The First of Our Panel of Experts

We are very excited to announce the first five of our core group of experts for our ESCAPE Plan Web Show! We certainly don’t know it all and we want our web show participants to get they help THEY need to make their business a success! We will be announcing more guest experts very soon, but here are the first half of the dream team:

Michele Scism – Sales
We know we needed an expert in sales. The vast majority of solopreneurs struggle with the sales part of what they do. Who better to help our Show Guests than Michele Scism. We have known – and coached – with Michele ourselves for  long time and she is probably one of the main reasons we are doing what we do and how we do it!

Owner of DecisiveMinds.com, she is a third generation entrepreneur and expert in online and offline marketing, pricing, revenue projection, sales, team building and much more. Her mantra she learned from her father – “You don’t own a REAL business unless you can go on vacation and it still makes money.”

Jena Rodriguez – Branding
Jena is one of Michele’s greatest successes and is now a master Brand, Business and Brave Strategist and founder of Brave Masters, Inc. Her commitment is to boosting brand clarity, by helping business owners how to capitalize on their “natural” abilities and package and price their greatest strengths so that they can create a money-making, world-changing brand.

Over the last decade as an entrepreneur, Jena has learned that the ONE thing needed to reach one’s fullest potential in life and in business is BRAVE. Being brave is about saying YES without evidence, moving through fear, and being uncomfortable yet doing it anyways! By getting her BRAVE on, Jena was able to move from charging $89/hour to generating over $1.2 million in revenue over the last four and a half years – and helping her clients do the same! Check her out at www.bravemasters.com!

Joan Pelzer – Social Media
Joan is a Femfessional and force to be reckoned with – our greatest memory is podcasting live on her show from the foyer of a live event we were both attending in Houston – that was fun! Joan’s expertise is ocial media and online engagement with clients ranging from entrepreneurs and small businesses, to a UN-based NGO. She is a dynamic connector with the innate ability to identify, articulate and deploy strategies to optimize a brand.

Ellen Finkelstein – Speaking/Webinars
Ellen is a long term collaborator of ours – we have been guest experts on each other’s webinars many a time! One passion of hers is to help entrepreneurs use presentations and webinars to reach more people. In her business, Change The World Marketing, she uses her experience to help others create client-attracting websites, grow their lists, create products, and deliver powerful webinars. For us, she is providing expertise and help for those who looking to present in person as a speaker, or online via a webinar (Webinars play a big part in the process we teach business owners).

Carol Verity – Websites/SEO
Carol has been helping her clients “Get” digital for over 20 years. She began her digital journey way back when the internet first took hold and ever since she has been designing and building websites, teaching social media and content marketing and generally immersing herself in all the technologies that help us do business on-line.

Her business, We Get Digital, based in London UK, has gained a solid reputation in web design & build and she recently pioneered “SocialSEO”, a blend of Social Media and SEO that really helps businesses climb up the search engine listings.

Interested in getting help from us and our dream team? Check out the application page to see exactly who we are looking for. Remember, there are only 3 places per season, so if you think this might be for you, fill out the application and let’s talk!

Where Creative Business Ideas Get Stopped in Their Tracks

Lately, as part of doing research for our new web show, I’ve been talking to MANY solopreneurs.

The one thing that really struck me was how many great ideas people have for businesses – BUT – at the same time how many were stuck on how to really bring them into fruition.

The problem? The technology. People were either overwhelmed by how much there was to choose from, and therefore were stuck not really knowing what they should be doing and what would be wasting their time and money –

OR they had a good idea about the kind of technology that would work for their business, but were also stuck because they weren’t really sure in what to do with it to make it work.

Everyone has a strong knowledge about the thing they do, but far too many of you are not doing it because you are stuck on business aspects of the business – and especially with technology and marketing.

And, smart, hopeful solopreneurs have a huge target painted in their forehead by the marketing software companies and “gurus”, who all insist that you’ll only be successful if you do MY program. During my conversations, I heard the same story again and again.

“I bought XXX program for $2447 – and the content was really good – but I couldn’t quite “get” it enough to implement it in my business. So, I went to a few of the classes and then just stopped.

