How to Cultivate Resourcefulness

I have a little obsession with the concept of resourcefulness. I knew I valued it as a trait in myself and others, but I didn’t realize quite how much until I mentioned it in interviews with Allyssa Barnes, AP Loves Design, Art in the Find, AND Pen & Peplum.

Forgive me for getting all academic, but I thought a few definitions would be helpful:

Able to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations – The Free Dictionary

Ingenious, capable, and full of initiative, especially in dealing with difficult situations – Dictionary.com

Able to deal well with new or difficult situations and to find solutions to problems – Merriam Webster

In my mind, proactivity and resourcefulness go hand in hand and are absolutely essential if you want to succeed as a business owner. One really important point I want to clarify: resourcefulness doesn’t mean that you need all the answers; it means that you need to be able to find all of the answers you need.

A few times resourcefulness would serve you well:

  • When you’re trying to build your client base and throwing up social media status updates isn’t cutting it.

A possible solution: Find individuals on LinkedIn who are in your target market and reach out to them directly asking them to join your email list; join in on a Twitter chat, do a series of guest posts related to your service or product

  • When you realize that a huge percent of people are exiting your website on a particular page that draws tons of traffic.

A possible solution: Review your page and see if you can make it more informative/useful/funny; ask several others in your target market to review it and implement their suggestions; set up an exit-intent pop-up plugin that encourages people to join your list whenever it looks like they’re leaving your site

  • When you realize you need a Virtual Assistant right now but don’t know where to look.

A possible solution: Ask fellow solo business owners for recommendations; look at One Woman Shop’s list of Virtual Assistants; search for relevant VAs on FollowerWonk

So, how do you actively cultivate resourcefulness in your everyday life?

  • Next time you’re stuck on something, think of 3 possible solutions for your problem (maybe it’s Googling it in-depth, emailing someone, posting in a forum, or tweeting the question out).
  • Anytime you’re working on something, ask yourself, “Is there a better way?
  • Make an effort to cut down on saying things like “I can’t find a solution” or “I don’t know how to handle this.” Some individuals wear a bracelet that they switch from arm to arm when they complain; you might try doing this anytime you find yourself being anything less than solution-oriented.
  • Seek out others who you consider resourceful and ask them to walk you through their thought processes when solving business problems. Pay attention to the questions they ask and the resources they utilize.

And keep in mind what Marie Forleo says:

everything is figureoutable marie forleo

A few quick resources for you:

Here’s to cultivating resourcefulness in every aspect of your business!

How I Build My Community (And Client List): Heather Allen

This post is part of a mini-series on growing your community and, in particular, your client base by being proactive and seeing opportunities all around you. Today’s post comes from copywriter Lilybet Murray. Want more tips on building your business community? 28 solo business owners shared their #1 secret for growing their community with us- get them now!

Ask not what the community can do for you, but what you can do for the community! This is a mentality I encourage my clients to try on for themselves, because our work as creative solopreneurs is always done in the service of others.

I’m a business and marketing consultant to solopreneur artists. Essentially, I teach my clients how to fish for themselves and turn their artwork into opportunity. In the past two years, I’ve received all of my clients through word of mouth marketing, have been asked to speak and teach at arts venues and colleges, and have built a following because of the reputation I’ve developed in my niche.

To date, the best compliment I’ve received for my work was from a digital marketer who moved to my city to work in the arts, heard my name pop up from a number of people and said, “Heather, I don’t know what you are doing, but it is working.”

Did I develop a strong reputation overnight? Of course not. The number one way I build (actively, not passively) my community of loyal fans and followers is by participating in the community as a member first, and a contributor second.

Like many solopreneurs, I started my business after realizing what was lacking within my own community of interest, and discovering where I could add value. As an active participant in the world my customer lives in, I naturally understand my customer’s pain points, their needs and what their hearts desire. It’s my job to listen and find the right solutions for my client’s goals, strengths and budget. Doing so reliably, with loads of enthusiasm in my own style, keeps me top of mind within the community and keeps opportunity knocking at my door.

How I Grow My Community (And Client Base): Lilybet Murray

This post is part of a mini-series on growing your community and, in particular, your client base by being proactive and seeing opportunities all around you. Today’s post comes from copywriter Lilybet Murray. Want more tips on building your business community? 28 solo business owners shared their #1 secret for growing their community with us- get them now!

Change your definition of the word “opportunity.”

