Recession looming? Are you ready?

moon, plane II

Recession looming?  That’s the talk.  Turn on the business news or do a search for “recession looming;” the business media are putting their spin on the likelihood of a recession.

While reactions to recession fears tempt some businesses to cut back on spending (‘We’re going to have less income, so let’s spend less”), that’s the wrong approach.  That’s when you need to ramp up marketing, market research, and competitive intelligence.

  • Marketing.  When a recession comes, consumers spend less.  Thus, businesses need to ramp up marketing to explain to consumers why they should continue spending money on their product.  “You’ll need or want us because….”
  • Market Research.  Market research identifies trends and market activity that allow you to maximize your market plans.  This is critical during market downturns.  On a personal level, this is akin to my ongoing personal study of photography where I learn to anticipate photo opportunities; this resulted in anticipating the plane flying in front of the moon for the photo shown in this post.  Also, anticipating market conditions allowed me to win the 2008 ‘Crystal Ball” Award from the Association of Professional Economists of B.C. for most accurately predicting five economic indicators of the Canadian economy for the previous year.
  • Competitive Intelligence.  Ongoing assessments of competitor activity – both on an aggregate level and one-on-one – help you plan how to optimize your comparative market position when it’s hardest to get customers to open their wallets.

Need help with your marketing, market research, or competitive intelligence?  Contact me to “plan your plan.”

Writers and politicians I admire

I have turned my attention these days to admiring people who speak their mind.

To begin, I admire writer Elizabeth White, author of 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal.

What I admire about Elizabeth White is that she speaks up, in her book 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal, about what no one wants to talk about – personal consequence of the Great Recession (including her own experience with it).

Additional people I’m currently admiring for speaking their mind:

Politicians

World Leaders

While listing people I admire, I also turn my attention – as a writer – to a writer whom I admire for achieving the level of writing success to which I aspire.  What’s more, she did it writing historical fiction (after my own heart!)!  Way to go!

Writer

 

Dreaming of self-employment? Marketing is essential. Friday thoughts for your future Monday of self-employment

Twitter II

Last week, I discussed the four basic principles of marketing (i.e., “The Four Ps”) and applying them to a self-employment plan.  The “Four Ps” are Product (having a product or service) to offer clients, Distribution (how to get the product or service to clients), Promotion (marketing), and Price (what you charge).  This week, I am continuing to discuss marketing (promotions)  of your small business.

  • Marketing is necessary; not something to avoid.  Get over any shyness or disinterest when it comes to marketing.  No matter how great your business idea is or how hard you work, no one will know about your offerings and how great your products and services are unless you tell them.  No one is going to buy a product or service they don’t know exists. That’s the basis of all marketing in a nutshell.  Then need for marketing is non-negotiable.  Period.
  •  Why you?  What’s so great about what you have to offer?  What differentiates your business from other businesses offering the same thing?  Location?  Quality?  A specific aspect of what you offer?  Develop clearly articulated – and simple – communications about what is positive about your product or service.  How does your product or service benefit your potential clients?  Let them know!
  • Time – get to the point.  Remember, you often don’t have a long time to catch someone’s attention.  If you are a person who tends to ramble – or build up to your main idea – focus on making your point quickly and clearly before you lose people.  “You need this because…..”  “It will improve your life by…..”  Without a clear message, your product or service gets lost in the crowd – something like the photo above (this computer-scrambled image doesn’t tell anyone that this started as a photo of me at a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon with Seattle’s mayor and several other dignitaries).
  • First impressions….  And, second impressions, third impressions, etc.   The axiom about first impressions being important applies in marketing just as it does “person to person.”  Show value and capture people’s attention the first time they see your marketing….as well as the second time, third time, and so on.   It often takes three to five marketing efforts (a combination of advertisements, sales calls, etc.) to “get a sale.”

If you are interested in self-employment, contact me for assistance with pre-planning, business setup, and/or logistics management once you start your own business.  My business experience and MBA make me a good business-development provider for clients who are creating their own opportunities through self-employment.

Kim Burkhardt, MBA has taught college-level business courses, is an occasional book and article writer, and has a self-employment background.  These days, Ms. Burkhardt is working with clients who are starting their own businesses.  She’s the author of Agents of Success: Moving Forward Professionally (Personal Application of Marketing Principles).  Check out her services at “The Practical MBA.”

Dreaming of self-employment? Have you identified what you can do for which there’s a reachable market? Friday thoughts for your future Monday of self-employment.

