Shop Talk: A Crash Course in Opportunity Cost

solopreneur

solopreneur

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

We talked last week about the joy we get from applying a principle from another field or industry to our businesses. We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: We’re nerds. (Who really like Planet Money.)

We bet you’re out there, busting down the sunk cost fallacy like warrior ninjas. We couldn’t be more proud.

Today’s mission, should you choose to accept it: Embrace the concept of opportunity cost.

Put simply, opportunity cost is “A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else.” Furthermore, “The notion of opportunity cost plays a crucial part in attempts to ensure that scarce resources are used efficiently.”

Take the opportunity cost of going to dinner with a friend. You can’t use that money on anything else and you can’t get the time back. But maybe you had an incredible time bonding, you ate delicious food, and you feel less stressed now. Totally worth it, right?

But now imagine that you accepted a gig with a terrible client. It’s boring work, you’re not learning anything new, they’re paying you diddly squat, and it leaves you feeling drained.

Instead, you could have been going through a course to increase your subject knowledge; working for a higher-paying client; doing an exercise class to get that post-work out high; or having a coffee meeting with a potential collaborator.

We know that sometimes in life and business, you have to do things that are less-than-desirable to make ends meet.

But remember this: The minute you say yes to one opportunity, you ensure that, for the time being, your resources (brain power, money, energy, and time) are unavailable for any other possibility.

The solution? Before taking on any opportunity, think about the monetary and non-monetary costs associated with it. Could your available resources be directed to a better opportunity?

Think about this, too: For every minute or hour you spend cleaning, cooking, or working on certain pieces of your business likely not related to your expertise, you’re giving up time and energy that could be spent on more high-value activities. (Yes, we’re giving you justification for hiring a cleaner, meal prep service, and/or a VA. You’re welcome!)

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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Shop Talk: The Sunk Cost Fallacy — And How to Let It Not Scare You

goal setting

goal setting

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Last week, we talked about the magical solution of completing a task by dropping it. (Missed it? Catch up here.)

Is it safe to say that some friction presented itself when you considered what you might be able to drop from your undoubtedly robust to-do list? We bet that friction has a little something to do with one of our favorite economic principles: sunk cost.

For the non-nerds, a definition: “In economics and business decision-making, sunk cost refers to the cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered.

Monetary costs. Energetic costs. Time costs. They’re all costs that are very real to our businesses as One Woman Shops.

We alluded to sunk cost in our diatribe on dropping tasks last week when we said:

“You might be a lot further in. You might’ve spent hours on plans and outreach. Hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on bringing it to life. Endless amounts of energy truly trying to make it work…No amount of time, money, or energy invested is worth carrying on with something that isn’t going to get you closer to where you want to be or how you want to live…”

Let’s take this one step further, to the sunk cost fallacy.

From YouAreNotSoSmart.com (haha!), the sunk cost fallacy states that: “Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something, the harder it becomes to abandon it.”

Today, we encourage you to look over your to-do list (yes, again) and see if the sunk cost fallacy is at play with any of your current projects. Say to yourself, “The money, time, and energy I’ve invested in this project can’t be recovered, but I’m not doing myself a service by continuing forward.” Then (you guessed it!), drop that project.

Because here’s the thing…we also know this to be true in our businesses: The best ideas resurface.

It’s not easy to remember this when you’re considering letting something go, or dropping something you’ve started, or heck, when you’re in the middle of that meditation session and an idea strikes but you know you shouldn’t grab your phone and open Evernote to jot it down.

So we’ll repeat it: The best ideas resurface.

Need evidence? Pull up an old planner, old notebooks, or old Google Docs. We bet you’ll be surprised to see how many ideas you’ve actually acted on and implemented since you first wrote them down ages ago.

Maybe when the idea first presented itself, you didn’t have all the information you needed. Maybe you didn’t have the network of collaborators and purchasers in place yet. Maybe you didn’t have the time or energy to invest in it.

And now, maybe despite the costs you’ve already sunk into the project you’re considering dropping, it just isn’t the right time.

At the risk of sounding incredibly woo-woo, trust the process. Take steps forward if you can and want to, but rest assured that your best ideas will make their way into the world in some way, shape, or form eventually.

And if you live in constant fear of those amazing ideas disappearing forever? We remind you of an idea from last week: the simple but (for us) revolutionary idea of having a “Hold” section on your to-do list.

Tell us: What can you drop today?

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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Shop Talk: The Quickest Way to Get Something Done

solopreneur

solopreneur

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Have you ever had an idea that you were really jazzed about? The drop-everything-and-make-this-happen idea that wakes you up at 3am; makes you (gasp) forget you need coffee; finds you telling your pets about it because you’ve already chewed the ear off anyone else who will listen?

