Archive for the ‘Day to day’ Category

Password Management apps make it easy

Password management apps can make your life much easier. Tired of trying to remember all your passwords? Stuck resetting every time your saved logins get wiped out? Turn to a password management app.

If you’re like me, you have a bazillion passwords for business, home and family. It seems like everything needs a login these days — your Wifi, electric company, phone company, email, online notes, social media and even devices like phones and computers. And you may even have multiple accounts with the same company, perhaps having accounts for home, business, multiple plans or even your kids.

This summer, I experimented with a couple of free password management systems. These are encrypted systems that manage all your logins and allow you to automatically login in by using a master password. You would not believe the stress relief this brought!

I tried 1Password and loved it, but switched to LastPass because I saw that I could share passwords with other people without telling them the password. So now it’s easy to hand over login credentials to web developers, freelancers and others without taking the risk of them actually knowing or seeing it. This makes collaboration easier, reduces risk and saves everyone the hassle of calling to find out what the password is THIS TIME.

In fact, LastPass on my phone lets me log in to see passwords just using fingerprint recognition. And you can use it for more than passwords — you can make secure notes and store secure photos too.

Every system has its limits and I’m not suggesting these systems are infallible. But if you are constantly setting passwords, using the same password on multiple sites or using easily hacked, easily guessed passwords (like password!), you may find that password management apps make your life a whole lot easier.

Label makers for business

I use a lot of nifty gadgets in my business and it just occurred to me that I haven’t talked about them in ages. Well, I was just on Amazon to check on my print books, when I ran across this label maker.

Now, I’m an Amazon affiliate. I’ll be clear about that up front. But I use a label maker in my own business and it occurred to me that maybe other people could do the same. I got the idea to use a label maker from my client, who has franchised her business internationally. She’s always hip to new ideas. I bought my label maker about four years ago.

How do I use my label maker? Well, I put labels on my devices. In fact, I put my cell # and tell people to text me, along with my email. I figure people are more likely to text you than call you. I put labels on my storage boxes. I label things I take along to meetings. I put labels in books I loan out. I put them on water bottles I use at meetings. I put them on anything I cart along with me. I put them on anything I think I might lose or misplace.

I wouldn’t say labels have changed my life. I still label a ton of things with Sharpie markers:

But they’ve been a help. And maybe they’ll help you. I have a Brother label maker (in pastel pink!) that I picked up at Staples, but I noticed the above label maker on sale and thought maybe someone else out there would want to discover the magic of label makers.

Related – Office gadgets I can’t live without

Finding time to work ON your business

Are you finding time to work ON your business, or do you feel like you are just stuck in a hamster wheel? Perhaps you are in a rut, and don’t realize it. With just a few changes, you can approach your business with a new outlook. You may have heard of all of the following concepts, but are you applying them to your own business? Make the time.

Time Management
 
Time management is crucial to running a successful business. But don’t forget to schedule in personal time, as well. Finding time to work ON your business also means finding the time to work on yourself. Balance your work life and your personal life, and the rest will follow.
 
Challenge and change …
 
… and your business will reap the benefits. Explore learning opportunities, both in your community and online. Courses such as finance, management, and communication will enhance your business skills and give you a new appreciation for the work that you do. But don’t limit yourself to business courses, either. Try something new, like web design. Learning a skill will enhance your mental fitness, as well as your business fitness. Plus, networking opportunities abound when taking courses.
 
Networking
 
Networking must never be overlooked. Join local and regional business associations. Attend their functions regularly. Business peers can provide you with industry news, fresh ideas, and new technology. You will have the opportunity to promote your business, make professional contacts, and scope out future opportunities.
 
Delegate, if necessary
 
Don’t get caught in the trap of doing everything yourself. If you’re swamped by paperwork, or behind on the bookkeeping, hire an assistant. Freeing yourself from tedious tasks will allow you to make the time for what really matters in your business.
 
Finding time to work ON your business
 
As you can see, finding time to work ON your business doesn’t have to be boring or unrewarding. In fact, making the time to work ON your business will perhaps be your most valuable hours in the day in terms of return on investment. Push yourself to apply these few basic principles, and you will approach your business with a fresh outlook, and new opportunities for growth.