A month or so later, I bought another program – and the same thing happened. Then, I hired an assistant but I couldn’t find enough for her to do…

I thought that perhaps I needed my own coach to make all this work – so I invested in a year long program for $15,000. But, I don’t have the team (or the money to hire a team) to implement the coaches’ suggestions.”

Does this sound at all familiar?

What if you had a team that could help you one-on-one for the price of a group program? Normally, you would be concerned about the quality of the help you were getting!

Right now, we are recruiting for 4 business owners have their businesses transformed as part of our web reality show. We need to cover costs (and make sure that our contestants are committed). For $2500 – you get 90 days of working with us collaboratively, to get your business up and running plus help from our growing roster of experts (watch for the first announcement on Thursday), as needed AND exposure to our audience as we share your success story along the way.

Ah, but aren’t you just another one of those gurus, I here you ask?

We’ll no – we very much look at our client’s business and see what they need. We start from the premise that you, as the businesses owner, just wants to get on with what you do, not spend all your time on marketing and admin. Where we are different is that we try to get you running successfully with the minimum amount of fuss. We just do what works for you – in the way YOU work.

We created the web show idea as a way to really show off to a wider audience exactly how we work and how we get people up and running. I’m super excited about the businesses we’re already talking to about taking part.

Will yours be next? Click here for more info.

Are You The One We Are Saerching For?

Over the course of the last couple of weeks we have been having conversations with a number of our long term community members to try to make sure that what we re planning with our web reality show is something that will be useful to solopreneurs, and will be something people want to participate in, whether as a show guest or an audience member, or even as a guest expert (more on that in our next post)

We had a lot of great input from several people and have added to the concept we originally came up with, including a new element of audience participation (Thanks to Ellen Finkelstein for that one!).

The overwhelming reaction has been very positive and everyone is seeing it as something new that no-one else is doing. So it looks like it is all systems go!

In our last post, we asked “Would YOU do this?” And we are now ready to unveil who we are looking for to partake in our first series. So here are the core criteria of who we are looking for:

  • Willing to share your story (the ups and the downs) with our audience as a web show guest.
  • Coachable – willing to focus (and stick with) the plan we come up with to build your platform.
  • Willing to invest your time and money to make your business a success. (We are providing our services at half our regular rate for web show participants).
  • Fun and energetic! We want people to get to know, like and trust you as they get into your story. (Though you are getting solid business help – we want to keep our audience entertained and engaged at the same time).
  • Someone who has a solid business idea but has yet to make the leap of making it happen, OR someone who has started (maybe been trying for 1 or 2 years), but has got stuck and isn’t making any progress.
  • Is this you? Or maybe you know someone who might be perfect for the show?

The application page is now up  and will be open for the next two weeks. We will be choosing a total of 4 participants, the extra one being there in case one of the 3 chosen participants drops out.

We are still open to suggestions, if there are elements you would like to see on the show or you think would make the show better, we’d love to hear them.

In our next post we hope to introduce the first of our guest experts, so check back for that one!

Crimes of Passion

Last week we talked about where we went wrong in our business, to the point where we literally had to pull the plug because it just wasn’t working. However, the lessons we learned from our 100 interviews in our Paycheck To Passion podcast were still valid as far as being able to help solopreneurs succeed. These lessons were that solopreneurs struggle with 3 things:

1) Not having a concrete plan (or path) to follow
2) Not having people around them who understand what they are going through or trying to achieve
3) Getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything there is to do in a business all by themselves, and thus not ending up doing the thing they went into business to do in the first place.

However, there was a fourth lesson we learned – and learned the hard way – just because you think you have a solution people will want, you need to test that assumption before going all the way down the long path of building it. It turns out that, although our solution to the above problems all solopreneurs face addressed each of the issues, the “fix” (in this case, Time Traders Club), wasn’t how solopreneurs operated – at least not enough of them. The problem was that the solution we came up with was too complicated for most solopreneurs to work.

The problem was that we were passionate about helping people make a living on their own terms, doing something they love to do, by reaching an audience online. Our ‘crime of passion’ was not doing the research to make sure the ‘how’ of what we were delivering was what was wanted.

