Hack Threat! Warning Signs and a Close ‘Call’

“If you spend more on coffee than on IT security, you will be hacked. What’s more, you deserve to be hacked” 
― Richard Clarke

No one wants to be hacked, but there are scums out there who enjoy creating internet or identity mayhem for all of us. Perhaps there is a special Hell for those that create these problems.

I am in hack-threat recovery. I was working on a client project and completing some online banking tasks when my computer locked up and a screen opened from ‘Microsoft’. It mentioned my computer had just been exposed to a serious virus and I needed to act fast (call their customer service number) before my identity, files, and related devices were affected.

At that moment, I wasn’t panicked. I was protected and I had an excellent computer consultant on my team (Kevin Scott of Visionary IT even sent an email updating the latest threats the previous week!) I called Kevin and left a message, but time was ticking. Fear was building. I couldn’t do anything with my computer and the wise choice would have been to shut down–which I should have done.

I can hear you gasping. I still shudder at my actions, too, but I was suddenly shoved into an unknown world without immediate support. Here’s what happened:

A friendly voice greeted me on the other side, asking me what the issue was. His name was ‘Simon’ and he had a charming thick accent. I could hear an unidentifiable foreign language in the background…not like the typical call centers many of us have experienced. WARNING 1.

WARNING 2: he repeatedly asked for screen-sharing access. He insisted it was necessary to identify the problem. When I started questioning him, he mentioned it was obvious my computer needed a ‘tune-up’ much like our vehicles. WARNING 3.

Simon then proceeded to tell me these things happen to good people and that I shouldn’t blame myself. He continued to babble, not allowing me to explain the situation further. WARNING 4.

As Simon continued to insist that this particular virus was highly dangerous, I asked him to wait while I called my IT specialist. He calmly assured me that my IT guy would agree, meanwhile trying to coax me into purchasing a new firewall. He then proceeded to tell me that they work with a very reputable company, called Agape (which he pronounced ah-gop-ay), meaning ‘Jesus loves you’ in Hindu. WARNING 5.

I ended the conversation by saying I won’t make a move without my computer consultant’s knowledge and advice. Simon continued to urge me to act now because this virus infects all devices quickly. I hung up. The entire conversation was just over 2 minutes long.

Moments later, Kevin called me and reassured me that all was well. Simon and his team were scammers who wanted access to my computer in order to hack and steal anything they could access. Kevin then listed several truths about these threats:

  • Microsoft does not respond in this manner regarding your computer. If there is an issue, they send MAILED LETTERS, not emails because of the likelihood of email spamming.
  • Your computer will alert you to threats, not Microsoft—that’s why you have antivirus, antispam, firewalls, and malware alerts installed. If you don’t have them, get them NOW!!
  • Scammers rely on fear, urgency, and ignorance to take advantage of us. You don’t have to be an IT expert to avoid these threats, but you do need to know what precautions to take, which includes the programs listed above.

Other warning signs:

  • questionable links
  • unusual requests
  • things you don’t recognize
  • strange requests or comments from your connections
  • an attempt on their behalf to acquire any type of passwords or access to your computer

While much of this may be basic know-how, I’ve learned a tough lesson to share with you. Please share with everyone but most importantly, protect yourself! Redundancy is better than ignorance.

Kristen

What Will YOU Do When Business Disaster Strikes?

I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair. – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Entrepreneurs accept a few truths:

  • The potential for failure
  • A willingness to take chances and accept risks
  • Don’t quit easily—pivot, regroup, rebrand
  • Fail fast & learn from mistakes
  • Believe the risk is worth the reward
  • Will take more time than originally planned
  • Will take more money than originally planned

If we aren’t aware of these certainties as we enter an entrepreneurial pursuit, we soon experience and learn to accept them.

Try as we may to prepare for and avoid the risks and failures, they happen. It’s a part of the journey. Often, these failures present themselves as a financial threat. If you find yourself in that situation, here are some action tips to work you through the snag.

Review your business expenses

What areas can be shifted? Can you eliminate or reduce one service or combine to save money?

