self employment

Do You Charge What You’re Worth?

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There’s a good chance you don’t. You may think you don’t have enough experience. You may fear that you can’t deliver high quality services. You may just not feel “good enough.”

If you are a true beginner you might want to charge a lower fee in order to gain experience; however, before you do this, I urge you to talk to a coach or a trusted advisor to do a “reality check.” You may not be able to see clearly all the life experience, knowledge and value you are bringing to the table.

If you are not a beginner, here are a few tips to effectively master the emotionally loaded topic of how to charge what your worth.

1. Pricing is an art not a science. There are no hard and fast rules. You can experiment. Establish a baseline by calculating the amount you absolutely must have each month to meet your expenses then double that amount to account for those variable life insurance quotes, savings, retirement and other business expenses you may not be taking into consideration.

You may want to triple your initial amount so that you’ll have money left over for travel and other enjoyments. Divide your total amount by 20 hours a week for 48 weeks (or the number of weeks you expect to work in a year). I say 20 hours because some of your time will be spent on marketing, administration, professional development, research, etc. If you will actually be delivering billable services more than 20 hours a week, adjust the formula to fit your situation. This amount is the minimum you need to be making during each hour of service.

Try a price on for size and see if you feel satisfied with delivering your service for that fee. If you feel resentment -you’re not charging enough. You can adjust your pricing till you find the range that fits.

2. When delivering services it’s always better to charge a project fee rather than an hourly fee. You are bringing value to the client -you are solving a problem -you are not trading dollars for hours of your vital life energy. Yes, I showed you in #1 how to establish an hourly rate -that’s so you would have an idea of how to price your project. Estimate the number of hours it will take to complete the project or deliver the service and you’ll have a project fee. Yes, sometimes you will find you underestimated and you will also find that sometimes you finish more quickly than you anticipated.

3. Expect the “gulp” factor. Each time I’ve stretched myself to raise my prices, I find myself swallowing, a gulp, as I quote the fee or write it into a proposal. But what a great feeling when the client says yes and you recognize your value. It gets easier with practice.

Deliver excellent service. Be reliable. Be honest. And charge what you’re worth!

I’d love to hear your thoughts – so go ahead and post them here.

Starting A Business

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Starting a business is exciting and scary at the same time.

I’ve got two that are up and running pretty smoothly so…I’m ready to start another one!  I like to call them profit centers.  I’m going to start a travel agency business from home.

This profit center combines several of my passions.  As many of you know my life vision is “Everyday A Vacation Day.” You know how you wake up with that feeling of excitement and anticipation when you’re on vacation. The day is a blank slate and you get to create what you want with it.  That’s what I want for each of you too -to enjoy most of what you’re doing…every day.  And, it’s a portable business I can work on with my husband.  Fun!

I thought it would be a great experiment to document my progress here in this blog. I’m thinking it may help you on your journey to creating your profit centers.

I’ll share what my next steps are, my progress, my bumps along the way and soon…my successes!

So here we go.

Step 1. I googled “home based travel agency.” I found a homebasedtravelagent.com website created by Tom and Joanie Ogg. I browsed it and read some articles.

Step 2. I went to FabJobs and bought a book on becoming a travel agent. I like this resource and have several of their titles on my website http://authenticlifeinstitute.com/how_to_guides.htm  (I receive a small commission for referring their products.)

I browsed a bit more, saw that Tom Ogg’s name came up a few times as a trusted, knowledgeable professional so went back to his site, purchased two of his information products and joined his forum.

Step 3: After spending about 3 weeks reading and gathering information I had the lay of the land and knew what my next step was.  I haven’t got a clue about how a lot of this works yet but all I need to know is the next step. In this case that is to decide whether to find a host agency or go it on my own.   I decided on the host agency route. I know I’ve got a big learning curve ahead of me and I want to learn from successful travel agents who are already where I want to be.

Next step?   Research five host agencies.    So for all of you thinking of starting a home based business.   The first step is like a research project.  You need information.

But  the very next step I’m taking  is a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.  I leave Saturday.  Got to do research you know 🙂

Star

Got Blog?

