Viewing entries tagged
Entrepreneur

Want to Stay on Top of Your Game? Subscribe to These Newsletters

2 Comments

Want to Stay on Top of Your Game? Subscribe to These Newsletters

by Kate Vandeveld

Today’s world is a busy one – and as such, it can be difficult to stay on top of all of the latest news and industry best practices. One can often find themselves overwhelmed by all of the new information available, vowing to get caught up later… But when we don’t stay apprised of what’s happening in the world around us, we can lose a lot, from our sense of empathy to our innovative edge.

We don’t want that to happen to you! So to help you stay in-the-know, here are some of our favorite newsletters for delivering pertinent information right to your inbox:

Stay on Top of What’s Happening in the World: the Skimm

If you want to know what’s happening in the world we live in (and you should!), but don’t have time to wade through all of the various news sources, the Skimm is your best friend. Every morning, before most of us even wake up, the Skimm sends you a rundown of the most prominent front page headlines. Not only does it take less than ten minutes to read, but each news brief is witty and engaging, linking to full articles for those who want more information. While we’re not suggesting that the Skimm (or any news source, really) is the definitive resource for your news intake, it makes staying on top of world news much easier.

Subscribe to the Skimm here.


Stay on Top of the Good Stuff: Huffington Good News

While world news is critically important, it’s unfortunately often pretty negative. After taking in a long list of difficult or depressing headlines, you may need a boost of positive news. Enter the Huff Post Good News newsletter, which sends a daily dose of good to your email every day. The Good News rundown tells stories of social impact, pet rescues, and altruistic acts, and it always seems to get to your inbox at the moment you need it the most.

Subscribe to Huff Post Good News here.


Stay on Top of Social Impact: WhyWhisper Collective

If you’re interested in practical, innovative, and sustainable approaches to benefitting society, we have to put in a shameless plug for subscribing to the WhyWhisper newsletter. Each month, we choose an industry subject, and pull together interesting and helpful resources that provide you with insight and actionable tips. In the past, we’ve focused on topics like socially conscious summer gear, innovative and effective approaches to crowdfunding, and how to change the world by changing your workplace, just to name a few.

Subscribe to the WhyWhisper Collective newsletter here


Stay on Top of Your Industry: SmartBrief

No matter what your industry, you’ll want to check out SmartBrief, a service that allows you to select your areas of interest, and delivers curated content on those subjects to your inbox. Available topics range from leadership to small business to sustainability and beyond – find the full list here.

Subscribe to SmartBrief here.


Stay on Top of Workplace Best Practices: Take Note

If you’re tired of long, inefficient meetings taking up your time, or you’re looking for ways to build a more effective team, Take Note is here to help. Created by Starling, an app that helps you run effective meetings, Take Note’s content is about collaboration and workplace best practices. When you subscribe, this helpful advice is delivered to your inbox weekly, so you don’t have to search high and low for expert advice ever again.

Subscribe to the Take Note newsletter here.


Stay on Top of the Job Hunt: The Muse

Looking for a job? Most of the time, it’s not easy, and it’s certainly not fun – but The Muse is here to change that. When you sign up for their newsletter, you receive lists of available jobs at game-changing U.S. companies, as well as advice on how to present yourself as the best possible candidate. Perhaps the best part about The Muse is the fun and compelling way they present this information. You may never look at a traditional job board again!

Subscribe to The Muse newsletter here.


Stay on Top of Women Making Moves: Take the Lead Women

We’re all about gender equality and empowering women to lead and change the status quo. That’s why we love the Take the Lead Women newsletter, which highlights the various ways that women are changing the game in politics, tech, business, and beyond. This newsletter compiles stories from a variety of sources – from mainstream news to niche blogs– and shares them in a succinct and compelling way.

Subscribe to the Take the Lead Women newsletter here.

 

What newsletters help you stay in the loop, either personally or professionally? Share with us! Here’s how:

2 Comments

The Power of “No”

Comment

The Power of “No”

by Kate Vandeveld

For many, saying “no” can be a difficult exercise, both personally and professionally.

When you’re starting your own business, it can be especially difficult for fear of missing an opportunity or an important connection.

