I’m Not Really a Waitress …

April 29, 2011 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, Marj Wyatt's Musings

When I launched my wordpress website design business a few years ago, my enthusiasm for helping people make money online caused me to develop a business model for myself that involved a lot of personal time with my clients.  They seemed to appreciate the level of service that I offered for reasonable rates and it was fun for me to learn about the various businesses people were trying to bring online.  I’ve never had to advertise.  My business has grown solely by word-of-mouth and referrals, which is no accident.

Lately, it seems like new clients have expectations that exceed their budgets.  It remains true that my all inclusive wordpress website design and consulting services are rare and I totally understand what it feels like to not know how to do what needs to be done where skills are lacking.  Wherever possible, I extend myself to help out.  I”m recently reminded that the speed with which I isolate and resolve problems seems to be projecting the idea that , because I make it look easy, it is.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard a new client tell me that they don’t want to know how something works and that is why they’ve hired me.  I also can’t count the number of times that clients have protested my resistance to continuing without additional compensation.  A handful have been presumptuous enough to question why it would take so long to do.   Excuse me?

With all due respect, if you don’t know what it takes to get something done and you don’t want to take the time to learn how to do it yourself, don’t challenge the person who does know how to do it when they tell you how long it will take to do what you need to have done!

I like living with the belief that all people are reasonable and that they are also willing to parlay a little give and take in our business agreement.  Recently, a handful of  new clients and prospects have come my way who are much happier with the “take” part of the equation, however.  These same people have had no qualms expressing their opinions about wordpress website design services that I should deliver for free or at an unreasonably low price when the simple truth is that they don’t want to pay fairly for the services they are requesting and they are upset about the fact that they are unable to convince me that I should perform those services within their limited budget because they are low on cash.

For those of you who are reading this and are feeling a twinge of guilt about making similar demands of your website services professionals, please ask yourself these questions:

  1. If you wanted to buy a luxury car and couldn’t afford it, would ranting at the salesperson change the facts?
  2. If that sales person felt sorry for you and went the extra mile to find a financial program that lowered your monthly expense, would you blame them for the fact that the payment was still out of your reach?

wordpress website designWhen I chose an entrepreneurial career, I was happy to leave my IT Executive role behind in Corporate America because I was weary of leading teams whose contributions to the company’s success were repeatedly diminished by some top-level executive who viewed IT as a necessary evil.  It would seem that I’m growing weary of explaining to new clients and prospects that the skills and knowledge that I’ve gathered throughout my professional life are worth much more than a waitress’ wage.

Yet, referrals keep coming in from my large base of previously satisfied clients.  Several times a week, new business comes in through my website at http://virtuallymarj.com.  Generally speaking, life is good and I enjoy working with the many nice people on my client roster.  I also enjoy taking on a good challenge now and then so I guess I’ll continue growing my wordpress website design business  and keeping it fun by choosing to work with clients who are willing to take advice, understand the value that I bring to their efforts and are willing to pay fairly.  :)

With all the outsourcing, is anything made in the USA anymore?

December 13, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, Small Business

Enough with all this outsourcing talk!  This is the season where many of us are overtly shopping.  Economic circumstances may be forcing greater frugality but, as you are scanning shelves for stocking stuffers and gifts, take a moment to read the labels.  When I did this yesterday, none of the products on the shelf were made in the USA.

If you’re thinking globally about the events that led up to where things stand today in the USA economy, it cannot all be assigned to fiscal irresponsibility on the part of individuals and/or government.  Simply put, the root cause culprit is greed and any business who is outsourcing to overseas resources is contributing to the problem.

During my adult lifetime, from automobiles to toothpaste production, I’ve witnessed the discontent caused when corporate financial decisions were made to improve shareholder earnings.  Opposing forces clashed at annual meetings as the affluent passed through the picket lines of the affected employees.  But it didn’t stop or slow down the processes that have embraced offshore outsourcing and speeding the erosion of the financial foundation of the USA.  Since the early 70’s when this began, more and more US citizens have been put out of work and entire communities have been hobbled by the closing of manufacturing plants and businesses that once enabled them to thrive.

A trending online business is training that teaches internet entrepreneurs how to use offshore outsourcing for parts of their business.  While this may enhance one’s bottom line, these business owners seem to have lost sight of the larger picture.  By sending their business offshore, they are contributing to the problem that their training seeks to solve, in my humble opinion.

outsourcingI’m not just ranting.  Over the years that I’ve been in the Online Marketing & Branding business, I’ve acquired new contracts with many USA business owners who have been burned by using offshore outsourcing tactics.  When those people seem to expect me to lower my rates based on their bad experience, I’ve had to remind them that whatever happened before they began working with me does not create an obligation on my part to make it better for them.

