Bootstrap Business Development

Taking steps to build your business


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Resolve Versus Commit

Well, we’re looking at a New Year and, just like everyone else, many small business owners are starting to think about New Year’s resolutions.

Most people might think resolving to do something and committing to do something are pretty much the same thing.

But they really aren’t.

When we resolve to do something we do so because we certainly have a desire to carry that resolution out.  That desire is driven because we believe that carrying out that resolution will bring us results we desire.  So we decide to begin doing things to bring about desired results.

Desire can definitely motivate people to take action.  The problem is sustaining that motivation.  Unfortunately, resolving to do something is too often nothing more than a mental exercise.  We start off with a bang that very quickly fades to a whimper.

The Missing Link

Resolve: To reach a firm decision about.

Commit: To carry into action deliberately.

Making a firm decision to do something is definitely the first step to getting that thing done.  However, committing to that resolution is what allows resolutions to go from a mental exercise to active behaviors that create real change.  Committing is the missing link for making resolutions real.

When we resolve to do something it’s an idea – when we commit to something that means we deliberately carry that resolution into action.  Deliberate means “methodical” and a sure-fire method for carrying out a commitment is creating a plan to carry out our resolutions and then following it.

The point of creating a plan is that plans allow you to make necessary adjustments when situations or circumstances start to get in the way of carrying out your resolutions.

Making a resolution is a mental decision.  But unless we continuously act on that decision resolutions have a tendency to remain just a mental exercise.

A plan is a deliberate, methodical foundation upon which mental decisions (ideas) are translated into concrete objectives and goals that are carried out via specific strategies and tactics.

Resolve to make 2013 a break out year for your small business.  Commit to those resolutions by creating a plan to deliberately and continuously act on your business decisions.

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Getting Organized: Key Piece of the Small Business Puzzle

The other day as I sat down to go to work I took a quick look at my work area.  Like many small business owners and freelancers I work from home.  So, how organized (or not) my work area happens to be isn’t dictated by my “Boss.”

Which is kind of a perk I guess – until I have trouble finding something.

Years ago I worked for a property management company where we weren’t allowed to have anything on our desk except for the file we were working on at the time.  Even then you were to have only the document out directly related to what you were doing at any given moment – other docs were to be in the folder, and the folder was to be closed.

Sounds Draconian, but there was a reason for Management’s Madness – an organized, uncluttered desk would be translated by resident’s and prospective residents to mean our company, and the property they called home, was organized and well-run.

Being organized and working in an organized environment also leaves an impression on the person working in that environment as well.  As small business owners a self-image that includes the confidence that comes with being well-organized as well as how being organized helps us to better serve our customers and clients is central to growing a successful business.

Being organized is more profitable than being disorganized.

When our offices and work stations are organized we are more efficient and productive and time is an important resource.  Wasting time scrambling to find something isn’t good for business.

Thanks to working with a professional organizer years ago I’m happy to say that my act has remained relatively together to this day.  Being organized doesn’t mean “being perfect.”  I follow techniques my organizer taught me to this day – which make it SO much easier to stay organized.  Thanks to her, within 15 minutes I had everything in its place.

Which got me to thinking about sharing how working with a professional organizer helped me get it together – and then, as so often happens, I happened to hook up via LinkedIn with professional organizer Kathleen Green.  I contacted Kathleen and asked her if she’d be willing to share her expertise on my blog – and she kindly accepted.

Kathleen formerly worked for a number of years as a commercial lender – definitely a position that required organizational skills!  She’s taken those skills and translated them into a successful career helping business and homeowners get – and stay – organized.  Her skills are sought after and she’s written widely on the subject, including a great article on examiner.com.

One of Kathleen’s articles speaks to something that had held me back when it came to “getting organized” – letting go of my “stuff.”

