Finding the Sweet Spot Between Dreams vs. Reality in Business

“Never pretend to be a unicorn by sticking a plunger on your head.”

Sage advice from Martίn Espada in ‘Advice to Young Poets.’

Unicorns are iconic. Emblematic. They symbolize the effortless realization of dreams.

The thing is, dreams are real, but unicorns are not.

That seems like a despondent note to start on, but it’s actually kick-start positive.

Having dreams is healthy. It gives you goals and ambition — a driving force for all that you do. It reassures you in the face of failure and encourages you when you’re out of ideas. Solopreneurs often have no one to rely on but themselves. We all need an inner unicorn.

But business success isn’t magic, no matter how much we might wish it to be. Reality has a nasty habit of making dreams slow and difficult to realize.

Here’s your first reality check: Nothing is impossible.

Not if you set realistic goals, work hard, and never falter in your self-belief.

Let’s say you want to offer a business coaching program: A six-figures-in-twelve-months sort of thing, with mindfulness and wellbeing to boot. (Not just another get-rich-quick gig.)

This program will cost in the realm of $10,000. You know people can and do pay that kind of money for great programs.

It is, however, unlikely you’ll get to that point overnight.

Don’t despair. Finding the balance is tricky, but plotting a realistic goal to success will make achieving that $10,000 dream much more achievable.

Because why shouldn’t you be earning that much per client if that’s your dream?

It’s just a matter of discerning dreams vs. reality in business, then taking it one step at a time.

Step 1: In five years’ time

Close your eyes and think about what you want to achieve in five years’ time.

See yourself bathed in success. Your program is a hit and you’ve got a waiting list. You’re living in your dream home, you’re loving life.

See the dream. (Your own, that is.) Fall in love with it.

Promise yourself you’ll make it.

Once you’ve got the dream down in Technicolor, you need to add some black and white realism.

How are you going to get there?

Step 2: Pen and paper

Get out your trusty moleskine, or your laptop, or phone.

I have a ‘Dreams For This Year’ list on the Wunderlist app, for instance, that I check every morning to remind myself why I do what I do.

Putting your dream to paper (or screen) makes it physical. It makes it something you can touch. It’s your accountability on dark days.

It makes it real.

Step 3: Go digital

Businesses are bedfellows with the Internet now. It’s almost impossible to launch a business without a website to match.

Getting your dream domain, setting down a design (either yourself or with a professional) and launching it makes it all official.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have your product ready to go yet — having a mesmerising landing page and opt-in form is a great way to get the ball rolling.

Work on amassing a stellar email list. Spread the word about your product. Send your loyal subscribers some high-quality newsletters or mini e-books with actionable, unique takeaways. Write a blog to underpin the product.

Is this quick list a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? 100%.

Think of it as laying the groundwork for your main product. You wouldn’t leap into a marathon without any training. If you build up a solid audience then market your product well, the launch will be far more lucrative and you’ll see a positive ROI much quicker than delving into a cold market.

Ongoing: Love your stumbles

Learning from your mistakes is one of the best qualities in any business person, particularly a solopreneur.

As a one woman shop, you can’t handle everything all at once without occasionally slipping up. Take the falls on the chin, make a note, and work to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Likewise, figure out what does work and stick to it.

Ongoing: Pen Pencil and paper

People change as they grow. You might suddenly want a tattoo, or a cat. Your dream of a skyscraper studio apartment might morph into a cottage with land to keep miniature donkeys.

Dreams can change, too. They might shift into something bigger, something with a new end game, targeted to a different market.

That’s okay. That’s natural.

Don’t feel you’ve failed. Pencilled dreams can be rubbed out and altered, whereas dreams written in pen are final and can only be crossed out.

Keep an open mind. There’s more than one way to achieve success.

Ongoing: Value your critics

…what?

That might seem self-destructive, but your naysayers act as free consultants.

It might be difficult to see the faults in your program because you’ve invested so much of yourself into it. An outside opinion could actually be beneficial.

There’s a difference between someone trying to cut you down and someone trying to cut you a break.