Are there overlapping services that can be clarified? If outsourcing business tasks, review with your service providers to ensure that they complement each other rather than compete.

If you attend networking or professional events, can you arrange ride share to save on gas and vehicle expenses? If you attend events that require an attendance fee, consider postponing these until the situation is resolved.

Hold a virtual coffee meeting. Hangouts, Messenger, and Skype make this possible and saves time, money, and traffic headaches for both parties.

Lifestyle review

Similar to the business review, what can be reduced or revised to cut costs to get you through the crisis? This doesn’t mean depriving yourself of necessities, but perhaps instead of going to the theater every weekend, you check out a movie from RedBox (if available), rent a movie from the library, or have an at-home movie night with friends.

What is the state of your emergency fund? If it has been accessed for an unexpected event, is there room for a little more? Can it (and you) spare 10% for the situation?

How soon can you replenish your emergency fund? Make it a habit to contribute regularly and as soon as possible once the crisis is over. Consider: how would you be impacted without the emergency fund?

Additional thoughts

  • Keep emergency fund active; maintain ½ balance
  • Maintain communication with support team & family—not everyone needs to know; just key players & investors
  • Review budget often (monthly is idea, quarterly at a minimum)
  • Have a backup plan: anticipate potential disasters and plan accordingly. Adjust as situations come and go, or if other ideas emerge
  • Fail fast
  • Recover faster
  • Recovery includes free-time to clear the brain which allows new ideas & possibilities in.

Entrepreneurs are a determined group of energized people who understand and accept the risks. If you encounter a crisis, the sooner you take action and implement a recovery plan, the sooner you will be charging forward again.

Got additional ideas to share? Let’s hear them in the comments below.

Kristen

Tired of 2nd Place? Step Out for Business Success

“The only thing that is stopping you from where you are to where you want to go is your comfort zone.” – Dhaval Gaudier

When I was 8, I was on a swim team. I loved swimming, I enjoyed training and I even enjoyed the competition. The only thing that held me back was my introverted nature: I feared standing out in a crowd; I feared being the center of attention.

When it came time to race, I became so nervous I barely heard the starting gun—though I never jumped the gun because that meant more attention on me. I didn’t hear the crowd, or the announcers, or my coach.

And I finished 2nd. Often.

It saddened me that I rarely took first place, but looking back, it made sense: #1 got all the attention and the spotlight; #2 was soon forgotten.

That mentality continued for the next 30 years until I became an entrepreneur. Suddenly, my fear of standing out and being the center of attention battled with my desire to be a successful business owner.

It was time to step out: out of my office, out of my comfort zone, out of my fears. Sound like something you need? Here are 5 Step Out practices to implement now.

STEP OUT 1—Attend events: Seek out the events that will build your brand’s awareness and attract your ideal audience (attending targeted events eliminates the awkwardness of feeling lost or out of place). Seek out people that will help put you in contact with ideal people as well.

STEP OUT 2—Introduce yourself: present your elevator speech then ask what issues they face related to your business (attention is on them rather than you).

*HINT: You have a solution to their problem. This is an information-gathering moment and you don’t have to be loud and flashy to do it.*

STEP OUT 3—Listen: listening is one of your strengths as an introvert. Get the conversation started with relevant questions then…listen. Let them talk. Present your solution.

*HINT: people want to be heard and want someone to LISTEN. Be that person and you’ve stepped into the coveted know-like-trust realm*

STEP OUT 4—Follow-up: now you have information to nurture the relationship and build yourself as a subject matter expert. The follow-up gives you the introvert-friendly way to do that. Let your content marketing plan do the heavy work:

  • newsletters
  • blogs
  • emails
  • social media
  • new platforms like Facebook Live and Periscope

All of these can be performed anywhere on the planet—including your quiet zone. Share everywhere. Explore new platforms. Be creative and experiment.

STEP OUT 5—Seek opportunities: regardless of where you are on the introvert-extrovert scale, the greatest growth comes from reaching out. There are people and organizations that are looking for experts to fill their schedule. Be the first to respond.

