients now and avoid all the hassle involved in setting a business up?”
Convenience and immediacy is practically priceless.
What can you do to make your clients’ experience with you even more perfect and seamless? What are some ways your favorite solopreneur sets themselves apart?
Remember: keep your standards high, and your rates higher.
While building a business isn’t easy, neither is finding a job nowadays.
Just because you land a job, doesn’t mean you’re happy or satisfied in it.
I think we all strive for big name companies to be a part of, but more times than not, inside the glossy exterior is a hostile, disorganized and crumbling interior.
Just because you work for a well recognized brand doesn’t mean the work environment is welcoming and conducive to doing your life’s best work. It’s like some big secret no one wants to disclose, but it’s never as glamorous as it appears.
I’ve worked at many prestigious companies and nearly all of them contained broken systems, nasty employees and a false air of superiority. Everyone thinks they’re better than you, but they can’t even do their basic job. So many fake smiles, so little time.
Who has time to put up with their BS? Not me. That’s why I became an entrepreneur accidentally while looking for another job I never got.
There's this false idea that someone really important in a higher and more powerful position than you will pluck you from obscurity and everything will change. If only you got the attention of so-and-so. If only you were "approved" by Mr. Big Shot. If only your dream employer would respond to your emails.
Do you really want to live your life waiting on someone else?
Let’s face it- most people hate their jobs.
Your boss is an idiot. Your boss is nasty. Your boss is too nice and never puts their foot down, which leads to more work for you.
Your coworkers live to gossip. Your coworkers mooch off your work. Your coworkers spend all day on Facebook.
Your management doesn’t know what’s going on. Your management doesn’t care what’s going on. Your management can’t manage squat.
Your commute is too long. Your commute is too short, because you don’t want to get to work so early.
Your break is too short. Your break isn’t short enough when you have to play coochy coo with that annoying coworker. Your break deserves a break.
Your salary sucks. Your salary hasn’t changed in years. Your salary hasn’t changed enough in years. Your salary is the reason you put up with this crap. Your salary is one paycheck away from begging you to quit this job you hate.
Let’s also face it- it’s near impossible to find a job.
Your resume is too short. Your resume is too long. Your resume doesn’t stand out. Your resume was eaten by the HR lady’s computer monster.
Your insurance is nonexistent. Your insurance needs to be paid. Your insurance sucks.
Your applications lost count of themselves. Your applications all look the same. Your applications will never been seen, except by the monster.
Your self-esteem is plummeting. Your self-esteem is diving. Your self-esteem is nonexistent.
Your days are so long. Your days aren’t long enough.
Your Netflix queue is eating you.
Your interviews are mediocre at best. Your interviews don’t exist. Your interviews are just a dream.
Your dreams are too big. Your dreams aren’t big enough. Your dreams aren’t going anywhere.
Your bank account is empty. Your bank account will soon be empty. Your bank account is negative.
Having or finding a job you love is no longer a viable option. Kiss your hopes of a corner office goodbye and thank your resume writer for not helping at all.
The time has come. Enough is enough. Make your own opportunities by bossing yourself around.
The only person who can tell you what you’re worth is you. The easiest way to start your road to freedom is to sell your services online.
If you hate where you’re at, don’t waste time with recruiters. Put all of your energy into starting your own business. Just don’t call it a side-hustle- the end goal is that this is your full-time gig.
How To Start A Solo Business
There is no perfect day to start. Start today. Start right now. Timelines are helpful once the ball is rolling, but in terms of starting- any excuses you make indicate how likely (or more accurately, not) success will come. If you drag your feet at the very beginning, just by putting off thinking about your business, I can guarantee you won’t make any money. Ever.
There is no formula to exploring your strengths and interests. I do have a methodology for crafting a five star business, but that only works once you’ve identified your skillset.
Don’t jump ahead without honestly evaluating yourself.
Personally, I don’t really like teamwork. I also don’t really like working with more than one client at a time. That small but mighty piece of knowledge led me to only focus on solopreneurs- people who work for themselves, by themselves. They work like I do, and as a result I “get” them. I am more efficient and friendly when I collaborate with a single person. Throw in more than one client and it creates unnecessary delays, confusion, and excessive opinions. That isn’t fun to manage.. for me. It might create a lot of exciting challenges for you though! Honestly evaluating yourself through an objective lens is the only way you can find these things out.
Something else I discovered when crafting my business is that not only am I ace in Squarespace (I did work there for 3 years), but I am in tune to all the myriad ways a Squarespace site can and should be polished. Most web designers totally miss these things, but I know they are the cherry on top and make you look the utmost professional. This emphasis on professionalism is the basis of my business and how I govern every interaction.
This level of detail and attention sets me apart from the hoards of punchy “Hey gal!” types that litter the web design industry.