Listen to them. Think of what your product will look like if you implement their changes. Don’t be too proud and reject outside help, whether in the form of assistance or criticism.

View critique as a free screening. If any glaring errors are found, you’ll be glad you listened to your cynical friend.

Ongoing: Embrace your inner unicorn

Be bold. Be brave. A unicorn is a mythical creature that has stood the test of time, despite being literally impossible.

You can do the same. Know the difference between dreams vs. reality in business, then be like a unicorn and never give up on that dream. It might take a little longer than a day but you’ll get there so long as you stick to your plan, maintain your work ethic, and learn as you progress.

Keep a clear head and a focused goal. Don’t be afraid of change and criticism.

And know that when — not if — when you get there, you deserve every bit of it.

P.S. On the other hand? Perhaps it doesn’t matter if you don’t deserve it.

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: 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?

Hygge & Grit: How Nordic Principles Can Inspire Solopreneurs

Let’s hygge-fy your business. What exactly does that mean? Hygge is a Danish word and Nordic ethos that evokes a cozy, safe sense of home — and it’s a phrase taking the world by storm, for good reason.

In fact, this Nordic mentality might just be able to help you run a better business, solopreneur. Read on and prepare to be inspired.

How can you adopt the hygge mentality in business?

Hygge (pronounced “hooga”) translates most closely to “coziness” — but a cozy, safe sense of home doesn’t have to be taken literally. Hygge is an ethos that can apply to life, home, business, selling, and more.

Here are a few ways you might use the hygge concept to inspire your business:

  • Reach people where they are at their most genuine. How does your brand intersect with what people really believe? If you always appeal to people’s business side, rather than their personal beliefs, or vice versa, you might be missing out on some great customer relationships.
  • Build an honest sales and marketing strategy. Try to get people to feel empowered about using your product or services, rather than bully or persuade them into it.
  • Practice self-care. Knowing when to switch off and snuggle down brings hygge to our personal self. Your brand (and you) could probably do with doing this every now and then.

Sold on incorporating hygge into your business? Here are some other Nordic-inspired business mantras that might inspire you and your one woman shop:

Balance

The Nordic countries live very balanced lives. They advocate for local produce, natural products, and enjoy healthy lifestyles that allow plenty of space for personal growth and exercise.

This balance, both personal and professional, is crucial. Here’s how you might be inspired by it:

  • Balanced lives make for better business decisions. Being stuck on a hamster wheel of stress makes for uninspired entrepreneurs and uninspiring products. Learn how to disconnect to reconnect. Thanks to their short summers, Nordics embrace their summer to the max and go out into the wilderness to play and relax.
  • The Nordic aesthetic is all about harmony: balancing local materials with ergonomic design. Embrace this same simplicity in your product development – less is sometimes more. (Wasn’t it Coco Chanel herself who told us to get ready, and then remove one item?)
  • Bring a dialogue with the natural world into your business. What green values can you get behind? Do you fully understand the materials you work with? Be explicit and open with customers about your choices.

Confidence

Nordics know all about being a #girlboss.

Living in egalitarian societies, Nordic women are encouraged to stand up and speak confidently about their aspirations. Here’s how you might be inspired by it:

  • Remember that seeking confidence is often a lifelong journey. Don’t become disheartened when you find yourself doubting and questioning yourself. Focus on shifting your internal monologue so that you aren’t putting yourself down, and remember to be kind to yourself in your quest for confidence.

Minimalism

The famous Nordic aesthetic is all about muted tones and textures. (Think: natural shapes and colours on a white, light-filled background.)

This aesthetic goes beyond just style – minimalism is a habit you can adopt to keep your life clean and decluttered. Here’s how you might be inspired by it:

  • Keep your office and digital space clean and uncluttered. Being more minimalist will allow you to take back control of your life.
  • Selling online? Design a store that fits a minimalist aesthetic. Customers will appreciate a high-end, streamlined design that gives your products more space. Shopify has some awesome Nordic-style minimalist themes; or, you could get a freelancer to make one completely bespoke for you.

Sisu (grit)

No English equivalent exists for this Finnish word, but sisu is all about striving and succeeding against all odds.