We love those ideas.

A lot of times, those ideas relight the fire and lead to breakthroughs in our businesses. They give us direction and purpose. They turn into the product, the service, or the platform that helps us grow.

But we’re not here to talk about those times. We’re here to talk about what happens when that idea you had just isn’t working out.

You know, the not-so-glamorous side of things. The times when:

  • You’ve put your all into it (time, money, energy), and it just didn’t work…
  • Your idea is made up of a lot of “shoulds” and not a lot of “wants”…
  • The fire’s burnt out and you’re no longer excited…

When you’re a solopreneur with endless ideas, this is bound to happen. And you’re bound to be plagued by the shame and the “shoulds” that keep you holding on.

Today, we’re granting you permission to let it go.

One of our favorite leading ladies, Arianna Huffington, wisely wrote in Thrive: “You can complete a project by dropping it.”

For her, it was about learning to play the violin and speak German. She wasn’t taking action, but, in her words, “Any project that you’ve started in your mind drains energy.”

You might be a lot further in. You might’ve spent hours on plans and outreach. Hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on bringing it to life. Endless amounts of energy truly trying to make it work.

Again: It’s okay to let it go. No amount of time, money, or energy invested is worth carrying on with something that isn’t going to get you closer to where you want to be or how you want to live, solopreneur. It’s oh-so-simple, but we know it’s not easy.

So we remind you of these two things:

1. Nearly everything we do as solopreneurs is a learning opportunity. In working on this idea, you’ve undoubtedly learned something new; met new people; did things you didn’t think you could.

2. Dropping a project now doesn’t mean dropping a project forever. (The “Hold” section of our to-do list is solid.)

And, finally…This is not a case study for taking the easy way out; for walking away from something just because it’s hard. This isn’t about sloughing off and making progress on your Netflix queues. (Okay, well, it’s not just about that.)

Simply put, this isn’t advice for the lazy — they don’t need it. (And we know that’s not you.) This is advice for the overachievers who want to do.it.all, all.the.time.

To you, we ask: What can you cross off your to-do list by dropping it?

(Even if it’s just for now…)

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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Shop Talk: Build in Bonuses (A Short Guide to Goal Setting)

goal setting

goal setting

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

We often find that our members and coaching clients are driven, motivated business owners who fall into a trap of feeling guilty for not doing more.

On a recent call, one member mentioned that she’s been setting high goals for herself and her business each month. Although she feels like she’s accomplished plenty by the end of the month, she’s still disappointed that she hasn’t quite reached her lofty goals. The issue isn’t in her productivity — it’s in her goal setting.

Our suggestion? Implement the “bonus” trick.

Here’s how it works: On your to-do list, create your “must-do” section, as well as a “bonus section” of tasks that you would love to do but aren’t absolutely critical to the success of your business. If you get to the tasks on the bonus section? Extra brown points within your biz! If you don’t? No guilt.

A similar trick is using the phrase “at least” when goal setting.

  • Is your goal to pitch guest posts? Set a goal of “at least 2 pitches.”
  • Is your goal to go on daily walks? Make a goal of “at least 3 walks this week.”
  • Is your goal to be in touch with your email list more? Set a goal of “at least 12 times this year.”

It’s the same mental game as the “bonus” trick: You have a minimum goal to reach, but if you go above and beyond, you’ll positively impact your business and your mindset.

Let us know if you implement the “bonus” trick and how it shifts your mindset towards goal setting!

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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Shop Talk: If One Person…

solopreneur

solopreneur

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Today we’re coming at you with a reminder that we always tell ourselves. (Pretty much all of our Shop Talk posts could also be filed under “Notes To Self.”)

If one person is vocalizing something, there are probably other people out there thinking it.

How can this reminder help you in your solo business?

If someone emails you a question about how to set up ConvertKit, there are probably others wishing they had a useful tutorial to refer to. Consider writing a step-by-step blog post with instructions.

If you offer an e-course that’s normally delivered week-by-week and one of your community members asks if it’s possible to access it all at once, there are probably other people out there who are afraid to look demanding or hadn’t even thought to make such a straightforward request. Consider offering the e-course both week-by-week (for those who want to take bite-sized steps so they don’t feel overwhelmed) and all at once (for those who like to batch their tasks and/or want to do it in one fell swoop while they’re energized).

If one person emails you telling you that they’re having trouble downloading their brand new Solopreneur Success Bundle because of tech issues, there are probably at least two (okay, ten) others who are also having trouble. Consider double-checking the delivery process, changing the number of downloads each person can have, and having a backup method for delivering the Bundle if all else fails.