Discover what you’re great at, and then figure out why you’re so good and different from other people doing the exact same thing. Hook onto that for dear life and market the heck out of it.
There are many web designers who can build a Squarespace website, but I’m the only person who crafts an entire business (concept, packaged services, website, copy, tech) in 1 week so you can take on clients immediately.
I'm also a built-in business coach, but unlike most coaches preaching "clarity", I actually DO the work for you. If you want a business but aren't sure what it should be, why pay someone to ask you questions, get to the bottom of your business.. and then not do anything physically or technically to help you?
In doing this, I give clients what they want but also what they need. They usually want a shiny new website highlighting their skills, but what they need is a fully branded business.
A health coach, for example, might differentiate themselves by focusing on helping people suffering from a particular disorder that they have, or a group of people who lead a certain kind of life. Their reasoning can be a personal one or passion-based one. Either way, it needs to be strong.
Some unique online businesses that have caught my attention recently include:
- Naturopathic Beauty - Dr. Stacey heals your acne naturally through the inside out. She offers personal coaching (if you're Canadian) or an online course with a 2 month program that clears your skin.
- 1040Abroad -non-resident American expat Olivier Wagner provides tax filing and advice to fellow American expats, digital nomads and accidental Americans. His services are laid out in a clear, easy to understand way with transparent pricing and processes.
Both of these businesses have one thing in common- either you're super interested because they speak directly to you or you don't care at all.
Because I've struggled with acne for years as a vegan seeking out natural remedies, Dr. Stacey really spoke to me. Her struggles are my struggles and what she sells is something I would have paid 10x more for just a few years ago.
Tax confusion is a standard for digital nomads, so Olivier has a great niche. When you travel outside the USA for most of the year, the right tax professional is worth more than your diamond encrusted watch.
Find Your Business
Spend your commute thinking about what you really hate about your industry. It's okay to be nit-picky. Tear it apart. Then think about what you can do better or different.
You need look only to Craigslist to see all kinds of services people are willing to pay for. Don’t limit your brainstorming to only what you would personally pay for.
As soon as you realize you can take your future into your own hands, your opportunities will be more visible than ever.
When you read about digital nomads who travel the world with nothing but a backpack, your brain kicks into high gear and thinks “Oh wow! How freeing. I wish I could sell everything I own.. but I couldn’t. How could I get rid of my beloved Barbie collection?”
I might be the only “digital nomad” who is not in favor of selling everything you own and stuffing your life into a backpack. In fact, I have never not checked luggage. You can be a full-time traveler without giving up the things you love.
I have this amazing collection of designer dresses that has taken me years to amass. Erin Fetherston, Nicole Miller, Cynthia Rowley - we’re talking glamorous designers every girl kills to get her hands on.
This colorful array of dresses really does make me happy. I’m ecstatic when I wear one. I love looking at them lined up in the closet. Call me weird, but getting rid of them would make me sad, angry and full of regret. I don’t usually pack them for my travels, but they are kept clean and safe in my family’s home. On the other hand, I don’t miss any of the burgundy colored garments I’ve donated. I realized one day I really hate burgundy, so I purged my wardrobe of the color. Why keep something I really don’t like, enjoy or use?
You’re the only one who can dictate what location independence means for you. If it’s not a capsule wardrobe of 30 items or less, you haven’t failed as a digital nomad.
These are the most important things to think about when preparing to travel while you work.
What kind of traveler am I?
Are you adventurous and eager to explore jungles? Or would you prefer the spa facilities over hiking? Be realistic. If you have never hiked a day in your life you probably won’t climb a mountain right away, if at all. Your current habits and preferences are telltale signs of your travel life. If you don’t like the height of your neighbors diving board, you won’t like the elevation of the cliff you’ll feel pressured to jump off of.
While most travel pictures online show people doing extreme sports like skydiving, surfing and rafting, I know that’s not my style. I prefer swimming, beach days, and exploring cities on my terms. There’s a heavenly place for everyone, and the sooner you figure out what yours looks like the easier your life will be.
Have I traveled long term before?
It’s crucial that if you haven’t traveled while working for at least a month that you do a trial run. This means going somewhere and working as you explore. Everyone has their own preferences and schedule, so get into the rhythm of what works for you.
A trial run is vital to ensuring this how you want to live indefinitely. If you’ve already sold everything you own, get on the road then realize you’re homesick - it’s not fun. What a waste!
What can I absolutely never get rid of?
It’s important to think this through. You could easily donate a few outfits and still have a few left over. But your heirloom jewelry? Your sofa you searched high and low for that makes you smile every time you lounge? Your scrapbooks? Your coveted book collection with signed copies? Note what you will never part with and can reasonably keep. If you feel like you’re a bad person for throwing away your 5th grade art project you hated, then you might want to enlist the help of a professional to work through the emotional and mental roadblocks you have that are preventing you from sending your stuff to a better place.