My rates are my rates, and I’m worth every penny!  :)

For new entrepreneurial technical talent who are just starting out, using freelance sites to acquire new clients without incurring advertising expenses is a valid but temporary tactic.  I only could do it for about 3 months because devaluing my services was not good for my business … or my self-esteem.  When buyers who had invited me to bid pursued me and begged me to reconsider, I would sometimes calculate out their proposed hourly rate in an effort to inform them that what they were willing to pay was below minimum hourly wages in the USA.

Pretty simple project. Please bid reasonably.

These are words that you might find in a post on a freelancer site.  What are the parameters of a “reasonable” bid?

outsourcing eroding US economyBudgets for gigs with statements like these normally range from $5 – $200 USD, and they assume they will win by outsourcing to an offshore developer.  When the low end of the proposed budget is $5 USD, the definition of “reasonable” is guaranteed to unreasonable for anyone who is trying to sustain a lifestyle in the USA.  Scanning through the requested deliverables, qualified AND experienced wordpress website design talent can see that the level of effort involved in meeting their expectations will consume no less than 20 hours of development and iteration time, including the iteration time that is part and parcel of the client not having a clear idea about what they want until they become aware of what they can have.

Much to my amusement, many such postings state they will only consider USA resources.  Either these buyers are lacking an understanding of what their outsourcing request entails or they don’t care to pay fairly.  I applaud wanting to control business operating costs but I can’t help wondering if they would ever consider a position that paid a maximum of $2 an hour?  And, with all due respect to anyone who has put something like this on a freelance posting, if someone is incapable of doing the work themselves in a few minutes time, how can they possibly characterize it as being simple?

More importantly and back to the point of my post:

When will those racing for wealth by using offshore outsourcing understand they are undermining themselves too?

Freelance outsourcing service values are only the latest in a long chain of progress that has cascading peripheral effects for us all.  As our country’s dependency on petroleum products shows no signs of lessening and the cost of a loaf of bread spirals upward, we all are feeling the pinch in our pocket books.  When manufacturing began moving offshore during the late 70’s, the source of our country’s expertise was described as being the service industry.  The train has left the station but which way is it heading?  After we’ve outsourced our services industry,  what will be left?

Most Memorable Mother

May 9, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Marj Wyatt's Musings

It’s Mother’s Day in the United States.  This is a holiday reserved for the women who gave us our lives and, if you are as fortunate as me, the person who believed in us so much that we knew we could never fail.  Today, I will tell you some of the most memorable stories that I have about a remarkable woman who was my mother, my mentor, and my friend.

most-memorable-motherMy mother was born in 1926, which means she grew up during the depression.  She was the oldest in a family of 12 children and, because times were difficult, her father expected her to quit school so she could help earn money to feed the family.  Mom didn’t honor that request for she knew it would inhibit her future possibilities.  At the age of 15, the same year that World War II began, she left her family and moved into a girl’s home so she could finish high school and make something more of her life.  Her courage and focus were quite admirable.

Perhaps one of the bravest things that my mother decided to do was to have a career other than being a homemaker.  I know this doesn’t sound amazing at all these days but, during the 50’s, this was not popular.  Many of  the suburban housewives whispered among themselves about how she was neglecting her duties as a mother and a wife.  Some of those women even prohibited their children from being friends with my sister and me but, in my eyes, nothing could have been further from the truth!  Mom and Dad explained that she was going to work so we could have greater oppotunities.  Her working created income opportunities for me around the house, which taught me to be enterprising, industrious and responsible.

Mom took a job as a secretary, which was about the only position that women were allowed to have at that time.  Within a couple of years, she was promoted to the position of Wholesale Buyer which caused a bit of conflict within the secretarial pool. My mother loved what she did, and she was quite good at it too.   Twice a year, she would travel to New York City and negotiate large purchases for her company.  I got to tag along with her a couple of times.  Having the chance to see her at work was nothing short of inspirational.  She was well-respected and a tenacious negotiator.

One of the fondest memories that I have of her is a reaction she had to an editorial in the local paper.  Some man had written that women should not work outside the home and, if they did, that they should stick to “jobs for women” and stay out of the more challenging business roles because men were better suited for those sorts of positions.

Mom had a fit!  She went straight to her typewriter and prepared a response that was published by the paper.  This created quite a stir in the family, since she had used her married name on the letter.  I will never forget listening in on a debate between my mother and grandfather, who was unhappy that she had used “his” name on such a controversial subject.  She stunned him to silence when she retorted, “It’s my name too!”   In that moment, she taught me that it was OK to stand up for what you believed in and be who you are, regardless of the circumstances.  Remarkable!

