Vlog: CCC Turns 6!

 

This week, my crazy, little venture turned six. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but I would do it all over again.

I’m blessed to work with amazing people and am so appreciative of everyone who has supported me — and my fledgling business — along the way.

It’s been so much fun (and life-changing) to build a business from the ground up and watch CCC grow. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

If you have a marketing challenge, writing opportunity or social media question, we would love to help.

Thank you for the past six incredible, challenging years, which have felt like a lifetime, yet passed in the blink of an eye.

We’re looking forward to working with you!

Grateful and proud,

Jaime

4 Ways Running Can Help You Run A Business

Are you a runner or is shopping your cardio?¬†ūüėČ

The author finishing a 5k

I started running later in life (i.e. post-school), and I’m so glad I did. Besides being excellent exercise, it’s fun to be a part of such a wonderful community. The running community embraces runners of all capabilities and provides support in the form of running partners, groups and tips from more experienced runners.

A Supportive Community 

A supportive community is one way that running translates to running a business. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re probably working alone. Tapping into the entrepreneurial community can help you grow and manage your business. Whether you frequent a co-working space or join an online community, fellow small business owners can give you advice, help you brainstorm ideas and offer support from someone who understands what you’re experiencing.

Related: Is collaboration the new competition?

Long-Term Plan

Runners tend to have a long-term plan, incorporating when they’re competing in races, rest days and specific things they’re working on (i.e. a stronger kick, running technique). Small business owners need to plan as well, so they can run their business effectively and look for growth opportunities. Looking at your bigger picture helps when making decisions about what opportunities to pursue and which areas to focus on at specific times. Of course the best plans should always be adjustable.

Rest Days / Down Time

As noted above, part of a runner’s long-term plan is incorporating rest days. They’re vital to performing well, in running and business. Small business owners tend to wear a lot of hats, which can make it difficult to unplug. It’s important to your long-term outlook (and health) that you take time for yourself so you can be at your best when focusing on your business. Don’t burn yourself out and short circuit your business before you’re able to achieve your dreams. Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Related: How to Take a Break from Technology Without Moving to the Woods

Aha Moments 

When I run, I listen to my tunes and try to empty my mind (or think of inspirational movie scenes if I need an extra boost to reach the top of the hill). I’m not thinking about customers, business issues or other important topics. That’s probably why I come up with some of my best ideas or feel confident making a decision I’ve been thinking about after a run. The combination of physical activity, clearing my mind and the euphoria of finishing my run seems to spark creativity and clarify my decision-making process. The next time you’re struggling with a business decision or client project, go for a run. It may spark an ‘aha moment!’

Running translates well to running a business on several fronts. Runners can draw inspiration and insight from their hobby while they tackle the tough task of running a business. Not a runner? It’s never too late to lace ’em up and hit the pavement or trails. Couch to 5k can help you get started, or find a running community to join. You’ll find the same support, camaraderie and inspiration as you find in your entrepreneurial or small business community.

Happy running (a business)!

Just a (small biz owner &) runner from Akron,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business life, running, your marketing needs or otherwise):

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5 Years In: Life as a Small Business Owner

Something crazy happened this week: CCC celebrated its 5th anniversary.¬†In the midst of client projects and deadlines, I almost missed it — which is so appropriate. It was just another day in what has become my life as a small business owner.

We're celebrating 5 years in business!

When I started this journey, I never thought I’d get here. Sure, I made plans and thought about where I — and my business — would be in five years, but to be honest, none of it was real. There was too much treading water just trying to stay afloat.

Looking back, I’ve learned a few things and will continue to do so every day. That’s part of the process, one that I enjoy.

Here are five¬†lessons I’ve learned in five years as a small business owner:

  • This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done — and my greatest accomplishment (to date). Finishing my first half-marathon is a close second, but the daily grind of starting and building my own business has permanently changed me. It’s challenged me beyond my wildest dreams, and shown me what I’m capable of. You can read and plan all you want (and you should), but until you jump in, it’s hard to imagine.

An Omnipresent View? The Life of a Small Business Owner

  • You have to learn to say no. Your time is your most valuable commodity, especially because you probably won’t have the money to hire help when you start out. It’s not about missing opportunities or being afraid to take chances; it’s about taking control of your time and your business. Saying yes to everything and everyone will leave you burnt out and likely out of business.

The Power of Saying ‘No’

  • Enjoy the everyday moments. Take time to sip a latte on a patio on a beautiful spring day while brainstorming a blog post or contemplating future business decisions.¬†It may be tough for you to take time off from your business for a long time, so enjoy these moments that relieve stress and sustain you for another day.

