2012 was quite a year, so we decided to make a picture capturing all of the big things that happened.
Happy New Year everybody!
2012 was quite a year, so we decided to make a picture capturing all of the big things that happened.
Happy New Year everybody!
A few friends who have been thinking about the self employed life have asked me how I learned what I know about running a business.
On the surface, I am a weird person to ask. I’m a geology major with a teaching certification. What do I know about running a business? Apparently enough!
Here are a few of my favorite resources to consider in terms of business development:
1) Earn 1K
So if you aren’t sure what you want to do in terms of work, this is the best place to start. Ramit Seti has a free idea generator to help you come up with business ideas. His online class costs $1000 but the idea is you earn that money (and then some) back over time. Among the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
2) Local Resources
If you are looking for long term support and your timing is right, WHCA here in Downeast Maine has a program called Incubator Without Walls. Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development has a ‘Top Gun’ program running in the Portland area. These are both longer term programs (months to a year) that you do with a group of other people like yourself and people I know who have been through them really enjoyed them and got a lot of useful info out of them.
If you want something that’s a shorter time frame or just some one-on-one consulting to help you finish up your plan, you can try something like Women Work and Community whose ‘New Ventures’ class I took four years ago.
Whether you live near me in Maine or not, you no doubt have some local business consulting resources supported by a local university, the government, or a business-related non-profit. Leave a comment with this blog post and let us know what you find in your corner of the world… you can help someone else out!
I joke around with my friends that if I ever wrote a business book it’d be really short:
1) Do good work.
2) Be nice to people.
3) Don’t spend more money than you make.
That said, there are lots of great books about starting a business out there. Personally I enjoy reading the biography type books. Like I got way more at of Poppy King’s “Confessions of a Lipstick Queen” (she starting a lipstick company out of high school) than I was expecting to when I paid $1.99 for it at Mardens.
I don’t believe you have to learn from people in your field necessarily, just sometimes hearing a concept put a different way can help. Right now, I’m working on “$100 Startup “.
4) Other People
There’s a fine line between listening to other people and letting them run the show. My initial instinct when people ask me about changing how I do something is “No!” But instead of saying that out loud, I take a breath and say “Why do you say that?”
Guess what? While I didn’t screw up anything in my business entirely (yet), I didn’t necessarily set it up to be the most well oiled machine possible. So when other people look at something and have an idea, it might be a good to listen to it. Alice coming on board has brought some great new ideas for example.
That said, if I know the rationale and something still doesn’t feel right in my gut, I won’t do it. I once heard somewhere that your brain takes in a lot more information than you realize you are processing so that ‘gut feeling’ you get is actually your brain taking it all into account and spitting out a valid answer. But understand what you are saying no to before you actually say it.
So with a combination of courses, self reflection, books, and other people’s opinions who you trust, you’ll get a lot of good information about running a business that’ll help in other aspects of your life. And while a business degree is helpful, don’t let not having one stop you from going after what you want. I didn’t. :^)
I once got in trouble for using the word ‘schmooze’ in a work email. The person who saw it thought I meant it as derogatory. To the contrary, socializing with a purpose is something I actually like to do. I once talked to a French woman in a restaurant en français for two hours about the health care system in the US versus Europe. I have talked about Precambrian sand dunes in the American west at a bar at 1 am, I made a friend on a plane who I haven’t seen since but I am friends with to this day. I will talk to anyone for any period of time about anything.
My friends think I am a little crazy.
But even sometimes a chatterbox like me isn’t ‘feeling it’ so I’ve developed some schmoozing tricks to get through those events you just have to go to. Here’s what I do to make those Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours or fundraising gala events go well:
1) I check my watch when I go in. I make myself stay at least an hour no matter what. I have no doubt put on makeup and a cute outfit so the least I can do is let people see me for a bit.
2) I turn it the event into a mini scavenger hunt. Example: Talk to five people but… they all have to be wearing different shirt colors. Make the hors d’oeuvre server laugh. Work the word ‘discombobulated’ into conversation five times. This makes my interactions random and keeps me from being sucked into one conversation. Also this is great for goal oriented types, which I like to consider myself being.
3) Warm up your schmoozing skills with the people by the food. They are usually the most shy and uncomfortable at these events so if you seem just a little more comfortable then they are, they’ll talk to you, and gladly. And you have a natural icebreaker: a comment on the food or drink. “Wow, I love this pate kind of stuff! Do you think it’s salmon?” or “I’m considering my options here, which wine are you drinking?”
4) Pull in someone you know into your conversation for an introduction. This makes you learn the person’s name you just met and makes you seem cool and connected.
5) Don’t sell. Be interested in what other people are doing and what their businesses are. Pretend you are Terry Gross and ask them interesting open-ended questions in a personal tone. “How did you get from business development to farming?” or “I hear you are good friends with so-and-so. Are you planning on working on any projects together coming up?” Unless they are completely self absorbed jerkfaces, the conversation will eventually come around to you. Plus the person will appreciate your interest and you’ll likely learn something.
6) The more you do this, the easier it is. There is no way around practice. Make yourself go to one event a month. Like exercise or going to see that high maintenance relative, this is good for you even if slightly painful at times.