When you’re starting your own business, the traditional selling routes can seem loud and over-crowded, so you need to open yourself up to other, less conventional paths in order to be heard. This may mean that you have to ignore the advice of your trusted friends, internet heroes and industry inspirations who are preaching the merits of marketing over Facebook and Twitter and find other paths.

These paths will be different for everyone depending on resource and industry, but the techniques will be the same and these techniques will help you see opportunities where others don’t.

Read and research every day

The trick is to find articles and topics that resonate with your values, business and position. When I was starting out I ate business content for breakfast; I devoured sites like One Woman Shop for advice and the courage to reach out and do more.  While I was reading articles on the Huffington Post, I came across one written by a Prince’s Trust ambassador about how they took the leap into self-employment and it really resonated with me. I looked into their business a bit more and saw that they hadn’t been posting regularly on their blog.

I saw this as an opportunity.

I emailed them explaining that I has seen their article and really identified with their situation, then, I introduced myself as a copywriter and offered them my services for their blog, for free. Two weeks later I had a meeting and a proposition in hand. All because I dug a little bit deeper.

Reach out to those in the same position as you

After getting to know my first client, I realised that an untapped resource was right at my fingertips: The Prince’s Trust.

The Prince’s Trust helps young, unemployed people get back on their feet by providing training courses and support. However, instead of emailing them for business advice, I emailed them and offered my services to their budding entrepreneurs, trading in experience rather than money.

Building your experience using businesses in the same position as you is perfect because they are often less intimidating than fully-fledged companies and you can use them as a stepping stone to bigger clients in the long-run.

Opportunities can look like help

After reaching out to the Prince’s Trust, I realised that one of the blogs I follow for business and copywriting advice hosts a “hook up” every month where people can ask for or lend help. I responded to the call for inclusion in Yes and Yes’ Network of Nice Hooks Ups offering my copywriting services and had half a dozen people email me to ask for help. It was all for free but it was a great way to gain experience and fill my portfolio. An added bonus was that I knew I had things in common with the people I was reaching out to because it was done through a mutual blog, so we had some common ground.

I was able to see these opportunities because I was looking in places that other people weren’t. While my competition were struggling to be heard above the noise on Twitter and Facebook, I crept quietly round the corner and built a client list first so that I could start using social media with a bit of credibility behind me, therefore making my voice a little louder than theirs.

What clever techniques have you used to build your community and client base?

One More Step

Remember my last tennis-related epiphany? I’m back with another one for you, which occurred to me as I was playing tennis the other morning (perks of running a solo business- mid-morning workouts!).

I noticed that often the difference between hitting and missing a ball is one small step.

Think about this in terms of your business: how much more could you accomplish with one more step?

What if you sent an auto-responder to everyone who buys one of your products introducing them to your other products? What if you directly emailed people who tweet you to form a more personal connection instead of just keeping the relationship on Twitter? What if you included a Click to Tweet in every blog post to expand your reach? What if you sent a handwritten card with every order from your Etsy store?

Maybe the number of orders for your older e-courses would go up. Maybe your email list would grow. Maybe you’d find a great accountability partner. Maybe you’d get some awesome press for your solo business.

Today, I encourage you to take just one more step in everything business-related you do and see if it pays off (literally or figuratively).

grow your community online

A Tennis Analogy for Your Solo Business

tennis analogy for business

I play tennis regularly (it’s one of my favorite ways to decompress, get outside, and get moving) and I had a little epiphany on the court the other night.

Sometimes when I’m out there, I get a bit super lazy and only go for balls that come pretty much right to me. When I notice myself doing this, I set a little challenge for myself: for the next 20 balls that bounce on my side, I have to make moves to hit every single one of them, even if it feels like a stretch.

As I’m sure you would expect, it definitely helps. I’d wager a bet that I get approximately 673% more solid strokes in than when I don’t move- funny how that works!

The other night, as I was on my “must at least attempt” 20-ball streak, I got a ball that I knew I could never return. For you tennis players or dabblers, it was right up in the corner by the net, so it required some quick movement, some fancy footwork, and some serious lunging. But lo and behold, I was able to return it.

The business lesson, in case you don’t give a darn about sports stories: commit yourself and go for those long shots (literal or figurative ones).

Want to start guest posting more? Reach out to 20 new websites or blogs without fear of rejection. Want to give seminars in your area? Reach out to 20 organizations and pitch them. Want to build your email list? Reach out directly to 20 individuals that you think would benefit from your services- don’t wait for them to come to you (just like I didn’t wait for that ball to come to me- see what I did there?!).