However, those issues are still very relevant to a lot of solopreneurs out there. We still very much want to help solopreneurs overcome them, by giving them a concrete plan to follow; connecting them with other solopreneurs who understand the unique challenges they are going through; and to help them avoid getting overwhelmed by all that they have to do on a daily basis, by showing them there are other – better – ways to operate than by trying to do everything yourself.

So here’s what we are thinking.

We want to showcase how it can be done in a brand new story-based video podcast.

So many solopreneurs waste years of effort and thousands of dollars on doing the wrong things. As “Solo Biz Hackers” we want to hack passed that wasted effort and get people to the part where their business starts working for them. This is how we help people on a one-on-one basis in our coaching practice.

But we need your help.

We don’t want to make the same mistake as before and go into all the effort of building something only to find it is not what people need.

So this time we are asking first – doing the research – making sure what we offer is what you need.

Check your inbox on Thursday and I’ll go into more detail about our vision for the new podcast, and how you can help us make sure it is something you will want to see happen.

Here’s what happened…

In our last post, Jasper wrote about why we decided to pivot our business away from Time Traders Club. It really came down to two things for us…

Time Traders Club (a time bank for entrepreneurs) sounded better in theory than it was in practice (we weren’t making money at it) and also we ended up becoming coaches in another program and didn’t have the time and energy to essentially start over and do what needed to be done to make Time Traders Club work.

It has been a few months since we made the decision to close down Time Traders Club, and I can now look at what happened with a bit more perspective. There were three reasons that Time Traders Club never took off…

The first one was that we didn’t properly test the idea. When we talked to people about TTC – they were really excited about the concept. We quickly grew our free membership to hundreds of people. There were two issues with that – the first was that we weren’t selective as to who could be in the group. Everyone who joined was great – but we had the wrong balance of people We attracted a lot of people who needed technical help – but few people who had the skills to truly help.

Plus, we were making things really, really complicated. Because we were trading “hours”, we needed a system that allowed people to find people whose skills matched plus track the hours. Because a virtual time bank is a NEW idea, there weren’t systems in place that did this well. We spend thousands of dollars on three different systems, none of them were easy to use for the members. Trades did not happen because they weren’t easy to do.

And, finally, because people joined the group for free help, they weren’t as willing to pay to be part of the group. We didn’t have enough paying members to keep the lights on and we needed to close our doors.

I’ve had plenty of time to reflect since then…. Plus coaching other business owners to success has helped me frame what happened to our business a bit better.

We still believe that knowing how to leverage your skills to make money online is one of the most important skills you can have right now. Being able to make money on your own gives you freedom to live the life you want. We want to help you do that.

And, combining what we learned from Time Traders Club and from coaching clients this past year, we THINK we’ve come up with a better way.

But, we need your help… because we don’t want to get it wrong again.

I’ll let you know what we have in mind next week.

So Where Did We Go Wrong?

Ever since we got together at a coworking space in Albuquerque in the summer of 2013, our mission has been to help people who want to create a living on their own terms by reaching a paying audience online. Over the years we have tried a number of different avenues on how best to achieve that, gradually moving from a virtual assistant type model to more of a coaching model.

Two big events happened in 2017 that fundamentally changed our business plan. The first is that both of us ended up getting hired by a St Louis based Inc 500 company to coach their new Mastery Program clients.

The coaching program to help clients either take a new business to a viable level, or a current business that wasn’t generating enough customers into a viable business – creating a Blueprint Plan to get them there and supporting them through the process of building their leadership authority, creating a funnel, and building the content and process infrastructure they need to create an ongoing semi-automated flow of new prospects.

The second momentous event came a little over a month later when we realized that, after three years of effort, Time Traders Club, our solopreneur knowledge and skills trading site and time bank was just not generating the interest to make it sustainable. We decided that we needed to shut it down and find a new avenue for helping solopreneurs. It was a tough decision – we had put a lot of work into the project over the previous three years, but it wasn’t working.