Remember other people are there for the same reasons you are: meet new people, learn what’s going on, and otherwise show their faces. You aren’t being filmed or scored by judges so relax and just do it. Eventually you too will get in a fun, in-depth conversation about economic development with a stranger over a margarita without even realizing it. Ready, set, schmooze!
Some Fridays on this blog, I write about whatever I want. Because I can. :^)
Happy Veteran’s Day! I am so proud of the people who have served and grateful that their sacrifices have made my life possible. Thank you, veterans.
I usually get a lot of condolences this day every year about my father so it’s natural to think he was a veteran. He was not, he just happened to have a fatal accident on Veteran’s Day four years ago. (You can read about it here if you want.)
I also blog about this every year (I’ve had this blog since before the accident even):
http://breakingeveninc.com/family-and-friends/two-years-later/ (This one in particular gives a good back story and even has a picture of my dad in it.)
(I think I must have just ignored this last year because I can’t find the post!)
Part of the reason I think I do this is that I like to take some time on this date every year and think about my father. (I usually even try to do something he would have gotten a kick out of, like drink a red wine with an ice cube in it or have a frozen Snickers bar.)
And the other part of why I revisit this every year (and a less all-about-me reason) is that I somehow want to take the shame out of grief. As a society, we don’t grieve publicly so I’ve tried to do things like write about how I joined a support group and letting people in on what you shouldn’t say to someone who is grieving. I like to be public about it not because my struggle is somehow more important or difficult than anyone else’s but because I want people to know their feelings are normal and it’s ok to talk about them and otherwise deal with them.
This year, I thought I’d change up the format. Dad, this playlist is for you. (Well, more accurately it is for me about you.) Because music helps.
Father Daughter- Paul Simon
I could totally picture my dad saying ‘Trust your intuition, it’s just like going fishin’.” He was kind of cheesy… sort of like how I’m kind of cheesy.
Cap Enrage, Zachary Richard
In case you don’t speak French, this song is about a shipwreck and someone drowning, thinking of their loved ones and what they wish they could say: “I love you, I’ve never loved anyone as much as you.” It took me a couple years to be able to even be able to listen to this song again. (Song starts about one minute in)
Life Ain’t Always Beautiful, Gary Allen
I found this song after everything happened. It’s a good one and I bet my dad would have liked it too.
Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground, Willie Nelson
This is the song my sister and my father danced to at her wedding. We remember thinking it was a slightly odd choice I think (Dad’s idea) but reminds me of him whenever I hear it and ends up being quite fitting.
Stop This World, Diana Krall
The last Christmas he was around, I remember putting Diana Krall’s CD in my dad’s CD player and him realizing my taste in music didn’t totally stink. He made me copy a bunch of my CDs so he could listen to them in his truck.
Every Day, Stevie Nicks
The other day when I was running, this came on shuffle on my iPod. It made me smile and think of Dad so it is in the mix.
http://youtu.be/IG2r3MMzm2Q (Stevie, you’re killing me by not letting me embed!)
I’m sure I’ll think of tons of other songs once I publish this. My dad loved 70s rock for example and I’m sure some Elton John or Janis Joplin song may come to mind at some point.
So if you are missing someone, I hope you take some time today and remember them, with music or otherwise. Losing someone requires a constant recovery process that is never quite over but we can take comfort in knowing we share it with many other people out there.
Anyone else have good songs to add to my playlist here? Maybe a good remembering someone song or something my dad would have gotten a kick out of (if you knew him that is)?
Friday, August 13. For me, it will always be the day I almost died.
It was 1993 and I was 12 years old, having one of those summers spent almost entirely in the water. I had biked to the town pool only to find it was closed for maintenance. Remembering that my mother was leaving the house, I biked home fast before I was shut out for the afternoon. I remembered looking both ways before crossing the street but clearly I didn’t. I saw red and then it was dark. (Years later, I found out it was a red pickup that hit me when I was telling my mom I had felt uncomfortable sitting in someone’s truck and I didn’t know why. Yup it was a red truck!)
I don’t remember any pain but it was dark and I couldn’t move or open my eyes. I remember hearing people talk all around me and not being able to say anything. I was trapped in my body.
I spent three days in the hospital. I don’t remember much but I remember my family being around and that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I remember trying repeatedly to make it through a half hour long television show or a chapter in a book but getting a headache before I could finish. I had a concussion. I had an MRI or maybe a CAT scan which I slept through. Overall, I was sleepy and a bit sick to my stomach.
The day I was supposed to go home, I had a seizure. It felt like some big invisible hands were holding me down and pushing my head backward. I tried to mentally overpower it, or at least say something to calm people around me down, but I was trapped in my body again.
Where has the Breaking Even blog been? It’s a good question.
I promised I’d never write an apology post but this blog needs one. I am sorry I haven’t been keeping things up. For the last few weeks, I’ve been looking at this blog as a chore. In short, I had forgotten why I started writing it, which is that I love not only the idea of blogs but an excuse to write on a regular basis.
I am back in love with the Breaking Even blog, folks!
This week, it’s back to the usual schedule from now on. You can now count on a posting multiple times a week: