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One Man Band

By Bigg Success Staff
December 06, 2007

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Every year, Inc. magazine publishes the Inc. 500, the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. A recent article, written by Terri Lonier, about one of those companies caught our attention.

Lessons From a Soloist Who Reached the Inc. 500 List is about a one-man company that made their list. Now that’s an unusual feat! You may be shocked to learn that Jim Fairchild, who bought out his partner several years ago to become the sole employee of Coggin & Fairchild Environmental Consultants, Inc., finished 2006 with $3.4 million in sales. That’s right – a single person operating alone!

The article is chock-full of good advice spread among 9 tips for becoming a “solopreneur”. It’s definitely worth the read. Here are some tips for getting started as a soloepreneur:

  • Stick with what you know.
  • Don’t stray too far. Focus on what you already do. Study it even more so you become an expert in a micro-segment of your industry. As a solopreneur, your market doesn’t have to be that big.

  • Find a void.
  • What’s a problem you see that you can solve better than anyone else? Think the “d-test”. Do something that’s dirty, difficult, dangerous, or designed. By designed, we mean customized (but we had to have a “d”). Find something that either your customer doesn’t want to do or doesn’t know how to do.

  • Make your size your advantage.
  • There are advantages to being big. There are benefits to small. And there are pluses to just being you. You can move faster and provide a higher quality service by going it alone. Make this your advantage as you design your service.

  • Find a customer.
  • A wise businessman once asked, “How do you start a business?” Then, he answered his own question, “Find a customer.” That’s what it really takes. That customer may even be your current employer. There may be advantages to hiring you as a consultant, rather than as an employee.

  • Ask for referrals.
  • Thrill your first customer. Then ask for referrals. Get another customer. Ask for more referrals. Leverage your way into a diversified income. Then, when one of your customers decides to start using someone else (and they will), only part of your income will be affected.

  • Leverage your time.
  • Find ways to bill your customers for the value of the service you deliver. It’s hard to get wealthy billing by the hour. If what you’re doing meets one of the “d” tests above, you’ll find it easier to charge a premium for your services.

    Another way to do this is to sell the services of people or companies with whom you’ve strategically aligned yourself. You can diversify your service mix without increasing your overhead. Make sure you screen these providers, though. You don’t want your reputation to be harmed by someone else’s imcompetence.

  • Keep costs low.
  • Start out at home, if you can. Outsource, so you don’t waste precious time and money. Focus on your core competencies. You may find other home-based solopreneurs whose core competencies meld perfectly with yours.

  • Analyze each project from multiple viewpoints.
  • Is the customer happy?
    Are your strategic partners happy?
    Are you happy?

    If your answers aren’t all affirmative, what should you do differently the next time a project like this comes your way?

Being a solopreneur can be both lucrative and fulfilling. Hopefully, our article and the article we’re referring you to will provide some inspiration for you to get started. Maybe you’ll be the next solopreneur on the Inc. 500!

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How High Is Your Self-Esteem?

By Bigg Success Staff
December 06, 2007

Test Yourself

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Do you love yourself? Hey, quit chuckling … that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about self-esteem. Are you happy with the person you see in the mirror?

Discovery Health has a great test of your self-esteem. Answer ten questions and you’ll know. It will take you less than five minutes to see the results!

Why is high self-esteem so important?

If you don’t find yourself interesting, neither will anyone else! It’s hard to care for someone who doesn’t care about themselves. According to Discovery Health, you need a high self-esteem to have the courage to take the risks necessary to reach your goals.

Check it out – you’ll love yourself for doing so!

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Network Your Way to Your Next Job

By Bigg Success Staff
December 06, 2007

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 Career Builders

You may have heard of the three keys to buying real estate – location, location, location. Successful job searches may have a common denominator as well – network, network, network.

We often think of networking as something we do at formal events. Perhaps your Chamber of Commerce sponsors an event where you focus on handing out your business cards. It’s like we have to put on our “networking hat” or we don’t think about it.

Successful networkers, though, realize that networking isn’t reserved only for these situations. Networking is simply meeting new people and reconnecting with those you already know. It’s just relationship building.

We recently discussed 37 networking at your holiday parties ]on a recent Bigg Success Show. Those tips are great for any event where you’re meeting new people. Here are some additional tips for networking your way to your next job:

  • Have a networking mindset.
  • Networking is marketing. What do they say about marketing? Marketing is everything you do or say, right? So, you should realize that you’re networking all the time, whether or not you think you are. People are forming opinions of you.

  • Get the word out.
  • The circumstances of your job search may require you to be somewhat discreet. However, tell everyone you think is appropriate about your job search. Don’t make the mistake of pre-judging someone’s ability to connect you. For example, your hair stylist may hear about changes at a company before it hits the news.

