There are people out there right now that need your skills and your advice. They want to learn from you and they’d be happy to join your community, if only it existed. Don’t let your fears keep you from creating a community.
When I first came online, I was overwhelmed by all of the “experts” I saw. Perhaps it was because the first summit I attended was an extensive weeks-long training from the leading experts in Social Media.
It was as if I had been thrown into an advanced calculus class before I had learned how to multiply!
So much new jargon! I didn’t know the difference between SEO and a CTA. These elite professionals would throw out jargon which the moderators understood perfectly. I had no idea what they were talking about.
Surprisingly, I learned a lot during that training.
Yet unsurprisingly, I established myself in my own mind as an outsider in this complicated world. From then on, when I went to conferences or engaged in online chats, I always felt that everyone knew so much more than I did. And that they were more successful.
I have been blogging – and learning – for several years now, and I have a clearer understanding of what was happening.
Slowly my eyes were opened to the fact that many of those people didn’t know as much as I did. And I began to realize that i could do this. I could be successful online.
So if you are one of those who feels like an outsider looking in, I have some great news for you.
You have unique gifts which will benefit others. You also have a personal mission which may be similar, but it won’t be just like anyone else’s. Have faith in who you are – and know that there are many others who need what you have to offer.
They also need your encouragement.
That’s why we need community.
Your community may be those who listen to your podcast, or read your blog, or those who read your emails. Or you could want to start a membership community. Or a Facebook Group.
With any of these communities, you will have more impact if you consider a few things.
Decide on the goal of your community.
The first thing you want to do when building your community is deciding what the goal will be. It’s a good idea to look at the end result your ideal client wants. For example, if your ideal client wants to start a blog, then creating great blogs can be the goal for your community. Other communities could focus on speaking or podcasting. Some could focus on all of these things.
Interestingly, within your community, there will be smaller topics of interest. Best tools for the job. Best practices. Creativity. Mindset.
You can see that the list could be endless.
Who are your people?
Every community has its own culture that’s shaped by the creator and members. When you’re thinking about culture, you might want to consider your personal values. For example, if you’re building a Christian community then you may stress the importance of Biblical principles while on the job. Obviously in this case, good character would be important to implement in your group.
Walk alongside your members.
The most effective teaching is walking alongside your members or friends.
What do I mean by that? Let people learn from your mistakes as well as their own. When people see you as authentic, they can relate – and they can learn better. Let them see your journey, and let them see where you are at the moment.
When their guard is down, people learn a lot more from a peer than they do from a school marm. So be real and be honest.
Your community will be delighted to find someone who understands their struggles.
Find a partner
If you’re nervous about building a community, look for a partner. This is someone that runs a business or brand that complements your skills. For example, if you’re an excellent writer, team up with someone who is a great internet marketer.
This set up benefits you by cutting your responsibilities in half and it benefits your group by allowing them to receive support from two people, instead of one. Keep in mind that you’ll want to build your community with a partner that you already know and like. You should also have a plan in place for what happens if one of you becomes too busy to participate or if one of you wants out of the community.
The bottom line is this. We need each other, and if you can answer that need in your business or blog, your effectiveness will increase many times over.
Many people start their home based businesses with tremendous excitement and delight. Yet after some time on the job, they may start experiencing second thoughts and discouragement.
They find themselves tired of the business and burned out.
Being burned out is no fun. It’s especially no fun if you are a self-employed solopreneur! You need to stay on-the-ball in order to run your business successfully.
The best way to overcome this energy and productivity sapper, is to take steps to overcome it before it happens. So let’s look at some ways to do that.
Okay, let’s be honest. You love your work. You know that your mission is important, and you are thrilled to be helping people as you move ahead. (And, of course, you celebrate as the money begins to flow in).
Yet anything which we do day in and day out – with no breaks – will get tiresome from time to time. That’s why we need to focus on avoiding this before it happens.
So here are a few things to avoid.
- Taking on Too Much Work –
When you are just starting out, you are so happy to get any work at all that you can’t imagine too much ever coming your way.
Yet after you’ve been in business for awhile, this can happen. And it’s a trap for countless solopreneurs. Often this is driven by the fear that at some point, they won’t have orders coming in. So they take on a huge amount of work whenever it’s available
The irony is that this tends to result in poor quality work, which actually means they’re more likely to lose clients!
2. Oversleeping –
What’s that? Sleeping too much can cause burnout?
It might sound surprising, but if you start work late then you will quickly enter into a vicious cycle. You will start late – and end late – thus having your work go into the night and onto your days off.
This is a hazard especially if you are single and don’t have the family time table to help you stay on a more regular routine.
Be strict with yourself, ask others to help, and make sure you get an early night.
Find ways to help yourself maintain regular hours. A cup of Camomile Tea to help you get to sleep. And leaving the curtains open lightly when you go to sleep. Thus when you wake up in the morning. the natural sunlight will prompt you to get up and not go back to sleep.
