Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Blog Has a New Home

I have started a new blog, called Liberating Choices. I use my life and work as a counselor to show how taking small steps can create big change. Come check it out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Define Your Work or Someone Else Will

I have heard it described several times. In a relationship, one is either trying to change someone or get someone to change them. One borrows self, and one gives up self. I think this can also be true in business relationships. But, wouldn't it be great to have more equal relationships? To hold onto more of one's "self."

I think we let others define us when we are unsure or unaware. Giving up you can be unintentional. Or, you can cave when faced with pressure and anxiety. The pressure to conform to others definition of your work can be subtle or intense. Anxiety can leak on you from organizations or individuals. Or, you may have your own anxiety. I define anxiety here as a perception that there is a threat to oneself. Anxiety will reduce when you are clearer about how and when you work.

As an employee, you have less financial risk. Leaders of the company are defining more of your work. Making the transition to self employment can be hard. You want to define your work, but you are out of practice and short on time. With more increased financial risk in your work, you have increased responsibility to define your work.

"Are you the creator of your business or are you just reacting to events and people?" (Karyn Greenstreet)

For self-employed people, it's important to develop your own thoughts and boundaries about how you work. Courageously take the time to bring the way you want to work into awareness:

When You Work: No one is telling you what time to come into the office. What times are convenient for you? How many hours a day are realistic for you? How much time do you want off? I currently offer a variety of hours. It is a blend of offering convenient times to those 9 to 5ers, as well as preserving my own family time. Work when you are most productive, yet don't deprive yourself of down time. Entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas about their business, so there is a tendency to let their business take all of their energy. I find having set work hours, helps me set boundaries with myself and with others.

What You Charge: Know why you charge your fee. Be comfortable saying your fee. And, ask for your fee. Decide whether your fee is negotiable before you start working with a client. I accept a lower fee because I'm currently accepting insurance reimbursement for counseling services. This is my "sliding scale." If you know how much you need to collect to make a profit, you will more confidently present and ask for your fee.

Who Are Your Clients: A common anxiety for self employed people is having enough clients to pay the bills. Everyone wants to have a good income stream. At the beginning of my practice, I think I worked with almost anyone that called my office. I learned that it's not just how many clients I have, but also which clients best fit the way I practice. When you work with clients that are looking for the kind of service you offer, you will find your energy multiplies instead of depletes.

In my field, many people want to define how I work - courts, school, insurance companies, families, and individuals. I want to practice in a way that is true to me. This is when I do my best work.

What about you? Where do you want to better define your work? Carve out the time to decide who, what, and when of your business.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Free Website Marketing Tools

I launched my small business website 2 years ago.  I continue to be amazed by how many people find me via my website.  This seems to be a growing way to search for a counselor.  For me, I get as many referrals from my website as I do insurance plans.  It is a treat not to be as dependent on insurance referrals.

Being a full time mom and part time small business woman, I didn't have a budget to hire a web designer.    Instead, I found a great web hosting comany ( ).  Their templates are very easy to use and the monthly fee is right for my budget.  This company stays current and continuously adds features to meet the changing environment of internet marketing.

I enjoy learning, however I never took a class on building a website.  I've learned a lot by looking at other websites related to my field and reading blogs like mine.  Here's a list of free website marketing tools I have found along the way:

1. Add this button: Add this on any page of your website.  It enables visitors to easily share your website with various social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Everyone seems to be on at least one social media site, so it's important to make it easy for them to share your site once they've found it.

2Extreme Tracker:  Use this to find out what search words people are using to find your website, blog, etc.  Your web hosting company probably offers statistics, but mine doesn't show the keywords people used to find my site.  For a detailed comparison on 3 popular website statistics, visit:

3. Submit Express:  You can submit your website (or blog) for free to 40 search engines by simply entering your address. This website is also full of free tools from meta tag generators to keyword suggestions.  This is the behind-the-scenes marketing of your website.

Having cool tools and great website content is just part of web designing for small business.  You also need to make sure people can find you using search engines.  For more information, read my previous blog:  free ways to increase your google ranking.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

5 Ways to Prepare for Sleep

What a glorious gift a good night sleep can be!  I think anyone can go through times where they are overworking and having a hard time unwinding at the end of the day.  Even if you love your work, I bet you love your sleep too. The frustrating thing about sleep is you cannot force it to happen, but can invite it.  Here are some practical ideas for preparing to be sleepy:

1. Establish regular sleep and wake patterns. Try to get up and go to bed around the same time each night. This helps set your internal clock.