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Nobody told me

 

NOBODY TOLD ME

there’d be days like this

where I’d wake up in the morning

feeling like it’s just another day

But then the email piles up

The phone’s ringing

A pile of papers crashes to the floor

I’ve got to schedule 6 appointments

File those darn taxes

Buy more printer toner

Fix that stupid fax machine

Chase down those unpaid invoices

 

Nobody told me

THERE’D BE DAYS LIKE THIS

when I started my business. Or maybe they did but I sure as heck wasn’t going to listen to them. No way, buddy. I’m an entrepreneur. Let’s get this party started. Or at least that’s how I felt at the time.

 

Nobody told me there’d be days like this, where I feel like I’m losing my mind and I can’t believe I’m in charge and there’s no one else to ask. Nobody told me there’d be days like this.

 

But then a client emails and tells me

What an amazing job I did

And a friend asks if I want to go for a long lunch Thursday

AND I CAN

And my kid’s sick but I don’t have to worry about childcare

Because I don’t have to ask anyone but me if I can work from home

And I’ve got dinner cooking on the stove

I just accepted a delivery

Tomorrow’s meeting is over cocktails with a long time friend turned business partner

A dash to the printer’s to pick up business cards means meeting old friends

My best friend and I never know whether to write off dinner
because it’s always business and it’s always pleasure
and we wouldn’t change a thing

And I can’t decide if my friends are
ENTREPRENEURS
because they’re my friends or
if they’re my friends because they’re entrepreneurs
but it doesn’t matter because my entire business world
is made up of my friends

Now the mail is here and

I just picked up a cheque

And it has my name on it

And a note from the client that has such heartfelt thanks that I tear up a bit.

Nobody told me there’d be days like this.

And I wish they had

Because days like this are what makes

being an entrepreneur

So rewarding. So real. So me.

Analysis paralysis cures for small business owners

Analysis paralysis cures for small business owners - don't get hit by the ballYou see the ball flying toward you, but you somehow can’t get out of the way. You’re too busy looking at all the other options – run, jump, dive, heck, even duck. All you need to do is stick your glove in front of the ball, but you can’t even do that. You can’t move a muscle.

And then the ball socks you right in the jaw.

Ouch.

Actually, let’s emphasize that a little. OUCH! (Add !*&#&^ % if it fits, too.)

That sort of paralysis on the playing field can happen in your business too. And, while it may not break your jaw, it can really hurt.

If you’re like a lot of small business owners, you may suffer from analysis paralysis. That’s where you’re so busy analyzing what’s going on and worrying about where to go that you stop making any moves at all.

Perhaps you’ve had one of those mornings where you look at consulting business advice, flip over to the news headlines, panic a little at the economy, hit refresh on your email, Google for marketing tips, log on to Twitte in hopes of finding salvation…you’re thinking a lot, but not much is getting done.

That sort of analysis paralysis can hurt your business.

But there’s help available. Right below here on the same page, in fact.

Six cures for analysis paralysis in small business

1.      Breathe

Take a deep breath. And let it go. Then take another. And let it go. Just simple and focused. It’s the very first thing you ever learned to do after you were born. And going back to it once in a while can help you regain your focus.

2.      Consider the cost of stalling

If you’re stuck, not much is getting done. What’s it costing you to not be moving forward? Start thinking about what it’s costing you to be stuck and you may realize it’s easier to take a step.

3.      Abandon perfection

Few things need to be perfect. Sure, I’m not going to tell you to put bad stuff out into the world. But getting it right doesn’t have to mean getting it perfect. Just get it out there. Refine as you go along.

4.      Define your goal

If you’re stuck, it’s surely on the way to somewhere. Find one goal you want to move toward. Make that your focus, not the analysis leading up to it.

5.      Figure out the steps on the way to that goal – then take a step.

Put together an action plan for meeting your goal. Then choose the first step and go for it. You won’t move forward if you don’t take a step. (Read about SMART goals, if this is new to you.)