Even little habits can make a routine more doable – and life lots easier.
3. Others’ Disrespect for Your Work
It’s interesting that if you work in an office, others don’t think that you are available at all times. They respect your office commitment. However, if you are working from home, many think that you are available at all times.
This is a common problem solopreneurs have to address.
People don’t mean this in a condescending way. Yet many people will think that being your own boss means you can be at their beck and call at any time of day.
Let’s go shopping. Let’s go to lunch. Let me tell you the latest gossip.
Or if you have children at home, it’s even more difficult.
It takes willpower to have a schedule which works – and one which avoids this random free time mentality.
Having a schedule of certain times for concentrated work and other times for taking calls helps you stay on track.
Eventually others will recognize your routine and will be more likely to honor it.
4. Not switching off
This is a huge risk you face as a solopreneur.
When you work from home, your work can become your life to the point where you can’t seem to switch it off. It’s always there. Always in your mind. Always demanding concentration.
It’s quite common for anyone to finish work and then realize that there was something they forgot to do, But for most people, they will plan to do it first thing the next morning. The difference for you is that you can go and rectify that mistake right away.
That can be a hazard. You need time off. You need to forget about your work and enjoy other aspects of your life.
It takes discipline to put your work aside – and enjoy your leisure time. But your spiritual time, your family time, and your leisure time are significant to a healthy life.
It might make it easier when you realize that playing is a responsibility!
So there you have a few things which can cause burnout. They basically come down to scheduling times for work and times for play. They also involve knowing your limitations and not overloading yourself with too much work.
Through prayer and planning, you can find a plan and a schedule which works for you and allows you to maximize your impact while enjoying your work.
Avoiding burnout can lead to many years of enjoyable productivity.
Are you in a dip? And if so, what are you going to do about it?
“The Dip” became famous with Seth Godin’s book by that name. (I just love all of those Ah-ha moments he has brought us, don’t you)?
The dip is after you have launched your project and spent some time enjoying the challenge of the dream. You continue with enthusiasm and excitement
Then you hit a time when the newness wears off and the dream becomes dim. Suddenly the work seems hard. Monotonous. The dream seems dim and you feel that you are just slogging along.
So what do you do? You either slow down and quit – or you push through.
Think of it as running a marathon. You plan to run 26 miles and you are pumped to do it. You begin with zeal and determination. But after 13 hot and thirsty miles, your zeal starts to wain, and you begin to question the decision. Is it worth it? Why did you make the commitment? And every step starts to seem like an impossible goal.
Our online businesses, our books, and really any worthwhile project has a similar pattern. There’s the middle we have to conquer. After the starting pistol and before the prize at the end, there is a middle. And that middle often includes a dip.
Well, back to Seth Godin’s book, the dip is what separates the true winners – champions – the overall best in any niche. Most people quit during the dip. or at least they become very mediochre.
Winners do something different.
Winners are determined to win. They dig in deeper during that long middle. They learn more, fine tune their methods, and tweak their objectives. And, most importantly, they keep going.
In the end, they push through the dip and wind up stronger and more productive than ever.
In the process, they even manage to shorten the dip.
These are the ones who finish strong – and on top.
So what does that mean for us?
The last year has put lots of people in the dip. The routine changes demanded by Covid-19 -as well as the pervasive anxiety – were enough to cause anyone to have a dip. Normal practices just seemed so hard. It was tough.
Well now let’s take a deep breath.
First of all, do we really want to accomplish this project? Are we satisfied that this is God’s will for us?
Try to find some time to get alone. Pray and listen. Is this really what we are supposed to do? Is it really what we want to do?
If so, let’s stand up, shake off the lethargy, and begin again.
With all of this settled, we become determined to get through that dip.
Let’s increase our skill in the areas that are giving us trouble. That might mean taking some courses, talking with a coach. or networking with others in our niche.
Let’s assess our plans and our procedures. We can fine tune any methods which seem unsuccessful, and discontinue practices which no longer work.
Then, with head high let’s press forward with renewed determination.
We can do this.
In fact, we are going to do this.
There are countless advantages to being a solopreneur. Not only do you get to work from home and generate all your own income, but you also get to create something you’ve poured your heart into and something which truly represents who you are.
You can be yourself!
Many Christians are finding this solopreneur lifestyle to be a wonderful way of blending their values with their work.
Yet there are some challenges to the solopreneur lifestyle. To truly enjoy this lifestyle and to have it be profitable, you need to face these challenges.
And overcome them, in order to thrive.
So let’s look at some tips to help you overcome the most common challenges of the solopreneur lifestyle.
A lot of people find that working from one room all day is very monotonous. But this challenge should not be an issue. One of the brilliant aspects of working from home is that when it’s a nice day you can sit in the garden. If you don’t mind the distraction you can even go and work in a coffee shop for variation. The world is your office, so get yourself out there!