Rooted in a stubborn and defiant mentality, embracing grit is something all entrepreneurs need from time to time. Here’s how you might be inspired by it:

  • Dig deep when the time calls for it.
      Don’t get snowed under by other people’s expectations. Persevere and move through the hard stuff with style and grace.
  • Sisu isn’t necessarily about being stoic. Sometimes it’s okay to admit that something is hard…but that you’re going to get through it, anyways.

Cooperation

Nordic communities know when it’s time to pool resources and knuckle down for the tough season ahead.

Embrace cooperation to make the most out of the people around you, and forge new collaborative relationships. Here’s how you might be inspired by it:

  • Don’t always see other suppliers as outright competition. There’s usually enough space in the market for everyone. Conferences and knowledge days are a great way to get together and discuss industry trends.
  • Share the love and you’ll get more back.Give back to the community around you with insightful emails, supportive membership groups (like One Woman Shop) and plenty of old-fashioned social media interaction.

Last, but not least: Quality

Quality over quantity is (sometimes) the way to go.

Nordics can’t compete on volume, so they tend to opt for quality instead. Here’s how you might be inspired by it:

  • Focus on what you do best, rather than trying to frantically run after growth or new ideas. By refining your current offering (and perhaps upgrading it), you’re going to develop new products and business ideas in a much more cost-effective way.
  • Build a VIP version of your product or service. Offering an exclusive version of what you do can encourage people to spend more with you.
  • Focus on stating clear value propositions. It’s okay to be more expensive that your rivals if you’re actually offering more. Just make it clear to customers why (and what) that is.

Embrace the hygge mentality in business

Nordics have learned how to carve out successful societies in harsh, unforgiving conditions. When you feel like life or business is getting you down, connect with your inner Nordic spirit.

These values are for everyone and can be endlessly adapted. It’s all about taking something you connect with and making it work for your business.

Tell us below: What Nordic principles are striking your chords?

P.S. As we love to preach…business isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Stuck on Building That Next Big Thing? A Tip: Create What You Need.

Stuck on Building That Next Big Thing? A Tip: Create What You Need.

Stuck on Building That Next Big Thing? A Tip: Create What You Need.

There’s something we mentor our coaching clients and members on nonstop here at One Woman Shop: that you, as a solopreneur, are your first and foremost client.

It seems that without that constant reminder (that everyone needs), it’s easy to keep working in your business and forget that you deserve to work on your business. And it leads to your business often falling by the wayside.

But lately, we’ve seen another reason that it’s important to see yourself as your primary client: because it might just be what you need to get you past that persistent imposter syndrome that digs its claws in and just won’t let go each and every time you’re trying to create something new.

The question you’ll likely be asked

When your inner naysayer does decide to pay you a visit while you’re in creation mode, here’s what you’ll probably hear the most:

“Who do you think you are…”
…to be creating this workbook?
…to be teaching this subject?
…to be coaching these clients?

Fill in the blank with whatever illustrious doubt your imposter syndrome instills in you.

Then, keep this in mind: often times, you’re exactly the person who needs it.

Creating what you need

One of my (Sara’s) favorite authors of all time, Ann Patchett, shared this sage advice in a NY Public Library podcast episode (that was an enlightening, inspiring, and hilarious conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert): “Write the book you want to read.” Likewise, Liz Gilbert preaches in her book, Big Magic, that we need to create for ourselves, not others.

So when you’re questioning who you are to create this, and who in the world is going to listen to what you have to say, be selfish — and create what you need.

Cristina built a 16-page outline for Building Your Online Community nearly overnight because it’s something she’d preached and coached on but knew we could better implement at One Woman Shop.

I, Sara, created Kickstart Your Content because I’ve helped others build effective content strategies and killer blogs, but couldn’t seem to kickstart my own.

And we both went heads down creating our latest product, The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook, because if there’s anything we’ve learned over the past year of intense work at One Woman Shop, it’s that we need all the help we can get when it comes to taking care of our well-being and staying sane as solo business owners.