I’m chuckling as I write this … and experiencing a little emotion too.  I miss my mother very much.  :(

Although Mom didn’t always agree with my ideas as a youth, she never told me I was wrong.  In the truest sense of the word, she mentored me by discussing the pros and cons, just as she would with any adult.  Those conversations always ended with her telling me that she trusted my judgment, which was empowering.  I got to test my strategies and, if something didn’t work out the way I expected, she never said, “I told you so.”  She would offer her advise and recommend solutions but it was always up to me to decide what path to choose.  That was her greatest gift to me.  Over the years, her strength became my will.

Her independent style and tireless encouragements are factors that still motivate me today.  Her belief in me allowed me to rely on my good instincts, which has been the basis for every decision that I’ve made in my career.  She taught me to disregard the nay-sayers and follow my own path.  This is  something you will feel in many of my articles and it is one of the primary reasons that  GetIncomeBlog.com was launched in 2008.

Whether I am writing about following your passions or shutting out the noise around you so you can try something new, my message is always the same; Believe in Yourself first.  It isn’t always comfortable to follow the road less traveled but, if you believe in yourself and your abilities, the pot holes on your path are never so deep that the axle will break on your carriage.  :)

Mom’s resilience never ceased to amaze me.  Up until the day she went into a coma, a week before her death, my mother’s mind remained sharp, she never doubted my ability to succeed, and she was a good friend to me.  I was blessed to have her in my life.

So, this one is for you, Mom!

Technorati Tags: Entrepreneurship,Business Basics,Mentorship

Who Are You?

January 8, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Marj Wyatt's Musings

When your life changes in a radical way, what do you rely on to keep yourself moving forward? That’s a good question to have a solid answer to, I believe.

Many people define themselves by the accumulation of their material belongings, their careers, or their family roles. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, unless it is the primary method you use to define yourself TO yourself.

Take a young parent who immerses themselves in the very important job of being the best parent they know how to be. This can include a lot of sacrifice, especially in the early years. As children get older and more self-sufficient, that dedicated parent can find themselves feeling directionless if they have not maintained perspective on their personal goals in life.

Another example would be a career-minded person who has devoted themselves to being a loyal employee, which also can include a lot of sacrifice. In these unpredictable and tumultuous financial times, executives and individual contributors alike are surprised to discover that loyalty means nothing when shareholders are demanding better returns on their investments or a private company owner must cut back on expenses to keep their business viable.

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

~Alexander Graham Bell, US (Scottish-born) inventor (1847 – 1922)


one-door-closes-another-opens-postimg

When One Door Closes, Another Opens...


We have choices to make at the time of a significant change. If our moorings are based on a self-perception that can withstand exterior influences, we will embrace the changes and use the opportunity to GROW.

Goals
Establish some goals for your new life. Make sure these goals are aligned with your personal passions so they are goals you will enjoy pursuing and bringing to life. Once you have selected goals, find a group of people who share similar interests and hopefully people whom you can look up to so you can emulate their successes and learn from their mistakes.

Reality
Appreciate the fact that reality, as you previously understood it, has changed. If this causes you to feel dread, you must find a way to adjust your mindset. Perhaps it could be something as simple as finding at least one thing everyday about the difference that you like better than your previous reality.

Options
Know all of your options. If you feel limited in any way, introspect about what is the source of that feeling and create a solution where the problem exists. Truly creative often see a problem seeking a solution long before anyone else. Could that be the purpose of the perceived limitation?

Will
Especially for entrepreneurs, there are times when sheer force of will is all that propels you forward toward your goals. If you are willing to believe in your own success, that will make all the difference in the world.

Perhaps the most important thing to investigate each day is your willingness to get out of bed. It is important to know why you are living and working each day. Write these things down and keep your list near the alarm clock. If you find yourself hitting the snooze button, rather than getting up right away, you might need to make a new list or evaluate your priorities. Face it; If your “whys” aren’t compelling enough to get you out of bed, they clearly aren’t important enough.

Ready … Set … Goals!

As you’re taking down the tree and visiting relatives are checking the status of their flights back home, it is clear that another holiday season is winding down. Like it or not, another year has passed and it is time to think about how to make your next year the best one you’ve had, so far.

goals for 2010-postYou work hard every day to build your business but, if you don’t feel your business is where it ought to be, it may be due to the fact that you’ve been so swept up with tactical matters that you haven’t really stopped to consider what it is that you really want. With that list in front of you, you are ready to set some goals.

Goal setting for your small business owners requires both imagination and foresight. Here are some great questions you can use to organize your thinking for a goal setting exercise:

  1. What do you want to change?
  2. Where will this change take your business?
  3. Why do you want to change now?
  4. What do you need to do to make the change?
  5. When do you want the change to take effect?
  6. How will this change improve your business?
  7. What happens after you’re there?

This sort of brainstorming can help you whether your goals are business or personal and envisioning goals in this way guides you to think strategically. Putting things in a list can actually help you find related goals, or goals that need to be done in sequence, so you can economize on the resources needed to accomplish them too.