But Kathleen’s got a pretty creative perspective on things:

“Whether it is your home, your office or even your lifestyle, think of it as a giant jigsaw puzzle. The more pieces that there are, then the harder it is to put it together and keep it together. By getting rid of all of those extra pieces, you can simplify the day-to-day management of all aspects of your life and find more time for the important things … like growing your business.”

Check out Kathleen’s complete article here.


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The Power of Good Enough

I’m one of those people who hold stock in the idea of synchronicity.  Events and circumstances that may be seen by others as mere coincidence I often see as being either related to each other or of significance to each other – most often both.

This thought occurred to me when I sat down to write this post and considered the three main ideas I wanted to cover:

  • Perfectionism
  • Procrastination
  • Power

Notice anything?  Pretty obvious that they all start with “P”.  Now, just because three words start with the same letter doesn’t mean they’re related – but by the time you finish this post  I’m going to bet that you’ll agree with me that they these particular three words fit the synchronicity bill.

My last post talked about how those of us bootstrapping small (tiny for now) businesses have so many things to do that we often find ourselves in an “either/or” situation.

In particular, my last post dealt with the fact that most bootstrappers are looking to our businesses to make our living.  In order to do that successfully — and this holds true for those of us in the startup phase as well as those of us who’ve been at it for awhile — you need to have a written strategic plan AND you need to be networking and prospecting for customers and clients (not to mention providing services and/or products).

Either I do this, or I do that – I can only do one thing at a time — What do I do?

Here’s where the “Three P’s” come in.

“Either/Or” thinking, in my opinion, is a form of rationalization used by perfectionists.  And, to varying degrees, we’re ALL perfectionists.  The real truth is that we CAN get done what needs to be done – just not perfectly.

“If you’re not going to take the time to do it right, don’t do it at all” DOES NOT mean “If you’re not going to take the time to do it perfectly, don’t do it at all.”

In other words, perfectionism leads to procrastination.  In this case, you might put off going through the process of creating a written strategic plan because you can’t “do it right” when you’re running around drumming up business – or vice versa.  You find yourself running in circles putting the one off while you do the other – until things get to the point where you have to stop doing that one thing because, if you don’t, it means you can’t continue doing the other.

WHEW!!  Just writing that down made me dizzy – no wonder we get so stressed actually trying to conduct business like that!

But we’ve got one more “P” left in our pod:  “Power”.  Last post I referred to the fact that I have a secret weapon.  I do.  It is called “The Power of Good Enough”.

What can the Power of Good Enough do for you?

THE POWER OF GOOD ENOUGH GETS THINGS DONE.

But let’s be clear here:  When I say “good enough” I don’t mean sloppy.  I don’t mean unprofessional.  I mean “good enough to get it done.”

What I mean is:   “So much better than not at all.”

Don’t have a comment, but want to get in touch?

Email me at:   bootstrap.business.development@gmail.com


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Pancakes, Prospects, & Planning: Hmm Good

We’ve talked about the fact that a whole lot of networking and prospecting can be done in the process of putting your strategic plan together in the past.

We need to talk a little bit more about the difference between prospecting and networking – as well as the fact that when you engage in either of these activities you are NOT selling.

But I also want to tell you exactly HOW you can network and, at the same time, work on your strategic plan.

Not to mention we need to talk about what a strategic plan actually IS — as well as how to go about creating one.

Sounds like I want to do too much.

Maybe if I’m smart enough I can tell you a little story that contains the whole enchilada.  Well, I love a challenge, so here’s my story and I’m sticking to it:  (I just love to say that!)

Once upon on a time there were two women,  Sally and Patty.

Sally Seamstress owns a small business tailoring clothes that she runs out of her dining room slash tailor shop.  Sally started her business when a friend lost a few pounds and complained that none of her work clothes fit her anymore.   You guessed it — Sally fixed her right up and her friend told her “You should start doing this for money.”

