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Struggling as an entrepreneur? Welcome.

If you're a struggling entrepreneur, this is the place for you. We're all trying to make our dent in the universe on a daily basis. Here I share my thoughts on business, freelancing, marketing and a few various other things. Hope you'll stick around and subscribe if you like.
Thankful for the mindless work.

Thankful for the mindless work.

Last week I wrote a lot about doing the hard work. And we should. But I also have to realize that often, we have to do the crappy work too. Or easy. Or mindless. Whatever you want to call it.

The hard work is few and far between for me right now while I’m trying to make ends meet. I’m striving for more, yes and striving to do the hard work for sure, but something has to pay the bills. What I have failed to recognize in the past is the value that comes from doing the mindless work.

You see I’ve spent several years learning how to do what I do. I’m sure you have to. Maybe countless hours in school or with a trainer/mentor/etc. It takes time to get good at what we now call the easy work. Because, like I said, it was once the hard stuff we could barely think of accomplishing.

Now the real trick is to push through the mindless stuff and get onto the hard. I just have to keep reminding myself how very thankful I am that the easy stuff has come my way for so many years and taught me what I needed to be able to tackle the hard work.

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March 9, 20140 commentsRead More
How to customize the “click to tweet” WordPress plugin

How to customize the “click to tweet” WordPress plugin

I don’t normally write posts like this but I thought it would be nice to share with you since so many of you have WordPress blogs. If you haven’t seen the new Click to Tweet Wordpress plugin that came out recently, you might want to check it out.

It makes adding those tweetable quotes super easy, which means that you may get shared more. I know that Andy Traub mentioned he had a boost because of it and I’m sure there are others that have too.

The plugin itself generates a pretty nice look. But I’ve seen in the comments of the original post that people are wanting to customize it a bit more. So I asked the plugin developer if I could write a post that would help people customize it with CSS and he said it would be great.

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March 7, 20140 commentsRead More
Investments. But not the stock market kind.

Investments. But not the stock market kind.

Coming out of this hard work scenario you’ve been on with me, I wanted to talk a bit about investments.

When you invest in something, you expect a return. You put in $10, you expect at least $10.01 back. Hopefully more like $12 or $20 though.

When you invest time in something, you expect you’ll get something back. Like this blog. I expect that I’ll generate new ideas for myself and help myself grow over time. If someone reads, fine, but that’s not why I write it. I’m investing time so that I force myself to write and thus (yes I said thus), I get a return in the form of personal growth. Maybe other things, but at least that.

My friend Ryan so graciously introduced me to the idea of value-based pricing recently. He didn’t invent it of course, but it’s how I heard of it.

The premise is that

This helps you stop trading time for money, which is something I’ve been trying to figure out how to do for a long time now.

There are several reasons of course but these are the basic ones.

  • At some point, you can only work so many hours in a week so you hit a ceiling where you can’t make any more money because you can’t physically work more hours. So you hire someone and pay them less or you raise your rates, which no one likes. (Neither of these sound fun to me)
  • Your interests are not aligned with your clients when you bill hourly. They want less hours. You want more.
  • The better you get, the faster you get, the less you make. (This is a problem I have right now. I’ve been told I’m very fast at coding by other developers. Which means, my clients pay me less per hour than they do a newbie because I’m much more efficient. So all my experience really gets me paid less. That’s not right.)
  • You make your client serious cash, you don’t really get to share in that victory.
  • You end up competing on price with others in your industry.

I won’t attempt to explain it all here but basically, the above illustrates that hourly rates are terrible for the service industry, particularly the web/creative industries in my opinion.

There is one major assumption to this model though. It assumes you actually do bring value to your project and clients. It doesn’t have to be monetary either. Just as long as the client understands the value they get from you and the investment they are making, you all win.

More on this at some point but if you want to read the two places I’ve been getting some great information from, check them out below. The first describes it the best, but the second has some great resources that help support and go a little deeper into understanding it. Let me know what you think.

Breaking the Time Barrier – From Mike McDerment, Freshbooks Co-founder and CEO

FreelanceLift.com – Liam Veitch, Freelancer

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March 6, 20140 commentsRead More
The secret shortcut to…

The secret shortcut to…

How-to books are all over the place. I wrote a little about this yesterday but I wanted to expand on my thoughts.

