by | Apr 20, 2008 | Business-end-of-things

My voice-artist friend Liz de Nesnera keeps in regular touch with a Las Vegan by the name of Barbara Winter. In fact, she usually gushes when she speaks of Barbara…and tries to see her whenever she can, which is a stretch, considering Liz lives in New Jersey.

Barbara’s definitive work is a book called "Making A Living Without A Job".

Liz loosely describes Barbara as a coach for budding entrepreneurs, so if you’re looking for a generalized label, I guess you could call her that…but my guess is she’s got a lot more under her hat than something that neatly phrased.

Her website is HERE.

Although we’ve talked on the phone, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never met Barbara…a deficit I aim to fix.  Why?  ‘Cause the best voice in the world can’t be a successful voice-actor without a plan, an energetic approach, and some business acumen.  That’s something I feel I’m significantly short on…having only worked FOR OTHERS all my life.

So while I look up Barbara’s number, read the following related article, gleaned from the online pages of the Wall Street Journal:


It’s hard to imagine a more ideal-sounding work life:
working when you want, where you want, and how you want. So, it’s no
surprise that more and more people are jumping ship, moving from
full-time, in-house positions to working for themselves, often in
consultant or freelance roles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts
that the number of Americans choosing self-employment will keep
increasing, from 12.2 million in 2006 to 12.9 million in 2016. Working
for yourself can be an ideal career path, especially in today’s tight
job market, but it is also ripe for failure if undertaken without the
right tools–and mindset.

Your First 90 Days

Create a vision — and a workspace. It’s Day
One, and the phone probably isn’t ringing off the hook yet. Find
yourself an energizing writing spot, and take out a blank piece of
paper, says Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed., author of "The Career Coward’s
Guide to Changing Careers." "Write a vision for yourself about what you
want your freelance biz to look like — what kind of work you’ll be
doing, who you’ll be working with, what your lifestyle will be like.
Think big," she says. Ms. Piotrowski also says it’s important to
describe what’s motivating you to take this step. Try to make your
vision statement as detailed as possible. "Keep in mind that you can
modify it down the line," she says

Once you feel like you have this solidified, spend
some time setting up a dedicated workspace. "With any luck, you’ll soon
be so busy you won’t have time to get things organized, so do it now,"
says Ms. Piotrowski. "Setting up your space will help you feel ‘real’
in your work."

Market today for business tomorrow. You could
be a whiz at what you do and at the top of your field, and still find
yourself clientless and with little — if any — cash flow during your
first few months in business. So, you need to come up with a marketing
plan. "As my CPA friend said to me after 15 years as a freelancer, ‘I
remind myself every day that the purpose of the marketing I’m doing
today is to pay the rent for six months from now,’ " says Ms.

Talent and marketing run hand-in-hand. The
talent part is easy for most people, but marketing skills may need to
be learned. When Ms. Piotrowski started freelancing a decade ago, a
business consultant gave her some excellent advice: Experiment with
various marketing activities until you find a few that you are good at
and like doing. Ms. Piotrowski quickly discovered that while she hated
making cold calls, she was more than happy to send out a newsletter on
a regular basis and speak to professional associations. Take the time
to discover your hidden marketing talents.

Give yourself a raise. Don’t sell yourself
short. Do the research and see what other people in your area and with
your level of experience are charging. Write up and practice scripts
that answer, "What do you charge?" "One of the most difficult steps for
freelancers to take is telling others their fees," says Ms. Piotrowski.
"By having a set script that you know by heart, you’re less likely to
undercharge — a pitfall that can quickly sink your business."

Rely on your former supporters. Throw yourself
a business launch party. E-vite your email contacts to your favorite
coffee shop or bar to share a drink and celebrate your new venture.
Have your business cards and service descriptions laid out. "Keep in
mind that these people already know what you can do and can act as
unpaid marketers for you," says Ms. Piotrowski. "Let them know what
you’re doing as well as who you want to connect with."

Don’t be shy when it comes to name-dropping (within
reason); attendees are likely to be people who want to see you succeed,
so let them know how they can help. You’ll want to take notes, too.
Follow up by creating a database of all of your contacts, new and old.
As an independent contractor, there are always hours to fill, and those
non-working moments are a good time to work on your database.

Keep realistic timelines and expectations.
According to experts, a new business often takes up to two years to
really gains momentum and provide a somewhat predictable cash flow. "In
the interim, it’s essential to have back-up plans for when times are
lean," says Ms. Piotrowski. One way to keep yourself motivated is to
read your business vision out loud to yourself on a regular basis. It
might sound silly, but it works. "This is extremely important, because
it’s likely that very soon you’ll feel confused about what you’re
doing," she says. "Businesses never go to plan — you may lose your
first client, discover an opportunity you hadn’t considered before, or
find yourself with a quickly-shrinking bank balance — and it’s
essential that you continually remind yourself of what you’re creating,
and why."





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