We thought we had come up with a way to tackle the three major issues that most solopreneurs come up against, which we established clearly over the course of 100 interviews with a wide variety of solopreneurs in our Paycheck To Passion Podcast, the lessons of which led us to writing our book, The ESCAPE Plan: 6 Steps To Leaving The Job You Hate by Creating a Business You Love. Those 3 issues are:

1) Not having a concrete plan (or path) to follow
2) Not having people around them who understand what they are going through or trying to achieve
3) Getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything there is to do in a business all by themselves, and thus not ending up doing the thing they went into business to do in the first place.

We thought our skills sharing/ time bank idea was the solution to help in all three of these areas – helping solopreneurs to operate in THEIR zone of brilliance – but it turned out not be the case.

So where did we go wrong? What did we miss that led us to the wrong conclusions?

Tune in to my next post on Thursday and I’ll outline the lessons we learned … something you might benefit from yourself before you make the same mistakes we did.

Look out for that post in your inbox, or on our blog…

The Easiest Way to Start a Podcast

I just found the coolest podcasting tool … it is ? love at first sight.

I had a podcast a few years back… we went to number one on New and Notable for iTunes… it was fun – but a TON of work…

Besides lining up guests, making sure they had a good mic set up, promoting the podcast, etc. – there was all the set up (getting your feed to work, recording your episode, posting it to iTunes, Pocket Cast, etc. )

It was a TON of work – and eventually, even though we were getting 1000 downloads a week – we decided it wasn’t worth it to continue. 

And, when we decided to cancel our podcast hosting service which was costing us a lot of money, they didn’t have a way to give us the feed, so the podcast ended up being taken off of iTunes.

Recently tho, I found a free smartphone app called anchor.fm which completely simplifies the process.

 It takes about 15 minutes to set up your show… they take care of setting up all your feeds to iTunes, etc.

Once you are all set up, you just record by talking into your phone (the sound quality is awesome). Push done – you can add a background track and publish. The podcast magically goes where it needs to.

You can even interview guests through the app, have people leave messages, etc.

And… it is all free. Such a timesaver.

I’m using it for a quick 4 day per week podcast with a 2-minute business tip – here’s a link if you want to see what that looks like – https://anchor.fm/meredith-eisenberg

Let me know if you decide to do a podcast – I would love to listen 🙂

7 Secret Tools To Generate Traffic-Attracting Blog Post Ideas

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Want more traffic to your blog posts? Write better headlines… It’s time to get creative and come up with fresh twists on your ideas that stand out and get noticed amidst all the “noise” online.

You could sit around for hours, painfully attempting to brainstorm and wrack your brain for ideas… or you could get smart, save time and hack your way to attention-grabbing headlines.

Remember: A hack is a clever and ingenious way to solve a problem or overcome a challenge.

Usually a “hack” allows you to do something quicker, and with less energy or brain power, while arriving at a desired (and even better) end result.

So, with the tools below you can easily “hack” your way to more creatively fresh headlines and save your brain!

BlogAbout Title Idea Generator

BlogAbout offers several ways to generate ideas for titles and even a feature to save your favorite ideas into a notebook. Simple and fun with a very nice layout.

Click here for the BlogAbout Title Idea Generator

Portent Title Maker

This one is a blast to play with. In addition to headline ideas it explains each piece of the headline it suggests so you understand it learn more about great headlines in the process. Set a timer before you go to this site or you may be there a while…

Click here for the Portent Title Maker

HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

Enter three subjects and get back a week worth of blogging ideas. Comes up with some very interesting titles and is great for business bloggers.

Click here for the Blog Topic Generator

Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer Tool

Will your headline connect with your audience on an intellectual, empathetic, or spiritual level?

Test it out with this tool and see what comes up. Then change a few words and see what difference it makes.

Click here for the EMV Headline Tool

Tweak Your Biz Title Generator

Want a LOT of ideas? Just put a word into this spinner, tell it if your word is a noun or verb, and hit the green button. You’ll get an avalanche of ideas!

Click here for the TweakYourBiz Title Generator

HookLine Dynamic

Take any idea you’ve got and turn it into an amazingly magnetic headline with this tool. Swap words in and out, and watch as the excitement, emotion and empowerment scores update so you can measure your variations against each other to choose the best.

