Problem Solver Seeks More Things to Fix

Recently I’ve been rethinking how I feel about work and jobs. As you may or may not know, I help business owners solve technology and marketing problems, which gives me some freedom to choose who I work with and when. I don’t have fixed hours and if I work more, I can get paid more, but it’s not all roses and cherry blossoms.

When you run your own business, while you may earn more, much of your work is doubled or even tripled. Not only do you have to do the work, but you have to go earn it, and then process all the finances, documentation, and taxes on the back end. In a traditional job environment the work is handed to you and you just do it. When it’s done, someone else processes it. Your work is finite and so is your pay.

A Paradigm Shifts Again

For ten years I worked full time jobs in banking and technology, and I always would told myself I’d be happier running my own business until one day I did. I started off running it on the side in 2007 and in 2011 I finally went full time. I do web design with HTML, CSS, and WordPress, email support with web hosts and Google Apps, and computer and network support for Microsoft products like Windows and Server 2003/2008.

While I have been successful at running my own business, there are two reasons why I’ve recently began applying for jobs in the Indianapolis market. The first reason is because I realized that the ideas I had about working hard now in order to do much less later were not realistic. I didn’t even realize I had this mentality until after a couple of months had gone by and I discovered that there will never be a time when I’m doing ‘nothing’. I’ll always be doing something, so why not just spend some time figuring out what I want to do, not just what I can find a job doing.

The second reason I began looking for jobs in the Indianapolis area was because I realized that it didn’t matter who I was doing the work for, as long as I was enjoying what I was doing. Even as a business owner, I have a boss. I have clients, my wife, and my Lord to report to. It’s not just willy nilly around here. I have to meet or exceed all of their expectations just as I would have to in a traditional job scenario – only more so because while the rewards are higher, so are the risks. There are no written warnings with clients, just lost opportunities in the future.

You Are a Startup

A friend of mine, Jason Cobb, recently coined a term, “You are a startup,” meaning that whatever you’re doing, do it like a startup. But what is a startup? A startup is traditionally a software company that is rapidly trying to create a product that is useful and monetizeable as fast as they can. It normally involves a small team consisting of a leader, a technical co-founder, and a marketer. These roles could all be one person, or it could be five people, but the point is that it’s a small team pushing out useful iterations of a product with the hopes of expanding very fast once a market can’t live without it.

So how does a startup mentality apply to you? Whether you are working for a client or for a company as an employee, you must be producing stuff that matters, you must be a leader, and you must be marketing yourself. This means listening to your customers and getting feedback, getting to know your fellow employees, and continuing your education (via meetups, books, or traditional training).

As I wrote about in 13 More Books for Every Entrepreneur, Reid Hoffman, (co-founder of LinkedIn) together with Ben Casnocha (entrepreneur and author) have written a book about managing your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you. The thesis is that the same skills startup entrepreneurs use, professionals need to get ahead today.

Now that I’ve experienced running my own business, I no longer look down on the traditional 9-to-5 job because I know that I can have impact either way and still accomplish my goals of learning, growing, and taking care of my family.

12 Month Goals (and Roadmap)

I recently subscribed to a blog I’ve been reading since 2008 called I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. Today he sent out a link to a PDF with a 12 Month Goals Roadmap worksheet, very similar to Michael Hyatt’s Life Plan. I’d like to share my answers here.

1. What will you be doing for work? – Editing HTML, CSS, and PHP; Converting static HTML web pages into dynamic CMS blogs; converting clients from POP email access to Google Apps; training users on how to use WordPress; Affiliate Marketing; Computer Network Troubleshooting and Repair

2. What’s your boss (or the person to whom you’ll be accountable) like? – Gives me feedback; Challenges me; Considers me an expert in what I do; Trusts my decisions; Considers my feedback

3. Where will you be working? – The Greater Indianapolis area, preferably along US 31, Keystone Ave, or 465; In an office with time allocated to work in blocks without interruption,  the ability to get up and walk around or go outside for a walk; And good Mexican, Chinese, and Thai food nearby.

4. How much time do you spend working? – 10 hours a day, 70 hours a week.

5. What does your Monday look like? – Reading and sharing emails until noon, viewing reports, and responding to client requests.

If anyone is interested in using my services or would just like to get together for coffee, please don’t hesitate to email me or follow me on Twitter.

This is one of those personal blog posts, if you’re interested in reading more about me specifically, try this one next or not, it’s your life.

Managing Forward

screenshot-02-20-2009

Managing Actions, February 2009

We have gone through several changes in the last year including a major facelift, a name change, an identity crisis, and now a new way forward.  It’s time we stop managing our thoughts and start to manage our actions.

From now on you can expect to find fresh content daily on subjects ranging from self-development to happiness, from management to marketing, and from pop-culture to programming.  Where else can you find out how to delete a Digg submission and how to live a purpose-filled life in the same blog?