The Power of "No" -- via WhyWhisper

But we’ve learned that saying no selectively can do wonders for your productivity, mental health, and work-life balance. As in many situations, saying no for the first time is the hardest step. But when your response is met with understanding, as it often is, or you start to see positive effects, saying no becomes empowering rather than debilitating. We’re not saying that you should say no to everything, of course, but that it’s okay (and healthy) to be discerning with your time.

Here are some of the positive effects that we’ve seen in our own experience:

It Increases Productivity

When you’re moving in too many directions or have too much on your plate, it gets hard to focus. Being stretched too thin usually shows in your work, and almost always in your demeanor. It’s not good for anyone – yourself or those you’re working with and for. Saying no to certain projects or requests when you don’t have the capacity or just aren’t truly interested will free you up to be more productive and effective on the projects that you care about. And, on the flip side, it will allow your client or employer to find someone who is able to fully commit to the project or task at hand.

It Allows You to Prioritize

Similarly, when you start to say no to things, the tricky task of prioritizing becomes much easier. It will become clear relatively quickly which projects and people you truly want to be involved with, and which you need to turn down or set aside in a particular moment. You’ll learn that this doesn’t mean that the things you’re saying no to are unimportant, just that you can’t do it all.  And when you prioritize things that are important and meaningful to you, you’ll feel better about the effort that you put into those tasks and relationships.

It Frees Up Your Time for Self-Care & Connection

 For many of us, self-care is the first thing that goes when we’re extremely busy. Who has time to make a healthy lunch in the morning or spend time outside when we have deadlines and meetings and events and obligations – right? It can be difficult to say no to opportunities to just…take care of yourself. But really, self-care is even more important when you’re busy. Block off time for yourself, and say no when a conflicting request arises. Make that time a priority. The same goes for spending meaningful time with the important people in your life. When you make plans with them, do your best to stick to them, even if you feel like you should be doing something else. You shouldn’t – those connections matter (a lot!), and you need to nurture them.

 

It Shows That You Value Your Time

Professionally, you may think that saying no to meetings or potential clients or projects looks bad for you or your brand. But, really, if you take the time to evaluate the situation and tactfully decline, it can have the opposite effect. Your time is valuable, and when you’re selective and focused with it, people will generally respect that. It’s not always easy to value your own time and talents – but when you do, others will too.

 

We’re certainly not experts on saying no, but we practice! And we think you should too. Sometimes, changing a seemingly small habit can have a powerful effect on all facets of your lives.

What’s a habit that you’ve changed that has made a significant difference? Share with us – we want to talk about it! Here’s how:

Comment

Building Intentional Communities: How Levi Baer is Bringing People Together

2 Comments

Building Intentional Communities: How Levi Baer is Bringing People Together

by Kate Vandeveld

Business is changing. These days, an increasing number of people are choosing to forego the traditional 9-to-5 life in favor of forging their own paths to happiness and success. As we’ve mentioned before, freelancers are even forecasted to outpace full-time employees by 2020.

But it’s not always easy to get there, and it can be challenging to find ways to connect with people in meaningful ways outside of a structured work environment. Luckily, people like Levi Baer of Coffee & Conversation are working hard to change that. If you’re an entrepreneur, a “side hustler” (as Levi likes to call them), or just someone who wants to collaborate with others, he wants to help you connect.

Here’s what he has to say:

Tell us a bit about Coffee & Conversation, and why you started it. 

Coffee & Conversation, or C&C as we like to call it, is a Chicago-based community of entrepreneurs and innovators who value collaboration and face-to-face communication. We meet every other Saturday morning to get together, and share ideas, resources and support. C&C started because, as I was starting my own company, and my own entrepreneurial ventures, I realized how hard it was. There’s so much information out there, and I really value in-person information and personal referrals – I’d rather ask a friend than ask Yelp. So I started to pull together people who were interested in getting work done outside of the normal work hours. I just invited some friends to show up on a Saturday morning and get work done. The first time, six people showed up. We just talked and worked, and it was really good. It was just a Facebook post!

People are always “busy,” so the people who showed up on Saturday morning to get work done were people who had 9-to-5 jobs and were looking for support to continue to work beyond that. It was the side hustlers, the entrepreneurs – that crowd. I didn’t really intend for it to be an entrepreneur community, but that’s who showed up. So every couple weeks, we kept doing it, and different numbers of people would come. That number has ranged from 6 to 26 participants, with a total of over 70 people in the group.