Click here for the Hookline Dynamic tool

The “Get Ideas” Tool

Hidden inside the HookLine Dynamic tool, the little “Get Ideas” button will help you brainstorm some of the most curiosity-driven and magnetic headlines you’ve ever seen. It’s based on the psychology and format behind today’s biggest viral posts, and applies those principles for your audience and subjects.

Click here for the “Get Ideas” tool

Work Less Live More: The Easiest Way To Succeed in Business and Enjoy Life

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What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time — I was *stressed*.

And, it wasn’t your normal, works full time, has a business, is planning a bat mitzvah kind of stress.

I was spending a lot of time in tears (literally) and really not feeling well at all.

I wondered why I even was trying to build a business at all… it felt like I had traded the golden handcuff of a corporate job for the electronic monitoring bracelet of slack and social media.

And, because of that, I almost gave up trying. After nearly a decade of helping people create a business that worked for them, I was ready to throw in the towel and get ready for some serious Netflix binging.

But, because of you… I couldn’t do that. My mission is to help smart people make a living (and a difference) by sharing their knowledge with the world. And, given how fast the world is changing, being able to make a living using your skills becomes more and more critical. I couldn’t give that up… but something had to change and fast…

And it did.

I realized that I am not the *only one* who has a busy and full life. I knew many people who made this work for them… Instead of reinventing the wheel,

– I started to listen to their stories. And, take bits of pieces of what they did for my own.
– I got much more intentional about scheduling.
– I learned how to set better boundaries
– I cleaned up my “very complicated” offerings, shut down one of my businesses, and got clear.

The easiest way to get out of the solopreneur stress cycle, is to learn from people who have done just that.

The problem with that is knowing *who* is the real deal – and who is just photoshopping their success. It is hard to know.

That is why I was happy to be asked to be one of the guest experts on Deb Johnstone’s Elevating Entrepreneurs Summit which begins on March 12.

The summit is all about how to create a life that gives you time and freedom – and make more doing it.

The reason I’m excited about this summit is that I personally know many of the presenters including Michele Scism, Belanie Dishong, Giovanna Rossi, Jena Rodriguez and Paul Taubman. They have all built business that change lives and yet allow them the freedom to enjoy their lives too.

(I am pleased as punch that I was chosen to be part of such a cool group of entrepreneurs)

Here’s what is on the agenda:

  • Your personal productivity style, and strategies that will empower you to work less and earn more and therefore, enjoy the time and freedom to do the things you want to do!
  • The unconscious patterns that keep you stuck, and how to stop those patterns—for good—so you can finally break through to higher levels of success.
  • Top secret marketing, public relations and sales strategies to help you stop wasting time as you build more awareness around your brand and increase sales.
  • The very best tools you already have, and how to leverage them to fuel your success and results, day-to-day.
  • And so much more.It is like having a “kitchen cabinet” of talented advisors to help you create a flow state in your business.
    .
    Sign up for the summit here: https://solobizhacker.com/freedom

10 Reasons To Consider Starting a Business After 50

As I steady approach my 60th year, one thing I feel about where I am in life – “I’ve only just started”. I certainly have not thoughts about retiring whatsoever! (I probably couldn’t afford to live the kind of life I always thought retirement should be, anyway, truth be told!). And I am certainly not alone! (See Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire; MetLife Study: Living Longer Working Longer)

After the crash in 2007, many even high level workers over the age of 50 found themselves for the first time being laid off, and many of those only being offered jobs that were well below their skill and experience level. Others, disenchanted with, or burned out by, the corporate way of life, are looking for something that provides them with more work-life balance, and something that is more creative and purposeful.

If there is one thing that our podcast, Paycheck To Passion, taught us is that doing something you were passionate about, and making a good living doing, all on your own terms, was entirely possible, especially when you utilize the power of the internet to reach a target audience.

Here are 10 reason why starting a business might be better for you:

1) Purpose
The problem with a lot of corporate jobs is that they don’t provide any element of creativity or sense of purpose – you often just feel like a cog in a machine, and often an undervalued and insignificant one at that. When you start your own business you have the opportunity to do something that gives you a sense of purpose, and gives you more time to give back to and be part of your community.