Celebrate the Magic in Everyday Moments

  • Be honest — with your clients, prospects and yourself. It may be uncomfortable, but it will benefit all involved in the long run. As difficult as some situations may be, try to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. If you’re not best suited to help a prospect, refer him to another company. If you’re continually running into issues with a client, have an honest (yet professional) conversation. It will either spur changes or an end to the relationship, which may be for the best. Long-term, mutually beneficial relationships cannot be built on lies and half-truths — in business or in life.

A Look Back: 4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

  • Stay true to why you started your business. It can be difficult to remember your vision as you get bogged down in day-to-day activity, start to grow or deal with a catastrophe. Whether you create a vision board or have an image burned into your mind, keep it front and center. Remembering why you started the business can help you make decisions and decide which opportunities to pursue.

It’s been fun looking back on the last five years this week, which have been an incredible journey. Right now, there’s more work to do, but maybe I’ll be able to sip a latte on a patio this weekend to celebrate this special milestone in CCC’s story.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Starting chapter six,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business life, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

On Sunday, my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, celebrated its 4th anniversary. Along with some gray hairs and a sense¬†of accomplishment, I’ve learned numerous lessons along the way.

CCC turns 4!

4¬†Lessons I’ve Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur:

Starting and growing a business is a thrilling roller coaster ride. If you love roller coasters (like I do), you’re probably thinking that sounds great. Keep in mind though that you’re riding 24/7, and there are no stops — for bad days, client disasters or even life (which doesn’t stop while you’re trying to start a business). If you like consistency and scheduled days, then don’t start a business. The most even-keeled entrepreneur has experienced many “What the f%#k am I doing?” moments.

I’ve developed a new definition — and appreciation — of living lean. Most entrepreneurs and startups are not raking in venture capital money and operating on million dollar budgets. They’re trying to build something for the future and scrape by in the present. You have to scrimp, save, shop smartly¬†and still make hard choices. There’s nothing romantic about trying to figure out how you’ll pay your mortgage (or rent) next month, but you have to find a way until you can grow.

You’re not doing business until you get paid. Looking for new business, maintaining your professional network and taking care of clients is all part of owning a business, but it’s important to not focus too much on activity. You’re not doing business until you can bill and collect payment. Otherwise, you’re doing charity work, which is commendable, but it won’t pay your mortgage.

Your time is valuable; learn to spend it well. Every entrepreneur and startup owner needs more hours in a day, so you’ll learn to value your time quickly. You have to balance how much time something will take versus the (realistic) potential reward. Every opportunity or client won’t be a good fit. As painful as it can be to walk away, wasting time on a situation that you know won’t work is even worse.¬†Use your time wisely so that you’ll be able to spend quality time with friends and family, sleep and exercise — all necessities in the long run.

No matter what happens, remember this:

Starting and growing a business is an amazing accomplishment. You took a huge risk to create your own future and build something for yourself. It may be hard for people around you to understand what you’re doing, let alone why, but you have to keep your goal in mind. Always remember why you started your business and what you want out of it. That will help you¬†keep going during those “What the f%#k am I doing?” moments, although close friends, hobbies and happy hour will help too.

There are so many lessons I could have mentioned, because starting a business will teach you something new every day. Some days you won’t be in the mood to learn, but try to pick up as much as you can. The experience will come in handy in the future, wherever your¬†crazy, amazing roller coaster ride stops.

What lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur or small business owner?

Did starting a business create an unexpected opportunity for you?

Feeling the rush,
Jaime

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5 Smart Steps to Become a Better Small Business Owner

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you¬†dream big. That’s probably one reason you pursued this career path in the first place. Dreaming big is great, but it can also be paralyzing. Where do you start?

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

“Entrepreneurs are often defined by the size of our ambitions, but the best way to make a big impact is to start small steps.” ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†-Damon Brown, entrepreneur & author

Damon Brown, entrepreneur and author of Our Virtual Shadow, recently published a smart article for Inc. entitled 21 Simple Ways to be a Better Entrepreneur. In it, he shares easy steps you can take to make yourself more efficient and productive in 2016 and beyond.

Here are our favorites:

  • Schedule a blank day:¬†Yes, you’re busy, but that doesn’t do much for you or your business in the end. Scheduling a blank day (which isn’t a vacation day) can help you focus on the big picture and shift direction if needed. When’s the last time you’ve scheduled a blank day?

Please stop telling me you’re busy.

  • Skip the heavy lifting on Monday:¬†Mondays are a drag. No one really looks forward to them and you’re rarely satisfied with your production. If you work over the weekend, Mondays are even worse. So take Brown’s advice and only handle light lifting on Mondays, if you can.

Your Comfort Zone: Where the Magic Happens

  • Write more, type less:¬†How often do you physically write things down? Strategies, ideas, thoughts, musings… While we’re always fans of the written word, writing by hand can create stronger connections, motivate, inspire and help you relax.

