Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Best Venn Diagram Ever!

This has to be the best Venn diagram ever, especially for those of us who are searching for the best opportunity to earn a living and love what we are doing. I’d like to hear your thoughts …

The Next Four Weeks

Here is a preview of what we’ll be covering over the next four weeks of training …

This is the approach we will follow in launching “Talent Hub” over the next several months in the Workforce Connection service region:

  1. Familiarization. Before launching a formal training program, it will be necessary to gauge the interest and to appropriately set expectations for this opportunity. A series of familiarization sessions could be held throughout the region to explain this concept in terms of the emerging technology-based job market, what it takes to be competitive in this space, and an overview of the resources and potential work.
  2. Assessment and Interests Inventory. Once there is sufficient interest in the program to form training classes, a local education partner will host the training session in a technology-enabled learning lab, and candidates will complete an interest inventory assessment to determine the best fit for working in this environment. It will also include an evaluation of their previous work experience and academic credentials.
  3. Contracting and Crowdsourcing 101. Using real examples of projects that are available, this session will focus on how to bid for the work, how to evaluate projects and how to price on an hourly or project basis to compete for the projects and/or tasks.  Participants will complete online profiles and registrations on one or more sites as appropriate to improve their visibility and competitiveness for these projects.
  4. Skills Development, KSAs Needed to Compete. Based on the outcomes of the assessment stage, participants will be directed to various training resources, some classroom based and some online, to improve their skill set and to learn in “real time” how to perform certain aspects of the project.
  5. Project Management 101. A real-world project will be used in a learning lab setting to give multiple participants the ability to work on a part of the project that is within their area of expertise, and this collaborative lab will include direct input from the contract manager and/or employer to give the participants the feedback they will need to work on these types of projects in the future, independently or in a co-working, collaborative setting.

Just One Word … Wow!

A few weeks ago, I got a call from Rusty Skinner at Workforce Connection asking if it would be possible to set up some training on freelancing for workforce customers in the Citrus-Levy-Marion region. And, of course, being a good consultant I said “yes.” You’ll see how that works when we do this training … kind of like this quote from a recent BusinessWeek article, “How to Look Like You’re in the Special Forces”:

Never say “no.” Your first reaction has to be, “Yes, I can do that,” and then you figure out how. If the president asked me to go to the moon tomorrow, I’d say yes. Then I’d say, “I’ll need some training. And someone who can fly a rocket.”

So, we set up a couple of orientation sessions, one in Ocala, Fla. (that was last week) and one in Lecanto (Citrus County) Fla. – that was where I spent the afternoon today. When Rusty and I set this up, I remember him saying, “Maybe we’ll have some interest, maybe about 20 people or so will sign up.”

Last week’s session in Ocala was great … we had outstanding turnout and people were very interested in the concepts that we covered, ranging from what it takes to be a freelancer to how to navigate the online project market. If you’re interested, you can see the slides from that presentation here. To set the right tone for the meeting, we watched this intriguing video produced by oDesk that provides some insights about the “New World of Work.”

After the meeting, we did have about 20 people sign up to participate in the 4-week training program. Rusty was right. Right? Well … kind of.

We anticipated about 40 people at today’s session at the College of Central Florida – Citrus Campus. We had closer to 50 people, and this group asked some great questions and had some definite ideas about how this Talent Hub concept could work for them. I had to let them know that we were pretty close to a full class (our capacity was capped at 24 because of the computer lab we are using for the classroom training) and a few people actually signed up on their phones and other mobile devices during the orientation.

In the two hours it took to drive home from Lecanto, 40+ people had signed up for the Talent Hub training program. That’s 40+ people over and above the number already signed up. Now we have 80 people signed up and we’re scrambling to expand the training to a second location and an additional series of classes. So, now you know what I mean when I say “Wow!”

Thanks so much to the great people who joined us last week in Ocala and today in Lecanto, and I am really looking forward to working with you to launch as many as 80 new Me, Inc. businesses and solopreneurship ventures! This is going to be fun! And a very special thanks to the team at Workforce Connection and to College of Central Florida for hosting our training and making this all possible!

Heeeeey, It Must Be the Money!

Today’s post is inspired by an article in the Wall Street Journal that talks about the importance of keeping track of financials when you are running a small business. The article, “Starting Up and Conquering the Numbers,” is an excerpt from a WSJ publication called: The Complete Small Business Guidebook.

The article accurately points out that many people start a business to support themselves doing what they love. And too often they neglect to focus on the numbers side of the business.

If you want to be successful, you’ll need to ramp up your accounting knowledge. While you can certainly rely on an accountant, bookkeeper, or trusted employee to provide advice on your company’s finances, it’s critical that you gain a comfortable understanding of the numbers. As the owner, you’ll need to make important decisions concerning the purchase of inventory or equipment, expansion into new markets or the hiring of more employees. To do so, you’ll need to have a handle on your company’s finances.

The article tells the story of Wendy Goldstein, who opened up Costume Specialists in 1981, selling custom-made costumes to corporations, schools and theater companies.

After some major setbacks, Ms. Goldstein rolled her sleeves up and got to work.

First priority? Getting to know her company’s finances—something she’d made the mistake of never doing before. At the time, she had an eighteen-year-old college student working part-time on the books. She called him into her office and said, “Okay, I need to know every Friday these three things: how much money we have in the bank, how much people owe me and how much I owe people.” She remembers him laughing and saying, “You mean you want cash flow, accounts receivable and accounts payable.” Her response was: “I don’t care what you call it. I just need to know it!”