Coffee & Conversation with Levi Baer -- via WhyWhisper

Sounds like a great way to get started! At WhyWhisper, we place a lot of emphasis on redefining business to be more people-focused. It sounds like Coffee & Conversation shares this commitment. How does this come to life for you?

Everything we do is built around face-to-face communication. We hold our meetings in person, and I always try to encourage people to come and just hang out. We do have a private Facebook group where the members of C&C get to continue their conversations and share ideas and resources online. So one of the ways we encourage face-to-face communication is by only letting people who have gone to at least one in-person meet-up join the group. It’s one of the only rules – you have to show up at least once to join the conversation online. 

This creates a community, and almost a family. Because you see these people regularly, and even if you don’t hang out in a traditional sense (though many of us do), when we come to C&C we have an easy rapport with one another and we know what’s going on in each other’s lives. It creates trust, which is necessary for us to take each other’s advice. After we’ve had coffee and donuts a number of times, we can trust each other’s opinions and advice more than we would a random person.

What does it take to join and how can people find out about it?

We’re working on what membership means, but at this point, I call anyone that comes to C&C regularly a member. To join, all you have to do is show up one time and express your intention. I try to get face time with everyone, have them join the Facebook group, and find out what their plans are.

Right now, we’ve been growing through word of mouth. It’s kind of like the first rule of C&C is “talk about C&C” – the opposite of Fight Club. Also, no fighting. Unless people want to fight – you know, I want to provide everyone with what they need. ;)

All of the services you offer are based around bringing people together and making meaningful connections. How did you hone in on this as your area of expertise?

I have always had a fascination with how and why people talk to each other the way they do – communication in general. I have a Bachelors in Communications Studies and a Masters in Organizational Communication.  So I’ve followed communication formally and informally, as well as in work and all sorts of scenarios. And I’m also an extrovert – I love talking about ideas and the exchange of information, both verbally and written. When I was twelve I had pen pals – that’s how far back this goes.

So for me, trying to build both a career and social outlets around that – conveying information to people and facilitating interactions – that has grown into facilitating teamwork and intentional communities.

Coffee & Conversation with Levi Baer -- via WhyWhisper

You also facilitate Game Night Chicago, a group that comes together to play board games and connect in a more light-hearted way. How did that start and how does it connect to Coffee & Conversation?

Game Night Chicago happens every other Wednesday. It’s sort of just like C&C, but for board games. We have a face-to-face group that plays board games in person, and we have an online group. The online group just passed 300 people. There’s no promotion of it whatsoever – people just love board games. The Midwest is a big hub for board gaming, and Chicago is big for it just because of its size.

It really started because I had an email list going of people that I would reach out to in order to get together and play games. I was curating this email list – adding people and dropping people off – and I was doing it for eight years. I did it in every city I lived in, and it was a great way to find friends and community. So when Facebook rolled out its group function, I saw it as a great tool for organizing these game nights. 

For me, Game Night Chicago also acts as a way to ensure that I have scheduled time for fun in my life.  Starting your own business is a lot of work, and having a set time to play games seems silly, but it gives me built-in time to relax, connect with friends, and sort of release. And it’s just a way for people who share a common interest to come together and build a community around that common interest – sort of like C&C.

How do you see C&C evolving over the next few years?

Truthfully, I have no idea what’ll happen in the coming years. I’ve never actually had a distinct plan for it – I’m not a big planner. I’m just letting it grow organically, which is maybe why it’s grown as much as it has. It hasn’t been forced to be anything. I try to respond to the needs and the requests of the community. As its leader, I try not to make decisions that I think are best; instead, I try to make decisions that are based on the general consensus of the group. It might stay small, and it might grow.  At the rate it’s been growing, it looks like the latter might be the case. No matter what happens, my focus is maintaining the quality, in-person interactions and engagement that we’ve always had. So even if 400 people show up, my goal is to make sure that each of them walks away with good, meaningful moments. It’s challenging and exciting.

Functionally, C&C has a lot of potential as well. We can start to provide tangible resources, like events and information to the community, even outside of the group. We don’t want to keep anything internal – the whole point is sharing information and collaborating with the community in general. We might be able to host classes or do specific events on branding or business plans – things that would help people who are side hustling. We might even do something that goes through the “how to quit your job” experience. That’s something that a lot of C&C members have expressed interest in, and a lot of people relate to.