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I resisted having a blog for years. I asked my virtual assistant to set one up for me in 2007 and promptly forgot about it. But now I’m a believer. Last month Google launched a new new web indexing system called Caffeine. According to Google,

“Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered. Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before.”

So what does this mean? Well one, your blog is an even more powerful marketing tool than ever. And two, you need to get posting twice a week. That’s ideal for keeping web traffic flowing to your website. Blogging lets you connect with your ideal clients or customers in a very human way.

It’s easy to get started. WordPress is free. The best way to go is to have an integrated blog and website. If you’re a non-techie like me, you can hire someone for a few hundred dollars to create this for you.

So get started. Drop a comment here about your new blog -there are people waiting for your unique message!

How are you intelligent?

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Now please notice I didn’t ask, how intelligent are you? That’s an entirely different question. Our culture puts a great deal of weight on assessments given to you when you’re in school…I.Q. tests, S.A.T.s, A.C.T.s…alphabet soup. This is unfortunate. These tests only measure a portion of the different types of intelligences including linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences.

Years ago, I was delighted to find Howard Gardner’s work on multiple intelligences in the K-12 school systems. He identified 8 different types of intelligences. They include linguistic (good with words), logical-mathematical (good with numbers and reasoning), spatial (picture smart), bodily kinesthetic (body smart), musical (music smart), interpersonal (people smart), intrapersonal (self smart) and naturalistic (nature smart).

Another author, Daniel Goleman, says we can also have emotional intelligence and that this kind of intelligence is an even stronger indicator of success than I.Q. Emotional intelligence can be learned, it’s not fixed at birth. The different emotional intelligences include self-awareness, altruism, personal motivation, empathy, and the ability to love and be loved.

Ok. So what does all this have to do with you being happily self employed, working from home doing work you love and making plenty of money? I find that many of my clients doubt that they are “smart” enough to succeed in their own business. They often don’t recognize the gift of their own unique intelligence and how that gift can solve problems for others.

For example, I’ve met many interior designers who downplay their talent and under charge for their services. Now being someone who has had to return just about every piece of furniture I’ve ever bought on my own, I recognize clearly the gift of spatial intelligence in these designers. And that’s one intelligence I sure wasn’t blessed with! I save my self (and the sales clerks) lots of time and frustration by hiring designers.

Another example, I never knew that I had a natural ability for writing until I got to college. I assumed it was not difficult for anyone to write. Wrong! A college professor had us take an exam to determine if we needed to take a basic writing class. Of the 15 people who gave a writing sample that was judged by 3 teachers, mine was the only one that “passed” so I didn’t have to take that writing course. That’s when I had an aha moment of “oh, so this isn’t easy for everyone.” Prior to that, I just had no awareness of this gift. And now I am able to serve others with and charge well for my services.

So how are you intelligent? Don’t downplay your interpersonal and/or intrapersonal skills. Those are often even more important than some of the others. They allow you to build rapport and relationships, to empathize with others and to be a good listener. These are some of the strongest skills you need in business and sales. Would love to hear about how you are intelligent -post a line or two here on my blog: http://authenticlifeinstitute.com/blog/ and how you are starting to honor your unique intelligence. I can just about guarantee that you have far more capacity than you give yourself credit for!

Mind Junk

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One of my coaches gave the term “mind junk” to that negative, very active voice in your head. It’s chattering away constantly telling you why you can’t reach your goal, live your dreams or even something as simple as writing an article!

I watch people let this mind junk waste tremendous amounts of their energy. Instead, I’d like to invite you to accept that this voice will always be with you AND you can relax and accept it rather than wasting energy trying to change it. You can wallow around in your mind junk or you can shift your attention from it to your goals.

Let’s identify what your mind junk looks like so you can quickly figure out when it’s happening and you can stop paying attention to it. One other interesting thing…the way you handle mind junk in one area of life -say money -you’ll find that the same mind junk runs your relationships, your creativity, your physical vitality, your time and how much you enjoy life. Here are some ways mind junk shows up:

Keeping it vague. I’ll create that blog soon. Right now I don’t have the time. Falling into the either/or trap. Either I can write a book or I can keep making money in my job -I don’t have the energy for both. Comparing yourself to others. Why does it seem that no one struggles with public speaking as much as I do? Making excuses. I was late in meeting my deadline because I had too many interruptions.