Setting goals may seem like a daunting task but it is a necessary step in setting the course for advancing progress. As John F. Kennedy said:

“Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”

So think SMART when you think of goal setting.

S is for Specific

If your goals are specific, you have a much better chance of achieving them. So, for each of your items on the list, answer these questions:

Who: Who is involved?

What: What will be accomplished?

Where: Identify the location where work will take place.

When: Establish a time frame.

Which: Identify essential and constraining factors.

Why: Specific reasons and benefits of the accomplished goals.

M is for Measurable

Establish tangible criteria for measuring progress toward the goal’s attainment. Each milestone is a point of potential exhilaration that motivates you to continue. When verifying that you have set measurable criteria, ask yourself questions like:

How much?

How many?

How will I know when it is done?

A is for Attainable

This is where the priorities or the “why do it at all” questions help. If you have items on your list that really matter, you can find ways to accomplish them. Your dedication to accomplishing these goals will drive you to develop attitudes, abilities, skills, and the financial resources necessary to reach them.

If your goals seem far from reach, remember that you have the ability to make them attainable by growing and expanding to match them. Each time you do what you previously believed could not be accomplished, you are improving your self-image, which allows you to feel worthy of the rewards that reaching your goals can give.

R is for Realistic

Choose goals that are representative of substantial progress and include objectives toward which you are both willing and able to work. It isn’t necessarily true that your goals must be set low in order for them to be realistic. You are at the helm of your own ship, after all.

T is for Tangible

Your goals ought to be something you can experience with one of the five senses. If you must have an intangible goal, like one that is tied to self-improvement, relate it to a tangible one through offering yourself a reward that you can experience.

Remember that none of your goals are cast in stone. If you are persistently evaluating outcomes while working toward them, you may find adjacent goals that actually will bring greater improvements for your lifestyle or business. When this happens, go back to your list and adjust it accordingly.

While it is important to work toward things that you need, if these things are not what you want, you’re far less likely to accomplish your goals. Ultimately, you must WANT something in order to take ACTION to acquire it. This is where my favorite mindset philosophy comes in: DREAM – DO – HAVE.

Dare to DREAM so you will DO what is necessary to HAVE your dreams come true!

Thank you for your readership, always, and here’s wishing each of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Career Cogwheels and Cul-de-Sacs

There is little doubt that times are tough.  Personally, I know many people who have been out of work for extended time periods, have been forced into bankruptcy, or have lost their homes through foreclosure.  All their stories are all very different but, in every instance, the root cause was attributable to the fact that they held onto some belief that doing things the way they’d always done them would continue to work … a definition for insanity, in some circles.

Personal belief systems can keep us stuck so why not turn that to an advantage?  Believe that change is critical in order to thrive in the face of adversity.  Granted, basking in the things that we are familiar with makes us feel more comfortable but isn’t it time to confront the awkwardness of change and try something new?

Orchestrating a significant change in your life takes some amount of confidence along with a dash of creativity and perseverance on the side.  But there may be more important ingredients that you must NOT include in your career shift recipe, which would be to subtract your mental image of what you do along with the ideas that your family and friends have about what will work for you.

Recently a friend of mine, who has been a nurse for over 40 years, offered this bit of profundity while ruminating about a career change in her 50s.

“The more that I let go of, the closer to no thing I will be”

When we hold onto roles, like having a job or being jobless, our freedom to choose a new life is limited by the belief of what we are.Career Changing

Why not try an experiment at your next social outing?  When someone asks you what you “do”, answer their question by listing the things that you are passionate about doing, rather than providing the rote answer that they are expecting.  It might give them pause but it also might expose you to a like-minded person who is interested in one of your passions that they have considered turning it into a source of sustainable income.

As for the people that say “Uh huh…” and walk away, let them rotate in circles of  small talk with less passionate people.  This experiment is not about making anyone feel comfortable that you are a “normal” person.  It is about shifting your own mindset and visualizing the possibilities of your passions as a possible source of future income.

What Do We Do to Get Income?

When we consider the amount of time we spend imagining and pursuing success, is the accounting a fair balance?  Putting it another way, do you spend too much of your time working to get income?

Pondering the difference between what we want and what we have can lead us to inspiration.  The gift of human ingenuity and creativity is a blessing.  That is the truth.  There is joy in bringing our ideas to life.  Hours of refining our vision, laying out a plan for monetization and developing our product bring great satisfaction.  The aroma of success lingers with each accomplishment along the way.  We taste it when we get income as a result of our efforts.

When we look up from our work, what do we see?   Has our success changed us and, if so, is the change positive?

Take a few minutes to watch this video.

 

The video evoked a strong emotional response.  It seems appropriate to share it with my readers for, no matter what you are dreaming of, I don’t want you to ever lose the fire in your belly that inspires you to continue to create more.

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