How is C&C different from traditional networking events that lots of people sort of dread?

First of all, we never call it a networking event. We don’t think of it like that. You sort of do informal networking, but we don’t treat it as such. Two, we’re cross discipline. There are no boundaries on who can come. Which is really interesting, because usually you go to a tech networking event, or a photography networking event. We have non-profits, for-profits, lawyers, gardeners, fashion people – those are just some of the industries that are represented at C&C. The only people who aren’t welcome are those who make other people feel unwelcome. And that’s it.

Finally, it’s really unstructured. It’s from 10 until 1, but you can come whenever you want. And it’s just about getting whatever you want to get from it. Some people bring their laptops and do work, others just come to hang out. The only structured moment is at noon, when we go around the room and do a check-in where people say who they are and what they’re working on. Some people roll their eyes at having to check in, but you’ll see immediately afterward that people beeline toward each other once they know who everyone is and what they do.

What's your best piece of advice for someone who is looking to build a professional community in a new industry or place?

Go out and get involved in something – just show your face. Whether it’s something like C&C, which is really informal – or any number of other types of groups where others don’t know people.

Here in Chicago, Mac & Cheese Productions, is an amazing way to get to know other people who are cool and interested in connecting with others. Freelancers Union is a national organization that is starting to host monthly events that focus on industry topics. Creative Mornings is a great way for people to start their day around other creative people working on a project. And then of course, you could focus in on your industry and do a meet-up. Co-working spaces go a step beyond what a coffee shop can provide – there’s much more facilitated interaction.

Also, though I personally prefer in-person interactions, you can find some online spaces that might help you. Everyone networks differently. I do a lot of work on personality types and know a lot about introverts and extroverts and they should both be respected and utilized. I had a business partner who was an introvert and she was great at utilizing LinkedIn to build connections for us. Twitter chats are great for that as well. You can get your name and ideas out there just by chiming in on a common hashtag. And then of course, there are Facebook groups and all sorts of other intentional communities online.

You asked me this once, and now the tables are turned: what's your secret skill that someone who knows you might not know?

My secret skill comes from my upbringing on a farm in Minnesota: I have a lot of outdoorsy, woodsman skills that don’t get used a lot in Chicago. I’m very good at splitting wood and building fires. It’s something I still do to this day when I go home – we still split wood.

Levi recently re-launched his own consulting brand, focusing on team building, training and facilitation, personality analysis, community building, youth workshops, and even games. Check him out here, and stay on top of his latest and greatest ideas and initiatives on his blog.

If you’re in Chicago, you can connect with him at Coffee & Conversation, Game Night Chicago, or Workshop Chicago, among other places. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn as well. We’re guessing he’s down to chat. ;)

Do you know someone who is changing the game in some way and you think we should tell their story? We’d love to connect. Send us an email, reach out on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn, or just post a comment below.

2 Comments

The Pros & Cons of Freelancing

Comment

The Pros & Cons of Freelancing

by Kate Vandeveld

As you may know, the freelance economy is booming these days, with freelancers set to outnumber full-time employees by 2020.

As freelancers ourselves, many of us hear the same question from our networks over and over again: “Do you think I should try it?” The answer might seem simple to other freelancers (yes!), but the truth is…freelancing is not for everyone.

Pros & Cons of Freelancing - via WhyWhisper Collective

As with almost everything, freelancing has its pros and cons. Since we’re familiar with both sides of the story, we’re happy to share our thoughts on the subject. Let’s start with some of the benefits:

All Kinds of Freedom

This one tops the list. With freelancing comes freedom of all kinds. Freelancers have the freedom to create their own schedules, so they can choose to work at the times of day when they’re most effective, rather than forcing themselves to work at pre-determined times. They can go for a walk on a beautiful day, grab a long lunch with a friend, or just take a break when they aren’t feeling particularly productive. When you freelance, not only do you get to choose when you work, but where you work as well. Are you more productive at home? Go for it. Need to be around others? Try a co-working space or a coffee shop. You can develop your own routine, or opt to mix it up. Plus, as a freelancer, you aren’t confined to a limited number of vacation days. Most of the time, freelancers can work from anywhere with a Wifi connection, so you can travel anywhere without disrupting your workflow.

Perhaps even more important than choosing when and where you work is choosing who you work with and for. At WhyWhisper, we prioritize working with the right people and organizations. We choose to work with individuals who are kind, collaborative, and passionate above all else, and with businesses and organizations that are making a positive impact on society. Before setting out on your own, define the types of people, companies, and organizations with whom you feel you would work well.

 

Uninhibited Growth

As a freelancer, you have the opportunity to grow your career in whatever direction you desire, creating your own opportunities for advancement. In a corporate environment, your career development is often bound by internal structure and protocol. Though you can advocate for a promotion or more responsibility, it’s not always in your control. When you work for yourself, you can choose how much you want to take on and decide how much you want to charge for your services. It’s not always this simple, but generally, the more you put into your work, the more you can get out of it. 

Speaking of rates, freelancers also tend to make more than salaried employees, on average. In fact, the average freelancer makes 45% more than the average full-time employee. Of course, this depends entirely on your skill-set, experience, and the number of projects you are able to take on, and it doesn’t account for benefits, but the possibility of making more is there. 

 

Balance 

When you work eight or more hours each day, one of the hardest things to achieve is balance. You’re working on someone else’s schedule, so it can be difficult to incorporate the things that keep you happy and healthy. Because employee satisfaction has such a strong correlation with productivity, many companies have worked to develop corporate wellness programs in recent years. But when you work for yourself, you don’t need corporate wellness programs – you can do yoga at 10am when classes aren’t full, or wake up and go for a jog on a nice morning. When you’re a freelancer, you have the ability to determine what work-life balance means to you, and develop a schedule that achieves it.

Pros & Cons of Freelancing -- via WhyWhisper Collective

 

Now, let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks, as we see them:

Uncertainty

Most would say that one of the biggest cons of freelancing is the lack of reliable cash flow. When your projects vary month-to-month, so does your income, which can be difficult to manage for some, especially at the beginning.

This means that, as a freelancer, you almost always have to be making moves and selling your skillset. It can be fun – you learn a lot, and have the opportunity to meet cool people almost every day, if you’re lucky. But sometimes, it can be exhausting. As a freelancer, you’re a salesperson, and what you’re selling is your own skills. Making the case for yourself repeatedly can be tough, but as you get more confident in your abilities, you’ll likely find that you’re able to speak to your skillsets more readily and your reputation will spread among your network and beyond, solely by word of mouth recommendations.

 

Logistics

Remember when there was someone else being paid to manage your benefits? Someone who filed all of your expense receipts for you? As a freelancer, that person is you. And you don’t get paid extra to do it. While it can be empowering to learn about and manage these administrative tasks, it can also get very overwhelming and/or tedious. We’ve talked about how to set yourself up to manage the administrative side of freelancing more easily so you don’t get stuck with hours of paperwork that you don’t understand all at once. The more you prepare yourself, the easier this aspect is.

 

Boundaries

As much as the ability to create your own work-life balance can be a pro, it can also be a con in some respects. Because you make your own schedule as a freelancer, you also have to set your own limits. While you’re no longer expected to stay at an office from 9 to 5 (and often beyond) each day, you’re also not restricted to any “normal” working hours. This can make it hard to stop and take a break, or move on from work to do other things. And when you do, it can be difficult to shake the guilty feeling that you should keep going, working on your portfolio or seeking out new clients. If you aren’t able to set boundaries for yourself, you could easily burn out.  

So before you decide to take the leap into freelancing, definitely take the time to think it through carefully. Is your personality one that can handle the ebbs and flows of freelancing? Is the freedom worth the uncertainty that comes along with it? We certainly think so, but we know it’s not for everyone.

What do you think are the biggest pros and cons of working for yourself? Share with us! Here’s how:

Comment

Solving Big Problems: Standbuy Supports the Cancer Community

Comment

Solving Big Problems: Standbuy Supports the Cancer Community

by Kate Vandeveld

Lately, we’ve been focusing on telling the brave and inspiring stories of passionate social entrepreneurs. 

This week, we spoke with WhyWhisper client, Sashka Rothchild, founder and CEO of Standbuy. Standbuy is an online crowdfunding platform for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. In setting up a profile, those who are battling cancer can connect with friends, family, and others who understand what they’re going through. Having successfully funded cancer treatments, egg preservation, and more, this amazing tool is providing hope, support, and financial options to those who are currently facing a diagnosis.