  • Offer to sit on a panel discussion in your expertise
  • offer to present at an industry-related event
  • reach out to podcast hosts to become a guest
  • volunteer to speak at a school, networking event, or professional organization

Yes, this is a huge undertaking for introvert business owners, but it’s a moment in time that carries a lot of weight toward business success. Start small, but start now! Step out for that moment then build from the results.

Kristen

Business Plans: the New View for Acquiring Loans

When I started my freelance writing business in 2008, my early projects included business plans, resumes, and cover letters. At that time, more was better and a lengthy, detailed business plan was considered the gold standard.

I recently attended a national bank’s presentation on Funding Options for Small Business and one of the panel presenters stated that those gold standard business plans were now detrimental to the process. The reason: lenders want the facts. No need for fluff, graphics, or dissertation-quality business plans.

Then what makes a loan-worthy business plan? Keeping it simple and precise! Here’s what lenders are looking for:

Executive summary

  • Describe the business that’s being started.
  • How will it be managed & operated?
  • What is the business owner’s experience that will make it successful?
  • How will it be marketed?

Operation & systems:

  • How will the financials be handled? QuickBooks, paper, accountant?
  • How will spending be tracked and reported?

Financial plan:

  • 3 years of projected income—during the 1st year, break down income and expenses monthly; 2nd & 3rd year can be yearly projections.
  • Where is the money coming from? Where is the money going?
  • What factors will affect the net profit?

Projecting this information isn’t easy, but the overall purpose is to be realistic and honest in your expectations. Make your projections attainable to avoid unnecessary stress. Following this format, a stress free business plan can be generated in 6 to 10 pages; less than that gets questionable.

The second half of the lending process remains the same. Your lenders will examine personal and professional tax records to get an overview of your financial history. Proof of income is needed to gain a loan, and collateral may be required.

To expand a business requires money so the more prepared you are and the precision with which you prepare, will make the process easier for everyone. Talk to banking specialists, business experts, and utilize the resources available to make the process simpler for you too. Your business plan is your first content piece to get your business rolling.

Kristen Edens

Cashing in Your 401K for Your Second Act? Think Again.

According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity: In 2012, almost a quarter of new businesses were started by entrepreneurs 55 and older, a spike from 14 percent in 1996.

Why this spike?

Many of us grew up with our parent’s view of the American Dream: attending college and graduating with a secure job at a top corporation. We were to be the envy of the neighborhood and the pride of the family. However, that vision was tough to realize. We could give the appearance of success and contentment on the outside, but inside was a different story:

  • The job was too stressful
  • The job was stagnant
  • Competition was fierce
  • There was no room for growth
  • We were restless

Similarly, the 2008/2009 recession left many older employees laid off and unable to find new employment. After a year or two of failed job searches, most pursued their own business ventures.

However, desperation played heavily into the need for employment. On the heels of that desire, was the need for capital to fund our entrepreneurial pursuit—and the new American Dream.

But another question emerged: should we take on a small business loan? Many 50+ entrepreneurs already had debt—mortgage, automobile, student loans (most likely their children’s student loans)—and were hesitant to take on more debt.

Understandable. Especially when retirement was 5 to 10 years away and we still wanted to live that dream.

Another big issue: impatience! We’re over 50! We still have visions of some sort of retirement dream and we’re spinning our wheels on what that will be. We want it now and because of that, we are tempted to make hasty decisions…

…like cashing in the 401K, IRA, or other savings plan. As the Entrepreneur in Action blog writer for Missouri SourceLink, 7 of the 9 second act entrepreneurs I interviewed in the last 2 years have turned to their savings to fund their business.

The appeal:

  • Readily available
  • Involved a large, tempting sum
  • No debt
  • The potential to earn it back

Sounds ideal, right? BUT—consider these points first:

  • Do you have other streams of income to balance the risk?
  • How will this decision influence your financial goals?
  • What will be your revised financial growth plans for the future?
  • What will you do if the business fails?
  • Penalties can account for 30% of the funds available if this option is taken.
  • Are you willing to accept these risks?
  • Are you prepared to work as hard, if not harder, than when you worked in a corporate setting?