And after you’ve taken action steps, take a minute to thank the people who are taking time out of their days to articulate what others in your community might very well be thinking.

P.S. Because every post we write and video that we record must have at least one caveat, here it is: If someone is expressing a completely outlandish or irrational opinion, feel free to let it silently disappear into the black hole of “What in the actual…..??”

Shop Talk: Find the Wiggle Room

find wiggle room

find wiggle room

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Often, our coaching clients and community members come to us feeling overwhelmed and like they have no space or time to breathe, let alone create. They’re stuck in firefighting mode and their wheels are turning…but the car ain’t moving. If you’re in this mode often or always, that’s part of a larger problem (a time scarcity mindset, a lack of prioritization, or an inability to say no, perhaps?).

But, inevitably, there will be times over the course of your solo biz when you will feel like you can barely keep the biz going because of a lack of time — self-care seems laughable and focusing on growth? Impossible.

Two common times for these feelings? During the holidays and during a product launch.

During these periods, we urge you to find the wiggle room. What do we mean by that? Find the moments here and there where you can make adjustments — i.e. wiggle free a bit more time.

Does your at-home workout need to be 1 hour or would 30 minutes of HIIT accomplish just as much today?

Do you need to make a gourmet meal or would a Crockpot meal — or even a microwavable meal — suffice just for tonight?

Do you need to walk to your coworking space or would it be okay to pay for an Uber (or tuk tuk, if you’re Cristina) this afternoon?

Do you need to post 25 pins on Pinterest per day or would 15 be enough this week?

Do you need to stick to your 4 times per week blog post schedule or will your readers understand if you cut it back to 3 times per week just this month?

You get the gist. Where can you find a bit of wiggle room today?

P.S. If you find yourself in this mode often, it might be time to reclaim your time. We can help…for free. Grab our free, 5-day email course below.

Your days, back in your hands.

Get instant access to 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, a free email course with the mindset shifts + action steps you need to get started in reframing your relationship with time. Sign up below!

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Shop Talk: It Doesn’t Have to Feel Special

solopreneur

solopreneur

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

One of our biggest takeaways from reading The E-Myth Revisited was how often business owners are focused on their own interests, wants, and whims instead of those of their customers and clients.

We want our businesses to be so fulfilling for us that we often overlook an extremely important end goal of any business: to generate profit by satisfying customers.

We’ve, of course, experienced this at OWS HQ. For example, around this time last year, we wanted to provide a content upgrade (read: bonus) on our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs list. We wanted to add value to the already jam-packed list. Something new and exciting and special.

In the midst of the brainstorming process of what that upgrade should be, Sara had a simple idea: Why not use something valuable that we had already created that we thought would perfectly fit those who landed on #100BestSites? (That thing = The Road to Solopreneur Success ebook.)

We wouldn’t be creating something just to create it. We wouldn’t be pouring hours of work into something new.

But? It wouldn’t feel special. We wouldn’t be lit up by watching something we had created be put out into the world for the first time. (Because, as any solopreneur knows, you can’t beat the rush of launch day.)

But we quickly realized that we weren’t taking the easy or lazy way out. We were taking the most effective and efficient route — the one that made the most sense for us, yes, but also, for our audience. And there’s something to be said for that.

How can you put aside your own need for “specialness” and instead choose efficiency and effectiveness for your audience today?

Shop Talk: Looking Past Your Own Biases

d: biases

d: biases

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

Here’s an important lesson that we seem to learn and relearn here at One Woman Shop: Just because we don’t behave in a certain way doesn’t mean others don’t.

(Did that sentence confuse you? Us too. Keep reading, it gets better.)

We’ve been working hard to run Facebook Ads more strategically lately — which means running multiple versions of each ad to see which performs best. (This could mean mixing up the graphic, the copy, or the audience — but only one at a time in order to have a control. Hello, #highschoolscience.)

We started by testing three different graphics for our Road to Solopreneur Success ebook. One explained what the ebook is, one used the term “free ebook,” and one said “free download.”

biases

biases

biases

 

This test stood out to us for a reason: We were both hesitant to include the word “free” on the graphics, because those aren’t the kinds of ads we tend to click on ourselves.

Of course, that’s why we experiment: The two ads with “free” on them far outperformed the other one.

Lightbulb moment: We never would have known this if we had only acted in accordance with our own biases. The lesson here? Just because you behave one way as a consumer doesn’t mean all other consumers behave the same way.