All clothing, accessories, furniture and even tchotchkes can be donated if they’re in good enough condition. I was always taught to think about how much they are going to help the next lucky person who gets them. I have 20 black cardigans, so getting rid of one I never wear doesn’t affect my wardrobe. But to a girl who desperately needs a cardigan to look presentable at her job and can’t afford one? That makes her day. Once you realize how much you already have, it’s easier to happily pass on items that others aren’t so lucky to possess.
Do I have somewhere I could store my extra belongings for free?
Maybe it’s a family member’s home, a friend’s garage or an existing family storage unit you don’t pay for. If you don’t have anywhere to freely store things indefinitely, the more you’ll need to sell. Paying for a storage unit is wasteful and should be reserved for dire situations only.
Do I want to rid myself of my home completely?
This depends on your circumstances, but it might make more sense to keep your current residence and either rent it out (for a profit) or put it up on Airbnb. If you’re paying rent, then just get rid of it. But if you already own it, are almost paid off or could make more money renting it out, then it’s worth exploring. Just know that this involves you learning how to be a property manager or paying someone to run it. They need to be trustworthy and responsible. There are also agencies that handle your Airbnb listing and just take a cut of your profits.
If you frequently celebrate occasions with local friends and family that you wouldn’t want to give up, keeping your residence is an option as long as it isn’t costing you extra money or adding a headache. When you keep your home, you get a place to store all your things!
I am surely going to receive backlash for even presenting this as option because most “digital nomads” are extremists and miniamlists- they sell everything they own, say goodbye to homes and family and venture off into the adventurous future.
I’m bringing this up because I know it’s not realistic for everyone to pack up and leave their life behind. If you ask me, it seems like an underlying issue of many digital nomads is that they aren’t super close with family or friends and don’t miss anything they leave. Not everyone, but a lot.
Extended travel around the world with the comfort of knowing you still have an actual home is viable. Especially if you have a loved one who isn’t well or children in the family who are hitting milestones you don’t want to miss. You don’t have to come home every month, but being able to pop back in a few times a year can mean a lot to both you and your family.
Your values should dictate your ideal life, not the other way around. Just because everyone is living a location independent life a certain way doesn’t mean that’s the kind of life you want for yourself.
The key is to downsize as if you’re selling your home.
Be ruthless in donating and selling any items you don’t use and wouldn’t think of packing. Unless it “sparks joy” (thanks Marie Kondo), consider it useless.
By the time you leave, you have safely stored all your nonessentials away and left enough furniture and basics for guests or yourself when you return.
You feel lighter already.
Your Current Dilemma
What are you the best at? Did you ever think you could build a business around your best skills? Are you dying to leave your 9-5? Are you crying yourself to sleep every night because this working for yourself thing is harder than you thought? Is your current job tying you down when you just want to travel while you work?
Freelancing seemed like a good option, until you realized you’re working for clients instead of with them. Not to mention, they dictate what you should be doing instead of letting you do your thing. Your rates are all over the place and you sometimes heavily discount your services based on a client’s whining demand. You know you’re worth so much more, but no one takes you seriously. You feel disposable.
A remote job seemed like a good option too, except you still have to keep certain hours and don’t have any flexibility. Their rules. Their time. It’s just not yours.
Enter.. a five star business. Imagine commanding respect and premium pricing from clients that look up, not down, to you. Imagine being seen as a top player in your industry, charging high rates and working on your time. Imagine turning clients away because you know they’re not a good fit, and still making rent (and then some) every month.
I noticed there is serious lack of public understanding of what makes up a business so great it collects fan, charges higher rates and still thrives. We get so used to settling for sub-par products, experiences, and customer service that we don't blink an eye. This is what inspired me to create a course diving deep into the core components of a five star business. When you craft a five star business, it automatically elevates you head and shoulders above everyone else.
Interested in changing the way you see your business?
Learn the exact methodology I use to turn entrepreneurs into tycoons that command respect and premium prices doing what you're already great at in my exclusive email course You're A Tycoon: Five Steps To A Five Star Business™.
Five star businesses make an unforgettable positive first impression.
When that first meeting happens in person, a business card is exchanged. This small piece of paper speaks volumes about your business, and can either intrigue or bore the person on the other end.
Whenever I hand out my business card, I get an immediate reaction. The receiver usually gasps in surprise and says “Oh my gosh! This is such a nice card.” They then proceed to analyze and obsess over it while trying to maintain composure. If you think I’m being dramatic, you probably haven’t had the luxury of handing out a premium business card.
These are the four elements of the perfect card that can garner you those wide-eyed stares of admiration.
This can be a logo and text, just the logo or just the text depending on your business. My card has my logo and tagline. What’s not necessary is endless repetition of your business name or logo, unless that is an intentional part of the design. If your business name is different than your name, you need to clarify your name. Your logo should be readable and self-explanatory. If it requires additional explanation then it's either insanely original or needs to be re-designed.
What You Do
Here is where most people go wrong. They list everything and anything they can do in a tiny space. If you do web design, marketing, SEO, graphic design and more then you need to downsize your business and niche. My tagline is “Where 5 star businesses are built” because it sums up what I do in a few words. I craft upscale online service businesses for the jet setter. Less is more, but don’t leave your network hanging. I’ve been handed a card only to see their business name (which isn’t specific at all and could have been a number of industries) and their name. No title, no explanation. No kidding.
I kind of sigh a loud exasperated sigh when I see someone’s business card with the url of every single social network they’re on typed out. And their symbols. It’s truly overkill, and doesn’t let your new cardholder focus on the one thing they should- you. Instead, it feels like they’re being choked with your demand to follow follow follow. It doesn’t incite interest in you at all. It has the opposite effect. If someone is enamored with your business, they will follow all your social accounts without being prompted. It’s second nature, so there’s no need to remind them. And the people who don’t love what you do? They’re just not a good fit, which is more than okay. You only want to engage with likeminded tycoons.
Make sure your website is there, and definitely an email or phone number depending on how you communicate. But everything else is optional. Icons for every social site you are on are unnecessary because if your website is done right you should have links to your social accounts in an easy to find place. My card has my name, email and website in just two lines with the least possible text. There’s no need to write my domain twice when white space is so precious.
Visual and Tactile Design
Here’s where people get too fancy. Especially when using Moo’s printfinity option, where you can have a different design on the backs of your cards. Your logo/business name should always be on your card, with any accompanying graphics that COMPLEMENT and not detract from your brand.
For Ilene B. Miller's business cards, I created a rainbow of options that corresponded with her bright and colorful website. This included the saying on the back of every card “Every child is a..” with a graphic of a sun, star, music note and more. It captures her belief that all children are special and should be celebrated.
For a musician, I used a sheet of music as the inspiration for his logo and subsequently his cards. Without being overtly literal, the polished black and white takes on a new formality.
The card stock you choose says a lot about your business as well. There’s no “thicker is more luxe” rule here. It truly depends on the feeling you’re trying to convey. You can have a heavy, thick luxe card stock- but if that business card contains crowded contact information, a gmail email address and a zillion social icons then your luxe just went out of the window. All of the elements have to work together in perfect harmony for a "WOW!" moment.
My business cards are a soft smooth matte. Glossy or spot gloss works for colorful graphics you want to highlight. Cotton makes sense for the fashion industry. Gold foil adds a touch of pop, if not overdone.
Here are some five star business cards I found online that are great examples to follow.
This hairstylist hit every nail on the head- pun intended. Her card is simple and easy to read with a touch of glamour from well-placed gold foil. There's no excess information- just everything you need and nothing more.
Again, everything you need and nothing more. The backs showcase her art and aesthetic, which is muted and soothing.
There is something to be said about white space. While this minimalist card is the extreme, it remove all distractions through oversized text and sparse contact information. He doesn't overwhelm you with the myriad ways to contact him. Clearly, he doesn't mind phone calls if his number is on his card. If you primarily communicate via email, you wouldn't advertise your phone number.
While most of these entrepreneurs seem to rely on Instagram and not a website as their home base, they still hit it out of the park with their business cards.
When You Know It’s Perfect
I typically do several iterations of a business card until I’m thrilled with the result. Most of the time I like the first one I’ve designed, but it’s necessary to see all of my options before making that decision. Like most creatives, I don’t have a set process or formula. I go with my gut. This intuitive taste is why professionals are called upon. If design isn’t your strong suit, it’s better to admit that and give a pro the reigns than struggle by yourself.
Business cards should be left to the end of your business being built. Too many times, I see entrepreneurs get ahead of themselves and order business cards without a custom domain, email address or fully formed brand. The feeling of having a business card is so exciting and “official” that it’s easy to overlook all the important steps. When you do this though, you set yourself up for failure because it’s only a matter of time before all the chaotic design decisions start conflicting with each other.
I design my clients’ business cards after their website is built, the copy is written, their services are packaged and e-commerce set up. Why? Because by this point, I’ve spent so much time in the brand that only then do I feel confident in visually representing it on a business card. After all, a card is just an extension of the business. If you’re lacking a foundation, then your card's impact will crumble.
Your website should match your cards which should match your social graphics which should match your letterhead. Matching your outfit is optional.