MySkyline

The mantra of story writing for journalists is “who, what, when, where, why.”  The equivalent mantra for becoming self-employed – from the four basic principles of marketing – involves narrowing down what you can do for which there is a market need and knowing how to bring your product or service to a market that will pay for it.  

  • Product.  The first basic idea of any college marketing course involves having a product – or service – to make available to a reachable client market.  What product can you make or what service can you deliver?  Are there people who can and will pay you for this product or service?  If someone wants your service, but can’t pay for it – or can pay for it, but doesn’t want or need it – then you’re going to have a hard time earning a living.  If you have something new and particularly novel, you may need to step into a promotions role (marketing) to educate potential customers about the value of what you’re offering to them.  More below about offering something for which you can build a client base.
  • Distribution.  How are you going to get your product or service to your potential clients?  Do you go to them?  Do they come to you?
  •  Promotion.  How are you going to market yourself to your potential market?  Marketing sometimes gets a bad wrap when associated with over-marketing hype, but marketing is a really a basic essential.  Marketing is about communicating the availability and value of your product or service.  If no one knows your product or service is available, they can’t buy it.  If you don’t differentiate your offering as distinct from competing products, you won’t stand out.  Clearly communicate how you are offering something of distinct value. More on marketing next Friday.
  • Price. Offer your product or service at a price that will cover your expenses, earn you a profit (income), and be at a price that customers will pay.

If you would like to become self-employed, have you thought about what you could for which you could earn a living?  Have you thought through your skills-abilities and resources that could be applied to meet a market need (i.e., your business idea) as well as any personal challenges that could hinder your business idea?  In other words, conduct a SWOT analysis – matching up your own strengths (what you could deliver to a particular market) and weaknesses (drawbacks) compared to market opportunities and market threats?  This could help you start looking at potential business ideas.  If there’s something you know how to do and/or create for which there’s sufficient reachable market demand and you could sufficiently overcome challenges (weaknesses), then self-employment could well be an option for you.  Conceptually working through a formal business plan could then help you better identify whether your self-employment plan really is viable.

Thinking through possible ideas for one’s own business can take time.  Sometimes, a business idea clearly develops when you see an unmet market need that you know how to fill (sometimes, individuals recognize that the work they are already doing for an employer has a large enough market that they could go out on their own, while other people think of something else entirely that they could do).  Other times, the idea of wanting to be self-employed comes before developing an idea of what you could provide to potential markets.  In any event, thinking through potential business ideas – and then how to implement those ideas – is a precursor to self-employment.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you have to think through several possible business ideas on your way to a business idea that could work.  If you have to consider several possible business ideas, you are not alone!  Take an example from my own experience about the thinking – and potential rabbit holes – involved in looking for business ideas.  When the internet economy was developing, new business models/ideas such as Facebook and Amazon were emerging and “taking the world by storm.”   At the time, I was a newly-minted MBA working as a market research consultant.  My business partner and I were watching the emergence of these online businesses and brainstormed about what kind of online business we might “think up” to get in on this emerging marketplace.  In hindsight, we made a rather simple mistake that prevented us from “getting in” on the emerging “online economy.”   We overthought the situation and tried too hard to think up something brainy.  Rather, the new online businesses that “made it big” – the likes of Facebook and Amazon – met basic needs such as communication (Facebook) or easy shopping (Amazon) in a new online manner.  

If you are interested in self-employment, contact me for assistance with pre-planning, business setup, and/or logistics management once you start your own business.  My business experience and MBA make me a good business-development provider for clients who are creating their own opportunities through self-employment.

Kim Burkhardt, MBA has taught college-level business courses, is an occasional book and article writer, and has a self-employment background.  These days, Ms. Burkhardt is working with clients who are starting their own businesses.  She’s the author of Agents of Success: Moving Forward Professionally (Personal Application of Marketing Principles).  Check out her services at “The Practical MBA.”

Dreaming of Self-Employment? Wondering if it’s feasible? Ease into it. Friday thoughts for your future Monday of self-employment.

pen

Wanting to be self-employed is similar to the adage about would-be writers: “Everybody wants to be a writer.”   At some point, one has to take tangible steps to get there.  You can.

One can “get there” in stages if you’re the hesitant type.  Plan ahead.

Take on evening or weekend gigs to try it out and build up a client base.