Although she’s home-based, any time you see Sally during the work week you’d swear she was the CEO of your local savings and loan — even at the grocery store.  Needless to say her clothes are tailored to the nines and fit her like a glove.  It doesn’t take too many brain cells to figure out that she’s aiming to sell her services to business women and men.

Patty Present owns a small business creating gift baskets that she also runs out of her dining room slash gift basket factory and warehouse.  She started off making her baskets simply because she loved making them.  Patty’s really good at what she does –  she loves to shop, she’s extremely creative, and has an innate sense of design.  Patty went into business for herself after being repeatedly told “You should start a business selling these to people too busy to buy presents”.  Patty decided she’d sell her baskets to busy “I work an 80 hour week” professionals.

Neither Patty or Sally has absolutely any experience running a business.  Neither one of them has a strategic plan — never mind a business plan.  Neither one of them had any money to invest in their business.  They’re like us — bootstrapping it.  But they have so little experience they don’t even know this is what they’re doing.

They both want to sell to business professionals.  Problem was, they didn’t KNOW any business professionals.

Luckily there were both smart enough to realize that the easiest place to meet business people was to join their local Chamber of Commerce.

SMART move on both their part.  Membership fees were really low — lower than a dollar a day in their case — and they could both afford to take that out of the family budget.  (Even if your business is Internet based, if you don’t belong to your local chamber, get on said Internet and JOIN NOW!)

At first it seemed like the Chamber was the magic trick.  They got to stand up and give a brief “Elevator Speech” about what they did.  People were really nice and introduced them around and a few jobs started to trickle in without any further effort.  Much to their surprise, after attracting these few jobs things dried up.

The Honeymoon was over.

As you can imagine by now both Sally and Patty are worried that their businesses are going to fail.  The dream of working for themselves doing something they love will never be anything more than a dream.

Cut to the next Chamber monthly breakfast meeting.

Uh oh – this post is getting to be way too long.  I know you’re all busy people, so I’ll just have to turn this into a series of posts in order to respect your time (and keep your interest!)

Stay tuned for more on the adventures of Sally and Patty as they build their business out of very little or nothing.

“I see Blog people”  

Do YOU need to see a ghost?  Ghost writer, that is.  BBD offers ghost and content writing services for blogs and other social media, website content, article writing and more.  Email me at:  bootstrap.business.development@gmail. com


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Preaching to the Choir

I’ve made a boo boo, and I’m here to correct it.

I’ve been going on and on about the how much we tiny small businesses need to do two things at once:  create a written strategic plan and network/prospect for business.  About how either/or thinking gets us into the trap of not getting our plan done because we need to be out there snagging paying customers in order to make a living.  We went over how you’ve got to start thinking fuzzy rather than thinking either/or — that these are two separate things that you can’t do at the same time.

I sort of got ahead of myself.  You see I made a very common error:  I was preaching to the choir (myself.)

I mean, certainly I know you need a strategic plan.  I assumed everyone (I’m a natural optimist, I anticipate a vast readership) also not only knew this — but also knew what I was talking about as well as agreed with me.

Somewhere along the zig zaggy roads of my career I read the following statement (or something like it):   “People like to do business with people they know, like and trust.”  Very true.

I’m thinking that perhaps I might take at least a post to get you to trust me when I say you need to create (and manage) a strategic plan.

A little history here:

A long time ago (well, I left a couple years ago) in a far away galaxy (California) I worked for a local chamber of commerce.  My boss, otherwise known as my CEO, was a very smart guy.  So he naturally held annual strategic planning sessions.

I’d never been to a strategic planning retreat in my life.  I’d heard of strategic planning, but never participated.  What it meant seemed a bit self-evident.  A strategy was something you did to get something you want.  Planning simply meant we were going to make a plan.

Eleven years of Catholic school kicked in and I did my research and ramped up on strategic planning for business.  I went blind surfing the web.  I went to very famous bookstore franchises, bought countless cups of coffee and read books on strategic planning for free.