I don’t want to rain on your parade, but it’s critical to break through the emotional fog. On the plus side of your vision:

  • You have identified a product or service need
  • The potential to build something to call your own is real
  • You have the chance to live life your own way: stay at home with family, no more commute, flexible work hours, etc.

Do the PROS outweigh the risks?

When in the throes of new business excitement and the emotion kicks into high gear, step back and consider your options.

Unlike during the recession, banks are now willing to work with new and small business. Talk with lending officers. Lots of them. Get the facts and seek the options.

Before cashing in your savings, speak with a financial advisor. There are alternatives available that could be applied to your business that don’t carry as much risk or penalties.

Consult others who have cashed in their savings. Listen to their stories, ask their advice. Make an informed decision.

It’s tempting to dip into that magical money pot, taunting us to spend now, but step back, take a breath and weigh all the options. There are several available to help pursue your new American Dream.

 

Seeking Work/Life Balance? The Family Phone Tree May be the Place to Start

“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create” ― Jana Kingsford

You are a busy person: you juggle client calls, appointments, and projects on a daily basis, sometimes simultaneously. Similarly, you field random calls and requests from family members that range from rants, venting, or general (unimportant) information. Yes, there is the occasional emergency, but the likelihood of a true emergency tends to be low.

Most often, family calls are predictable, based on plentiful past experience so when their call arrives in the middle of the work day, we’re faced with a few options:

  • Answer immediately because it’s always a joy to speak to this person.
  • Answer immediately because this particular family member rarely calls and it could be critical.
  • Cringe and decide: do we answer knowing the call is a false alarm?
  • Let the call go to voice mail because we’re working in our business.

When was the last time you pressed your way through a company’s phone tree system? These automated recordings are designed to efficiently direct us to the most knowledgeable or helpful person to handle our need. While they are an annoyance, and I’m not convinced this is efficient for us as the caller, there must be some time savings for the business. Following a recent series of distracting calls from various family members, I wondered how this system would work with the family. Would this feature simplify the work/life balance for a business owner wedged in the Sandwich Generation? Here’s how mine would sound:

Hello my dear Family Members. I’m sorry I cannot answer your urgent call at this moment, but I’m involved with clients at this time. Listen to the following options to best serve your needs. Please listen to the full menu as our options change frequently.

  • Mom/Dad, press 1
  • Spouse/partner, press 2
  • Son/Daughter, press 3
  • Sibling, press 4
  • All other family members, press 5

(You will need to personalize your family phone tree for best results.)

Beyond the first level of categories, there would be some similarities. Here is how I would define level 2:

  • Press 1 if you are calling because someone won’t eat their dinner.
  • Press 2 if the family member won’t complete their chores.
  • Press 3 if another family member is annoying you.

You’ll also need to include additional categories for each group:

For your parents (in my case, my mother), I need to include:

  • Press 4 if this is a news flash about April the Giraffe
  • Press 5 if this is regarding the latest political gossip
  • Press 6 if you are worried about something

For your partner/spouse, include:

  • Press 4 if you want to discuss what to have for dinner
  • Press 5 to compare the latest story from our children
  • Press 6 if you want to tell me details about your latest World of Warship battle

For Son/Daughter, include:

  • Press 4 if you are complaining about work
  • Press 5 if you are venting about life in general
  • Press 6 if this is a request for money
  • Press 7 if you are seeking advice which you plan to ignore

For those that receive the rare call from extended family members (cousin, aunt, estranged family member), this signifies something potentially critical, so it’s wise to answer immediately.

Regardless of which direction the person-in-question blunders through the family phone tree, they must record their message, which will then be queued in order of pre-determined urgency. Then on a break, you can address the issues in order of importance.

There are many joys to being a business owner and working from home, but dealing with family members is one of the darker sides of business ownership. It’s best to treat with love, patience, a bit of humor, and the family phone tree. Would such a system improve your quest for work/life balance?

