Thirty-one years ago this week, (August 1, 1984) I started my business in San Francisco CA.
It’s been quite a ride and sometimes I can’t believe I’m still at it, as committed as ever and having a blast.
Over the years, other than a few assistants here and there, it’s been a one-man show and I proved that it’s not only possible but the best kind of business and lifestyle I could imagine.
Today I thought I’d share some advice about a few of the things I’ve learned along the way as an Independent Professional that’s made my business more fun and more successful.
These are in no particular order. There are no hidden meanings.
Once you make a decision, stick to it. I learned that being indecisive really didn’t make things any safer. Now when I get a good Idea, I think about it for awhile and then just go for it.
If you happen to make a lot of money, don’t buy a condo in Mexico – even if your wife thinks she can’t live without it!
Learn how to write marketing copy. It’s the master skill of marketing. If you struggle with writing, you’ll never reach the heights that are possible for you.
Try lots of crazy things. I once did a thing called “Networking on the Air” where a group of people recorded introductions about their businesses and we broadcast it on a local radio station. Dumb idea but still I learned some things.
Hire a designer. If you persist in producing nondescript marketing pieces and websites you will be rewarded by very little response to your marketing.
Make peace with the IRS. For years I paid my last year’s taxes the year after. It took me a long time to catch up. If you communicate with them they’re as nice as can be.
Avoid paperwork as much as possible. And to do that, create a bullet-proof filing system where you can find anything in 10 seconds (computer as well).
Write a book. It’s an amazingly powerful marketing tool. It will take a lot of time, energy and angst. Do it anyway.
Become a jazz fan. It’s so much better background music while you’re working and doesn’t distract you with all those inane lyrics. (Jazz playing as I write.)
Your biggest business expense should be books. Read a lot. A whole lot. When a friend recommends a book, buy it on Amazon before you hang up the phone.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. No matter how brilliant you are, you’re really pretty much the same as everyone else.
Take your clients very seriously. More than anything else they want to be heard and acknowledged.
Work all night once in awhile. I wrote my first little book in one sitting overnight. That energized me for quite some time.
Find out who you are. You’ll ultimately discover that you are beyond any limitations or fears that seem to run your life.
Speak in front of groups. Speaking is the master skill of selling. If you can think on your feet, you have nothing to fear.
Get computer savvy. I learned HTML from a book. It wasn’t that hard. I just followed the instructions step-by-step.
Go for the solution. Something will ultimately work to solve that intractable problem. Just don’t give up looking.
Exercise daily. This one little thing can make more difference to your health and wellbeing than anything else.
Go for the truth. Don’t assume you know until you know. The stuff we make up is an enormous mental and emotional distraction.
Learn to get unstuck. When you’re stuck you can’t move one way or the other. Master getting unstuck and everything is open to you without so much struggle.
Write an eZine and blog. Content marketing is now and will continue to be the most powerful marketing approach. Actually, it always has been for Independent Professionals.
Don’t get swallowed by social media. It can consume huge amounts of time with little to show in return.
Learn how to sell. Selling is the most misunderstood thing in business. It’s mostly just listening closely and discovering your prospects’ most passionate desires.
The source of your inspiration is your clients. After every meeting with a client, I come away with a handful of good ideas I can use in my business.
If it’s not fun, make it fun. Business is a game. If it’s drudgery you’re probably playing the wrong game. Find another one.
Hopefully, a few of these will help you a little. I hope so. Here’s to the next, who knows how many, years. If I just keep following my own advice, I know I’ll do fine.
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