It’s 5am as I write this. I’m no stranger to being up early. In fact, a few years ago this would have been late for me. I used to get out of bed around 2:45am when I had a career as an airline pilot. I did that for seven years before becoming self-employed. This is a picture of one of the planes I used to fly.
I remember the quietness in the mornings this early and kissing my girls on the cheek as I snuck out of the house, to return after they were back in bed for the night, a few days later.
Today, I’m headed to Charlotte, NC to meet some great friends. We’re going to exchange some ideas to grow our businesses together. I’ll be back home before dinner.
I don’t miss those days much. Now, I’m in control. It’s what happens when you decided to place the importance on what’s most significant to you in life.
Too many people are afraid to be controversial these days. I know “the customer is always right.” Supposedly.
I love controversy though. Bottom line – if some people don’t hate you, there aren’t many that love you.
It’s true, business owners. If you’re not pushing people towards the edge, then they’re right in the middle. They don’t hate you, but they also don’t love you. They’re not talking about you and they’ll easily forget about you.
TV Shows are Controversial
Take a clue from TV shows. Is there a political show you watch that’s not controversial? Of course not. No one would watch.
Derek did this great video a few months ago that brought a lot of controversy. I doubt Dave Ramsey would disagree with anything he said, but there was still controversy there.
I titled a podcast My Business is a Scam because someone actually thought it was. But I’ve won that person over (after a funny show) and they still listen.
Turn Controversy into Positive Attention
When you begin to view controversy as a positive occurrence in your business, you can use it as an opportunity to develop relationships that otherwise wouldn’t exist. I actually disliked some of my now-best friends when I first met them. If they were in the middle, they’d be like everyone else; someone I know, but someone I don’t interact with often.
There’s a myth running around out there in the self-employed world. I was reminded about it again a few weeks ago when a client was running some projections. He initially thought he could bill for 40 hours of work at a much higher hourly rate than he’s earning now in his traditional job.
It was a good idea, but billing for 40 hours of work is nearly impossible if you’re self-employed.
You Can’t Do It
Unless you have a large staff, billing for 40 hours of work leaves no time to do things like bookkeeping, marketing, following up with prospects, etc. I’ve been there though and it’s a good thought to have.
You have to get beyond the hourly mentality if you’re self-employed. You might bill by the hour, but there are many things to do in your business that you won’t get paid for. I’m writing a blog that’s free to read for instance. I don’t make money from it and I don’t plan to.
In most cases, if you’re self-employed, expect to be able to spend 20-25 hours maximum working with clients. Plan out what you enjoy doing in business and what you want to get paid for. You can outsource almost everything else.
If you could go back and talk to your teenage self, what would you say? I can think of a whole host of things. My guess is many of us would tell our teenage selves what to do differently.
“Don’t bother with that girl, she’s a heartbreaker…”
“Don’t ‘borrow’ mom and dad’s car without them knowing, you’ll get grounded for a month…”
What would you tell yourself about money? Maybe you’d impart some wisdom about credit cards, or mortgages, or how to buy furniture without financing it. Maybe you’d say you need to have a plan for your money.
Ultimately, I think we’d all agree that the most important lesson we’ve learned since growing out of that younger-looking body is that we should’ve saved more money. Even if it was just $20 here or $10 there; I have yet to meet someone upset by how much money they’ve saved.
I spoke to a group of 30 teenagers the other day on preparing for the financial responsibilities of life outside the nest. Did you know that if a 16-year old began saving $1,000 a year until she turned 21, that $6,000 would grow to nearly $550,000 at retirement age? If she puts that in a Roth IRA, that money is completely tax free. Why parents aren’t teaching their kids this simple, fundamental principle of wise financial management is beyond me.
I told the teenagers I met that the writing is on the wall – Social Security will be a shell of its current self when they retire. They understood that they are on their own for their retirement savings, but didn’t know where to begin.
So, if you could go back, what would you tell yourself? Is it any different than what you should be telling your kids right now?
That’s exactly what Pat Cuartero has done. Entrepreneur magazine reports he’s on track for record profits this year as well as opening his third office. He has locations in the US, UK, and soon the Philippines.
Pat funded his business with $8,000 from a credit card and netted $32,000 in his first five months.
I often tell people you can monetize anything if you’re passionate about that. Thanks Pat, for providing proof that it’s possible.
So, what’s holding you back from enjoying your work and profiting from your ideas? It certainly can’t be a lack of ideas; here’s a list of 999 of them.
What is it then? Is it lack of support from your spouse? Fear? Anxiety? Lack of money?
Sometimes a document, spreadsheet, or presentation just isn’t the right tool to help me wrap my mind around an idea or concept. Introducing mind mapping.
Mind mapping isn’t new, but there have been a lot of free tools introduced lately to help make the process easier. MindMeister (affiliate linke) is the tool I’ve been using a lot lately; both for my business as well as my clients. Since I started using it about 12 months ago, I see that I’ve created 45 unique maps, mostly for clients. That’s about four maps / month.
Before we pulled Past Due Radio off the air at the end of 2009, I created a map that allowed me to see all the uses a studio in my office would provide me. That directly affected our marketing and our bottom line.
I use the service to map out directions for my clients businesses. It’s easy to lay out ideas and then map out similarities to find the best fits. Here’s a recent one for Ben.
I’m confident there’s 100 more uses for mind mapping. Share your top use here with a comment.
I came to realize this a while back when I worked at the airlines. We were hourly and everything was driven towards being on the clock for some people. But we live in a knowledge based society and most of us aren’t getting paid by the hour anymore.
Are all the ideas taken? I spoke with a client this morning and he mentioned the market was crowded already for the idea he was pursuing.
I think the real question is perhaps, what makes you remarkable? Why would people want to do business with you vs. someone else?
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