The top read articles online are “how-to” or have a number such as “7 secrets to…” attached to them. This is what copywriters teach will get you the best opportunity to have your article shared or even read. It works because we are all looking for a shortcut in some form or fashion. No one thinks to themselves, “I really want to take a few extra years of my life to get where I want to be in my career.” No one. Ever.

But the problem is just what we’ve been talking about the past couple of days. We have to do the hard work or we’ll never really get to where we are striving to be. The easy stuff anyone can do. Anyone can follow 10 steps to start a blog or 15 ways to get the most out of Disneyland.

The hard part is what matters though. And no one wants to go on a diet that promises weight loss only after you’ve eaten healthy whole foods and worked out consistently for at least 30 days. That doesn’t sound fun to anyone. We want immediate results.

There are no shortcuts like I had hoped there would be. There are no easy ways to build your brand image so clients come pouring in. It takes hard work over time. That’s the secret no one wants to hear.

The even harder part is that you don’t get to know what’s working and what’s not until you’re already where you want to be. If you get there.

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March 5, 20140 commentsRead More
There’s no real how-to book for the entrepreneur

There’s no real how-to book for the entrepreneur

If you haven’t read yesterdays post, do so now.

The hard work is hard not only because it’s hard to do, but it’s also hard to identify. At least, that’s what I’m finding. I could be totally missing something, but it seems like the easy stuff is all over the place. There’s how-to books for all the easy stuff. There’s school for it. Heck, there’s even consultants and mentors for you if you need.

The easy stuff is hard at first, but at some point, it gets just that, easy. Like I mentioned yesterday about writing code. When I started learning how to code for the web, it was hard. I couldn’t make things work, couldn’t write something efficiently and certainly couldn’t ever show anyone else how to do it. Now all those things are elementary to me like writing my ABC’s. Writing code may be hard or seem foreign to you, but it’s learnable. You can teach yourself the gist of it in a matter of hours. And you have something in your life that was hard at first, but it’s easy now.

The hard stuff is crazy hard. There are no how-to’s for it. No map. No instructions. I’m finding that being an entrepreneur is part of the hard stuff. It’s a bit like writing code was when I started, trying something and failing and then trying something else. The main difference I see is that there is never a point where it “clicks” and everything gets easier. Maybe I’m wrong, but I see even the top people of the industries I follow still failing from time to time.

The other thing I’m finding about the hard work is that it’s not identifiable. When I came across a problem learning code, I could identify that there was a problem somewhere in a certain line or chunk of it and start to narrow down the possibilities on how to fix it. The problem with the hard work is that I have no idea where to start. Sure, I’ve failed many times so I know a few things that won’t work for me, but that still doesn’t give me a good idea of what will. There are so many other choices, many of which I get to invent myself. (Which gives us another problem, there is no multiple choice for the hard work.)

So you see the problem we’re facing here. Doing hard work is important. It’s the way we build a future that is recession-proof among many other things. But the problem is figuring out what’s hard so we can go do it.

The flip-side to this is that if someone could identify the hard work for you, they would do it themselves rendering your efforts next to useless. So at least we have the opportunity to do something when we figure out what it is we need to do.

Thoughts?

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March 4, 20142 commentsRead More
On trying to find the hard work.

On trying to find the hard work.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the hard work. The stuff that matters. Not that other work doesn’t matter, it does, but the stuff that changes things for the future is what I’m talking about.

I can write web code like I write my ABC’s. It’s not hard anymore. It was at one time, but not anymore. So I’m searching for the spots where I can make a difference. Where it will really pay off so I’m not just working to fill time.

Anyways, more on this later this week but I want you to read this. I’ve read it almost every day since I came across it a few weeks ago. Something about it really struck me. What do you think?

—–

From Seth Godin. September 3, 2007. Here’s the post on his blog.

Labor Day

I’m working today. In fact, if I’m conscious, I’m working. That’s largely because it doesn’t seem like ‘work’ today. I’d write this blog even if no one read it.

More and more people are lucky enough to have a gig like mine… work you’d do even if you didn’t have to, even if you didn’t get paid to do it. This is a bigger idea than it seems, because it changes the posture of what you do. Different motivations ought to lead to different results.

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March 3, 20140 commentsRead More
Time for a break.

Time for a break.

Sometimes you just need a break.

A break from the busi-ness of life. The business of life. And life in general.

Time to reflect. To think. To clear your mind of all the garbage floating around in today’s society.

But don’t break too long. That’s stalling.

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February 27, 20140 commentsRead More
The LEGO movie thoughts that you knew were coming

The LEGO movie thoughts that you knew were coming

This was an inevitable post.

