Janice Russell, Productivity Coach, is celebrating the 15th anniversary of her business as a Solo Entrepreneur, “Minding Your Matters®”! I sat down with her for a quick interview on reaching this remarkable milestone:
Q: 15 years – wow. How has the world changed since you started? And how has your business changed as a result?
A: Technology! When I started, everyone had landlines. Cell phones and electronic calendars were two separate gadgets and mainly seen in the workplace. Pagers were common. Social media wasn’t around. As I recall, digital cameras were available, but film cameras were still the norm. I had an actual fax machine in my office! While laptops were available, desktop computers were more common. Now, of course, we have smart phones which gives us instant communication via multiple means. This means that I can easily provide my organizing and productivity services virtually as well as on-site. Of course, it also means the pace of life is much faster and that brings its’ own issues!
Q: Every business has it’s ups and downs – what do you think is the biggest challenge you’ve faced over the years?
A: I could say the economy. I started in the downturn of 2002 and survived the subsequent recession. I could probably list many other “big” challenges. However, I think self-doubt is probably the most significant because it’s literally constant.
In the beginning, it’s questioning whether or not the business would be successful. What was I thinking when I started the firm?
Then comes the uncertainty about “the right” pricing and social media handles. This is in conjunction with, did I choose “the right” people to help me with my website and business cards?
Throughout the life cycle of my company, I’ve questioned whether or not I’m making “the right” decision. Hopefully I’m starting to learn that most of these decisions aren’t permanent ones; small adjustments or large changes can be made.
Q: What do you know now, that you wish you’d known when you started?
A: That just because a particular activity is enjoyable, doesn’t always mean it’s good for your business. As an example, early on I joined a networking group. It was great! Since I didn’t have any idea how to run a business, I learned some business basics as well as how to be confident expressing my services. I also met people in related industries that provided services that my clients could use. I eventually joined another networking group with the same format. I had a great time meeting people! However, I realized that while I was making lots of referrals to other members, I wasn’t getting many. But I really didn’t want to leave either group! What finally helped me withdraw from the groups was my realization that the combination of total time (driving and meeting) and money (dues + meals) wasn’t profitable. I wasn’t getting enough clients to cover the expense.
Q: What would do differently, if you were starting over?
A: I wouldn’t get so caught up in the competition. Since the productivity and organizing industry is a fairly young one-about 40 years old-there were only a few other companies in my geographic area when I opened. Every time I heard of another one starting up, I’d go into “react” mode to show how much better (I thought) I was than the new firm. I doubt any anxiety I felt or effort I allocated made a notable difference in the overall scheme of things. Obviously it’s important to know the competition! I just think that my single-mindedness in those moments was counterproductive in the long run.
Q: What advice do you have for a budding solo entrepreneur/organizer?
A: Be curious! In the beginning, someone may have an idea of the skills they need to acquire to run their business and become an expert in their field. They are even excited about learning! As time passes, it’s easy to fall into the “I already know that” trap. A business colleague shares what they just learned about a newer social media platform and you think, “I’ve known that for months.” Or an attendee at a conference is excited about a technique or product they learned about, and you say, “I’ve been using that with clients for several years.”
I often say, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” So I try to reframe and consider, “I know a lot about this, but I might learn something useful. After all, I never know when one small piece of information might be a game-changer!”
Productivity and organizing professional Janice Russell works virtually and in-person with the “overwhelmed” to bring order to their personal and professional lives. Owner of Minding Your Matters®, she helps busy professionals create practical systems so they convert “to-do’s” into “to-done’s”. Janice also helps inundated homeowners transform clutter into calm so they can find their stuff in a flash. Get Started Today with Free Organizing Tools.
© Copyright 2017 Terri Zwierzynski