Case in point:

  • Just because we might not use the “Pin it” buttons on websites we hang out on doesn’t mean we shouldn’t install a Pinterest plugin and then optimize our images for maximum pinning — because other people do use these buttons.
  • Just because we might not follow brands on Instagram doesn’t mean others don’t — so we should consider actively updating our Instagram account and mentioning our latest product and service launches.
  • Just because we might not watch videos doesn’t mean others don’t love them. So we might host regular shows for those in our community who do love video.

We have found that this trap is especially tricky when you’re in the target market that you’re serving — it’s easy to feel like you speak for your whole audience, but often you don’t.

As usual, a caveat: We’re not encouraging you to do anything that you feel uneasy or icky about. If you have a strong opposition to something, go with your gut. But if you have a sneaking suspicion that your personal preferences may be hindering your potential reach, it might be time to think outside of that box.

Do some market research. Ask your solopreneur friends about their experiences. Heck, ask your community what they like and dislike. Go forth, friend, and get creative.

Shop Talk: It Doesn’t Matter if You Don’t Deserve It

solopreneur sanity

solopreneur sanity

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

We once had a coaching client blurt out “I want to run away” mid-session. We could have laughed and kept pressing her about her to-do list, but we paused and asked her…“Do you need to run away?”

If you find yourself thinking or saying “I need a break,” consider it. Maybe it’s an hour-long nap, maybe it’s a day of playing hooky and laying in bed with mint chocolate chip ice cream and How I Met Your Mother, or maybe it’s a week-long beach vacation with no wifi.

Here’s what our client’s — and so many others’ — first reaction was when we brought up the idea of actually stepping away: “But I don’t deserve it!”

We know that feeling, because we feel it often. You just got back from vacation, so you don’t deserve a day off. You didn’t work enough yesterday, so you don’t deserve to take a few hours off today. Heck, you don’t even deserve a 10-minute break to go on a walk or meditate, let alone a 20-minute break to take a power nap.

But can we tell you a little secret? It really doesn’t matter if you “deserve” it or not. We won’t get too philosophical, but what does “deserving” mean anyway? Who determines what you and we deserve?

When you find yourself with that thought, ask yourself this instead: “Will taking a break allow me to do better work in a more joyful way?” If the answer is yes, to hell with what you deserve or don’t — time to plan a break, either immediately or in the near future, and remember this: Rest does not equal rust.

P.S. We know running away isn’t always the answer, and what works today might not work tomorrow. That’s why we wrote The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook, with 27 tried-and-true solutions to the inevitable sanity-threatening scenarios we find ourselves in as solopreneurs. You can get a taste of the Handbook with instant access to our free email course, 5 Days to Reclaiming Your Time, below.

Shop Talk: Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

d: strengthsfinder

d: strengthsfinder

Welcome to Shop Talk! While we love providing you with jam-packed, actionable posts, we also wanted to share quick, thought-provoking snippets here and there — from our brains to yours.

So, here’s a fun fact: The Google Doc for this Shop Talk idea was started in February — and all it had in it was the main idea (focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses), and the words “yogi tea” — Sara’s grocery list?

That’s fun, but here’s the ironic part: This idea was already in place before we read StrengthsFinder 2.0 (affiliate link) as part of #OWSBookClub. Clear proof that sometimes we subconsciously know things before we ever have a chance to put them in context.

Fun facts and ironies aside, one thing is very true of solopreneurs, and society in general, really: We focus on our weaknesses way more often than our strengths.

We buy courses to improve areas of our life/business that need honing. We join masterminds filled with people who know things we don’t. We read books on topics we think we should know more about.

Now, learning is all well and good (okay — it’s more than that — we love learning), but it’s the attitude we take toward learning that is a bit of a concern.

Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0, would argue that instead of attempting to better our weaknesses, we should capitalize on our strengths.

Said another way: Instead of targeting our learning toward the things we feel we should be better at, why not target our learning at the skills we already have?

For me, Sara, that might mean setting aside more time to focus on really diving into what I’m reading. (First strength from the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment: Achiever, with a description that includes really taking time to absorb and process what’s being read.)

For Cristina, that might mean finding resources that help her hone her analytical thinking. (Her first strength: Strategic.)

The point is this: We all have innate strengths that stand out. How would this world be different if we all focused on improving our strengths, and spent our time learning things we were genuinely interested in?

If it sounds like capitalizing on those strengths is really just taking the easy way out, it usually isn’t — because sometimes, despite being our strengths, they still might not necessarily be in our comfort zone.

There’s always room for improvement when it comes to our strengths. Start there. Your “weaknesses” can wait for another day.

PS: We had a lot of fun sharing our results on The Hot Seat. An interesting revelation: We could each have the same strength (i.e. Learner), but it manifests in very different ways from person-to-person.

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