Monkey mind has a lot of tenacity. It loves to keep us in the same behaviors even when it’s not working for us. Here’s what you might find yourself saying: It will work if I just try harder, I don’t have time to do it another way. This is just how I am and there’s nothing I can do about it.

So what to do with this craziness? Know that you are not your mind junk. You have amazing ability to observe it. It is only one part of your mind and who you really are is much more magnificent than any curve ball your mind junk throws at you. When you become aware of it and see how it works, you minimize the odds of getting off track as you move towards your goals.

Here’s an action for you. Over the next 2 days, write down at least 3 times your mind junk was shouting load and clear. Did you say it aloud -like “I can’t afford that and never will” or was it an internal dialogue? Note what kind of form it took -was it being vague, comparing yourself to others or some other form?

See if you can catch the mind junk and not get into a full blown attack of it. Observing your mind junk, you may be amazed to discover that 90% or more of the thoughts that your mind junk pops into your head are irrelevant to anything that’s of real value to you!

Would love to hear any tips you have for living in peace with your mind junk. Post yours here.

What Are You Convinced Of?

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What are you convinced of? What do you hold as true for you right now? Are you convinced that work is hard? Are you convinced that you’ll never be able to work from home? Are you convinced that, on some level, it’s wrong to be prosperous? Or are you convinced that you are always at choice and the past has no precedence…you can start right where you are. How unalterably convinced are you? This is your faith. You could be making money from home.

Think about this. When you think about one of your convictions, does it make you smile inside or shrive? Do you feel bolder, stronger, or do feel small, diminished.

I’m living proof that what you are convinced of is often a lie. I was convinced for a long time that work had to be hard -look at my parents’ life! That was powerful proof to me. I was convinced for years that I was “not smart enough” to be successful in creating my own work in the world…I should of looked around a bit -there are plenty of “not so smart” people who make plenty of money in their own business! Here are three ways to alter those big convictions you have that are keeping you from waking up to your unique gifts, to honoring the human treasure that you truly are and to living a prosperous life, in which you are experiencing peace, health and plenty in your world.

1. Ask yourself if your conviction is really true. Is it true for everyone? Do you know someone who doesn’t hold this conviction and is thriving in an area of life that you are not? If one person can do it, you can too! Play with the idea of “what if this weren’t true about me?”

2. Allow yourself to move forward even if you can’t see the entire “how”. Your inner compass lets you know when you’re on the right track. You’re scared AND excited at the same time. You feel good. What you’re working on will be a positive thing for others. Martin Luther King said “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” So do some planning. Planning leads to action. Action gets you “into the game”. And once you’re in the game, all kinds of unexpected things happen that absolutely couldn’t have happened if you hadn’t jumped in! And then, you might find yourself facing…

3. Doing the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “you must do the thing you think you cannot do.” If you’re afraid of a certain action that is moving you towards your dream, do it anyway. This will bust through your limiting convictions, maybe causing your family and friends to think you’re nuts, and you might even be rocked by the fact that you are shaking your very identify (albeit limited!) to the core. That’s ok. Do it anyway!

4. Get unstuck. Katie Byron has a masterful technique for getting past your yeah buts. It feels weird at first, but it’s powerful.

First, say what it is you want to do and your “but”. I want to travel to (put your favorite location here), but I can’t afford to.

Now say it as if you are choosing. “I’m choosing not to take a trip to paradise because of the belief that I have to spend a lot of money on this trip. The trip isn’t the problem, my perception that I can’t afford it is.”

Finally, “my true self can find a way to take the trip without going into debt because it knows that not having a lot of money isn’t the problem -my belief about not having enough money is.”

It’s also powerful to take your desire and your obstacle to some supportive people. Tell them what you’ve done up till now, what you want next and what obstacle is in the way. You’ll be amazed at the creative options you haven’t thought of. But look at your convictions first and get clear that they are alterable, otherwise, you’ll drive your friends crazy with yeah buts at every turn!

Would love to hear about a conviction you have that is not supporting you and you are ready to give up. Post  yours here.  It’s a powerful to put your commitment out to the world.

Do you need more info to reach your goal?