Things I Carry: Pen and Paper

  • Walk more:¬†Innovative ideas rarely come to us while we’re sitting behind a desk. Physical activity can be a wonderful way to break out of a rut or see a situation more clearly. Struggling to put together a plan for a client? Trying to make a difficult decision for your business? Get up and go for a walk. You (and your brain) will be glad you did.

Need an Idea? Just Walk Away…

  • Read a book a week:¬†Entrepreneurs and small business owners need to be constantly learning, and books are the¬†perfect¬†way to accomplish this arduous task. They’re also a way to travel to other cultures, learn from other people’s mistakes¬†and get lost in another¬†world. Even if you’re not a writer, reading is a¬†habit that you should develop.

Eat, Pray, Love — In Business Too

Who are we kidding? We loved Brown’s entire list, especially the coffee and poker suggestions. What are your favorites?

We do struggle with a couple of them, especially In the first hour of your day, avoid email and social media. Perhaps this is a goal we can tackle in 2016. Which suggestion(s) do you struggle with the most?

Whether you agree with Damon Brown’s suggestions or not, we all want to be more productive and efficient. What additional tips can you offer to achieve these goals in 2o16?

We can help you be more productive and efficient by assisting¬†with your marketing, writing and social media needs. Let’s discuss how we can help you!

Pic credit: How to become a SocialMediaManager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

Taking small steps to dream big,
Jaime

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To Blog, or Not To Blog: That Is the Question

Original photo credit: "Portrait of Duranty Blogging, after Degas," Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Original photo credit: “Portrait of Duranty Blogging, after Degas,” Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com (CCL)

Why do you blog?

That’s assuming you do blog, which millions of people do across the world, on millions of different topics for millions of different reasons for audiences of one to (yes, you guessed it) millions.

Some blog for business while others type their hearts away purely for pleasure, a way to scratch that itch deep inside or satisfy a longing need. Some blog to motivate themselves to lose weight or graduate from school while others share a deep knowledge of a particular topic while still others hope to be discovered.

–> Here’s my question: is it worth it?¬†

Blogging takes time. No matter how organized you are or how many tips you read about becoming a more efficient blogger, it just takes time. (Although you may want to check out this handy post from Jeff Bullas entitled How to Streamline Your WordPress Blogging Workflow to save some of that precious time.)

Is all of the time you spend on your blog worth it? I guess that depends on your objectives.

Related Reading: Do You Mow Your Blog?

This blog grew out of starting my company, Clearly Conveyed Communications, just over a year and a half ago. It functions as a place where I can share marketing, writing and social media (the main services CCC offers) tips and resources as well as reflect on my personal experience of being an entrepreneur, small business owner and on life in general. Yes, it has a varied overall direction, which works for me (and I hope for you).

As a new business, I really wanted this blog to generate exposure for the services I offer while connecting me with people who have shared interests. Sure, I would love to generate some business as well, but that wasn’t the original point and still isn’t today. I’m not a big fan of hard selling via blogs or other social media channels, so I hope that I haven’t come across as trying to sell you anything.

My goal every time I click on New Post is to add a little value to your day.

Whether it be insight into a business decision, a social media tip, marketing ideas or how to write a little more effectively, I want you to walk away from the CCC blog with just a little more knowledge and a smile on your face. I hope I do that, and if you have any ideas on how I can do that more effectively, please let me know. Seriously, I would love to hear from you.

So now we’ve come full circle… why do you blog?

For business? For pleasure? To share your knowledge with others? To keep yourself on track?

Leave your answers in the comments below, and feel free to leave your blog URL as well.

To blog, or not to blog: that is the question. Do you?

Related Reading: Attention bloggers! We want you.

Blogging away,
Jaime

p.s. Thank you to each and every follower of the CCC blog. I truly appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to read my musings, and I really do hope that you find them valuable in some way, shape or form. Cheers!

As always, please reach out to me and join the conversation: 
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50 (More) Things I’m Grateful For…

It’s been too long. I’ve had it in my mind to write this post since I published my first 50 Things I’m Grateful For… post last year. I kept finding cool things to blog about, and before I knew it, more than a year had passed. So here goes…

I’m grateful for (take 2)…

The sun sets on Lock 3

     

I love classic cars 

Wilson -- my idea generator

water view

Alright, so there’s my second list of 50 things I’m grateful for. (If you want to browse the first list, here you go.)

Now it’s your turn. I would love to hear about what you’re grateful for! No matter how tough life gets, we can all be grateful for something. Share your list (however big or small) in the comments below, hit me up on a social network or tag me in your blog post. ¬†Cheers!

Grateful & blessed,
Jaime

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