Saturday, January 3, 2015

What's On Your Reading List?

As a boomerpreneur, you know that reading is important.  And I'm sure you have made a resolution to read more this year.  Of course, actually reading is tougher than resolving to do so.  Use this problem-solving guide to help you on your way to keeping that resolution:

If you think you don't need to read: The average adult reads fewer than two books a year.  If you read a book a month, you are automatically in the top 5% of the population when it comes to educating yourself.  Reading informational, educational, or inspirational books is one of the easiest, least expensive ways to give yourself a competitive edge.

If you think you don't have time to read: No free time to crack open a book?  I have one word for you: AUDIO.  Books on CD, books on tape, books downloaded from places like, podcasts... you have lots of choices for listening to books.  Borrow a few from the library, download a book from the Internet, and load up your MP3 player.  Listen away while you're mowing the lawn, exercising, watching the kids' soccer practice, or driving around town.

If you don't know what to read: If you don't know where to start, choose one area you'd like to improve upon, whether it's public speaking, networking, technical skills, or time management.  Then head over to and look at top-sellers in that field, or put out a call for suggestions on your Twitter stream, Facebook page, or blog.  Pick one and go.  What are some of my recommendations?  Check out my list of books you should read!

If you forget what you read: Even the most dedicated readers can burn through books, then move on the next, only to forget what you read in the first volume.  While knowledge is great for knowledge's sake, it really only becomes wisdom when you put it to use.  By reflecting on what you read and choosing one or two lessons to implement in your own life, you will convert your knowledge to wisdom and improve your business.  Think about joining a business book club where you read a business-related book a month or quarter, and discuss what you're learning.  That will also help the lessons sink in.

There's a famous quote that says that a year from now, you'll be exactly the same as you are now, except for the people you meet and the books you read.  Start now on your path to a bigger and better you.
What are some of your recommendations for a great read this year? 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Create a "Study Group"

According to those who have been there before, the key to success in law or business school is getting in with the right study group. These partners not only give you buddies to study with, they keep you accountable and on-task. If you let yourself down, you let down the whole group.

Entrepreneurs have "study groups" also.  Only we call them "masterminds."  Finding accountability partners can be key to a successful business venture.  A good mastermind will be comprised of fellow business people who can support your efforts, help you brainstorm problems, and keep you on schedule,  The right mastermind can mean the difference between passing and failing.  Here's what to look for in your own “study group:”

A variety of skills.  The best groups have members with expertise in different areas.  The tax accountant, the paralegal, the sales trainer can all advise each other and provide different perspectives on the same topics.  If everyone is in the same industry with the same background, you may have a lot in common, but you won't be able to brainstorm as effectively.

Similar commitment level.  The most important element may very well be a common level of commitment to your goals, whatever they may be.  If one member is a little lax and the others are all gung-ho, the mismatch will soon drive everyone crazy and cause bad feelings.

Regular meeting times.  Whether you're meeting by Skype, in person, or in a chat room, make a regular weekly or monthly appointment, and keep it!  Nothing will submarine a group faster than no-shows or constantly changing meeting times.

Structured meeting.  The meeting doesn't have to be scripted down to the last minute with a pre-released agenda, but at least having a time limit on each member will ensure no one hogs the whole time – or never shares his or her progress at all.

Resource-sharing.  One of the most valuable roles an accountability group can play is providing recommendations and referrals.  Looking for a great graphic designer, bookkeeper, or webmaster?  Your “study group” should be your first stop.
One final thing to keep in mind is that masterminds, like friendships, are created differently. Some will last a season as you launch your business; some may last only a few weeks or months.  I belong to one that has met for two years!  Be ready to let your group go if it's no longer fitting your needs.  It will be hard, but if it's not helping you further your goal, it may be time to move up and on.

Coming up next:  What's on your reading list?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Getting Ready for 2015: Set Your Schedule

As 2014 winds to its inevitable close, boomerpreneurs are anxiously poring over their numbers, figuring out what worked and what didn't and what can they do better in 2015.

I, too, am preparing for 2015. And there are a number of changes I plan make this year.  I'll bet they are somewhat similar to yours!  So let's start 2015 together by looking at some things we can do next year that will pay off in a big way. 

The first thing I need to do is look at how I schedule my time.  I'm sure you have the same question I do - how do you allow enough time for product creation, customer service, networking, enrichment, research, and just plain goofing off? It is possible – and these hints will help:

1.            Start with the most important stuff – money-making tasks.  You've heard the saying, “Pay yourself first.”  The same goes for setting your schedule.  Start by setting aside time for the activities that will add to your bottom line.  That means product creation, partnership/affiliate efforts, and marketing.  Sometimes, this is the stuff you don't want to do, or that seems to be less pressing, so it falls to the bottom of the to-do list.  But by slotting it in first, you will assure you don't run out of time for this critical element.

2.            Don't overbook yourself.  We can be tempted to fill our schedule to the point where if anything goes wrong, it throws our whole day off.  Build in buffers of time so you have the room to recover if things go awry.  That could mean giving yourself an extra day to complete a report, or giving yourself an extra 15 minutes to get to your destination.  If you don't need the extra time, you can relax, catch up on reading, or return phone calls.

3.            Keep a running list of 15-minute tasks.  Have a ready list of to-dos that take 15 minutes or less to complete, and when you find yourself between projects, knock a few of these off.  They could be maintenance items, like filing papers or cleaning off your desk, or they could be research-related, like checking out a few blogs or reading an article.

4.            Protect your time.  Time sucks will gladly take away all your free time, if you let them. They'll have you babysitting their chihuahua, listening to their boyfriend woes, and accompanying them to the home show to check out the latest and greatest improvements in fertilizer.  The solution: Just say no!  Sure, any one activity won't take up too much of your time – but soon you'll find yourself spending more time watering their plants or helping with their time sheet than you do on your own projects.  Don't let it happen by cutting it off early on.

5.            Review your day.  At the end of the day, go back over your previous work hours. What was time well-spent?  What felt critical in the moment but ended up being completely wasted or unimportant?  Figure out what went right and what went wrong, and make adjustments for the next day.

Time is your most precious asset.  Setting a schedule that supports your long- and short-term goals will help ensure you invest this precious resource wisely.
Coming up next:  Join or start a mastermind...