I saw the LEGO movie the other day with my awesome family and I had some thoughts I wanted to share. I’ll try to not spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it, but if you’re scared of that, just stop reading to be safe.

  • If I had the opportunity to pick my own voice, it would be Morgan Freeman.
  • The term, “master builder” is now in my vocabulary.
  • I have a little teeny-tiny bit of respect for Will Ferrell (never thought I’d say that).
  • This confirmed my disdain for instructions and the fact that LEGOs almost all come in complete sets that you really can’t do much else with besides build what is in the manual.
  • I’m a little skeptical of using the word “awesome” ever again. (but the song is freakishly catchy.)
  • I’ll always call it Kragle.
  • I want to play with LEGOs right now.
  • I will spend more time with my son on building stuff.
  • It encapsulated our culture incredibly well (and made me a little scared.)
  • I like good cop’s new face.
  • I now have a disdain for Rosa’s Cafe weekly special.
  • Batman should always be Will Arnett. In every movie.
  • I’m pretty sure I’ll never follow instructions again. Which could lead to some issues I’m aware of. But at least it will be more fun. And my brain won’t be completely void.
  • 80′s space guys are cool.
  • New technology understands some really strange commands. Like Siri. Maybe I should talk to her in pirate voice most of the time.

This was mostly a pointless post, but there may be some good humor in there or something you can take from it to use in your life. Just know that not “everything is awesome.” But most things can be.

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February 26, 20140 commentsRead More
10 ways to be an owner (and today, we are all owners)

10 ways to be an owner (and today, we are all owners)

Today, we are all owners. Yes, you and I.

We own our work. Not in the sense of copyright, but in the sense of pride. To own is to create without the care of wanting to please the world. It’s why paintings are strange and unrecognizable to many and yet amazing to others. It’s why your work (your art) is not as appreciated by others as it is by you. At least if you’re creating for you and not to please others.

We own today because we must. We build because of the desire to build, not because the world can’t go on without us. The world does not need us to go on. But our calling says that we need to create because we were created.

Today, we are creators. We are builders. We are thinkers, idea generators, action takers. Here’s how to own your work.

Create something.

Something that hasn’t been done before. Something that you need (which is likely that others do too).

Build something.

Construct. Without instructions or with. Take a stab at building a shelf in your closet or building a website by writing your own code. (And if you don’t know how, ask YouTube.)

Think of a new way to accomplish a task.

Solve an old problem in a new way. The new way doesn’t even have to resemble the old one because it’s likely that technology has made part of the old problem easier anyway. So solve the problem, but better.

Find a shorter way of doing something that already needs to be done.

Everything can be done cheaper, faster, easier than ever before. Everything. You just have to spend enough time with the process to figure out where the extra step is that you can remove.

Innovate.

Come up with something the world has never heard of. Give it a name if you have to.

Challenge the status quo.

Always. Duh.

Stand for what you believe in.

Even if you’re standing alone. Don’t ever back down…but be respectful.

Learn something new.

Everyday or every week or every month. The more frequent the better, but any consistency will do. Just pick one and stick with it.

Connect the disconnected.

Build real human connection. Try connection branding if you have a business. Or if you are your own brand, and you are. I’m sure you could think of something.

Write.

Everyday. Even if you don’t publish. (But publishing online gives you the chance to fail in public. Which helps.)

These are but a few examples. If you are an owner today, and you are, then you have the ability to do any of the above in a variety of ways. Don’t let the old ways of the world tell you otherwise. Because today, you own.

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February 25, 20142 commentsRead More
5 examples of things that could be connected

5 examples of things that could be connected

Connecting requires action. It requires that someone makes an effort to put at least two things together so that a link is formed. Here’s a few examples.

  • connect people who need a service with those that have a service to offer
  • give resources to those that need resources
  • show people how to do something that need to know how to do it the correct way
  • give  ideas to people that need ideas (and might actually take action)
  • share thoughts about specific topics with people that want to hear new information on those topics

When we think about connecting with people, we assume it means building a relationship. We assume it means continuing that relationship over time so that we build trust with them. That is only part of connecting.

Connection requires putting together two things that were not before. What can you do in your sphere of influence or community that could fuse a connection?

It could lead to relationships. It could lead to business. It could lead to a job. It could lead to a lot of things, yes. But it will, without a doubt, lead to hope.

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February 24, 20141 commentRead More