I recently gave a webinar for AIIP on The Radically Nimble Info-Entrepreneur: remaining relevant and maintaining value. (The webinar recording is here, and the slide deck is here.) I had more questions than I had time to answer, so I have answered the rest of the questions here.
Q: Can you learn and push the comfort zone while volunteering? Are those skills transferable?
A: During my talk, I mentioned the importance of learning to push our comfort zones, and the value of volunteering as a way to stretch ourselves and learn new skills. Yes, volunteering to lead a committee is a great way to push your comfort zone. Offering to serve on a committee, on the other hand, isn’t. Frankly, if you’re not the one accountable for the outcome, then you don’t have skin in the game. If you really want to push your comfort zone, step up and offer to lead, and invite real accountability; don’t just be part of a group.
Q: Could you talk about balancing the goal of being responsible/changing quickly with the fears of choosing a ‘wrong direction’?
A: I talked about taking risks and always growing (even if you’re a bonsai business), which brought up this question. First, I am always taking several new approaches to my strategic marketing, with the assumption that at least one of them won’t work. If I became immobilized by the fear of making a mistake, I’ld never do anything. So, I decide what approaches I want to take, how much time I will invest in each approach, and what my metrics for success are. Then I put in the energy needed to give this approach every chance of success.
For example, one of my approaches might be to focus on a new market, based on my reality-check interviews. I might decide to identify three MeetUp groups my prospective clients are likely to be at, actively participate in at least three meetings for each group over the next two months, and evaluate at the end of that time how many leads I have of people who have the interest, need and budget for my services. I know that at least one of those groups won’t be appropriate for me; I just don’t know which one until I put in the legwork. So, the bottom line is that I assume that I will select at least one “wrong” direction. So what?
Q: How do you deal with services you are ‘tired’ of offering? Do you just walk away? Wait until the clients for that go away, and then drop the service? Do you have some creative examples of how you changed your services?
A: One of the biggest benefits of being self-employed, IMO, is being able to not do stuff I don’t want to do. Say, for example, I have offered basic literature searches to clients, and I realize that not only is this kind of boring, but I’m also not adding a lot of value to what I provide. My first step is to look at what I’m doing and figure out what I could do that would add more value, even if my current clients might not be willing to pay for the additional value. Could I also offer an analysis of the key thought-leaders in the field? Could I add a review of social media? What else could I do with the results of my research to make my deliverable more valuable? Then I look at what clients would be willing to pay for this additional value (yeah, read my article on reality-check interviews to find out who’s willing to pay for it) and I focus on those clients.
Q: How do you measure how much fun you’re having? 😉
A: One of the questions that nimble entrepreneurs ask themselves is “How can I have more fun?” As a long-time entrepreneur, I’ve seen lots of people try out self-employment while still watching the job listings for anything that looks appealing. My measurement of fun centers around how tempting a full-time job sounds, and I can say that, in almost 25 years, I have thought about becoming an employee for a total of about 4 minutes. As long as being self-employed is still way more appealing than being an employee, I know that I’m having plenty of fun. And thanks for asking!