Put your work to use

The beauty of this approach is this: Not only does it get you past the mental barriers of believing that you’re unfit to create what you’ve set out to build; it also truly solves a problem you have. So once you’re over the hump of creating what you need, practice what you preach and use it.

Go through the lessons of your e-course; hunker down with the workbook; do the work. Not only will you better your business (your #1 client), you’ll also improve what you’ve created when you put it into action.

Take that, imposter syndrome. Who am I to create my next product or service, you ask? The perfect candidate, indeed.

Your turn: What do you tell that pesky imposter syndrome when it’s holding you back from creating?

What You Can Learn from TheSkimm as a Business Owner

theSkimm lessons for business owners

theSkimm lessons for business owners

By now, you’ve probably heard of theSkimm, the startup run by friends and business partners
Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. In case you haven’t: It’s a daily email that rounds up news from around the world in a bite-sized, snarky format. If you’re not yet convinced, keep this in mind: Oprah reads theSkimm every day, they’ve received $6.25 million in funding, and in just two years, they hit 500,000 subscribers.

How does this relate to your solo business, even if you aren’t necessarily looking for venture capital or a business partner?

Here are a few lessons from Carly, Danielle, and the rest of theSkimm team that you can apply to your solo biz:

Make opting in the obvious choice

Shaming your readers? Probably not the best idea. Gently poking fun at them? Gold mine. theSkimm does this by making people feel silly for not opting in. When you land on the site, a pop-up appears with two choices: to click the sign-up button or to click the button that says “No thanks, I prefer to be miserable in the morning.” Kinda makes signing up seem like the obvious choice, right?

You can apply this in your business by utilizing a pop-up that evokes the same emotional response (it probably sounds something like this: “Haha! Welllllll…okay!”) or providing an opt-in that’s so valuable it seems silly not to sign up.

Tell people what to expect

theSkimm markets itself very clearly as a daily email delivered to your inbox at 6am EST. Their tagline is “We read. You skimm,” which notifies potential subscribers that they should expect an easily digestible format.

We’re not saying you should send out a daily email to your community (in fact, that seems like a completely unnecessary undertaking for a solo business owner!), but you too can capitalize on this transparency in your business. We sought to create consistency by scheduling The Hot Seat, our weekly “talk show,” every Wednesday so that people know exactly where and when to find us. Another common example? Marie Forleo followers know that every Tuesday, Marie will post a new episode of MarieTV.

Telling people what to expect isn’t limited to scheduling. Marketing a blog post as a “primer” or “101” instantly tells people that it’s basic, introductory content, just like titling a YouTube video “Quick Tip” indicates — you guessed it — that it’s a short video.

Create an instantly recognizable brand

You’ve probably heard more about branding than you care to know. (No? Then check out our Personal + Professional Branding theme!) But it bears repeating: your images, your colors, your tone, and your formatting should be recognized by your community no matter where you happen to be, online or off — your site, on social media, in the comment areas of other blog, or while giving a live presentation.

We’d wager a guess that any Skimm reader could tell you their signature color (Skimm Blue, as they call it), a few of their memorable subject lines (like Gobble Gobble in honor of Thanksgiving and Espresso Yourself), some of their frequent categories (Quote or Word of the Day, Repeat After Me, Skimm Reads), and their classic first line, “Skimm’d” which is always completed with both cheeky and relatable examples like “over Pillsbury cookie dough,” “watching the Emmys” and “from bed.” They even have a name for their “language”: Skimm-ese.

Capture your own signature pieces and rock those babies anywhere and everywhere.

Speak to your audience

It’s immediately obvious whenever you interact with theSkimm — on their site, on their Instagram account, or in their actual emails — who their audience is: busy millennial women who want to stay up-to-date on world events but don’t necessarily have the time or energy to seek it out. How do we know that’s their audience? They tell us — through that shade of Skimm Blue we mentioned and through references to white wine, “Law & Order: SVU” marathons, Equinox gym memberships, and the US Open.