I have an office area with a desktop, printer, etc. I work there much of the time.
However, I also have a laptop which I can use anytime, anywhere. I love this special tool which allows me to change the scene – and yet keep up with my mission.
Being Constantly “On.”
It is very important to make a distinction between work time and family time. That means that when it’s family time, you don’t take work phone calls or emails. You can get back to the people later.
Some solopreneurs even have separate phone numbers for their ‘personal’ time and their ‘work’ time. That way the phones can be turned on or off depending on whether they are “at work” or “at home.”
Loss of Structure:
As working from home can leave you without structure, you must take steps to overcome this. Planning your work is more important for a solopreneur than for an office worker.
Someone working in an office usually has others demanding work loads and time restraints. When you are your own boss, you have to play that boss’s role with yourself. You must set up a schedule with expectations and timelines.
Then reward yourself when your deadlines are met.
One way to feel connected to the real world is to call friends and sort errands in your lunch break. It’s also a good idea to join groups or networks in your field.
Find ways to connect with others for companionship and motivation.
Which brings me to the final challenge: Staying Motivated.
When you are your boss, your counselor, and
your motivator, you need to be alert to slipping in these areas.
Networking is a great way to increase your motivation. Also, reading or taking courses from others in your field. You’ll not only stay motivated, but you will find new ideas to spark your energy.
As with any endeavor, we Christians realize the importance of prayer for our mental well-being and our success. Commit each day to God and ask for His direction. Also ask Him to open doors for you. Ask Him to bring the people across your path who need to hear what you have to say – or who need the benefit of your offers.
Oh, and when He brings that direction, do what He says. Reach out to the people He brings your way. Help them achieve their goals, and your success will come as a result.
As you lay that foundation of prayer, you’ll conquer the challenges.
You’ll stay motivated and energized for your mission. You’ll overcome monotony, disconnection, and the distractions of working from home.
And you’ll have greater success.
Which Mountain are You Climbing?
Now you may think that this is a strange question. We have been focusing on influencing the world for God. Why would I suddenly start talking about mountains?
To understand where I’m coming from, let’s go back a few years. In fact, let’s go back to the year 1975.
In that year, Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission (YWAM), had some visitations from God. His heart was sold out to the ministry to which God had called him, as he was sending missionaries into all areas of the world. These ministers were bringing people to Jesus and helping them to grow in their new faith. There was tremendous fruit being produced for God’s Kingdom.
However, he realized that forces were working against his mission in a mighty way. Many times discouragement would hit when he would see the new converts being swept back up into the current thinking of his or her society.
During this season, Loren was getting a revelation of the many forces of darkness – coming from many different areas of life. It was the “secular world” coming against the “sacred world” he was living in as a minister.
As Loren sat pondering, the Lord took him to Acts 10:9. It’s the episode in which Peter received a revelation to go to the Gentiles. The Lord gave Peter a vision. Three times a sheet came down from heaven containing animals, reptiles and birds. A voice said, “Rise, Peter. Kill and eat.”
Each time Peter would say, “No, Lord. Never have I eaten anything which was unclean.”
After the third time, the Lord spoke. “Do not call anything impure which God has made clean.”
Then the Spirit said to him, “Peter, three men are looking for you. Go downstairs and go with them. For I have sent them.”
So Peter went with the men to Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian Regiment. And he led the officer and his entire family to the Lord. As Peter stood there, the Holy Spirit fell on these people – just as He had done for Peter and the apostles in the upper room.
Thus for the first time, Peter realized that God was calling gentiles to receive Jesus – and not just the Jews.
This was a transforming time for Peter. And also for the Jewish leaders of the early church. They were just learning that God was a God of all the believers in the world. A revolutionary thought.
Well, on this day in 1975, as Loren came to that passage, the Lord said, “Do not call anything impure which I have made pure.”
Of course, the minister’s mind first raced to food restrictions. But the Spirit said, “No. I am talking about things you call ‘sacred’ versus what you call ‘secular.’ You consider church and Sunday “sacred.” You consider every other area of society to be “secular.” Then the Lord said, “I have created it all. It’s all for My glory.”
This required some pondering, indeed! Loren had never thought in those terms before.
As he sat in the stillness, Loren heard God begin to list for him the seven spheres of influence in a society. Then he began to see that these seven were in existence in every culture where his mission teams had gone.
The seven: Religion, Family, Government, Education, Commerce (Business, Science, and Technology), Media, and Celebration (Arts, Entertainment, and Sports).
Then came the realization: these seven areas of culture bear such a great influence on people that a nation will never be truly discipled for Jesus until all of these areas have Christians involved at high levels.
When Loren Cunningham received this revelation from God, he wrote the areas down on a yellow pad and started praying over them. He was on vacation in Colorado at the time.