  • I know someone who supplements his full-time job by tapping his “full-time-gig” contacts to go on travel tours that he leads via a travel agency.  While intended to remain a “side gig,” this pays for his overseas travel.  Try something of this sort – tapping folks you know – to build up your future client base for self-employment.  
  • Know there’s something you can offer people and know people who need it?  Offer to do one-offs.  It’ll give you experience.  What’s more, it will start building word-of-mouth.  “Oh, you need someone for that?  Pat stepped up for me on that two months ago.”  Word-of-mouth is the best type of marketing, hands down.

Taking on side gigs while still at your 9-to-5 has an added benefit – it gives you insight into what it takes to be self-employed.  Self-employment is rarely a 9:00 – 5:00 job.  In addition to being the product-delivery person (i.e., the  9:00 – 5:00 work), you are the administrator (8:00 am – 6:00 pm), the marketing team, the janitor, and the “and-and-and” person – all-in-one.  

Don’t want to be the “and-and-and” person?  To a degree, it’s true that one should “do what you do best and outsource the rest” (that’s another article).  However, it’s also true that the-buck-stops-with-you.  In the end, it’s up to you to be sure everything runs smoothly.  When things go wrong, there’s no blaming the boss (you’re the boss), the production team (you’re the production team), or anyone else (yup, you guessed it…).  You’re it.  You’re responsible for making sure things go well (or customers likely won’t stay with you (except for the inexplicable times when they do…..which is another story yet….).   In this sense, you need to know at least a little something about everything, whether or not you “do what you do best and outsource the rest….”

This is all another way of saying that self-employment takes more work – and-time – than working for someone else.   Easing into self-employment with side-gigs gives you a taste of what’s to come (and whether you are actually comfortable with the type of self-employment you’ve been dreaming of…..more on that next week).

On the flip-side, the good news is that self-employment comes with freedoms that can improve the quality of your working life:

  • Flexibility.  Want to work 5:00 am to 12:00 pm, then take off two hours and come back at 2:00 pm to put in your final four hours for the day?  You can (I once met someone who did just that.  It worked for him).
  • The buck stops with you.  No more project derailments where the buck stops with someone else.  You’re in control.
  • You pick your clients and projects.  At least when there’s enough business to pick and choose.  When there are lows in the available workload, you can look for ways to make the least-preferred projects more palatable.

So how does one narrow down an appropriate form of self-employment and start looking for clients?  We’ll look at that next Friday (to put toward your “A future Monday dream”).

Kim Burkhardt, MBA has taught college-level business courses, is an occasional book and article writer, and has a self-employment background.  These days, Ms. Burkhardt is working with clients who are starting their own businesses.  She’s the author of Agents of Success: Moving Forward Professionally (Personal Application of Marketing Principles).  Check out her services at “The Practical MBA.”

Dream of Self-Employment? Afraid it might be a nightmare? Make it a dream come true. Friday thoughts for your future Monday of self-employment.

 

MySkyline

Many of us respect individuals who have the gumption and savvy to successfully “go it alone.”

In many modern-day advanced economies, self-employment makes up a small percentage of the workforce – as low as 6.2% of the workforce in the U.S. and 8.6% in Canada.   In many parts of the world where economies are less developed, self-employment is common.

Many individuals – perhaps yourself – would like to count themselves among the self-employed.  But then, there are the “yeah, buts” and the “what ifs.”  

What if I don’t earn enough?

What if I encounter roadblocks?

What if, what if, what if……

What if I fail?

Come with me in the coming months – one post at a time – to look at the ins and outs of successful self-employment.  Yes, there is a path to personal agency for many in the form of gainful self-employment.

 

Kim Burkhardt, MBA has taught college-level business courses, is an occasional book and article writer, and has a self-employment background.  These days, Ms. Burkhardt is working with clients who are starting their own businesses.  She’s the author of Agents of Success: Moving Forward Professionally (Personal Application of Marketing Principles).  Check out her services at “The Practical MBA.”

 

Great author marketing tips from Icy Sedgwick (social media when self-employed)

Author Icy Sedgwick writes meaningfully about marketing for authors.  A great read for anyone interested in self-employment and how to reach clients.  In her own words:

 

“In 2018, social media is no longer a new platform. It’s developed rules and etiquette that seem to change every other week. But combining author brands and social media needn’t be difficult. It can even be fun. Some authors refuse to use social media. They’re still living in the 1970s, when publishers still handled marketing and…

via Author brands and social media: How not to be a tool — Icy Sedgwick