It is that simple, and it is that important … when you are running a small business it is amazing how quickly those fees and charges and expenses add up. Good record keeping is absolutely essential, as is always having a clear picture of how fiscally healthy the business is.

For more advice on good financial practices for small business, check out this article on the About.com Entrepreneur’s section.

Free Agent Nation, Here I Come!

These days, when you hang out your shingle and go into business for yourself, increasingly you are doing so in a virtual way. If you haven’t noticed, there is an accelerating trend of “free agency;” the notion that we are plying our trade in an entirely new context and moving from project to project like digital bedouins.

When you’re working a full time job for an employer, a concept like “free agency” can both inspire you and scare the bejeezers out of you – often at the same time. After reading Daniel Pink’s “Free Agent Nation” I realized that there are so many compelling reasons to test the waters, and to do it sooner than later to see if I have what it takes.

The big challenge right out of the gate is answering this question: “What do I have to offer?” Or more specifically, “What do I have to offer that people are willing to pay me for?” And then of course, you also have to ask the question, “Can I earn enough to live on?”

The answer to the first question was tougher than I thought. There are things that I do well: business writing, strategic planning, project management, team leadership, marketing strategy, and many other things. In fact, that starts to look like a “Jack of all trades” as I type it out. Much of that work only “works” when you are part of an organization, from the inside looking in as it were. So in order to make a living with these skills, it is essential that you can also offer context for practical application of these skills.

Here’s my top five list, in no particular order, of the value that I believe I can offer to an organization that needs help in these areas:

1. Developing marketing and awareness communication strategies for special projects and initiatives.

2. Assessing an organization’s readiness for change, and providing guidance for change management projects.

3. Specialized writing in support of corporate programs, public policy and employee/associate engagement.

4. Training on teamwork, time management, supervisory skills, project management, goal setting and staff development.

5. Solving business challenges through the targeted use of technology, including productivity software, social media/Web 2.0 resources and project management tools.

 

Don’t let friends “go it alone” …

We’re starting a “Mastermind Group” in the Ocala area, to bring together small business owners, “solopreneurs” and others who are either currently freelancing or setting out on their own path. The group is not your typical networking group, but rather a “board of advisors” that serves as a sounding board, resource or voice of reason in helping to make smarter business decisions, network more effectively, focus on the value proposition and market services in a challenging market.

The basic premise is this: We all face way too many tasks and feel pressured by all of the responsibilities that are involved in owning and running our own business. And with a team of similarly situated business owners, we are not alone.

Here are the things we’ll be covering over the next several weeks:

– Marketing action plan
– Mastering rapport skills
– Building powerful connections and first impressions
– Setting you apart from your competition
– What to say to influence potential customers
– Discover your client’s buying strategies and motivations
– Designing your office space for success and productivity
– Streamlining your day
– Learning to serve not sell
– Creating power questions to impact your target market
– Creating powerful presentation and speeches
– Optimizing your website success
– Article marketing
– Utilizing webinars and teleconferences for profit and exposure
– Creating enticing intro’s that speak directly to your ideal client
– Develop your personal brand
– Building a sales cycle process and program
– Using social media so that it work for you

If you’re interested in learning more, send an email to talenthub@clmworkforce.com or visit our Facebook page.

Press Release: Workforce Connection offers freelance, alternative work training

(OCALA, Fla.) – Workforce Connection is launching “Your Talent Hub,” a new alternative work initiative to assist professionals in transition through freelancing and crowdsourcing.

The program provides access to tools, resources and strategies designed to lead to earning opportunities, project work, contracting and full-time placements in creative, technology and related fields.

In partnership with the College of Central Florida (CF), Talent Hub orientations will take place Wednesday, April 25 at the Klein Conference Center at the college’s Ocala campus, 3001 S.W. College Road, and Monday, April 30 at CF’s Learning and Conference Center, 3800 S. Lecanto Highway in Lecanto. Both orientations begin at 3 p.m. There is no charge to attend.

“Alternative work strategies are just one of the many workforce services we offer,” said Rusty Skinner, president and CEO of Workforce Connection. “Through these sessions, our customers will learn about new ways to market their skills and earn money for their work, on a part-time or full-time basis. As more companies are considering the contingent workforce option, these skills help our customers become more competitive for the jobs as they emerge.”

Beginning next month, training sessions will introduce alternative workforce strategies and opportunities such as online research, technical writing, virtual assistance, web development, project management, content development, technology and help desk support, and social media management.

The orientations and training sessions will be presented by workforce strategist Steve Urquhart, founder of T21 Solutions of Orlando as well as the nonprofit VETsourcing, which helps veterans transitioning from military service to civilian careers.

Urquhart has worked for Workforce Florida, Inc., Enterprise Florida and as consultant for the WorkSource regional workforce board in Jacksonville.

“Jobs may be in short supply, but in some industries there is actually more work than ever as companies are beginning to ramp back up and prepare for market demands,” Urquhart said, adding that for employers, contingent staffing, crowdsourcing, remote workers and virtual teams are all growing in popularity in the new world of work.

To learn more about the Talent Hub orientations, call 352-291-9551 or 800-434-5627, ext. 1147 or visit http://yourtalenthub.com or www.clmworkforce.com. Updates and information are also available on Twitter and on Facebook.

Welcome to Talent Hub!

Are you ready for something new in your career? Are you looking to boost your earnings potential? Have you considered … freelancing?

These days, you can work from just about anywhere if you have Internet access and a computer or a mobile device. Right now, there are literally tens of thousands of opportunities from social media to project management to virtual assistance to content development.

Learn how you can take advantage of your talents and compete in the exciting new world of work by signing up for the Workforce Connection “Talent Hub.” Learn more here.