2. Do something relaxing before going to bed. Turn down the lights, read a good book, take a bath, watch a funny movie, etc. Avoid stimulating activities and substances, such as exercise and homework right before bed.

3. Don’t worry or work in bed. If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and find a quiet, relaxing activity to do in a dimly lit room. The more time you spend in bed, the more likely your sleep will be disruptive.

4. Take a break. Whether you stay home or work out of the home, down time for both mind and body can improve your ability to relax and let go at bedtime.

5. Get some exercise.  Whether you prefer yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, running, or aerobics, it doesn't matter.  Your body will be tired and invite the still and heavy feeling that comes with sleep.  Remember exercising to close to your regular bedtime can be too energizing, so find the best time for you to move your body.

"Burnout comes from trying to give what I do not possess." (Parker Palmer)

Click here to view complete article and relevant sleep resouces:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Introduce Yourself

Thank you for my visiting my blog. I am a self-employed counselor in the Kansas City, Missouri area (USA). I offer individual, marriage, and family consultation as well as small business coaching for self-employed people. I blog on topics relevant to creating a successful and fullfilling business. I'm passionate about coaching people to reach their potential in both life and work.

It's your turn now. I want to hear from you. Tell me about yourself. Who are you? Where are you? What do you do? And, what do you want to read about on this blog?

This will encourage me to post more frequently, and include content that you want to read! Make sure to include a link to your site and/or blog. This will give you a few hits to your site, while assisting me in helping you.

(Note: If you are reading this via Facebook, please post your introduction on my blogger page. I've made it easier to comment and connect to your site, as you no longer need to be registered to comment.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Breaking Writers' Block

Writing is one of the best ways I integrate my thinking and communicate information from a lot of different sources. Yet, my mind works faster than my fingers. The topics are plentiful, but sometimes the content is labor some.

I've found it is much different to write for oneself, as in journaling, then it is to publish your writing to a larger audience. Most prolific writers have reminded me that thinking about writing is as important as actually writing. That is, letting the ideas "marinate" in your mind and developing them in an outline. Here are a few other things I've learned from others on beating writer's block:

1. Write when inspired (by quotes, etc.).
2. Write on topics you enjoy writing about
3. Keep a running list of topics/themes for future articles, blogs, newsletters
4. Eliminate ideas that you aren't truly knowledgeable
5. Identify the audience and purpose for your writing

For me, setting time aside for writing helps me have uninterrupted time to develop my ideas. Prior to the set time, I will marinate, think, and sketch out my ideas on the particular topic. I've also found that I have to cross out some topics when I wouldn't enjoy writing about the topic. Even if a wide audience may be interested in the topic, if I don't enjoy writing about the topic it won't bring interest in my services. What works for you?

For a great article on choosing a topic for your newsletter:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Top 3 Benefits of Self-Employment

While being self-employed is not for everyone - I think it is a perfect fit for me. I've known that I wanted to provide psychological services in a private practice setting since I was a Senior in High School. Instead of telling you how old I am, just know that almost 2 decades have past since I had that dream. Although the journey to self-employment has been gradual, I am here and I love it. Why do I love being self-employed? Here's the upside...

Autonomy: I enjoy being my own boss. There is some financial risk with being self-employed, yet with increased financial commitment comes increased voting power in making decisions. I like making all the decisions, including how much I want to pay myself, when I want to work, how much time I want to take off. It took me many years to become this decisive; as knowing what I want, don't want, what works, doesn't work takes time to learn and define.

Creativity: There is always something to learn. While it's nice to have quiet time, I do love learning. It fuels my creativity to design the vision and plan for my business. I don't perform as well when others define my work for me. My creativity multiplies when I answer the questions myself. For instance, I may decide to learn a new way or marketing, and I can carve out time to learn everything I want to know and still provide an income for my family.

Flexibility : Again, I can work when I want, including flexing my schedule when unexpected absences due to work/weather arise. If I want to lower childcare expenses, be around when my kids aren't in school, I can. And, once your business is thriving, it opens up more financial flexibility. I get to decide what I need to do to give myself a raise. I even have the flexibility to decide which clients I accept and which I don't think are a good fit for my approach.

If you are considering becoming self-employed know there is risk with success. Building a business takes time. Know what's realistic. Interview or shadow people who have made it happen in your area of interest. Start small and dream big.

"The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but who is without a dream." (Harry Kemp)