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I want to give you a tip that will make it much easier to reach your goals.

At some point, in going after your goal, you are going to be stopped by a lack of information.

Now I honestly don’t like doing a lot of research.  But here are some of the techniques I enjoy using to get information when I’m stuck:

1. Tell people what your wish is and the obstacle you face.  You won’t believe how quickly people (even strangers!) will jump right into problem-solving mode and you’ll be given information or contacts who can give you the solution…try it…really…you’ll be amazed!

2. Go to the library (online).

I love libraries. When I was six years old, a friend took me on my first trip to a library. I was astounded and absolutely delighted to learn that I could take 5 books home and it was free!

Today, I can access mountains of popular magazines, scholarly journals, and databases on everything from history to science to health right from my computer.  All you need is a library card number.  Go to your local public libraries website and find their online databases. You will find information here that will get you unstuck. The only downside (if you want to call it that!) to this method is that you can spend hours happily sifting for gold in this treasure trove!

3. Got to conferences, association meetings and trade shows.

There’s nothing like hanging out with a bunch of people who share your interest.  The Encyclopedia of Associations lists every group and association that meets regularly in the U.S. and even worldwide. 

So, what’s a goal you’d love to achieve? Are you stopped by lack of information?  Try one of my favorite techniques this week and find out how great it is to get just the information you need to keep moving forward.

Drop a line on my blog and let me know how it goes!

Stinking Thinking

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Do you find yourself caught up in a lot of “stinking thinking?”  When you wishfully think of something, do you immediately stop yourself with a “I can’t have, do or be that!”

How about when someone presents an idea to you – a dream they have -and it totally seems off the wall.  Do you say, “well, it won’t be easy.”  Or, “you’ve got a long road ahead.”   Instead, why not say “great!  what would have to happen to make that come true?”

See the difference.  Once you start thinking about what the outcome would be, your brain will start getting creative and will begin to draft out steps you’ll take.  You probably won’t know every step needed to reach your dream.  But if you start in the direction your wise inner self guides you to, you’ll be led to the next step, the next person.

This is the power of planning.  To me making plans is like playing.  And to be honest, many of my plans go out the window.  The secret is, that while you’re following your initial plan, all kinds of unexpected and wonderful things occur. 

You meet just the right person who can help you with the next step towards your dream.  You stumble upon a book that has just the key you need to unlock some blocked area you had.  You stop into the “wrong” office and run into an old friend who can help you.

Planning in this way, loosely attached to the exact outcome, is the only way your dreams become real.  Action rocks.  You don’t have to create your entire dream alone…matter of fact, you can’t.  When you get in the game, and take action in the world, the world will meet you and give you more than you can imagine.

Would love to see your comments here.  Post a dream you have!  You never know who might have a missing link you need.

How To Solve Problems

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What do you do when you hit a problem in your business? Maybe it’s how to generate more income, how to build a client list or how to create an information product. Too often you might find yourself getting stopped by a problem and just giving up. Here’s what you can do to get past those problems and on to doing what you love to do.

Jim Rohn, the wonderful motivational speaker, said to go inside first and see if you can come up a solution. If that doesn’t work, go to a book or internet sources to see if you can find an answer. If that doesn’t work, ask someone else who is where you want to be. This is good advice. Let’s explore further.

1.  Go inside. You have an extraordinary amount of wisdom right inside yourself –from your past experiences and from your natural preferences. One great way to get your answers from within is to take some time to get quiet. Make a list of teachers you’ve had that made a positive impact on you. Some may have been conventional teachers; others may be people you met who were not in a classroom. You can even consider famous people, people who have died or you haven’t met in person but you learned something valuable from them. Now choose one that jumps out at you right now.

Now write out a dialogue between you and this person. Ask him/her for advice. I can bet you will find some powerful insights into how to solve your problem

2.  Get some more information. When someone tells me they’re stuck on a problem, I quickly assess whether it is a lack of information that is the real problem. It often is. I’m amazed at how many people don’t take the time to seek information through books and the internet. Often there is someone out there who has solved a problem similar to yours and you can quickly get ideas about how to solve your problem.