6.      Get support

When you’re questioning your every move, sometimes it makes sense to solicit feedback from your inner circle. You’re your own worst critic. So talk to some people who can look at what you’re doing through fresh eyes.

 What’s keeping you from moving ahead?

8 reasons the economy means opportunity

Opportunities for consultants in a bad economyWorried about the economy? Don’t be.

When you’re a consultant you’re in control. You create your own business, your own contacts and your own client list. Being in control is one of the many reasons why consulting rules.

Here are 8 reasons the economy means opportunity for consultants:

1. Layoffs mean gaps that need to be filled

Fewer employees in the workforce mean that there are unmet company needs that can’t be filled by regular employees.

2. Less competition

When the economy is threatening to go sour many on-the-fence consultants looking for a change take the opportunity to get back into the regular 9-to-5 workforce.

3. More short-term contracts and one-off projects

Many companies are hesitant to take on new employees during so-called “bad” economic times and turn to consultants instead.

4. During a down-turn companies get serious about growth

During a shaky economy companies tend to get serious about marketing and planning their future. This can mean more work for consultants who offer strategic advice.

5. Opportunity to diversify your client base

If your regular source of work dries up during tough economic times it can be a great time to tweak your primary target market. Try government or healthcare or other industries who are less affected by the economy.

6. Look for new opportunities that weren’t there before

Downturn in the economy? Consider the market and whether that downturn has opened up a new opportunity in your service offering.

7. More time on your hands? Get focused.

Finding yourself with a gap in your schedule due to a slow economy? Take the time time think. Have you been too reactive when it comes to accepting new clients? Why not take this opportunity to go after the clients that you really want–rather than take the jobs that come knocking on your door. If you’ve been running from project to project without a chance to catch up or plan strategically, get serious about your business and go after the clients that will really take your business to the next level.

8. Work-life balance

Many consultants take few vacations and operate on a boom and bust schedule, often working erratic schedules if they are driven to grow their business. Finding yourself with a bit more free time? Relax. And take a moment to catch up on your work-life balance.

So don’t get sucked into worrying about the economy. Focus on the opportunities that are out there and how you can provide value in your industry.

Do you agree with these 8 reasons the economy means opportunity?

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8 consulting lessons they don’t teach you in school

8 consulting lessons they don’t teach you in school – From setting rates to firing clients, university curriculum doesn’t quite cover the ins and outs of consulting! Here are 8 consulting lessons that you won’t learn in academia:  

1. Marketing doesn’t have to be a pain.

Marketing can be viewed as a necessary evil or as self-nurture.  Marketing doesn’t have to hurt. Learn to love marketing and networking, and you’ll reap the rewards.

2. You don’t have to be outgoing to succeed as a consultant.

Shy? You can still build a business network even as an introvert. In fact, introverts bring special skills to their businesses. Learn to leverage your personality – be it an introverted or extroverted one.

3. Firing your clients is an option.

Not being treated with the respect you deserve? Is your client an annoyance or a money pit? As a consultant, firing your clients is always an option!

4. How to set consultant rates.

Setting consulting rates is one of the most important elements of your business.  Find out everything you need to know about setting consulting fee rates right here.

5. Sometimes saying no can be the best decision you’ve ever made.

Every time you say yes to one thing you’re in effect saying no to something else as a result. Do you want to be a specialist or do you want to be a generalist? Should you "do windows"?

6. How to build your expert status.

Consultants get hired for their expertise. Here are some excellent tips on how to build your expert status–even if you’re not the world’s leading expert in your industry.

7. What to do when a client doesn’t pay.

It’s bound to happen eventually. Do you know what to do when a client doesn’t pay? Here is an outline of the steps you should take when a consulting client doesn’t pay.

8. Consulting rules: From work-life balance to choosing your own co-workers and clients, here are 8 reasons why consulting rules.

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Why build your consulting website using WordPress

Whether you are a just getting started as a consultant or whether you’re a seasoned veteran, chances are you will need a consulting website. Gone are the days where a business card will suffice when it comes to marketing your consulting business. You’re going to need a website.

The good news is that building a website is not as expensive as it used to be. And websites are becoming easier and easier to update and use.

