I Finished My Work at 8a, What are You Doing?

By 8a this morning I had met my reading goal, completed a section of my online class, fit in a short workout, met my daily writing goal, and enjoyed a lovely smoked gouda and sausage breakfast casserole. And now I am writing you this post. I have the rest of the day to complete chores, work on other parts of my business, and cook dinner to enjoy with my fiance.

Of course, the thing not immediately seen in my account of my morning is the preparation involved. I was up early because I began my nightly wind down at 9p – shutting off devices, prepping my coffee, and quieting my mind. I have spent countless hours attempting to understand what activities will prepare me to be the best writer I can be, and countless more working out a schedule that mimics the flow of my energy.  I also make breakfast casseroles and lunches on Sundays and group together my clothes for the week.

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Since I embarked on the life of a small business owner, I have come to understand some days will be like this, but many will not. It is important to seize upon those moments that can help you advance your goals whenever they present themselves. For me, preparation has been an essential component in helping me meet the demands of the self-employed lifestyle. This includes a weekly schedule, pre-preparing a menu, a workflow schedule, project management software, and daily reading and writing goals.

Do you have any tips to share?

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Local Entrepreneurs Rise to the Occasion and Share the Ride

As written for iluvlocalplaces.com 10/2016

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you have no doubt heard of rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.  What you may not know is that Cape Girardeau is poised to get its very own version by the name of carGO.  The ride share service is designed to work in micropolitan, or hometown markets, where people are more likely to know each other.  Up until now, this is a market untapped by larger rideshare companies as they tend to focus on larger cities.

I recently sat down with carGO business managers, Gunnar Knudtson and  Kyle Campbell, to get the scoop on their exciting new venture.   James Stapleton of Codefi and Jeffrey Maurer of Mayson Capital Partners of Cape Girardeau spearheaded the micropolitan rideshare concept.  The service is designed to be an on-demand ride service similar to those in the larger markets.  A major defining feature of carGO is the ability to request a ride from your smartphone – connecting you with background checked and safety trained drivers.  A further defining feature specific to carGO is the ability to “favorite” and request particular drivers or be matched with nearby drivers.

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L to R, Maurer, Stapleton, Campbell, Knudtson

When I asked Gunnar and Kyle why this particular business, they said an opportunity like this right out of college was not something they could walk away from.  Both Gunnar and Kyle were studying business at the University of Mississippi, and both had no plans to come back to Cape.  But as we all know, life is funny that way.  Gunner explained the pair received a call one day indicating Stapleton and Maurer wanted to meet and discuss the business idea over dinner.  Gunner recalls with a laugh, “that meeting lasted over four hours.”  He said they felt like they were on “cloud nine” afterward, recognizing that they had an incredible opportunity in front of them.  Although the pair has a background in business management and interest in starting a business, neither has experience launching a tech-infused start-up.

Gunnar and Kyle immediately took up residence in the Codefi co-working space in the Federal Building and started the grind.  Although the business idea was already in place, the pair would have to create processes and finalize details.  This meant partnership agreements, working with the app development, logistics, and a host of legalities and marketing issues related to locating drivers and riders.  Then there is the fact that the service has never been tried in the Cape area.  No pressure guys.  Gunnar and Kyle both express sincere gratitude to the folks at Codefi (https://www.codefiworks.com/) and for the way the up and coming Tech District have nurtured the process.

When asked what success looks like for the new venture Kyle said, “getting that first ride requested and completed.” As the pair laugh, Gunnar chimes in saying that he is hopeful for “future expansion into multiple markets” as the long-term indicator of success.  Both gentlemen agree that the experience is going to be a great learning experience.

 

Notables

The carGO app and website are currently under development.  Potential drivers and riders can visit the site http://www.gocargo.io/ to sign up for more information.

carGO headquarters will be located in the Marquette Tower Tech District.

Prospecting

image via ucommunicate.org

In today’s small business session I took cold calling off the table. Yes. Death be to the dastardly cold call. In lieu of the ever dreaded cold call I suggested that my client think of marketing her brand as “prospecting”.  The word feels better and with that better feeling produces more confidence.

In “prospecting” you will still call clients to explore potential leads. The difference is that you will have worked hard in strengthening your brand and expanding your network. Through this activity you will find potential clients with less effort. This will require more behind the scenes work.  It will require you, the small business owner, to know everything that sets you apart from your competition; know what solutions you offer and what other solutions are available.  And it will require you to have some knowledge of your prospective lead and what makes them special.

Doing your homework will not only make you feel better prepared but it will go along way in building rapport with your potential new client!

Do you have any suggestions on effective methods of prospecting?

A Photog’s Guide to the Gig Economy

image via azcentral.com

image via azcentral.com

Had you shown me a glimpse of my current life a few years ago I would have never believed it. I thought I was destined to the eternal damnation of a career that made me miserable. I’m finding now that it wasn’t the housing industry that I disliked. It was more the corporate America heavy stance we take as leasing agents and property managers. Now that I am working on the other side of the fence in housing whereby I educate landlords about Fair Housing and the benefits of not being an absentee landlord,  I have a more positively adjusted view.

I digress. The point is, I now have three jobs that are all completely different yet somehow related. In my volunteer work I help with economic development, in my other jobs I sell healthcare IT software and work to promote local small business owners.  Working in the gig economy has taught me a few things:

  1. Never underestimate the power of a promise.  If you say you are going to deliver something on Tuesday you better do it on Monday. Build yourself in a couple of days for the unexpected.
  2. You are only as good as your previous work.  Why? Some would say that it is because your reputation will proceed you. Which is true, but I think it’s more nuanced than that… I think you will carry the baggage of letting someone down to your next project, especially if you did not do everything in your power to fix it or own up to it. It is likely to grate on your self-esteem and threaten to sabotage your next project.
  3. Be careful with whom you associate.  Bringing someone on to help you means that they are part of your reputation.  If they are late, or get sloshed, or act snarky or are dressed inappropriately, guess what? So are you.
  4. Take control of your work. This means taking credit for your work and ensuring the person you are working for does the same. It also means that if you decide to release a draft be sure that it is read only or set up in a way to track changes! If someone starts to modify your work you lose control over the final result and lose track of which version is the newest version.
  5. Don’t be afraid to work “in the mail room” or for free.  If you are switching careers, working for free gives you an amazing 360 view of the organization, the work and whether it is worth your time pursuing.
  6. Educate yourself, relentlessly.  Read books, subscribe to online content, go to school.  The wonderful thing about continuing education is that you can find so many sources FOR FREE! I like Coursera (coursera.org) and edX (edX).
  7. Find your backbone.  Stand up for what you believe in especially in the ethical arena.
  8. Find your sense of humor and humility. If you make a mistake own it, learn from it and move along.
  9. DO NOT work for someone who does not respect you, or your work.  If they do not respect your work upfront, they will not respect you during the life of the project.
  10. Maintain and work your network; keep up with colleagues from previous jobs.
  11. My favorite lesson – know what is going on in your area.  Civic engagement enriches your life simply by participating in the democratic process.  The dual benefit?  If you are working with, say a start-up business, think about the benefit you provide to your client by knowing what is going on in your area.
  12. Learn the difference between work that you can not do because of your current skill set/time constraints and work that you can do but it scares the bejesus out of you.
  13. Do the work that scares the bejesus out of you.  THIS is your growth moment.

I’d love to hear about your growth moment!

-Brandi