Sarabwritings's Blog

January 25, 2015

My journey continues

What exactly am I doing to get healthy, you may ask? I believe I mentioned in an earlier post the things that I had done to lose weight a few years ago: weight watchers, p90x and last year a stint with CrossFit and Paleo. The one I keep coming back to is BeachBody. So there must be a reason. When I decided to be honest with myself and make the choices I had to make to get myself healthy again, I decided to go with what I knew I liked, but I also knew I needed some extra accountability.

I chose Focus T-25 because it was ONLY 25 minute. Even I can manage that, right?!? Well, let me tell you I’m about to head into week 3 and I’ve lost 9lbs already. Well, I’m not going to lie some of that is from being sick, but more than half is from working out and eating healthy. I tell you this because I don’t believe health should be some well-kept secret that only those with tons of money can have. Being healthy is for everyone and it actually will end up saving you money because less visits to the doctors and when you plan out your meals you tend to spend less at the grocery store and you have less waste because you eat what you buy.

Sounds so simple, huh? Well, when I decided to try Focus T-25 I decided to sign up as a coach. I figured if I could help others while I helped myself that was a win-win. And it is because it keeps me ACCOUNTABIE!! Nothing is worse than not having like-minded people around you to help you with support and motivation. And, I won’t lie a little extra money helps too! So, if you want to get healthy with me, let me know. You can join a challenge group – you get me as your coach pushing you forward, support, motivation, and advice. Or you can step it up notch and be your own coach helping others – I will be there for you through that as well – we have a great team dedicated to helping new coaches.

Coaching Call

Talk to you soon,
Sara

December 11, 2012

Reflections

We all know some days are better than others.  As we begin the end of 2012 and move into 2013 so many of us hope that the following year will be better and there are also many who think next year could never possibly top the one they are in…. Well, I have a little of both:

Parts of 2012 were great:  I met a beautiful little girl last March, her Daddy proposed in May, and I graduated with a Dual Masters at the end of May…. many things to be happy about and grateful for

But some parts were not so great – the day after graduation I lost my job of 3 years and have been searching, like so many others, since then for a job.  Putting out my resume, making calls, spending hours filling out HR apps and I’ve 4 interviews in just over 6 months… I’m sorry 5 interviews but I don’t count the coffee shop that wouldn’t hire me b/c I am over qualified… really?  You needed people and I needed a job (and still do)

Many of you know that if you are on extended benefits those end on Dec 29, 2012 so going into 2013 is going to be even harder this holiday season if you don’t find some work or if Congress can’t come to some sort of an agreement… but that is for another post (my political views or my other blog 🙂 )

I am also fortunate though that my fiancé is supportive.  He’s been working, got laid off, and is now in another state starting a new job to help support us – I know so many people are in this same predicament.  I’ve even tried to start my own freelancing business this year to jump -start my writing, and it has helped a little, but as anyone self-employed knows, it’s a hard road to walk during the start-up phase.  And, though I am school as well I can’t survive on unemployment even it is extended.  And I don’t want to – why do people so many people seem to think that those of us unemployed for a few months or more aren’t looking or that we don’t want to work?  Really?  I don’t spend excess money; I pay my bills and look for work!

Good Luck to those of you in the same position I am in; I feel for you; and I understand!  Keep searching, be grateful and thankful for what you do have; be positive and I know something will come your way soon!!

Sara

October 6, 2012

October

Hello all,

It’s been awhile, but I am settled in our new home and school has been going steady for the past couple of weeks.  Feels like I am finally settling into a routine, which means time to write again.  I have a freelancing job – steady of a couple hours every day as an editor-in-chief, which is very cool.  Always looking for more work, but things are going well right now.  These courses are intense (about 500 pages per class a week) and I’m taking 2 courses — Good thing I like to read.  Getting lots of new ideas for my other blog, but will be concentrating on this, school, and freelancing for now.  Want to devote more time on business planning and what it’s like starting a business for those following for those tips.

Talk to you all soon – reading to do and a presentation to prepare for Wednesday’s class.
Sara

August 6, 2012

Reality Check

Now that you’ve started answering questions it is time to do your first reality check. You want “objectively” ask yourself if what you are doing is a good idea or not. This is also where you will want to get a 2nd opinion.

Yes, make sure you get a second opinion and make sure it’s with someone OUTSIDE your company. You are looking for a mentor at this point. This should be someone experienced in your line of work (or at least similar). Make sure they see willing to tell you the truth too – the last thing you need is someone who agrees with everything and does not offer any critiques. Lastly, make sure this is someone you respect and can take criticism from, understanding they are only trying to help.

At this point it is also nice to have someone willing to play hardball or “devil’s advocate” with your plan. This will truly help you find any flaws.

