Success for Solopreneurs is a community and blog that shares tips, tools, resources and articles with other small businesses and solopreneurs
Like many women, I more or less became an accidental entrepreneur. I’m a former elementary school teaching and trained marriage and child therapist. Yet I don’t work directly in either of those fields (though I dabble in teaching technology to middle schoolers part-time).
When I was planning my wedding years ago, like many brides-to-be, I spent most of my time in the wedding forums.
After my wedding, I started my own women’s community forum, Constant Chatter. This all happened right about the time when blogging was getting big and social media was just starting out. And being an early adapter, I jumped right in.
Once Constant Chatter was able to survive without my constant attention, I decided that I needed to get back into the “helper” market and joined a local women’s networking group. While I was there talking with other women, I realized how so many of these women weren’t very comfortable online and were spending way to much money trying to get websites out there.
I started leading workshops for this group and taking on one-on-on clients. And voilà, Success for Solopreneurs was born. Of course, it’s evolved over the years as I fine- tuned my niche and my ideal client. But that’s the short version of how it all came to be.
Currently, I’m teaching part-time as well as running my business. So my typical day would probably also be a day that I’m teaching (Mon – Fri with Thursdays reserved for my VIP and one-on-one clients).
I am a Google Fan Girl through and through. I access all my business and personal email through Gmail. I use Google Cal to create different calendars for the different areas of my life (personal, teaching and business) that I can share with those I need to share it with (like my husband). And I use Google Docs quite a bit (more for my teaching and less for my business). And of course, I can access everything from my iPhone.
I also use DropBox throughout the day. I love that I can access my documents from my laptop and my desktop both at home and when I’m away (like now, at the local library). I also love how easy it is to share files and folders with others.
Astrid is my latest new tool. It’s the first online task list that I’ve found that I actually use. And I can access it from my iPhone. Which is always useful.
Expensify is a great tool for keeping track of your expenses and creating those expense reports. And their iPhone app let’s you take photos of your receipts so you no longer have to keep track of all those small pieces of paper.
For creating travel itineraries (both business and personal), you can’t beat TripIt.
And for music on the go, I use Mog both on my computer and on my phone. My students love that I have their favorite music at my finger tips (and I love that I don’t have to buy it). Their phone app is great as well because you can stream full albums or create your own playlists to bring with you when you’re on the go.
Our house (and our extended family) also uses LastPass as our password tool. It allows you to organize all your websites and their passwords without having to remember everything. Instead, you remember one longer and stronger password that manages the entire account. As they put it, it’s the last password you’ll ever have to remember (and it’s smart phone compatible).
As for my iPhone specifically, I’m a pretty social gal, so I love the more social apps like Path, Foursquare and Facebook. I enjoy taking pictures so I really like Camera+ and PaperCamera. And of course I must have my Groupon and Living Social apps on hand so I can always catch that deal!
I’d be lost without a weekly To Do list and my accountability partner. We’re in contact each Sunday and where share what we’ve done, what we said we’d get done and what we plan to get done this week. When you combine that with the To Do list (and Astrid), I find that I stay much more focused and on task. I also find that I need to automate as much as I can. That might mean writing and scheduling my Monday Mantra’s for months at a time on Hootsuite or it might mean brainstorming every couple months for hot topics. Having this list of ideas means that I know that I always have something to write, blog or create a video about. There’s less of a chance for writer’s block to settle in.
The best business advice I received sadly didn’t come at the start of my entrepreneurial career, but came about just a couple years ago…allow imperfection. One of my mentors was telling us that we can’t keep holding out for perfection. What I’ve come to realize is that holding out for “perfection” is really just an excuse to keep us from actually “launching.” I make a point now to share this lesson with my clients (over and over)…imperfect action beats perfect inaction each and every time. Any movement – in any direction – is better than no movement.
Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of Success for Solopreneurs for short term and long term growth?
The majority of my client work is helping solopreneurs to realize their own expertise and then get them to own it and learn to leverage it. So in that sense, my niche is pretty recession-proof. Anyone can benefit from identifying what they do best and then getting out there and doing it – which often results in making more money in a new and maybe different way.
I’ve found that to reach more people and continue business growth, you have to get out there and in front of others. That could mean speaking, leading workshops, offering virtual classes, offering yourself up as a guest speaker or guest expert…whatever it takes. While I teach my clients how to do this, I also follow my own advice and regularly offer up my knowledge and expertise for others that are outside my network.
My proudest moment as an entrepreneur would have to be the time that Joan Lunden’s people contacted me to be an expert on one of their shows. It wasn’t the right opportunity (or subject) for my business, so I had to pass. But just knowing that I caught the attention of such a high profile production team was such a wow moment.
And tied into that same moment was the knowledge that I could turn down this opportunity, knowing it wasn’t right for me and still carry on. Since then Success for Solopreneurs has been approached for many other opportunities (a couple nearly as huge). Some have been a good mix, others have been wrong for the business. But being able to say no from a confident place is powerful thing.
I’ve learned that to have balance (or what might appear to be “balance”) in my life, I need to be able to take time for myself. If I need a sick day or a day off, I need to take it and not feel guilty about it. There are often times where I take an entire day off, mid-week to read a book or catch up on movies. This time is important to me as I love being able to support my more creative side. Additionally, I find time to give back either through donating money, goods or time to causes I believe in. This giving back helps me to feel like I’m living my life and running my business full out.
I make an effort to tithe 10% of my business income. Lately, in light of what’s been going on with the economy, my favorite charity has been Feeding America. I try to focus my donations during the times when my donation is matched by a corporate sponsor, so I can help more people.
A couple years ago I was lucky enough to volunteer with Remote Area Medical. Typically RAM visits more rural, remote areas of the US offering medical, dental and veterinary services. This time they reached out to Los Angeles (this was a first for them to spend a week in a major metropolitan city). My husband and I spent the day manning the line where people waited for hours to get their prescription eye exam.
It was a very long day for most of the participants – many waited in lines over night and some were there multiple days so that they could get all the medical and dental work they and their family needed. I left that day utterly exhausted for being on my feet all day. But at the same time, it was probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
As corny as it sounds, I think my husband is my greatest influence. From the time I first met him, he has been the one to encourage me to learn all I’ve learned about the Internet, social media, blogging, website coding and running a business. For the most part, I wouldn’t have a business and I certainly wouldn’t be as confident in all things Internet, if it wasn’t for him and his support and prodding.
Other influences have been the various mentors and coaches that I’ve worked with over the past couple years. They’ve inspired me to step up into the spotlight and grow bigger and bolder. And of course, when you look at the Big Picture I
In this day and age, with our economic and employment models daily, striking out on your own is a great idea. I think you need to keep a couple things in mind:
Katy Tafoya is a teacher, a writer, a small business coach, and of course, a solopreneur. She is the founder and editor of ConstantChatter, a premier community and online magazine for women. With a passion for helping to empower women, Katy took her own experiences with the Great Online Unknown and created the Success for Soloprenuers community and blogsite. There she shares tips, tools, resources and articles with other small businesses and solopreneurs
When she’s not in front of a computer, she can be found reading anything she can get her hands on, enjoying a good cup of tea or great glass of wine, networking with fabulous women or helping others create the strategies necessary to take their business to the next level.
Katy currently resides in sunny Los Angeles teaching technology to middle schoolers with her native-Los Angelino, music-loving, web-genius husband and their adorable aging yet hyper, schnocker dog, their tuxedo-clad cat and a whole lot of computer equipment.
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