2) No Ageism when you run a business

Age can be a detriment in the corporate world. And there is a ceiling at 65 where you instantly become obsolete. When you are running your business, age is either not a concern, or in a lot of cases can be a positive aspect that adds to your perceived “experience”. In business, it is all about delivering on what you promise – as long as you do that no-one will care how old you are.

3) You can work from almost anywhere
The internet has empowered both businesses and workers alike to escape the bounds of their geographical location. Even corporate workers are enabled to work remotely. But for businesses, even more so. Not only can you tap into a customer base that is potentially worldwide, it also enables you to run your business from pretty well anywhere. Many of us are inspired by the increasing number of business owners who successfully combine travel with running their business. Often, you need little more than a laptop and a mobile phone, whether you are providing services or physical products – nowadays, nearly all of it can be done online.

4) Escaping the tyranny of the “job”
For those of you who have ever been through the HR recruitment process, you’ll understand what we mean! The whole corporate method of hiring is a horrible, impersonal, seemingly arbitrary, exploitative and belittling process. You are expected to work long hours, you could be “laid off” at anytime for any reason; and for what – crap pay and crap benefits. In your business, you are the boss, you decide who you work with and what the conditions are. Keep your customers happy and they will keep coming back time and time again – and you can thrive and enjoy your working experience.

5) You decide who you want to work with
In most corporate jobs you totally at the mercy of every psychopathic coworker or boss – and there seem to be a lot of them! Probably because they are equally as unhappy working there!
In your own business, not only do you get to decide who you you work with, whether it be an assistant, or your own workers etc, but also who your customers are! Have a customer that is a pain in the rear? Fire them. You get to decide who you work with.

6) The flexible work schedule
The problem with so many corporate jobs is that you are expected to work 8am to 5pm, 5 days a week, and that regime just doesn’t give you the ability to handle the vagaries of normal everyday life. By the time you get home you are drained and exhausted! If you have kids, its almost impossible! One of the beauties of running your own business is that you can set the hours you want to work. If you want to work 4 hours a day and that works for you financially, you can do it. If you want to work 8 hours a day, but want your day to be flexible if you have appointments and errands to run during the day and are happy to do a couple of hours in the evening instead – then you can make it so. As we said above, as long as you deliver on what you have promised to your customers, no-one is going to care.

7) More time
This ties into the flexible work schedule point. Unless you are fortunate to have a telecommute job, how much time is wasted everyday in getting ready and commuting to the office. I have heard stories where some people leave at 4.30am and commute 3 or 4 hours – morning and evening – for their corporate job! If you are able to run your business from a home office, you could be saving yourself hours a day. Hours that you can better spend with your friends and family, or taking that walk you never had time for!
That’s not to say a business cannot take over your life – if you let it. But, ultimately, you are in charge of your time.

8) You determine your financial goals
Corporate salaries have not increased much over the past decade. With pressure from countries like India and China where wages are much lower, neither are they likely to get any better anytime soon. However, as a business owner you have control over your own destiny.
It is all in the planning. Do you want to earn enough that affords you the time and life-balance you desire, or do you want to make as much money as possible? Your financial goal is only limited by your own determine to make it happen!

9) You can create a legacy to leave to your children

Whether you plan to sell the business after a period of time, or whether you intend to keep it going so that a child or family member can take it over at some point, or even just manage the day-to-day operations for you, with a business you have the opportunity to build a legacy that will go on, even after you have transitioned into a more traditional form of retirement.

10) Increase your retirement savings
As the owner of your own business you have the ability, under current IRS rules, to put aside a good proportion of your earnings into one or more deferred taxation retirement accounts. This can be done by setting up an IRA/SEP account and (if you are over 50), putting up to a quarter of your income from the business. Another possibility is to defer taxes on your business income by creating a profit-sharing or even setting up your own 401(k). A good financial planner could show all the different ways you can use income from your business to increase your retirement savings in a tax efficient way.

Like to discuss your business idea to understand what would be involved? Schedule a Clarity Call with me by clicking the following link – Schedule