  • Socialize.
  • People often withdraw when they find themselves between jobs. They should do exactly the opposite. For one thing, you need the support of your friends at this time. For another, you never know who you might meet. This goes along with the previous point. Let people know that you’re looking.

  • Entertain entertainment.
  • Attend games, concerts, lectures, and other events. Look for events where you’ll be able to mingle with people with whom you have a common interest. What’s the worse that can happen? You spend a few hours doing something you enjoy!

  • Join clubs.
  • At the very least, join. Better yet, become a leader. That’s a sure way to get noticed! Whether a service club or a professional organization, you’ll meet great people and develop valuable skills.

  • Volunteer.
  • Is there a cause you’re passionate about? Get involved with the local organization. Good things often come from doing good things. You’ll meet people with similar interests. Giving people. People who just may help you, too. What a great side benefit!

  • Attend organized events.
  • They’re not the only networking you should do, but they still serve a useful function. Attend functions sponsored by your local Chamber or any other organization that hosts such get-togethers. Bring plenty of business cards!

Networking is just relationship-building. Follow these tips and you’re likely to find a job that hasn’t even been advertised. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to a job interview knowing that you have an “in” – and no competition!

(Photo by: acerin)

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Finding The "Good" In Good-Bye

By Bigg Success Staff
December 06, 2007

Life Changes

sun_clouds_jpg Knowing when it’s time to move on is one of the toughest decisions we ever have to make. Carlin Flora writes about this in Adieu to All That in the current issue of Psychology Today. You should check it out, especially if you’re facing or are in the midst of, a life transition.

Some people leave too soon.
The grass isn’t always greener. These people (“quitters” in the article) may miss out on the opportunities that come to those people who dedicate themselves to an organization. Changing jobs and/or careers is not a sure-fire way to advance your career. Sticking with it may serve you better.

Some people stay too long.
These people (“lingerers” in the article) are at the other end of the spectrum. They may miss out on the alternatives being created in a dynamic marketplace. Staying put doesn’t mean moving up. Moving on may serve you better.

Understand your underlying fears.
Quitters may suffer from an abnormal fear of intimacy. Lingerers may have an inordinate fear of failure. Understand what’s driving your desire to consider leaving or staying. Face your fears so you make the best decision for your future.

Learn from your past experiences.
Analyzing past exits will help you avoid making the same mistakes again. Did you burn a bridge? Did you hurt others? What caused you pain as you recalled the event.

Think carefully about what you did right and what you would change, if given the chance. Then apply that to your current situation to guide you to make the right decision.

Cut yourself some slack.
Flora does a great job of describing closure in this article. It’s worth reading it just for that. Once you’ve made your decision, accept it. Or change it. Just don’t continue to fret about it on and on and on …

We live our lives in eras. We have many simultaneous eras running at all times. It’s only natural that one or more of these eras is coming to an end at any given point in our lives. Learning when it’s time to say when, and how to do it, will make your transitions smoother.

(Photo by: johnwilson1969)

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W.Clement Stone’s Success System

By Bigg Success Staff
December 06, 2007

Timeless Principles

W. Clement Stone was a student of success. This paper boy eventually became the head of a billion dollar insurance company. Along the way, he overcame extreme poverty, a tough neighborhood, the loss of his father at the age of three, and many other obstacles.

In his great book, The Success System That Never Fails, he describes the three things he learned as a frightened six-year old boy selling newspapers. These three things propelled him to success.

3-Step Success Formula

  • Inspiration to action
  • What motivates you? Not because you have to do something, but because you want to do it. Are you unhappy with your current situation? Then change it by changing yourself. Do you want more out of your life? Find your passion and pursue it relentlessly.Stone opens the book by writing about his days as a paperboy. He was motivated to do well because he needed the money. He had invested all of his savings in newspapers. Newspapers that would be worthless at the end of the day. He had to sell them. So he kept pushing.

  • Know-how
  • Know-how is knowledge applied successfully. You learn your craft by trying again and again. Every time you try, you either succeed or fail. Either way, you learn. When you succeed, you know what to do the next time. When you fail, you learn what not to do next time.Stone learned that patrons of a corner diner would buy papers to read while they ate their dinners. However, the owner of the restaurant didn’t like this child peddling papers in his place. He kept kicking Stone out. Stone would sneak back in and sell papers. He learned to be persistent.

  • Activity knowledge
  • It’s important to learn from your own successes and failures. It’s even better if you can learn from the successes and failures of others. Get to know your product. Learn the methods that have and haven’t worked for others.Stone knew what to say, because he watched other successful paper boys shouting out the day’s headlines to get their customers’ attentions.

Stone promises a lot, even in the title to this book. He also promises that his system will work if you work his system. What’s your inspiration to action right now?

(Image of sprinter by Gio JL )