If you are in the early stages of getting your consulting website set up, I suggest finding an IT consultant who is familiar with "WordPress" and having your consulting website built on WordPress.

What is WordPress? WordPress started out as free blog publishing software, but it is now used for more than just blogs. In fact, WordPress has been used by the Wall Street Journal, Ford, universities and many other large organizations. 

So, why build your consulting website using WordPress? Here are the top three reasons why you should build your consulting website using WordPress.

1. Inexpensive:

WordPress is free to use and inexpensive to install. Most IT consultants and firms are familiar with WordPress, and setting it up for you is a snap, which is generally reflected in the price.

Quick tip: Ensure that your WordPress site is installed on your own domain name (for example: www.yourbusinessname.com) rather than at the free WordPress blogging site (for example: www.yourbusinessname.wordpress.com).

2. Easy to use

WordPress is easy to use. And its popularity ensures that there are many online tutorials available for free. These tutorials can help you learn how to update your own website without having to rely on your IT consultant for every little change, such as changing your phone number or mailing address.

3. Standardized

If, in future, you would like to change the design of your consulting website, it will be easy to change because WordPress is standardized. You can easily buy new designs for your website, which most IT professionals should be able to install for you.

Are you looking for an IT professional to help you build your consulting website using WordPress? Check out the consultant directory.

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50 people in line for our teleseminar tonight!

Wow, I must say I’m floored. When we sent out the invitation for Consultant Journal readers to take part in tonight’s free teleseminar, I was hoping that we might get 10 people to register. I’m being really honest here – it’s my first time doing something like this for Consultant Journal and I wasn’t sure how readers would respond. I felt there was a good chance many of you felt “stuck” in your lives, but I had no idea so many of you would be keen to listen in. (By the way, if you aren’t able to make the call, you can still register and listen to the recording later.)

As I mentioned, I’ve partnered with Gerrianne Clare of Family Guidance System to offer a FREE teleseminar for Consultant Journal readers. Tonight, Wednesday, July 6 at 5pm Pacific, I’ll be interviewing Gerrianne about:

  • A simple 3 step technique to move from “feeling stuck” to being “in the flow” to achieve positive, lasting results in all parts of your life.
  • HOW to keep negative energy and family stress from creeping into your business performance (and vice versa)
  • A little known unconscious habit common to many consultants and solopreneurs that can sabotage your work/life balance

Ready to get in the flow?  REGISTER HERE. (link removed)

I’m very excited about tonight’s call and look forward to “meeting” many of you on the line.

Business moms – 5 things they won’t tell you

Business moms – Here are 5 things they won’t tell you about working from home.

1. Sometimes you’ll miss wearing business attire

While it can be great to work at home in casual wear–especially in the beginning–you may want to get ready for the day before you start working in the mornings. Freshening up and looking professional can help you get into work mode and can make your family take you more seriously.

2. Working at home with kids is not the same as working at home without kids

Let’s face it. Working at home with children in the house is simply not the same as working at home in an empty house. You will have to be much more mindful of taking telephone calls and scheduling conference calls when you’ve got children in the next room. Depending on your children’s ages, interruptions will happen and you may have to be flexible about working hours depending on your children’s needs.

3. There will be bad days

Just like with any job, there will be bad days as a business mom. Even I have my days! 

4. Sometimes saying no can be tough

Being a business mom can mean that you’ve got some tough decisions to make, especially when it comes to scheduling and saying no. As a business mom you’re juggling a lot of competing priorities, and sometimes it can be difficult knowing which route to choose, like when I received a dream call from a reporter who wanted to interview me four days after my second son was born.

5. Believe it or not, working at home can get lonely

While the idea of no longer having a boss and not having to spend time with co-workers may sound great, working at home can indeed get lonely–even when you have children at home. Here are tips for dealing with home office isolation.

While these 5 things they won’t tell you about what it’s like to be a business mom may focus on the negative, it’s important to remember that the good far outweighs the bad. The 30 things I love about being a parent entrepreneur are just a tiny sampling of the hundreds of reasons why I love being a business mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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