How can you do this in your solo business? We’ll assume you know who you’re speaking to. Make two lists: one list of things that you identify with and another of things you constantly hear about from your community. In an actual or figurative Venn diagram (love us some Venn diagrams!), find the overlap. This is a version of the method we used to create some of our most popular offerings, like our Solopreneur Sanity Handbook (from conversations about productivity and self-care) and our Location Independence Month (from conversations about the desire of so many in our community to be able to travel and run a business simultaneously).

Make people feel included + incentivize sharing

We personally can’t stand the Mean Girls-inspired graphic circulating on Instagram that says “You can’t sit with us.” We’re opposed to references to exclusion and love the opposite approach: inclusion. theSkimm makes people feel included — and therefore, more inclined to share — in several ways: by mentioning all reader birthdays and by encouraging people to become Skimm’bassadors.

We do the same by allowing people to carry the #OneWomanShopBaton on Instagram, providing a badge that our members can put up on their sites, offering opportunities for members to be featured in the Member Spotlight, and choosing a Member of the Week at random, not to mention special little treats like a chance to win a Starbucks gift card (for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, of course) if you send out a tweet on our behalf.

Find creative ways to loop your community into your mission — and then make it easy for them to showcase their participation by creating Swipe Files of the content you want them to send out, including pre-drafted Click to Tweets, for example.

For goodness sake, make it fun

We imagine it’s a bit of a challenge to make serious world news both informative and fun, but theSkimm does just that. Likewise, teaching people about WordPress, for example, could be incredibly dull, but Shannon of WP+BFF does it in a fun, relatable way. Talking to people about productivity + self-care, like we do in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook, could feel heavy-handed and boring, but we do our best to make it relatable with personal anecdotes and examples.

How can you make things just a bit more relatable, digestible, and yes, flippin’ fun for your community of clients, customers, and collaborators today?

Shop Talk: Just Start (Even If It’s Just for a Few Minutes)

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

Shop Talk snippets from One Woman Shop

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 in life and in business, we’re so intimidated and overwhelmed by something that, instead of breaking it into actionable chunks, we give up altogether.

Learning a language? You’ll never be completely fluent, so why start?

Learning to code? There are too many programming languages out there and you’ll never be an “expert,” so why even bother?

Becoming a champion meditator? An hour, let alone a week, of silence sounds like hell, so why waste your time?

Feeling fit and comfortable in your body? You have too much weight to lose, so what difference will a few pounds make?

What if you were to start with a few minutes per day of French on Duolingo? Or one module from CodeAcademy each morning? Or the shortest Calm meditation each evening? (Hint: It’s two minutes.) Or an intense 15-minute HIIT workout from YouTube in the middle of your day to wake you up and burn some calories?

This isn’t all hypothetical — I (Cristina) have committed to doing about 10 minutes per day of French on Duolingo. I’ve gone from knowing about two phrases (like “J’aime Paris,” because of those shirts that everyone used to wear all of the time in middle school or “C’est la vie” because…B*Witched) to writing and speaking complete sentences and even having mini-epiphanies. (Pret a Manger, the restaurant chain? That means “ready to eat.” I know, my mind was blown too.) Meanwhile, Sara put off meditating for over a year because 20 minutes was way too scary. Committing to five minutes per day in the month of December has made it a regular part of her routine now.

The point? You can see very obvious improvements with a daily habit of just a few minutes.

Choose your “time of least resistance,” and get started. We cover this in The Solopreneur Sanity Handbook: It’s the amount of time that you feel able to commit to following through on without much resistance. It’s not a shortcut; it’s a firestarter. Think to yourself: Am I willing to work on this blog post for 15 minutes? If that feels like too much but 10 minutes seems doable, you’ve got your time of least resistance. If 45 minutes at the gym feels completely overwhelming, ask yourself if 35 minutes seems more manageable. Yes? Do that.

And if your time of least resistance is 30 seconds (say, enough for one new word per day)? Bam — start there.

Acting in Accordance With What You Want

If you know me IRL (in real life), you’ll know that I often think in blog posts — I see a pattern in my life or the lives of friends and family and suddenly, a short and actionable blog post writes itself my head (kinda like the Matrix, but with words instead of numbers).

