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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You’re in need of an illustrator. You check out an illustrator’s website. You love their work. They list all these services, but when you inquire all there is is a sad measly contact form. You know what you want. They know what you want. So why should you have to type out the whole shebang?
This creates unnecessary hurdles for potential clients and can result in losing their interest. Not to mention, you waste valuable time following up and chasing them to have an initial discussion.
Exhibit A: Client Inquiries Without Structure
If you have a process for everything to go through, it requires less work on both your ends. I love using Ilene B. Miller as an example because she provides a very important service that’s largely unknown by the majority of people. The only people who care about her are parents of children with academic, social and emotional difficulties.
Ilene is an educational consultant and special needs advocate, which essentially means she guides families down the path of success and achievement for their struggling children. Getting the right support services for a child, making sure they are administered properly and tracking progress is the core of her business.
She used to have a slew of services listed like consulting, advocacy, tutoring and more. She also had a generic “Consultation” session people had to purchase prior to working with her. This presented several problems:
- No one knew what they were getting from a consult. They felt it was just money thrown away. When in reality, she was analyzing and strategizing that whole time.
- Parents would contact her and ask specific questions about their situation. It was a free-for-all with no way to reign in the information.
Once I productized her consult into a more tangible and valuable product, an Open Opportunity Session, the process became simple.
Processes = Less Work
The first step in working with Ilene is an Open Opportunity Session. Part of the checkout process includes a long questionnaire where specific questions about the child’s situation are asked. Based on these answers, Ilene can come into an Open Opportunity Session with all the background information she needs to give parents the most she can. It sets up Ilene to demonstrate her expertise even more and provides parents with the best use of their time and money. This way, their two hour session isn’t wasted on getting up to speed- she can jump right into the here and now.
Clients Are Like Children
Hand holding is necessary, because you can't expect clients to know your industry like you do. They also don't know the right questions to ask or how to frame their inquiry. When you structure your intake into a form, you gently guide them into providing the most important information in the best way for you.
Dumping a lot of information about your services and then telling visitors to "contact you" is overwhelming and confusing for clients. As the professional, it's your job to take control from the first interaction to the last.
You Can Be The Hero
Not only is this less hectic for you, but it puts your clients at ease and slides you into the "five star business" category. Clients love to know they are being taken care of. That why we stay in luxury resorts, opt for white glove service and rely on full service companies.
Your intake form doesn't have to be incredibly long, and should be as concise as possible. Too much work is a turnoff for clients as well- it quickly becomes a chore.
Ask the appropriate questions so that you get all of the information you need and avoid redundancy.
You'll be surprised what a small tweak like an intake form does for your sanity and the client's confidence in you. Say goodbye to wasted hours emailing back and forth or conversations that don't go anywhere. Below is the questionnaire all my clients fill out when they book an appointment with the Concept Concierge.
Automated Bookings Give You More "Me Time"
Either before or after the intake form should be a way for clients to schedule an appointment to discuss their info. I prefer Calendly for its ease of use, but Acuity has a built-in block in Squarespace and Youcanbook.me is another popular option.
Regardless of your industry, you can benefit from automating your appointment setting. This saves time, and let's you gracefully step in for your first client meeting. Whether the first meeting is free or not (I always say not), you're hands off for the beginning of your process. This allows leads to organically come in, share their needs, schedule a convenient time for them to meet and get excited about speaking with you.
A smooth beginning indicates what's to come, and without speaking a word you've already made one heck of a first impression.
Clients will happily answer a few questions in advance if it means a frictionless first conversation. Why make both sides jump through hoops when a simple intake form and calendar scheduling can give you a few more hours by the pool?
I am keenly aware of the small percentage of location independent entrepreneurs doing their own thing in a very spectacular way. Lawyers to accountants to coaches to everyone in between are in need of a business that lets them shine while effortlessly fitting into their lifestyle. When you live the high life, only the best will do.
10 Carat Creations is the go-to partner for the jet set solopreneurs in need of an exquisite solution to re-branding their business from top to bottom. No detail gets left behind!
Tycoons come in all shapes and sizes. Only the truly extraordinary surpass all expectations. Perhaps you're one of them?
Well traveled and well read. You provide an exemplary service and built a reputation to match.
When it's time to step your business up into first class, I'll be here.
Because this is where five star businesses are built.