You never know what might end up being a home run (oops, mixed up my sports metaphors) winning shot.

Motivation Monday: Reach Out to a Fellow Solo Business

Join us every most Monday mornings for Motivation Monday, where we share a helpful “homework” assignment that gives your business a creative boost and gets you thinking (and moving) outside the box each week.

We recently got an email from Katja Hunter, who is an awesome, engaged member of our community and one of the women we’ve spotlighted in our Multipassionate Muse interview series.

She told us that she had met a fellow multipassionate because of her interview on this here site and just wanted to take a minute to thank us for helping her make that connection.

She added, “I don’t know if you ever feel this way, but I think it’s difficult trying to build something and I sometimes wonder if anyone is out there. You know? Whether you feel the same or not, I want you to know that you matter and that you have made a difference to my life. Thank you for that :-)”

We were SO appreciative that she took the time to reach out and we totally know what she means. We figured you all do too, so today- even if especially if you’re feeling tired, uncaffeinated, and not ready to jump into the week- we wanted to encourage you to take a minute to give another solo business owner something to file away in their Rainy Day File.

And we don’t mean repinning their pin, commenting on their Instagram, or liking their status on Facebook- we mean a good, old-fashioned personalized email. But public recognition ain’t bad either!

We would love to hear your stories if you make a cool new connection! Leave it in the comments or email us!

A Parable About a Fisherman That Relates to Your Business Goals

While I was in Honduras, I (re)heard this little parable about a Mexican fisherman that I immediately related back to One Woman Shop (I’m always thinking of this little site, even when hiking a mountain in a small town in Gracias, Honduras!).

The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman

(adapted from several online sources)

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed. “I have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” he said. “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time was right, you would announce an IPO, and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

Are there parts of your business that feel out-of-whack given your values, ambitions, and goals? Are you doing things just to do them without any real purpose or intention?

For example, if you created a business to have flexible or decreased working hours, but feel like you’re a slave to your email inbox, it might be time to reassess.

I think the “whys” and “hows” behind business ownership are incredibly important and this little story helps me realign my actions with my goals and desires- and I hope it does the same for you!

Motivation Monday: Keep An “Adding Value” File

Join us every most Monday mornings for Motivation Monday, where we share a helpful “homework” assignment that gives your business a creative boost and gets you thinking (and moving) outside the box each week.

You probably know by now that we’re big fans of tracking things like positive feedback (we call that a rainy day file) within your business. But unfortunately, sometimes you won’t be externally recognized for the good things you do, which is why we recommend also keeping an “adding value” list.

The benefits of this list? It boosts your confidence, it encourages you to seek out new ways to add value- in business and in the rest of life- to others, and it’s a living document that you can refer to if you’re doubting the value that you provide through your business and your actions. Cool, right?

Examples of things to include:

  • Any time you teach someone something that will benefit them 
  • When you give others positive feedback (for their rainy day file)
  • Every time you introduce two people you think will benefit from knowing each other
  • When you hook a client up with a tremendous opportunity
  • When you take the time to give a LinkedIn recommendation- with no strings attached

What will you include in your “adding value” file?

It’s Not All or Nothing

I just left a lunch meeting with a woman who is considering joining the One Woman Shop movement- she’s unhappy with her job but is scared to take the plunge into full-time solopreneurship.

During lunch, I reminded her that it’s not all or nothing and I want to remind you of the same thing.

You don’t need to choose between a rigid 9-5 or running your own business all day, every day. It’s a spectrum and there are tons of options on that spectrum- you can have a side hustle. You can have a part-time job that doesn’t even remotely relate to your business. You can have one 20 hour per week contract client that makes you feel more stable. Heck, you can even babysit on the side if you need to.

Having something on the side doesn’t make you less full-fledged or not as brave or an imposter.

In addition to running CMR Strategies (my consulting and coaching business) and managing One Woman Shop, I work part-time as a Director of Catering and Marketing. It provides me with coworkers, a reason to get dressed in the morning (well, sometimes), real live human interaction, new connections, and the flexibility to still run my core business. Oh, and I babysit the most adorable kid once a week- I play with him for about an hour and then spend the next few hours catching up on Scandal or working. Not too shabby, right?

I know I speak for the One Woman Shop community when I promise that we won’t think any less of you if you’re somewhere on the entrepreneurship spectrum that isn’t squarely on the full-time, all-in side. Welcome to the #onewomanshop spectrum!

P.S. Not sure how to talk about your multiple endeavors? Try this little exercise in personal positioning.

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