3.  Ask someone else. If you still can’t figure out how to get past your problem after going inside and doing some research…now is the time to ask someone else. Most people are willing to share information and help you IF you show them that you have done some research prior to asking them. It’s startling how many people ask me for advice and information and when I ask them what they’ve done so far to solve their problem…they say “nothing”.

I’ll give you a concrete example. You want to run a tour business. You don’t know where to start and feel overwhelmed every time you think about this idea…but it just won’t go away.

First, you take time and journal with your teacher within. You have a dialogue and get encouragement from the teacher that you are on the right track. You even get some ideas about where you would like to lead tours and get a strong sense of the feelings of satisfaction and joy you’ll get when you achieve this goal.

Now you think, “I don’t know how to start. What insurance do I need? How do I hire a bus? What kind of outdoor microphone will I need so that people can hear me? How will I find people to enroll for my tours?”

So you go to Google and type in “how to lead tours”. You get nothing useful. So you try, “how to be a tour guide”. Bingo. You get a great article with lots of information and a link to an online course on the topic. You subscribe for the course. You then do an Amazon search and find a book that looks great on this topic so you order it.

After you’ve taken the course and read the book, you are about 100% confident that you’d like to achieve the goal of becoming a tour guide but you’d like to talk to some people who are actually doing it to get the real scoop on what it’s like and maybe ideas on how to break into the field.

Now, if you don’t already know someone in the field, it’s time to look up a few people in the field, approach them by email to request a 20 minute informational interview by phone. Send an email that says that you are interested in entering the field, you’ve taken a course and read about the field and now want to get some real world information.

Tell them that you’ll have 5-10 questions prepared before the call and that you’d be happy to email the questions to them prior to the call. You might want to ask what the best part of their work is and what the worst part of their work is. Don’t ask specific salaries, though you may ask what would be an expected range of pay for a beginner and for someone advanced in the field.

People are generally very happy to help out, happy to share information about work they love AND they will be impressed that you did your research prior to seeking them out.

So go ahead. What’s a problem you have? Try the 3 steps above and get unstuck now!

Repurpose Your Way To Making More Money With Less Effort and Time

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What the heck do I mean by “repurpose?”  Well it’s when you do one thing and then spin that one thing into many.  Let’s take a look at how this might work.

1.  Write a top ten tip sheet.  My first one was called “Top Ten Ways to Live Authentically.”  I wrote it 10 years ago and put it online and I still get feedback from it!

2.  Flesh out each of your top ten tips into a few paragraphs and now you have an article.  Write a 400-600 word article expanding on your top ten tips.  You put a “call to action” resource box at the end of the article.  A resource box is the jargon term that online article databases use…kind of like a byline, only it’s much more. 

Don’t make the mistake of using the few sentences you have here by talking about your bio data.  Instead, give people a reason to go to your website and get something free, and of value, in exchange for their email address. 

That one article becomes a client list builder.  And the beauty of it is that article remains online for a very long time AND other website/blog owners looking for good content, may ask you if they can post your articles WITH your website, on their webs/blogs…this happens to me several times a year.

3.  Create an e-course out of your top ten tips.  Set them up in an autoresponder like Aweber or 1shopping cart.    Now you have something of value to give away in exchange for a person’s email address.  AND the best part is, they will receive 10 different emails from you, maybe one a week.  That helps build relationships.  If you’re really on top of it, you’ll have a call to action at the end of each of the weekly emails.

4.  Rework your article into a press release.  The key to getting your press releases published is to tie your content into something interesting and newsworthy.  An example from my biz might be to write about how self employments may be the key to turning around the economy and then add the content of my article. 

You can submit press releases to your local newspapers, business journals and online for free (or fee).  One free online source is http://www.1888pressrelease.com/.

5. Create a teleseminar based on your article content.   You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  Your content can be used in many ways.  Teleseminars are a great way to build your list and to promote an upcoming fee-based teleseminar series.

6.  Create a video of you teaching some of the content and post it on YouTube.  You can do this easily with an inexpensive FlipCam.  It doesn’t have to be professional.  Just be you.  YouTube gets tons of web searches each day.  Some folks just plain prefer to learn by video. 

And that’s just the beginning!  The next time you decide to create something, brainstorm all the possible ways it can be used.

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