A dear friend of his, Bill Bright, who had founded Campus Crusades for Christ was also vacationing at a log cabin in the area. When Bright heard that Cunningham was nearby, he invited him over. Loren tucked the list of seven spheres into his shirt pocket, and headed for the visit.
Was he ever in for a surprise!
As he walked in the door, Bill Bright said, “I want to share with you something which the Lord just spoke to me. It’s about seven spheres of influence in society which hinder or help the discipling of a nation.”
Wow! Was that ever confirmation! They compared notes and they had received the same list from the Lord.
About a month later, Darlene Cunningham, Loren’s wife, was listening to an interview with Francis Shaeffer who was speaking from his ministry, L’Abri, in Switzerland. He had recently received a word from the Lord in which he was given seven “Molders of Culture.”
Do you think that it was the same seven?
Yes. It was!
Fast forward a few decades, and a minister/marketplace apostle named Lance Wallnau enters the picture. The Lord gave him some insight also. He had a revelation of the cultural influencers which make or break a society. He called the seven spheres, or molders, the Seven Mountains. But the message is the same.
Individuals can be brought to the Lord throughout the world, but cultures will never change as long as the Seven Mountains are dominated by unbelievers. Only a saturation of believers in every sphere of society will bring true discipleship to a nation.
Nations can’t be discipled properly until these seven mountains are dealt with.
And that works both ways! If Unbelievers dominate those mountains, then the prevailing attitudes will work against God and His plans. If Believers are prevalent and high profile, then Godly attitudes will prevail.
Now think about our modern western cultures. Can you see where we are on this scale?
Most Christians have noticed a decline in the American society over the last decades. But just sitting around playing the game of “Ain’t it awful,” is not enough. (You know. The game where we say, “Ain’t it awful what they did, or said, or voted for?”)
In fact, God has created you to be on one of the mountains. Whether you are a teacher, an actor, a businessman, or a stay-at-home Mom, you are on one of the mountains already.
Let that thought soak in. You will start to see how important you are in God’s big plan.
Think about it for a moment. Think about how different our culture would be if actors were speaking out for Jesus. If journalists were speaking out. If educators and doctors were influencing the world for Jesus.
When we notice the charge of Jesus to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel,” (Mark 16:15), sometimes we might think in terms of going to other countries. Well, of course, some do that. Yet every day we are “going into the world.” We are going to our jobs, or our neighborhoods, or our committee meetings. Wherever we go, we are to shine brightly for Him.
We are ministers. Every born again believer.
A lot of your success in your position is for you to appreciate where God has you. It’s an important position. The gifts and callings He has put within your DNA are what you need to accomplish His will for you in that place. God’s Spirit will guide you and empower you to bring influence for Him – right where you are.
Do you need to change positions? He’ll let you know and make a way for it to happen. He’ll direct your steps.
The keys for you to accomplish God’s will for you are:
First, spend time with God. Read His Word, pray, and listen for His voice. Be ready in season and out of season.
Second, When God shows you someone to pray for, or to share with, do it. When you bring a person to the Lord or encourage them in their walk, the ripples of your ministry are felt beyond what you can imagine. As they are encouraged, they will encourage others – and the effects will be seen beyond your expectations.
Third, Stand for righteousness. Make sure that you bring to your position honesty, integrity, and diligence. The world has become slack in these things, and when someone shows up with a different set of standards, people will notice.
Finally, be strong and courageous. Just as God spoke these words to Joshua on entering the Promised Land, (Joshua 1;6,7,9), He speaks these words to all of us.
Wherever we are, we are taking territory for Jesus. As we are strong, courageous, counting on God and seeking His plans, we will see great victory in our lives.
So you are important in God’s kingdom.
Go climb that Mountain. Your Mountain.
Do it with faith, God’s wisdom, courage , and great joy. Thanking and praising your God every step of the way!
You have an assignment from God. You are to influence the world around you to know Him and to live according to His purposes. He has great things in store for you!
When I was a child, we had fill-in-the-blank Saturdays. Sometimes we had some extra time to sleep. Often we would take excursions just for fun.
Then there were those other Saturdays. The kind when you would wake up to a morning of “Clean-out-the-closets.” Or “Work-in-the-yard.”
Those Saturdays were boring. Not fun at all!
Now on the Saturdays when we had fun activities on the calendar, I would hop out of bed – even before the alarm went off. There was excitement in the air as we packed our picnic lunches or loaded our beach equipment.
Not so on those “other” days. My Dad would have to call to wake me several times before I would hear him. Then I would drag to get dressed. Drag to eat breakfast. And drag around even more as I attempted to put off the inevitable.
What was the difference? Why did I eagerly wake up on some days and dread facing the day on others?
Motivation. The kind of motivation which only comes by having a clear vision of what will be happening. (more…)