Looking at yourself

Now it is time to turn inward for some self-reflection – do you have it takes to see this through? It is time to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

Rate the following:

Setting goals and pushing to achieve
Making decisions and completing tasks
Organizing a schedule and then getting things done
Staying focused on the task at hand
Juggling several tasks at once
Judging a person’s character
Getting along with others and bringing out their best
Listening to several sides and then making a decision
Leading a team even when their are disagreements
Understanding what motivates others
Resolving disputes amongst people
Saying what you mean and meaning what you say
Keeping your cool (especially when others are losing theirs)
Telling someone no
Tending to the details
Seeing the big picture
Adapting to changes
Taking risks
Taking responsibility, even when things go wrong

You can use a scale of 1-10 or a poor fair, good, excellent scale. Use whichever is best for you, but be honest – that is most important.

Sar

July 30, 2012

Ideas needed! Where to look?

So, we know you want to be successful, right?  I thought so!  You know you need a business plan to be successful as well!  And, I know you are eager to get started.  So how do you generate ideas and then get them on paper?  Do you remember when you were in school and your teacher would tell you to brainstorm?  This is like that time when you were given 1 word or 1 phrase and told to think of as many things as you could and write them all down.  Easy, right?  I promise it won’t hurt at all 🙂

Today’s post is geared towards those of you who either need a new product in your business (or venture to rev things up a bit) or know you want to work for yourself but might not be 100% sure which direction to take.

Our brainstorming session is a little different from middle school; I am using this form from the Dummies series because it is easy to use and very self-explanatory:

 

MY FAVORITE THINGS

My Personal Strengths Things I Like to Do Products or Services I Really Like What I’d Do If I Won The Lottery
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill in this table to generate ideas – you will quickly start to see a pattern!

Now you are going to take the ideas in each column and bring them together.  Choose one item from each column and combine them into a business idea – your new sentence will have 4 components.  You can mix and match, choose at random, or work across each row.  Voila!! You now have 3 business (or product) ideas!!

 

THE IDEA BLENDER

A personal strength:  
something I really like to do:  
Product or service I really like:
If I won the lottery, I’d:

Here is another great form from the “Dummies” series you can use!

Now, you want to think of challenges you and your business may face – don’t worry everyone faces challenges (for me it is marketing and being competitive without selling myself to low)!

  1. What are the most important challenges we currently face?
  2. What created these challenges?
  3. Which can we change (effectively)?
  4. What is the strategy to make the change?

Don’t forget to work with others on this – anyone who is part of your business can have input (or at least be a sounding board).  And if you have a business already, listen to your customers to see what they want to see from your business in the future – you can have a great idea, but if your customers don’t buy into it, it will not work!

Once you have your ideas and you’ve listed your challenges and how to overcome them, it is time to put a framework together:

  1. Describe your business opportunity in 2 sentences.
  2. List the 3 most important things of the your proposed product or service
  3. What basic customers needs will you fill?
  4. Briefly (2-3 sentences) describe who will purchase your product or service
  5. What are 2 or 3 similar, existing products?
  6. Why choose yours over the competition?
  7. How will you reach your customers?
  8. How do you plan to make money?

This is a lot to take in, so work on this and we will continue tomorrow.  Don’t forget to go back to earlier posts (listed under Business Building if you need to)!

Sara

July 29, 2012

You are not alone – researching and delegating

When you write your business plan, remember you do not need to do this alone!  There are many resources out there that you can use to help you with your plan – there is NO NEED to reinvent the wheel:

  • Use the internet to do some research – markets, customers, your competition, even what a plan looks like (though you will never 2 exactly the same)
  • Library – yes, an actual library can be useful – check out their periodical section on trends and markets – read some books
  • Business school – maybe you could take a class or a seminar on business
  • Journals – are there journals specific to your area?  I am pretty sure the answer is YES!!!  They are a great investment
  • US Small Business website – wealth of information
  • Trade shows, professional groups, networking groups and the list could go one and on

Talk to others in your field who have started their own business.  Call, make an appointment for an interview, be prepared with your questions ahead of time.  They were once you are now, so they are an excellent source of information.

Who are the people who can help you with your planning process?   Maybe you are only able to get your notes down but not in an articulate way?  Do you know someone who can help?  If not, hire someone to polish your plan?  Have your partner look at it first.  I’ve talked about it before, but Elance is a great website for hiring someone to create your plan for you.  Depending on how much work you’ve done will determine the cost.

Don’t try to do it alone – a support system (even if they don’t help with the writing is still essential)!!

Tomorrow we will start getting in to the nitty gritty of it all – generating ideas that will be the basis for your plan 🙂

Sara

July 27, 2012

Business Planning – Audience is important

Yesterday I talked about the first steps in Business Planning – check it out here!!  Need another reason why a plan is so important?  MONEY!!

The Kaufman Center for Entrporenurial Leadership conducted a survey and found that “companies with written business plans had 50% greater sales growth and 12% higher gross profit margins than companies without plans”.