All too often, we become acutely aware of what makes us different from our peers and try to hide it as much as possible. Our loud cackling laugh. Our semi-embarrassing dance moves. Our insatiable curiosity that makes us ask a zillion questions in meetings. Our obsession with an obscure food. Our disdain for something popular. Our loud hiccups. Social media encourages us to conform to feel part of “it.” “It” is just a boring word for “sameness.” There is no glory is being a follower. And only leaders have the guts to be themselves, regardless of what society thinks.
Here’s why you sparkle when you let your differences shine through.
You are remembered
If you have one goal, it should be this. You have no control over whether people love you or hate you but you DO have a say in how memorable you are. Being remembered is the pinnacle of sparkling. People, businesses and brands that aren't remembered are not top of mind and take up no brain space. When you're remembered, people think about you. Whether they want to or not. You are permanently engrained in their cranium.
You are respected
People who go against the norm have chutzpah.
My unscientific guess is that 99% of the public would rather follow the crowd and hide their differences for fear of standing out. But standing out is a GREAT thing. When you look and sound unlike anything your clients have ever seen, you will strike a chord with the ones who never had the guts to say and do what you do. Don't be afraid to voice your unorthodox opinions. You are your niche. And there's a niche for everyone.
Your people respect you for being you, and I turn into being a role model for them. Personally, I don't drink. I have never enjoyed alcohol and especially in college, this was kind of odd. While it's become more and more acceptable to say no to alcohol for your health it wasn't so popular back when I decided it wasn't for me. At first I was embarrassed but over time I've come to own my status. So if you feel contrary to something accepted as a social norm, don't cower under society's pressure.
You are iconic
Iris Apfel and her accessories. Anna Wintour and her bob/sunglasses combo. Bill Cunningham and his blue overcoat. Lorde and her dancing. Elle Fanning and her reverberating joy. Miley and her name.
People call you crazy. And then they copy you.
You are relatable
Humans are imperfect. When others admit their flaws, or love their differences our ears perk up. Oh! Someone else who does that? Someone else who gets it?
Every solopreneur’s website has an “About” page where there’s a well meaning bio about them. Unfortunately, instead of telling me why they’re the girl or guy for the job, they talk about their favorite wine, their hobbies, their family, that they love a good nap blah blah blah...
Nobody cares! You need to make what makes you special clear.. as it relates to your business. Talking about how you just love to curl up with your dog in bed and watch All Dogs Go To Heaven isn’t relatable when I’m shopping for a coach. It isn’t cute and it isn’t helpful. If a coach were to talk about how they bucked the status quo in the industry to do XYZ because they believed in XYZ to get their clients XYZ.. I would be more interested. They’re talking about me, a client. THAT’S what I care about. I also care about qualifications. Generic fluff about your everyday life dilutes the potency of your qualifications. Save the puppy stories for your girls night.
On my About page, I talk about my interest and experience in designing websites but also that my purpose is to help other solopreneurs achieve independence and freedom through their business.
You are judged, criticized.
I am unapologetically me. All the time. I don’t like to sugarcoat anything, especially with my clients. No one benefits from beating around the bush. I have strong opinions and am never afraid to voice them.
Embrace your sass. Embrace your quirks. Then infuse those into your business. It can be the way you provide a service, your visuals, your language. In fact, it should be all three. Every piece of your business should be a drop of you. Like a drug. The more you embrace your difference, the more you sparkle. And the more you sparkle, the more you shine. Soon, people will need to wear sunglasses because you shine so bright.
Great brands aren’t just brands- they are true to the people behind them. If you have an eye-catching logo, sleek website and monochrome business cards but are struggling to fit yourself into the mold of a suave brand you are doing it wrong. The brand should be built around YOU.
So don't second guess your natural instincts. And never be afraid to sparkle.
I love making new connections, don’t you?
My favorite part of the exchange is when we swap business cards. As a design-obsessed person, I adore looking at business cards of all shapes and sizes. Business cards are such a great way to make a solid first impression. Heavy card stock, gold foil and other elements scream “I’m too legit to quit!” A flimsy card, on the other hand, shows you couldn’t care less about your business.
We spend so much time making sure our business cards align with our brand so they can make the best impression possible. You show off your new cards on Instagram. Proudly hand them out to your friends and family. Carry them with you all the time.
When you meet me, you confidently hand over your card and I admire the design and weight until….. I see your email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or email@example.com. Or the best: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I now want to cry. I want to ask you why?? Why did you spend so much time on your brand and your cards and getting the gold foil placement JUSTT right only to not bother setting up a professional email address?
Don’t you realize you just undid all the hard work you put into your business? You thought about your business name, excitedly registered your domain name, built up the design of your brand and then… just said “Screw it!” when it came to a custom domain email.