Here’s what Sashka had to say about her journey as a social entrepreneur: 

Why did you decide to start Standbuy?

I decided to start Standbuy because I couldn’t really find anything else I wanted to do where I could spend as many hours doing it, and still feel passionate. After my mom died when I was in high school, I tried a variety of other things, and I just couldn’t let go of wanting to work in a way that helped people who were going through the things that I had.  Coupled with the fact that we’re in a major healthcare crisis – it just seemed like the right opportunity to try and make something to get people support faster.

Why did you choose the for-profit social enterprise model for your business?

I definitely think there is value in non-profits; there are problems that need to be solved that cannot be solved with for-profit business models. But what I see as problematic about non-profits, is that they work at a different speed, since they have to spend 80% of their time fundraising to try to cover the cost of their admins and programs.

I wanted to be able to do kind of the opposite; I wanted to work on making Standbuy more helpful, and adding more tools and features, to give people better support and enable them to tell their stories in an easier way.  By having a business model that that allows us to be sustainable and scalable, I can do that. I don’t have to spend my days worrying about how we’re going to cover our overhead for the year.

What would you say have been the most difficult aspects of building a social enterprise?

I don’t know where to start! There are so many. There is difficulty in building anything – either a business or a non-profit. And if it’s something that you care about, there is this extra added pressure of really wanting to make sure that you’re doing it right.

For me, because I’ve never built a website before – that was a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I needed to ramp up, so I could feel confident and comfortable making quick decisions about how we would develop, or how we would structure the company. But I think it was also helpful because I wasn’t constrained by past experience, or thinking that it has to go a certain way.

One of the hardest parts is finding the right people to work with, choosing who to hire and how to hire, even if it’s an intern. I think it can be hard as a social enterprise because you do have a double bottom line; you need to think about your people and your mission in conjunction with your profits, and I think that you can get caught in a little bit of a limbo situation. You try and read articles on Fast Company or Inc or HBR, and they’re all insightful and informative, but they’re geared toward people that are just operating with a single bottom line: a goal of making as much money as possible.

And then if you kind of flip to the other side and look for guidance on the non-profit side, you’re even more lost because there’s just no real structure about how to do things. Finding the best way to explain your place in the middle – I think can be hard – whether it’s to freelancers, or partners, or anyone you’re working with.

Sashka

What has been the most rewarding part of your experience as a social entrepreneur?

There’s been so much. When you’re starting a business, you work on it all the time. And I happened to have started a business right when I got pregnant. So the entire time I’ve been working on Standbuy, I was either tired, or nauseous, or nursing, or away from my son. And to be able to work so hard on something and then be able to look at him and say, “Yes, I might be working while I’m nursing, but it’s because people need help right now.” That’s really rewarding and unfortunately uncommon for mothers. 

We’ve seen a lot of different success stories in many different areas with Standbuy. I have frustrations pretty much all day, but it’s peppered with notes from people that are so incredibly grateful, and beautiful, and appreciative.

When I see someone raising $3,000 in a couple days so that they can get help, that’s pretty amazing. So…I’m pretty lucky.

How do you envision Standbuy growing over the next 5 years?

I’ve said before that it will be incredibly disappointing if there is still a need for Standbuy in five years. I really hope that as a country, we can get our shit together enough that when people get sick, they don’t need to fundraise on their own. I hope that insurance companies, healthcare organizations, hospitals, and doctors can all work together to get people the help that they need without people going bankrupt.

That being said, I also think there’s a lot of room for Standbuy to grow and expand without necessarily losing focus on the cancer community: by taking our stance on simplistic and easy-to-use design, and translating it into helping larger organizations tell their stories in a clear and beautiful way while raising money to do the work that they do. There are a lot of people who are doing a lot of good work in the world; and if you’re a non-profit, you have especially limited bandwidth, so I would love to be able to offer our solutions to more people.

It would be incredibly depressing if this was still the status quo in five years.

Standbuy

Is there anything that you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started Standbuy?

(Laughs) About a thousand things…

I wish I had known that you can really only go as fast as you can go. Someone who I look up to, a woman named Cindy Gallop once told me that there’s no such thing as “should” when you’re building a business. It’s not about how fast you can go, or these pretend masochistic goals you set for yourself. It’s just about putting one foot in front of the other, and continuing.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t do things as fast as you thought you should’ve, because it’s your business, and you can do whatever you want. It’s not anyone else’s project, and it’s not anyone else’s timeline. And I wish I would have remembered that or thought about that more in the beginning.