This situation is no different. I began noticing that often I and others don’t act in accordance with what we say we want. We tell ourselves and those around us that we really really want to (insert alleged desire here — be a digital nomad, be in a relationship, make speaking engagements part of our business, etc.). Yet our actions don’t align with what we say. We don’t make plans to sell our things and start an online business, we don’t go out and socialize in the hopes of meeting a great partner or get on Tinder, and we don’t set up a speaker page on our website or send out pitches to local groups asking if we can speak to them for free to get more practice.

So, I encourage you to think of something you say you really want. Maybe it’s to get fit, feel more calm and in control as you run your solo business, or to finally get your first ebook written. Now, think about what steps would be required to get you there — like committing to 30 minutes of weight training three times a week, meditating for five minutes per day, or setting aside time to write when inspiration hits.

(Side note: often, taking that first step requires deciding to tenaciously choose action instead of sitting around waiting for motivation to tap you on the shoulder.)

But first, decide if you really want it

Now, this right here is the most important first (and last, as the case may be) step: decide if you want this thing badly enough to work for it. Maybe, if you’re being honest with yourself (which is my favorite new phrase, especially during coaching — so many of my questions now start with “if you’re being honest with yourself…”), you don’t want this thing you say you want.

Maybe the idea of the nomadic laptop lifestyle is appealing but you’d actually rather stay in one place. Maybe you’d rather work on your business than spend time dating right now. Maybe you’re lured in by the glamour of public speaking but writing blog posts and interacting on social media is really more your style.

And that’s absolutely fine! The important thing is to begin to acknowledge when you’re not acting in accordance with what you say you want.

What to do when it’s not that easy

Maybe it’s a bit more complicated than a quick decision. Let’s say that there’s something big standing in your way. Maybe you really want to write for The Huffington Post, but you’re scared of rejection. You want to build your email list, but you’re afraid of looking desperate by sending cold outreach emails. You really do want a boyfriend, but you’re scared of feeling vulnerable. All of these are legitimate fears that often aren’t solved with a snap decision. If there’s something bigger standing in your way, acknowledge that obstacle and start working to remove it or lessen its influence on your life (coaching and therapy are two potential paths).

Most importantly, begin to align what you say you want with your actions — starting today.

P.S. It wasn’t until after I finalized this post that I realized a lot of the phrasing I use above is based on a conversation with my sister, a behavioral therapist for kids with autism, about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). If you’re looking for an interesting read, check out the ACT Wikipedia page.

How to Build Your Own Conference: A Guide for Solopreneurs

OWS goes back to school

How to Build Your Own Conference: A Guide for Solopreneurs

You already know the value of a good conference. Not only will you gain invaluable insights from expert speakers at your sessions, they’re also a great way to connect with other solopreneurs who could turn into lifelong friends (or business partners!). If you’re like most solopreneurs, you’re itching to go to the conference everyone in your industry is talking about.

Unfortunately, you might not have enough time or money to make it happen.

Travel and hotel expenses, the cost of closing up shop for a few days, and the tickets for the conference itself all add up to a hefty chunk of change. On top of that, most conferences only cover one or two topics. That leaves multi-passionate solopreneurs making tough decisions about which conference will be most worth their while.

Luckily there’s another option for those of us who are eager to learn: build your own conference.

Building your own conference is the perfect option for solopreneurs who are limited by time, location, or money. Affordable online classes make it a snap for you to put together personalized sessions that will help you grow your solo biz.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to creating your own one-of-a-kind conference.

1. Set a conference budget and schedule

Your conference will never be a success if you don’t treat it like it’s a big deal. That means creating a budget and blocking off time in your schedule well in advance.

You’ll save a lot of money by building your own conference, but even a DIY conference comes with costs. Crunch the numbers and decide on your budget before you start signing up for classes.

Once your budget is in place, decide how many days you’ll need to spend away from client work so you can focus on attending your conference. Traditional conferences run from Thursday through Saturday, but maybe you’re at the top of your game on Mondays or you want to dedicate an entire week to your conference.

As soon as your dates are set, notify ongoing clients that you’ll be unavailable those days. Don’t forget to block off that time in your Google calendar or online scheduling software!