Zac and I are passionate about life and we want to help you become more of a success than you already are.  If you’re reading this article right now you have already chosen the first step in learning more about yourself, your purpose, and your life.

We want to inspire you, motivate you, and lift you up so that you can go do whatever it is that makes you feel strong.  Be better tomorrow than you were today.  Move up in the world.  Get exited about life.  Find your spirit and develop it.

Thank you for reading Managing Actions.  We are glad that you are a part of our life and look forward to bringing you great content for a long time.  Cheers.

Strengths and Streams: Part II

Identifying Strengths and Revenue Streams: Part II

This is part II of the post Identifying Strengths and Revenue Streams.

How you can brainstorm to find your “strengths and streams.”

“Strengths” are the opposite of weaknesses.  Weaknesses make you feel weak, whereas strengths make you feel strong.  “Streams” refers to revenue streams, which is any and all the ways in which you can or have made money in the past.  Brainstorming is the act of recording as many different ideas as possible in a short time without criticizing them as you go.  Save the criticizing (analysis) for after the brainstorming session.  Sometimes bad ideas can help you think of good ideas, so write down any idea that comes to you during this time.  Ready? Here we go. Answer the following questions in order to help you identify your “strengths and streams”:

Strengths Test – 10 Questions

  1. What makes you feel strong?
  2. What makes you feel weak?
  3. What activities are you not just good at, but also feel good doing?
  4. What revenue streams do you have, no matter how large or small?
  5. What are some ways you have made money in the past, which you no longer do?
  6. What are some areas or ideas of things you have thought of doing, but for one reason or another never got around to doing?
  7. Have you noticed any changes in technology lately that would make something easier for someone to do something?
  8. Have you noticed a change in the demographics around where you live that might open a possibility for a new product or service?
  9. Have you noticed any “cuckoos in the nest” where something that wasn’t supposed to happen did, or something was an unexpected success?
  10. Have you noticed any examples of something that was supposed to succeed, but didn’t? What could you do to adapt to this new reality?

When I was young I used to collect aluminum cans to recycle for money.  As I got older I collected antiques to resell.  Later on I bought books to resell online or through local book dealers.  These were all retail activities which involved both labor and a product.  Eventually I started trading labor for revenue, which is called service.  I began doing computer repair and web design.  Eventually people began paying me for my advice and I became a business analyst.  Internet marketing is a mix of product and service because you are using your labor to help sell a product that you yourself do not deliver.  The service is in the promotion, marketing, and advertising of the product.  Anyone can do this using the free tools like the Thirty Day Challenge and other websites like Managing Actions which teach you how to be more effective by first changing how you think, in order to change how you act.

Limiting Factors

In order to be successful, you’ll need to overcome obstacles.  The first obstacle you’ll face is your own limiting thoughts so you’ll need to know how to deal with those right away.  An example of a negative thought is, “I can’t raise $8,000 to $10,000 in 2 to 4 weeks.  That’s impossible.” The first step is to realize that you are having a limiting thought, acknowledge it, then let it go.  Just because your brain creates a thought, doesn’t make it true.  Learn to manage your thoughts in order to manage your actions.

The second factor is the people you associate with.  In the same way that you have a greater chance of smoking if you live or hang around smokers or that you have a greater chance of gaining weight if the person or people you live with or work around are already overweight, if the people you hang around or not successful, are not following their dreams, or do not have multiple streams of income, then they are a limiting factor.  If you want to change, then you’ll need to spend less time with these people.

Next Steps

Every meeting should have two things: minutes and action items.  We have just had a meeting here.  This article is our minutes.  The action items are as follows:

Erich: use all available tools and resources to build and promote the identified websites in order to profit from Internet Marketing.

You: take some time to define the problems you are having, where you want to go, and what you want to accomplish, this will become your goal.

Erich: measure the success or failure of the Internet Marketing campaign, determined by the metric, revenue per man-hour.

You: brainstorm to identify your “strengths and streams” – find what makes you strong and what makes you weak, then write down all forms of income past and present.

Erich: update the personal finance measurements with increased net worth, revenue, profit, and savings from the Internet Marketing campaign.

You: manage your thoughts in order to better manage your actions. Notice when you are having a limiting thought, acknowledge it, then let it go.

Summary


This is not a get rich quick scheme.  This is about how to set a goal, make a plan, and execute (ready, aim, fire).  There is no “thing” that can make you rich, if that is your goal.  There is only you.  Mitch Hedberg said it best when he joked, “I bought a jump rope — but man, that thing’s just a rope. You have to do the jump part yourself.” [Thanks, Johnny] No blog, no self-help book, and no business can help you succeed more than a determination and drive within yourself.  If that is missing, everything else is just a rope.