(Letting me do this worked out for them as I usually also walked out having actually bought a book – now that sort of marketing strategy deserves a future post.)

By the time I left for the retreat I felt fairly confident I wouldn’t look like an idiot to our Very Important Corporate Top Officer board members.

And then I got really lucky.  I was assigned the task of acting as Retreat Recorder.  Even more fortunate was the fact that the consultant they’d hired to facilitate the retreat was exceptionally good at what she did.

After our weekend retreat I bounced back into the office the following Monday really hyped up and excited about this wonderful strategic plan that was being written for us.

Then I found out I was the one who was going to write it.  Yup.  Back to hours googling my brains out – clerks at the aforementioned bookstores started calling me by name.

Short story long – throughout the remainder of my tenure I became more and more intimately involved in the process of developing, facilitating, and managing our written strategic plan.   I found out two main things regarding strategic planning:

One, I’m extremely good at it.

Two, it works.

OK – hopefully after reading that when I say I’m “preaching to the choir” you’re at least considering becoming a member of the choir.

Stay tuned…

Bootstrap Business Development

Building Your Business One Step at a Time

bootstrap.business.development@gmail.com


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Fuzzy Thinking

OK people, time to harness “The Power of Good Enough”.  (If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about take a couple minutes and read my previous post aptly entitled “The Power of Good Enough.”)

Last time I talked a bit about “either/or” thinking.  “Either I do this or I do that.”

Believe it or not, what’s holding you back is you’re thinking too clearly.  You’re thinking in black and white while living in color.  Think of it this way: when you learned to add, it went something like this:  1+1=2.  And that’s certainly true, one plus one DOES equal 2.

But that’s only because you’re only dealing with “two things” – “This Thing” and “That Thing”.

But running a business means you’re dealing with all sorts of “This Things” and “That Things.” What you’re really doing is dealing with “sets” of things and these sets of things are related to each other.  Confused?  Good, because in order to move forward, you have to stop thinking clearly and start thinking fuzzy.

Give me a break!  Is this woman crazy?  What does “thinking fuzzy” have to do with growing my business?

Only everything.

Turns out there are two ways of figuring things out.  Linear logic and multivalue logic. 

It’s mulitvalue logic – or “fuzzy” logic – that let’s your computer get zillions of things done at once.  Your computer thinks in terms of just two things, 0 and 1.  Turns out, there’s a giant space between 0 and 1 (“this” and “that”) which computer science type people weren’t using.  Using the set of “things” between 0 and 1 in all sorts of computer science ways is why we can now get angry when it takes more than a nano second for our computers to do whatever we want.

Fuzzy thinking helped speed up our computers – but what can it do for small business owners?

Here’s an example.  Let’s say you’re a start up business without a written strategic plan, or you’ve been around awhile and your plan has lost its relevance or things are getting out of control and you know you’ve got to bite the bullet and put a plan in place.

But you can’t seem to get your plan in order because you need to be out there running your business.

Seems pretty “either/or” at first glance.  But when you apply a dash of fuzzy thinking and a good dose of The Power of Good Enough guess what happens?  We see the relationship between all the sets of things you’ve got to do.

In other words, there’s a whole lot of networking and prospecting and all those other best practices we’re going to be talking more about in this blog that can get done in the process of putting your strategic plan together — AND — the information you get from prospecting and networking is necessary in order for you to write your strategic plan.

For example, putting your plan together means understanding what your customer (or clients) want.  Hmmm…getting out in front of customers and potential customers to find out what they want sounds like an opportunity to both attract new customers as well as retain current customers.  Getting your customers what they want requires networking with vendors and associated businesses who share a similar client base.  Guess what?  Networking with vendors and associated businesses brings to light both challenges and opportunities that help you identify strategies, set goals, and meet objectives – which are all components of effective planning.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Don’t have a comment, but want to get in touch?

Email me at:   bootstrap.business.development@gmail.com