Remember, in a business plan you are creating the blueprint for your endeavor.  So, who is your audience?  You need to know who you will be appeal to when you write your plan:

  • Potential Investors
  • Current/Prospective employees
  • Potential customers (especially for us freelancers who need them more than cash in the beginning)
  • Also, a freelancer’s plan may focus more on what they need to do – potential problem solving (so self)

This is just  small list (the most often used).  You may have others to add to this list (distributors, vendors, regulators, etc).  Now that you’ve thought about your audience, what’s the message you want to convey?  Think about what each group may want to hear.  For example:

  • A banker wants to see profit prospects (charts, planning, stats, etc)
  • Potential employees want to now what is in it for them?  Why work for a start-up company instead of an established company?
  • Clients (for a freelancer) will want to see services, competitive rates, and testimonials

The next step is for you to choose YOUR top 3 audiences and jot down your information – what will they need to hear and why?  Knowing them is going to help you keep each section of your plan focused.  Now what?  You’ve identified your target audience.  Later this evening we will review the different parts that make up the business plan…

Sara

July 26, 2012

Business Plan: First things first

First, what is a business plan?  Well, it is exactly what is says:  a plan for your business.  All businesses, small and large should have a plan:

  • Plan in the beginning
  • Change/modify the plan along the way
  • Different stages of your business will need different plans
  • Will help you think clearly about your business
  • Can help procure funding

These are just a few of the things a business plan can help with and why you should have one.  It may seem like a daunting task, but if you break if down in to steps and manage each one as they come, it will not be as bad – also it is important to remember that every plan will be different because every business is not the same.  I will be sharing my plan for my Business:  Sara Beth’s Writing – I am a freelancer, so I will have less sections (and some different ones) compared to that of a restauranteur or a store owner.

Because I am starting my business these blog posts will focus on start-ups!  There are some questions you must ask yourself if you are starting a new business:

  1. Does this venture have a good chance at getting off the ground?  Yes, I am a strong writer.  It has always been my passion and desire to write and help others.
  2. How much money will it need to be up and running?  Little (a couple hundred for flyers, website, business cards, etc)
  3. Who are the customers?  Anyone who needs editing, proofreading, resume writing, blogging, etc.
  4. How will I reach my customers?  Social Media (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, website, WordPress), flyers, business cards, word of mouth, elance, guru
  5. Who are my competitors? All other freelancers who perform same types of writing services
  6. What is the best way to outrun them? Provide quality work, be professional, acquire testimonials of previous clients
  7. Why will/should a new customers choose us over them? Once they realize my work is competitive and achieves results

Write the answers to these down – they may only be a few sentences right now – you can always add to it later as your planning progresses.  I’ve put my answers briefly in bold after each questions.  Some of these questions are easier than others.

These are some things to think about before you start writing your plan.  Tomorrow, I will go over your audience and the various parts of the business plan as well as creating a time line, so hold yourself accountable.

Sara

June 30, 2012

WooHoo – Doesn’t get much more official than this :)

Filed under: Business Building,General Posts — by sarabwritings @ 1:40 am
Tags: , , , , ,

My business website is up and running:  www.sarabethswriting.com

Business cards have been ordered, flyers made, stationary printed, and all will be delivered by July 5, 2012!!!

But the most important pieces, the website, and my new email are working, and my blogs are linked – so much work and I still have a few things left to do, but now I get to start thinking about marketing and promoting and the official business plan – see? Becoming unemployed was the best thing to happen to me (work wise)!  It gave me the good swift kick I needed to plunge into something I’ve always wanted to do:  freelance writing!!  Why not take my talents and do something with it?  Nothing wrong with doing something I love and that I am good at and making a living out of it – never had the guts/courage to follow through before.  I was all talk and no action 😉

It also helps that I am at a place in my life surrounded by people who believe in me, and that truly does make all the difference in the world.  So my last piece of advice for today is if you want to do something – go for it and if the people in your life are not supportive than maybe (and I know this is WAY easier said than done) it is time to find new friends – just a thought.  Trust me – been there done that and it took time for me to realize that some people were sabotaging me, but I let them do it – now they aren’t in my life, but it took me a bit to figure all that out – don’t wait as long as I did – LIVE YOUR DREAMS!!!

Sara

June 29, 2012

Up and Coming – Sara Beth’s Writing becomes official

Yesterday was a VERY busy and productive day.  Now, I only edited the first few pages of these next 10 chapters BUT I ordered business cards, flyers, and stationary and my website is almost completed – that’s right I have OFFICIALLY started my own business:  Sara Beth’s Writing!!  It’s about time I put a name to it and get started.  Nothing is gained by doing something only part way.

I did a lot of research first – which for me was fairly easy since I am tech savvy and used to being online all day anyway for work and school:

  • My first stop was to the IRS:  http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/ – tons of great information from acquiring an EIN to start up costs, loans, tax paperwork, etc
  • Next I research website builders – I have a site with iPage for my Mom’s business but I went with GoDaddy for mine – both are easy to use and have some pros and cons, but for what I needed and wanted I got more for my money with GoDaddy – do your research and choose what’s right for you!!
  • So, I decided on my business name and then registered for my EIN – even a sole-proprietorship needs to build business credit
  • I set up account to keep everything separate (SOO important come tax time)
  • With my new website I got a new email
  • Created a Facebook page
  • BUT the most fun part? Designing business cards, flyers, and stationary 😀

There are still MANY things to do:  marketing, promoting, finishing the website and publishing it and creating a formal business plan.

For today though, back to my editing – need to build a happy clientele base 🙂

Sara

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