Why You Want A Custom Email
It’s a no brainer! The more consistent you keep your business elements, the closer you are to having a dazzling brand. Not only it is difficult to remember when your emails/handles/urls are different, but it can very well make the process of finding and contacting you so exhausting they just give up.
Despite what you think, no one sleeps with your business card under their pillow.
Things get lost. People spill coffee. If your email is difficult to remember or just didn’t match the other things on your business card (hint, domain , hint!) then guessing the correct email is a shot in the dark.
It shows you aren’t running a hobby or side-hustle. Even if you are side-hustling, you are taking it seriously.
I judge harshly when I see a business using a non-professional email. In fact, I immediately dismiss them and move on to someone else. Especially if they are calling themselves luxe-anything. A gmail email is anything but luxe.
I know an oral surgeon who runs a booming practice and is highly sought after in his industry. Yet his email address is @aol.com and says otherwise. While this doesn't bother the majority of clients (and certainly doesn’t take away from his stellar skills), I believe the world is catching up to business best practices and eventually everyone will be judged on EVERY element of their business- like their email. Details matter.
If you can’t set up (or pay someone to set up) a custom email, what else can’t you do?
It communicates you aren’t as professional as you think you are.
It’s another opportunity to brand your business
Instead of your main contact email being “email@example.com” you can use something that aligns with your business’s tone. hi@ or sup@ might work if you’re casual, while concierge@ might work if you’re formal (like me!) Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I love Credo Beauty’s Customer Support email: email@example.com
Who wouldn’t want that? Their email communicates a lot about how they treat their customers.
It Demonstrates Competence
Who wants to work with someone who isn’t good at their service/product? Would you want to go to a heart surgeon who takes his or her clients with a grain of a salt, or do you want to go to the surgeon who is going to do everything in their power to help you, down to even referring you out to another provider if he deems your issue out of his scope?
While going to a competent doctor might seem obvious, it’s definitely not the case when you replace “doctor” with manicurist, editor, developer, or even tutor.
Providing a product isn’t the same as providing a GOOD product.
For example, if I find an app developer and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org I might question his ability to build a decent app. I might also question his professionalism, how seriously he takes his work and whether he is the right fit for me. Turns out he has a free consult, so I spent half an hour speaking with him. I don’t get any solid information on his process, I still don’t know what to expect when working with him nor do I have a concrete idea of his prices. If I had stopped at judging his email address, I could have saved myself thirty minutes.
I think this is the future of work, when efficiency overpowers curiosity.
At the end of the day, we all need things done. In choosing who we pay to get those things done, we don’t have the luxury of wasting time. Judging a business by their email address is a great way to filter out the people who more likely than not won’t live up to their claims.
I am very much aware it’s possible for people with a custom email address to also be incompetent, uncommunicative and overall just terrible, but I think that likelihood is just slightly less.
How To Get A Custom Email
Now that you’re on board with having a custom email address, you are probably thinking to yourself “That’s nice and all.. but how do I get one without tearing my hair out?!”
If you’re tech-savvy.. register one with Google or Zoho. Google is the go-to partner for custom domains because you get a new email that is @domain.com but allows you to use GSuite’s inbox the same as your Gmail. If you build a Squarespace website, they have an integration with GSuite so that you can set it up from right within your website. It’s pretty easy and can be free for the first year depending on your website subscription plan.
If you don’t want to pay for an email, Zoho is the way to go. They offer free email addresses. Yes, they are totally free. No, you don’t need to give a credit card. Caveat? There’s a limit on email storage and the number of addresses you can set up, but you likely won’t exceed any of these limits as a solopreneur. Ever.
Setting up Zoho involves changing MX records for your domain and editing the DNS settings.
If this all sounds like gibberish..
If you’re not tech-savvy.. hire a web designer to do the honors. I set up a custom email for all clients. Most web designers include a custom email in their packages, but if you’re DIY then you could follow the guides.
Registering a custom email address is usually the last hump entrepreneurs never get over.
Yet they parade themselves around as professionals while looking like fools. Be the professional. Be the entrepreneur with a clean address. And then continue impressing the pants off your customers. They will believe you more now.
Why is it that when shopping for a service, service providers are treated like they aren’t as concrete as a physical product?
A common theme in business I have come across is that solopreneurs who are in business for themselves aren’t treated the same way a corporation or agency is treated. I have seen time and time again that service businesses also don’t hold the value in people’s minds the way a new pair of shoes might. The rules are the same whether you’re buying a computer at Apple, getting your hair cut or scooping up a pastry. A business is a business is a business.
