Motivation Monday: Create a Board of Directors

By now, everyone knows the benefits of having a mentor (right?!). But have you ever considered having a Board of Directors for your solo business? Corporations have them and non-profit organizations have them, so why not you?

Let’s face it, it can get overwhelming running a business on your own- sometimes you want feedback on your latest website, a new perspective on your branding, an outsiders’ view of how to handle a difficult client, or just the knowledge that someone out there is dedicated to your success.

Some considerations:

    • Will you officially ask people to join your Board of Directors or will you keep it to yourself?
    • 6-8 people is generally a good size- too many more and there’s too many cooks in the metaphorical kitchen. Too few and there likely won’t be enough diversity
    • Consider reaching out to people who work with, are familiar with, or are in your target demographic- they’ll be better equipped to help you effectively
    • Think about the various areas of your business, like marketing, financial, legal, manufacturing, writing, etc and find someone who is stellar at it: the insanely organized person who has a system for everything, the person who has a way with words, the person who can put together a cohesive brand strategy that perfectly captures your intentions
    • Think about the complementary personality traits that you’ll need. For example, it might be beneficial to have both a person who will cheer you up and a person who will give it to you straight
    • Make it worth it for your Board of Directors by offering to write them a recommendation on LinkedIn, connect them with your network, or promote their work on your social media accounts. And remember that a handwritten note goes a long way in this digital age!
    • This is probably not the right time to cold-email someone for the first time. Reach out to people you have an established relationship with

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Do you have a personal Board of Directors? If not, how do you plan to find one?

What to Do When There’s Nothing to Do

Let me guess: you’re reading this post because, despite all the work you’ve been putting into your side hustle or full-time biz, you have nothing to do. No client work, no emails that need answering, no voicemails to return.

You can literally hear the clock ticking.

I’ve been a full-time freelancer (part wedding planning, part writer/blogger) for almost a year and if there’s one piece of truth that I’ve found in my first year of freelancing, it’s this:

You will be incredibly busy. And then you will be incredibly, well, not busy.

While there are plenty of posts about how to spread freelance work around so that you’re mildly busy all the time instead of toeing the extremes of being so busy that you can’t breathe immediately followed by hearing crickets, I have yet to learn how to do that. And if you’re anything like most freelancers in their first year or so, you won’t know quite how to handle it either.

slow business times

Without further ado, here’s what I recommend doing when the crickets are chirping and you’re pretty sure you’re never, ever, ever going to get another project.

Go for a hike / bike / dance party / happy hour at 4pm on a Tuesday

Just like with an office job, sometimes you will be incredibly busy and other times you will be able to take long lunches. The reason this isn’t more panic-inducing at your office job is that in freelance life, you never know when those incredibly busy times will hit you (and your office job pays you no matter if you’re fiddling around on Facebook or up to your eyeballs in status reports). Try to remind yourself of the crush of the work that you just crawled out from under (or that might be approaching) and give yourself a free pass to relax. I promise that the worst thing you can do is sit at home all day, watching Mad Men reruns and obsessively refreshing your inbox to see if you have any more project requests (not like I, uh, have ever done that before).

Clean out your inbox

Speaking of your inbox, clean that business out. When I’m not busy I try to get it under 10 emails (usually 2 videos my best friend sent me, an e-gift card and a recipe for summer squash risotto)- which means I pay all of my bills, reply to any outstanding emails and transfer any emails that require cataloguing to my “To Do” folder. This way, I’m better prepared when I get 50 emails in one day from clients needing work ASAP.

Tidy up around the house

Not your actual house but your business’ house. I try to keep a running To Do list on my white board of “eventual” projects for my website. Write a blog post for your blog, send out a newsletter regarding the projects you just finished, make a Twitter list of all those editors/designers/wedding stylists you’ve been meaning to interact with. Pay all of your bills (in fact, dedicate an entire morning to just bill paying so you can be done in one fell swoop) and even get your desk organized. You’ll feel way better and ready to work when you get your next project.

Take care of yourself

When I’m not busy, I crave time with other people so that I can feel like I’m not wallowing in my apartment, biting my nails and wondering if I can pay my internet bill this month. When you’re not busy with work, reach out to your buds and seek their support. Get a manicure, go to yoga or take 30 minutes to run up and down the hill behind your house. The first thing to go when I do get busy is my self-care, so trying to make this a habit every day when you aren’t worrying about hitting client deadlines means you’re likely to stick with it when you do start getting inquiries again.

Engage in some marketing work

Reach out to your five favorite bloggers and ask them if you can write a guest post on their blog about your services or a topic their readers might be interested in. If they regularly accept guest posts, I bet they’d be stoked to have a quick content turnaround on something that you’re an expert in. The best part about this is that it feels like you do have a project to work and all it takes is a well composed, simple email to get the ball rolling.

And whatever you do, do not panic.

I promise, if you stop thinking about it and have goals for yourself each day (even if it’s only 3 small ones), you’ll be much more organized when the clients do roll in. And they will. Trust me.

What do you do when you experience slow times in your solo business?

Motivation Monday: Do Less List

Join us every Monday morning 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.

Our days are consumed by more, more, more. More productivity, more progress, more…stuff. But sometimes we need to do less…less incessantly checking our site stats, less seeing how many people signed up for our MailChimp email list, less checking our Twitter mentions throughout the day.

Today, make a “Do Less” List- write down the little things you do throughout your work day that aren’t productive or useful. Think: checking Facebook too often, checking your email over and over, or peering into the fridge mindlessly.

Then make a note each time you do the activity. The simple act of writing it down will remind you to think twice before doing it, which means less time spent doing unproductive activities and more time spent growing your business.

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It Can Wait Pledge

Does this sound like you? You run by Starbucks to pick up a Venti soy latte. You’re running a few minutes late to a client meeting, so you pick up your iPhone to shoot a quick email to said client as you pull out of the parking lot.

We get it (trust us, we get it!)- as a solopreneur, you’re busy. But it’s important to remember the risks we take each time we decide a text must be answered, an email must be sent, or a Candy Crush level must be won while we’re on the road.

That’s why One Woman Shop supports the It Can Wait Pledge, which reminds us that no text (or email or blog post or tweet or Evernote) is worth the risk.

Not convinced? Here are some scary stats: according to the official government website for distracted driving, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds- at 55 mph, that’s like driving the whole length of a football field blind. In addition, engaging in visual-manual tasks- like reaching for your phone, dialing, or texting- triples your risk of getting into a car crash.

Are you in? Welcome to a life of safer driver! Help spread the #itcanwait concept to your community:

Thank you for helping keeping the roads safer – both for yourself and others!

Motivation Monday: Alternate Phrases

Join us every Monday morning 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.

Do you have a keyword or phrase that you always use to describe your business? That’s great for consistency’s sake, but can limit you when reaching new customers and clients or optimizing your blog posts with SEO keywords. This week, brainstorm at least 10 alternate ways to describe your business, then start incorporating these phrases into your digital marketing, networking, and more.

Some ideas: look at your competitors’ websites and social media bios, use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, ask your friends and family to describe your work to you in their words, and look up your current keywords on thesaurus.com, or use Word Hippo to find similar words.

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Feeling motivated by this little exercise? Share the love and tell us about your new words and phrases in the comments!

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