2. Choose a theme

Building your own conference allows you to focus on many facets of your multi-passionate business. You no longer have to worry about wasting money on a conference with a narrow focus. But that doesn’t mean you should sign up for any random class that catches your eye. A successful conference will always have a goal.

Decide what you want to accomplish with your conference. Once you know how it will impact your business, you can choose a theme to help you stay on track. For example, maybe your conference theme is to learn how to land more clients. The following classes would all help you achieve that goal:

  • Beyond Social Media: Meeting Your Ideal Client in Real Life
  • Copywriting 101: Connecting with Your Readers
  • Creating a Website that Sells
  • From Blog Reader to Paying Customer in 8 Simple Steps
  • How to Price Your Services (Without Giving Your Clients Sticker Shock)

3. Choose your classes

Now for the fun part! There are plenty of options for affordable classes taught by experienced instructors who know their stuff. Check out these platforms to find classes that match your conference theme and budget.

  • Udemy and CreativeLive each offer both paid and free courses for students at all levels of learning. With a vast catalogue of courses available on demand for each, you’re sure to find a few that fit your needs.
  • Skillshare is the perfect choice for solopreneurs on a budget. Choose from free online access, or take your learning offline with an $8/month premium membership.
  • TED and TEDx Talks live up to their motto “ideas worth spreading.” These educational videos from experts are short and free — not to mention they cover every topic under the sun. Perfect for the solopreneur on a time crunch!
  • Podcasts are a great way to customize your learning. Podcasts like Being Boss, The Lively Show, Make It Happen, and She Did It Her Way are great starting points for all things solopreneur!
  • Online courses and ebooks designed by fellow creative entrepreneurs are sure to be chock-full of the actionable info you need to level up your solo biz. Check out A Course About Copy from Nikki Elledge Brown, Creative Coaching From Scratch from Regina Anaejionu, or One Woman Shop’s own Building Your Online Community e-course.

Remember to keep your conference theme in mind while browsing class options. If an interesting class or podcast episode doesn’t tie in, put it on the back burner for now. You’ll get more bang for your buck by focusing your energy on a single goal.

4. Build community

Conferences are a great way to connect with other solo biz owners. You don’t have to miss out on networking opportunities just because you’re DIY-ing your conference!

Send a quick email to other solopreneurs to see if anyone else wants to build their own conference alongside you. Even if you take different classes, you can plan to check in with each other on Twitter or Google Hangouts to share what you’re learning.

You can also create a hashtag to document your conference and invite your readers to follow along. (Editor’s note: might we suggest #BYOConference?!) Your fans will love to see a blog post, video, or live Periscope recapping everything you learned!

What type of conference will you create to boost your biz? Share it with us in the comments!

[Yet another editor’s note] The One Woman Shop Bundle is here! With four OWS-created courses and workbooks, you can create one heck of a conference. Check it out!

One Woman Shop Chats With… Live: Coach Jennie + All Things Motivation

one woman shop chats with live
When we chose Motivation & Inspiration as our March theme for our 2015 editorial calendar, we have to admit: we were struggling to think of anything completely revolutionary.

Then, we received a guest post pitch from Jennie Mustafa-Julock aka Coach Jennie aka The Audacity Coach. The title? Motivation is a Solopreneur’s Worst Enemy. Yeah. Since we know business isn’t one-size-fits-all — and we like to mix things up here at OWS — we published Jennie’s post ASAP, then invited her to join us for a Google Hangout so she could tell us about her unconventional approach to motivation.

In this 45-minute video, we chat about:

  • What Jennie believes you need instead of motivation or inspiration
  • Why she believes the Law of Attraction is pure crock
  • Who “Hilda” is and how to tell her to get the hell out (hint: we all know her and we apologize to anyone named Hilda)
  • The top things that hold us back from getting our shit done
  • Why business isn’t one-size-fits-all (and why that’s okay)

Pop in those headphones and listen and/or watch at your own leisure! You don’t want to miss this one.

After you’ve listened, tell us in the comments: What are you going to tell Hilda next time she rears her ugly head?

 

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