Here are five ways you probably aren't valued and what to do about it.
Treated with disrespect
So..when I first started freelancing I sent a proposal to a job on Upwork. I don’t recommend Upwork at all after dabbling a bit early in my solopreneur career. There’s a reason it has a terrible reputation. However, this isn’t confined to Upwork.
This is an exact conversation between a potential client and myself. I applied to a job asking for a Squarespace expert.
I spend all day and night editing Squarespace websites as a former employee of Squarespace and now full-time web designer.
I know the platform inside and out as I've helped thousands of people build, edit and maintain their Squarespace website.
I'm comfortable monitoring changes and am overly communicative so that all my clients know how their site is doing.
View my work here.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Over one month later..
Hope you're having a great holiday. This is kind of an old posting, but I wanted to check in and see if you are still doing Squarespace work and see what your availability might be over the next couple weeks? Thx!
Me: Hi Client!
Thanks for reaching out, I'm having a great holiday.
I am taking on new clients, however I only work with clients that respect my time and process. Given the fact you never responded to my original message, I have no reason to think your communication style will change going forward. As a result, I'm going to wish you the best in your future endeavors.
20 minutes later…
Client: Well, apologies for that, I guess. Good luck right back at you :)
They don’t take any responsibility for the fact they blatantly ignored me until the day they needed my assistance. I’m not the one who needs luck- you need some professionalism.
If a client can’t even have the courtesy to respond in a timely manner, what makes you think they will do the same when you’re working together?
What makes you think they will pay you on time?
What makes you think they will provide a glowing testimonial? What makes you think they will brag to their friends about you?
What makes you think they will come back?
Notice as soon as I send something that might offend the client they respond quickly? Well, obviously since they can respond in such a timely manner to my rejection, they could have responded to my proposal in the first place?
Seeing this kind of disregard towards freelancers is part of what inspired me to work only with sophisticated solopreneurs, what I consider a major step up from freelancers. By building you a business and dazzling brand from head to toe, you are no longer scrambling to apply for crappy gigs. I give you a tight ship to run and you run it like a Tycoon!
Freelancers ARE seen as disposable, but business owners (even if you’re just one person) shouldn’t be.
Another way service professionals are treated with disrespect is when the client doesn’t understand or respect their business model.
For example, if you are a coach that only works online via video calls but a new client contacts you asking you to visit them in person because they live nearby, they aren’t respecting your process.
I believe that when you aren't at the mercy of others, and instead have a strong presence and clearly communicated service products you set yourself up to grow professionally and financially.
Expecting you to be on call
I’m not on-call. And neither are you. We aren’t nurses or doctors. The whole point of working for ourselves is having the freedom and flexibility that comes with the lifestyle.
When a client emails you at 10pm on Friday and expects a response, that is a red flag.
It doesn't matter when or how the work gets done, just that it is. This is obviously only an issue for services like writing, editing, accounting etc.. not a service that is performed on the spot like tutoring or coaching.
Try to take advantage of you because you don’t have red tape and can do whatever you want
It is unfortunate some people feel they can take advantage of an individual. Service providers are not taken as seriously as business owners.
Think about physical products- you’re cruising the internet and find a handbag you become obsessed with. You are super interested in buying it. You aren’t given a sample of the bag for free to just “try out.” No. You know that if you want the product you need to pay for it. A coupon you found online can be applied, but you still need to shell out the dough. Now, think about services. Why would you think you should ask for a copyright lawyer to do a bit of research for free to prove he’s good enough to hire?
Let me ask you something: do you work for free? Does your boss say “I can only afford to pay for 50% of your paycheck this week. That’s cool, right?” Uh, NO!! Your paycheck is your “worth” more or less. A solopreneur runs a business, not a charity shop.
Do you ask your hairstylist for a try-out trim before committing to a full cut? No!!! You pay for the service in it’s entirety. And if you aren't satisfied, you usually don't get your money back.
Service providers are treated like puppets: I tell you what to do, when to do it and you oblige. True experts will take control and you’ll be happy they do.
My client Ilene Miller came to me with this exact problem. She initially set her business up to help and empower the families of special needs children. As an educational consultant and special needs advocate, she stands head and shoulders above others in her field because she is a comprehensive solution to the problems her clients face. While most advocates provide generic advice and carry no credentials other than being a parent of a special needs child themselves, she possesses appropriate degrees and in-the-trenches experience her competition doesn't have.
Unfortunately, she spent most of her time going back and forth with hagglers who were always looking for a bargain. She isn’t new to the industry, she has been an educator for over 20 years! Her premium price is warranted, and yet by giving the cheap clients her time she was missing out on higher quality clients. For her, that meant families who were willing to cooperate, truly valued her advice and acted on it. Her ultimate goal is to help their child thrive, but that can’t happen if they don’t follow through on the therapies, discipline and academic support they are receiving by reinforcing it at home. In this sense, Ilene was spinning her wheels and getting nowhere by serving clients who don’t accept her value and price.
By cutting off clients who want a bargain price immediately, she is further able to hold her ground and work with families who adore her. I created a concrete process for her business- a productized service MUST be purchased as the first step in working with her.
No free consults.
No brain picking.
Her Open Opportunity session, a one hour deep dive into the child’s life, paves the way for her other services to be purchased once a plan is crafted and the appropriate services are identified. Some children might need tutoring and counseling, some parents might only need consulting. It doesn’t matter because if you want to work with her, this is how it works. There’s no “I just need five minutes of your time” or “Can I just pay a lower rate?”
Having a tangible product and process goes a long way when you need to stand your ground amidst hagglers.
You were hired to write five blog posts. You spent a good amount of time of them and are super proud of the final draft. You hand them over to the client, and while you did everything to a T you were supposed to, they refuse to pay or want a refund for some made-up reason. They aren’t happy with the tone of your piece (despite having two rounds of edits to convey that) or they stubbed their toe and now need the money to pay their doctor. Whatever sob story they give you just drags out your partnership and causes undue stress.
You now need to explain your refund policy (no refunds) or that they have had ample opportunity to communicate and as a result you are owed the full amount.
People that do this are cheap, greedy and don’t care about anything but themselves.
Starting out, I did some work on Upwork. You can see how well that went from my above conversation. Most of my clients were gracious enough to write a review, but one in particular didn’t. I was overly communicative, got the work done in a timely fashion and always went above and beyond in clarifying the work to better help him in the future.
Once the job was closed, I reached out and asked for a review to be written since he was happy with my work. He ignored me. A few weeks later, I asked again. Still ignored me. Needless to say, I never got a review which, aside from money, is the only thing that would further my reputation and portfolio. A review is worth a lot more than money in the long-term.
Everyone wants what they want. Once they get it, they push you off to the side. This is NOT the path to a sustainable business.
How To Get Clients That Worship The Ground You Stand On and Want Your Autograph
Hangout where they are!
This is a large reason I created the Digital Nomad Business Directory. It’s a directory of location independent service professionals. You want to attract like-minded clients, so you need to consciously choose where your business is seen.
The Digital Nomad Business Directory is seen by other people running an online business, so you never have to worry about someone questioning your online-only service again.
Listing your business on a directory isn't the only way to score fans. Showing up to events in person is a great way to become known too.
Be your business.
Do this. All the time. When you shift yourself from “service provider” to “business owner” the dynamic changes. YOU run the show. YOU call the shots. And you aren't merely executing what your client wants- you are in charge because you are the expert in your relationship.
Clients don't come to me and dictate they want a website that looks like this, a logo that looks like this and a business model that look like this. They don't do that because I don't allow it. If they want to work with me, it's because I take charge and understand my business better than they do. I have no problem telling clients what works, what doesn't and what is important versus what they assume is important.
For example, a lot of people get wrapped up in SEO when they should be focusing on their content and service instead. I'm quick to dismiss SEO as the end all be all, because it's much simpler than everyone makes it out to be. Instead, I tell them what they need to do and they happily do it! Why? Because they came to me for my expertise.
I know my stuff, just like they know their stuff. I wouldn't dare tell my accountant how to file my taxes, so why would he tell me how to design his website?
I love giving people the freedom having an online business provides, but it's an uncomfortable shift for them to go from freelancer running around like a chicken with its head cut off to a steadfast business owner.
Air-tight policies and procedures
Don’t give someone the chance to finagle their way out of your business or to manipulate you into doing it their way. Have a clear return policy (even better if you have them agree to it at the start of your relationship) and contract. Be clear. Not vague.
Have everything in writing
You can never be too careful. If you speak with a client over the phone and promise them two rounds of edits, don’t be surprised when they come back claiming you promised them five. Anything spoken needs to be documented, even if it’s just a follow-up recap email.
