By Kim Watkinson, The Ninja Baker, NinjaBaking.com
GaijinWorks International Business Coaching will be featuring a number of blogs from us as well as guest posters like Kim Watkinson. You can expect weekly doses of wisdom on things like goal setting, working through joy, accountability, time management, work/life balance, financial planning, organizational skills, empowering women, the benefits of coaching, brainstorming, nutrition, exercise, yoga or traveling. Interested in guest blogging yourself? Please send your potential topic to Lauren Vanessa Zink at email@example.com.
Hurtling forward in the dark at Space Mountain roller coaster speed. Or going round and round on King Arthur’s Carousel and then white-knuckling an intergalactic battle on Star Tours. That’s how my life as an entrepreneur feels—like a trip to Disneyland where I’m restricted to only the riskiest rides. The ones that require courage. But maybe the thrill rides are why you visit Disneyland in the first place.
Personally, I like to hang out in Fantasy Land and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. And once in a while my Fairy Godmother swoops into my whirlwind entrepreneurial ride with the magic of these places, and I start gleefully singing “It’s A Small World.” But it’s not all magic all the time. If you find yourself on the calmer path right now, strolling down Main Street, licking ice cream and listening to the Dixie Bands, but your heart beats wildly in your chest when you think about veering off course and onto the stomach-dropping Rock ‘N Roller Coaster or through the dark desert caverns of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, then it might be time to get a FastPass to your own entrepreneur’s adventure.
You too can whistle while you work if:
- You are technology and social media savvy.
- You are an extrovert and love to network.
- You have a popular (in-demand) product to sell.
- You are very clear about who you are serving.
- You are easygoing.
- You always focus on the positive attributes of others.
When I was laid off from my corporate job in 2011, I was scared. Tower of Terror scared. And even today, years deep into running my own venture, I’m still scared—but I have learned a lot along the way. I’ve also made a little money. (Coach Karen provided ideas on how to bring home more bacon.)
Solopreneur is a misnomer. You might be striking out on your own, but you certainly aren’t alone. In addition to feedback from life and business coaches, I’ve received an education in entrepreneurship thanks to angels, challenges and conferences. Three years later, I’ve gotten a few clues as to how to proceed with my life. (Keyword: clues. I definitely don’t have it all figured out!)
In 2011, with shaky knees I walked away from a cushy 401k with only a box of personal effects. A meager compensation was contingent upon not suing the company…because I was reaching retirement age and they’d hired two nubile ladies to do my work. A lawyer friend advised skipping the stress and financial loss associated with battling a corporation. So, instead I launched a revamp of NinjaBaking.com and dove into finishing my novel with a Timothy Q. Mouse-like voice whispering in my ear, “You can fly!” (Remember Dumbo the Elephant?)
Here are a few things I wish I’d learn sooner:
- Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is an essential read for anyone who is serious about getting ahead in business. (One of the best directives given to me by Karen Trepte.)
- Stay active on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and gulp, Tumblr…Confession: I’ve got a Tumblr account but have yet to dive in…It’s a habit I hope to incorporate soon!
- Take time for social media every day. (6 a.m. to 6 p.m. US ET is best for most sites.)
- If you’ve got a blog, comment on others’ posts often and promote them.
- (It’s good karma. You probably already know this, but don’t expect returns of favor the way you think they should appear. Just trust in the process.)
- Allow yourself joy. Get yourself away from the computer. Go dancing, bike riding, sky diving—whatever makes your heart sing. You’ll do better work. Plus it will make you a more interesting person (and you’ll have more stuff to share on social media!).
- Emulate the sites and styles of those you admire. Note: I did not say “copy.” Take notice of others further ahead on the road and adopt their practices. (Tip: Facebook has a “Pages to Watch” feature under the Insights section. You can see what is working for your competition and adopt what works via your own style. Reminder: What goes around comes around, so don’t you dare become a copycat.)
- Go to conferences. Lucky you if you are a natural extrovert and networker!
For those of us who are less like Snow White and more like Bashful, I’ve found the following helps:
- Set practical goals such as “Talk to 5 sponsors and 5 strangers.”
- Have questions prepared. For example, “What’s the most significant action step you’ve taken to achieve your level of success?”
- Be sincere and honest. People are pretty savvy about authenticity.
- Gather cards. Follow the people you are interested in on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and relevant social media sites. Follow up with e-mails.
- Have an elevator speech prepared. You don’t have to spout it verbatim. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. (See number 4.)
- Take a sincere interest in others.
- Have a willingness to learn.
- Be brave and ask when you don’t understand. Most people are willing to help.
- Dress to impress. You’ll carry yourself with greater confidence.
P.S. These tips work for your real life too!
· Making friends with people from all around the world.
· Getting contacted out of the blue from legitimate businesses and sites wanting to feature my work.
· Earning money doing what I love to do.
· Receiving feedback that what I shared makes a difference.
· Learning that if you wish upon a star, dreams can come true…with hard work, an open mind and a willingness to flow with love.
Wishing for you a “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” ride with Mister Bluebird on your shoulder, reminding you there is “Plenty of sunshine heading my way.”
About Kim Watkinson, The Ninja Baker, NinjaBaking.com:
“Japanese food and language were all I knew until age 5. Tokyo was my hometown until age 18. The Japanese culture continues to influence my baking, blogging and book writing. (I still read, write and speak the language.) At NinjaBaking.com, I aim to build a bridge between the East and the West via the avenue of Asian fusion cuisine and cupcakes!”
Are you interested in guest blogging for GaijinWorks International Business Coaching? If so, please send your potential topic to Lauren Vanessa Zink at firstname.lastname@example.org.