Shop Talk: Looking Past Your Own Biases

d: biases

d: biases

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.

Shop Talk: Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper

Comparison Trap

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.

The comparison trap is more than real as a solopreneur.

We spend a lot of time in our own heads, after all, and when that’s no longer enough, we start to look around.

We start to see other people’s “success” — and at first, it’s incredibly inspiring.

“If she can do it, I can do it!”

“Oh, that gives me a great idea for a blog post!”

“Ah, I never thought of it that way!”

Then, it starts to wear on us. Suddenly, we feel that our work isn’t looking so great. We’re doubting our ability to find our place in our niche. We find it hard to make progress on what we’re working on because we’re so busy taking a look at others’.

Now, of course, a healthy awareness of the industry is a good thing, solopreneur. Nothing productive happens in a 24/7 silo.

But there’s a big difference between competitive research and comparison. So, when you feel yourself falling down the endless spiral that is the comparison trap, it’s time to go back into your own little bubble and keep your eyes on your own paper.

Chris Brogan said it this way: “You can’t run a race looking sideways.”

Brené Brown made this eye-opening point in The Gifts of Imperfection: “It’s easy to see how difficult it is to make time for the important things such as creativity, gratitude, joy, and authenticity when we’re spending enormous amounts of energy conforming and competing.”

Need a shorter mantra to repeat next time you feel yourself slipping? Say this: Compare = despair. (h/t Coach Jennie)

There are a million more things we could say about this, but we’ll leave it here: Keep your eyes on your own paper, fellow solopreneur. That’s where the magic happens.

P.S. — The comparison trap is just one of the things that threatens your sanity as a solopreneur. We wrote the book on how to maintain that sanity. Just click the beautiful banner below to find out more.

Solopreneur Sanity Handbook

The post above contains affiliate links. As always, we only promote products and services that we love and/or think you might benefit from!

Shop Talk: Different Tastes Make the World Go Round

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.

Back when I (Sara) was a starving grad student (okay, I wasn’t starving — but I was pretty broke), I took on a gig pouring wine for a Finger Lakes winery, bringing a selection of their wines to stores in my local area to taste. I would often share the feedback I got from customers with the winemaker, and was always hesitant to tell him when a wine didn’t go over well — though he could always tell by the amount that came back.

One day, he said this: “Different tastes make the world go round.” He went on to explain: “If everyone had the same palette, I wouldn’t be able to experiment with different grapes. If everyone liked the same wine, I wouldn’t have a place in this industry.”

Mind = blown. Here was a winemaker in what has quickly become a near-saturated industry in the Finger Lakes, welcoming competition and feeling entirely confident in his ability to find his place because he knew the one secret that we often forget: Different tastes make the world go round.

So, solopreneur, next time you’re wondering if you’re really the best person to be recording a podcast/writing that ebook/hosting that webinar, or when you’re entirely doubting your ability to stand out and are concerned with adding to “the noise,” remember this: Different tastes make the world go round.

Yes, there are thousands of copywriters in the world. Web designers? Yup. Business coaches? Better believe it. But whether you realize it or not, there are certain things about the way you do what you do that make you unique. Maybe it’s your snark, or lack thereof. Maybe it’s your straight-talk, or maybe it’s your woo.

Focus on what makes you different — because there’s someone out there whose palette is waiting for it. Cheers.

Shop Talk: A Technique to Get You Started in Pricing Products + Services

Shop Talk at One Woman Shop

One Woman Shop Shop Talk

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.

Figuring out how to price products and services comes up time and again within our community and with our coaching clients. There are a bunch of great strategies out there that take into account market demand, competitors’ prices, and more. But today, we’re talking about a strategy that takes into account your mindset — we call it “High/Low.”

Let’s say that you’re launching a 20-page workbook. If you were our coaching client, here’s what we would ask you:

“If we told you to charge $1 for your workbook, would you?” (Most of the time, they’ll say, “No way! It’s worth way more than that.”)

So we ask: “Okay, if we told you to charge $300 for your workbook, would you?” (Normally we’ll get an, “Um, no. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that amount.”)

You now know that your workbook will be between $2 and $300. This doesn’t sound super helpful until you slowly hone in on both sides (hence the “high/low” moniker) to whittle down your ideal price to a realistic range.

The high/low exercise is meant to get you started. Now, let’s take it one step further. Perhaps you’ve gotten to a point where you know you will not charge less than $25, but you’re not comfortable charging more than $49. You can then use this range to conduct beta testing and surveying within your target market.

As you test it, you might get feedback that none of the prices in your range will work. In that case, it might be time to reassess — perhaps you need to reevaluate your target market, cut down what you’re offering (so you can lower your price without feeling like you’re giving away the farm), add more (so your potential purchasers see more value and are willing to pay more), or even rewrite your copy.

Pricing isn’t easy — but remember this: It doesn’t have to be set in stone. The high/low technique can get you started with a range you’re comfortable with, then we highly suggest you test and iterate from there.

Shop Talk: Build It and They Will Come (Or Will They?)

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.

We were recently chatting with a friend, discussing her new business website and how she would get people there. (Because that’s what solopreneurs love to chat about, of course.)

Naturally, the phrase “build it and they will come” popped up, so we got to talking about that myth. We talked about how many people still hold on to the idea that if they pop up a site, thousands of eager individuals will be knocking down their metaphorical door, wanting to come inside. As most of us have experienced, this just doesn’t happen.

We joked that, as a business owner, you’ve got to get out there, grab their hand, and invite them in. Bring them a cup of coffee, show them around, and make them feel comfortable.

But all jokes aside, it’s up to you to do just that. To continue the metaphor, think of it like this: You just moved into a new house but none of your neighbors saw you move in. So, they don’t know that you’re in there, waiting for them. What’s a savvy solopreneur to do? Make some delicious baked goods and go door-to-door introducing yourself!

How can you do this in your business?

  • Guest post on other sites — share your expertise or even mention a freebie that you offer through your site
  • Pitch yourself for podcasts or interview series
  • Email people you keep bumping into on Twitter chats or in comment threads

Make the end goal inviting them back to your place — your website, that is — so that they can get to know you even more. Share a freebie, mention a specific post you think they’d love, introduce them to your new product or service.

Or, as Carrie Smith of Careful Cents says: “Build it and they will come…if you promote, promote, promote.”

PS — We talk about all of these concepts (and more!) in the Building Your Online Community e-course.

Building Your Online Community

Shop Talk: Why Asking “Why” is Important

Shop Talk at One Woman Shop

One Woman Shop Shop Talk

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.

CR here. Often when I’m working in and on One Woman Shop, common threads and themes pop up repeatedly. One that’s come up in a few different ways lately has been the value of asking yourself and others “Why?”

I talked about it in this post on how to get back into action. Essentially, I explained how I use one question to get myself sorted out when I’m staring mindlessly at my to-do list. That question? “Why am I stalling?” Once I’ve figured out why I’m stalling, I can create action steps that address my reasons head-on.

Another time that asking “Why?” is valuable is when working with clients who are dragging their feet. Often, figuring out the reasons for the delay can enable you to creatively problem solve. For example, if you find out that a client is stalling because of your price tag, you can decide whether to offer a discount or just let it go. Likewise, if a client isn’t getting back to you because they’re waiting for deliverables from other people, you can help put together an action plan and timeline to help them get what they need.

Asking “Why?” isn’t just helpful in your business, you solopreneur you. You can use this strategy in your personal life as well. Let’s say that you feel resentful toward a friend and find yourself lashing out. Asking “Why?” can get you to the root of the issue — maybe you’ll realize that you’re acting out of jealousy, so you decide exactly what you’re jealous of, if you can achieve it, and if you even really want it.

In case you missed it, there’s three important elements of each example above. The first is to ask “Why?” (I think we’ve got that part down, right?). The second is to detail the answer, whether it be out loud or in your head. The third is to take action — we <3 taking action.

TL;DR: Asking “Why?” Is key to solving pretty much any problem. Really.

PS — Another question we (Sara + I) love to ask ourselves: “Is this helpful?”

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.

What Do You Call Yourself as a Sole Proprietor?

What job title do you use in your solo business- in your email signature, on your LinkedIn profile, and on your business cards?

Did you go the classic route (with something like Owner), the modern route (like Marketing Ninja), or the descriptive route (like Digital Strategist)?

Let us know and we might feature your answer in an upcoming SlideShare presentation!