When you waiver on your policies and process you set a precedent that you’re a doormat. Word gets around and soon you’re the overly nice service professional who will do anything to make a client happy, even if it means hurting your business in the process.
Any client who won’t agree to a contract, complains about your no refunds return policy or consistently tells you how to run your business isn’t your client at all. Let some other poor slob bend over backwards for them and get paid a pittance for it.
If you think any of what I've written is too harsh, you clearly have never worked with clients! Checking all these boxes is the hardest thing you'll ever do. If you do it though, then the payoff includes freedom, clients who respect you and money in the bank.
Just because you are a one person operation doesn’t mean you aren’t running a BUSINESS. For money. Never forget it.
Do you want to work from anywhere so you can travel? Or do you want a business you love with built-in flexibility?
This is a dilemma facing many who are interested in a life full of freedom with no office cubicles in sight. It's been proven travel and work can co-exist.
Who wouldn't want to travel the world while they worked? But if you're still doing work you hate (even in your beach house) then the high you get from traveling will be minimized to nothing.
This is why it's important to start from a place of "I love my business" first and foremost.
How to determine a business model you love?
Start with what you love doing! But keep in mind just because you love something doesn’t mean you’re good at it. So it’s time for some #truth.
If you’re interested in blogging but it feel likes a chore, you will not be successful. If you love coming up with ideas for stories but hate writing, just forget about it.
What not to do:
Be obsessed with traveling the world at all costs and take on work you despise just to fund your life. There are way too many coaches/branders/web designers promising you an online business that let you “travel the world!” if you only take their course/buy their package/join their newsletter.
These are scams because no matter how much you want to travel the world, you won’t enjoy any of it if you don’t love the work you do. And you won’t do good work because you’re not in love with the mind-numbing task of *insert boring remote job here*.
Duping people into thinking you’re a pro resume writer when you can barely write your own resume isn’t going to make you successful or bring home the big bucks. I am very much against all these inspirational and aspirational websites that say “If you can just learn a skill by taking a course you can build your business around it.” When you do that, you don’t position yourself as an expert in your field because you’re just meh. You don’t stand out, and as a result will be competing for all the low paying work every other “wannabe” wants.
The way most businesses go about it is backwards.
They start with the dream and work backwards to create a business.. but really you need to start with the business to achieve the dream.
It’s important to have your dream in mind while building your business, but selling everything you own and moving to Thailand is not a plan. It’s foolish to think you’ll “figure it out” because while you might be super motivated/smart/qualified… you aren’t setting yourself up for the pinnacle of success. You want to be so successful that you can live anywhere- not just the cheap countries.
I like to think this is what sets me apart from nearly every “digital nomad” course/designer/wannabe coach: I understand the value of an online business and how to build one without gimmicky things like drop-shipping or being a virtual assistant. Next time you come across a person touting the best strategy to build an online business ask them how many online businesses they have built themselves. Probably none.
Not to mention, finding work on Upwork or other menial jobs are extremely hard to get. The competition for sub-par talent is hot! Tons of clients are looking for pay someone $100 to set up a Squarespace website. Or $5 to write a blog post. But really.. is this the best use of your time? While you could travel the world (cheap countries only) on a $30,000 income, why would you want to? Don’t you want a thriving business based on your expertise?
Making a “living” this way sets you up to be a disposable service provider. Your time, work, and sanity are not valued. You’re always scrambling to make a buck and then stretch that buck out.
Taking charge of your life doesn’t include working for minimum wage so you can sleep in a hostel.. it looks way more like OWNING your skills, earning top dollar for them and working less so you can relax.
The solution is to start turning the wheels now with an online business while you continue to work your day job. Or, if you have an established network in your chosen industry, to put all your efforts into your shiny new business.
Now that we have established the business comes first, how do you figure out what that business is?
Ask yourself these questions:
What do I love?
Do you love design? Creating things?
What am I exceptional at?
Maybe you’re really great at designing eye-catching book covers. While you enjoy designing flyers, ads and other things- you really excel at book covers. From here, you can narrow down your focus.
What do I want my daily life to look like?
Maybe you want to wake up by a beach, bike and swim for a few hours and then work for four straight hours until dinner. Or maybe you want to work 5pm-12am, go out and party and sleep all day. The more specific, the better.
Freedom doesn’t come from working few hours. Freedom happens when you are in control of doing work you love.
The online business waters are murky at best, because I would take a bet that half of all online business aren’t making any money. Probably due to the fact they put their dreams in front of a solid business strategy.
Moral of the story? Dream big. But build a business that’s bigger.