It’s also hard to try and remember that you do generally know what’s best. Your instincts are generally right. Getting help and input from people is imperative, but you started your own thing for a reason, and you should trust your gut a little more. Otherwise, what’s the point? You might as well be working for someone else.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own social enterprise?

Be sure that you’re solving a real problem. I think that it’s become weirdly popular to want to launch a start-up. And I think that’s awesome, but you have to be scratching an itch, you have to be solving a problem. And nothing matters unless you’re being helpful.

One of the ways that I try to make decisions for Standbuy is just to try to think – is this helpful? Then great, let’s do it. If it’s not, if it’s for some other reason, who cares? What’s the point? I think there are a lot of people doing great stuff, and unless you think you are really addressing a problem, there are people who need help doing the variety of things that are already out there.

Conversely, don’t be afraid. It’s kind of scary if you’ve never launched a company or a business, and particularly if you’re a woman, because with start-ups and social enterprises are incredibly male-dominated industries, especially when it comes to funding. You just kind of have to say fuck it, and go do it.

---

We’re inspired – what about you? 

Standbuy is in the middle of fundraising campaign that will allow them to keep their doors open, as well as roll out new features to make fundraising for cancer much more efficient. If you want to help Standbuy support the cancer community, pitch in, or spread the word on Facebook and Twitter with #StandbuyEachother. If you want to know more about the campaign, watch this video.

Are you inspired by a social entrepreneur who you think the world should know about? Tell us about them in the comments below, or make an introduction via email, Facebook or Twitter.

Comment

Freelance Resources: How to Market Your Skills Without Spending a Dime

Comment

Freelance Resources: How to Market Your Skills Without Spending a Dime

The social good network is a tightly knit, passionate community united by shared values, as well as shared goals. As such, it's a space in which a referral or introduction from a trusted source can be the defining factor in landing a partnership or a job. 

Whether you’re looking to expand the reach of your network, establish some credibility, or land a job at a company you care about, here are a few ways to market your skills without spending a dime:  

1. Give Feedback 

Social entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders tend to regularly ask friends and family for feedback and advice. They know that a few key comments on a strategy or campaign can make all the difference in the efficacy of their efforts. As such, offering feedback is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your knowledge and demonstrate your value. 

Looking for a quick and easy way to deliver your comments? Make a voice recording. Tools like EvernoteiPhone’s voice notes or Cloud Recorder  can help you create shareable voice files that succinctly demonstrate your value. After spending a couple minutes on specific feedback points, don't be afraid to throw in a sentence or two about how you might continue to be of service through freelance or contract work. 

2. Co-work

Co-working can be as official as taking part in a program like Goodnik’s in-residence program, or as casual as setting up a weekly coffee date with a friend. The most important thing to remember is that it’s about finding a good working environment for you. At WhyWhisper, we've found that working alongside people who have similar passions and values is what makes co-working most powerful. Why? Brainstorm sessions, problem-solving, and referrals will naturally occur throughout your day.

3. Sit on a Panel 

Social good networks use panels as a way to get to the heart of important issues. Seek out the ones where you can provide the most value while reaching an audience that includes prospective clients and/or partners. Prepare thoughtful and insightful commentary, and pay particular attention to connecting via social channels and email, so as to establish a relationship while you're still top of mind. Your target audience is likely to follow up with additional questions and requests to chat further. 

4. Provide Empowering Environments

Connecting people is a powerful way to demonstrate your willingness to meet the needs of others. In a world of endless meet ups and happy hours, people appreciate introductions that help them to quickly cut through the clutter. Facilitate these meetings by hosting dinners or setting up happy hours with like-minded guests. Your efforts will not go unnoticed, and your guests will be all the more likely to do the same for you in the future.

5. Know Your Own Value 

You have probably already heard that people value those who value themselves. As you establish yourself within the social good community, you will be asked for your input and advice, as well as to lend a helping hand. Carefully providing thoughtful feedback is wonderful. Finding a way to clearly  communicate the monetary value of your product or services is even better. It ensures that others in your network will think of you as a valuable colleague, and opens the door for future business. 

Do you have a helpful tip to share about networking within the social good community? Leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

Comment