Perhaps there’s an entrepreneur out there who recognizes this need and is building a prototype now!

Kristen Edens

What did you want to be when you grew up?


A doctor? A fireman? An actor? An astronaut?

That question catapults us back to our youth, often with a smile, recalling our youthful answer to that question. Now that we’re a few decades older, have you pursued your childhood dream of becoming a…? What twists and turns got you to where you are now? What obstacles, doubts, or fears did you have to overcome? Or are you still pursuing your goal?

At age 8, I knew I would be a writer. It started with journaling my dreams and progressed to fiction writing: science fiction, fantasy, adventure, and romance. I played with several niches without specializing in one. With Dad’s encouragement, I pursued anything related to writing with the intent to be a writer ‘when I grew up’. When it came time to enter college, Dad asked, “What are you going to study?”

“English and writing.”

“That will make a nice hobby, but it isn’t something that will support you,” he debated.

The argument continued for 2 years. While I attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, Dad lovingly, and with the best intention, signed me up for courses he thought would lead to a stable career: chemistry, biology, computer science while I filled the electives with anything related to writing.

At the end of my second year, still an undecided major, Dad once again sat me at the kitchen table and gave me the ultimatum, “You have two weeks to name a major or you’re out of college.”

Those were the most stressful two weeks of my life. On the chosen day, I faced Dad across the kitchen table with Mom sitting between us. “Well?” he glared.

“Writing,” I mumbled, on the verge of tears.

“Try again!”

“Exercise Physiology.”

The look my parents gave me was unforgettable. If I hadn’t been so frightened, I would have laughed.

“What the hell is ‘exercise physiology’?” there was a distinct sneer in his voice.

After I explained the extensive medical and science background involved, the career opportunities, and income potential, Dad roared, “No daughter of mine is going to sweat for a living!”

I cried. Dad cussed. My brothers fled the house. Mom waited for the right moment. “Bill, dear, she fulfilled your requirements. So which will it be—writing or…exercise physiology?”

By 1986, I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Medicine at BGSU, and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology at Utah State University in 1990.

However, it took me until 1999 to get a job in my ‘chosen’ profession, with a 45-minute one-way commute over a mountain pass (no kidding), working 3 days per week at a dollar above minimum wage. In my off hours, I secretly wrote: stories, articles, resumes, poems, anything to keep my desire-to-be-a-writer alive. I was a niche-less wonder, but enjoyed it all. As Dad predicted, it became a nice hobby. I submitted fiction stories with occasional success, but never gave up. I was still determined to become a writer.

A window of opportunity opened while attending the Cache County Fair. A friend had a booth promoting his fly-fishing shop and was asking passers-by to enter his tagline contest. Intrigued, I read the existing entries added mine, and won. Because of the overwhelming response to my tagline, he asked me to write catalogue descriptions and a brochure. The big bonus: he offered to pay for my writing! Up until then, I had been writing for free, believing ‘free’ would get my writing ‘out there’. That experience became my first entrepreneurial pivot, with a new focus on copywriting.

The second, and scariest opportunity occurred in 2008. I quit the hospital job to pursue writing full-time. I was on the verge of divorce and needed a sustainable income to support myself. By 2009, I still wasn’t making enough to comfortably support a gnat, but the home life was no longer tolerable. In the midst of the economic recession, with no job, and only $729/month as income, I divorced, left the state and moved in with my cousin. I was terrified, heartbroken, and desperate.

Unaware of the true economic impact, I applied to jobs, but soon learned no one was hiring, especially a 45 year old, unemployed exercise physiologist with an outdated degree. Down, but not out, I cast all of Dad’s wisdom of a ‘stable career’ out the window and buckled down as a copywriter.

With my cousin’s help, I built a website and learned the basics of social media. I cussed and cried as I struggled with all the technical intricacies of owning an online business. Writing jobs began to pick up and I was becoming known as the outsourced writing expert for microbusinesses.

Yet the growth didn’t stop there. While I built a business, I also struggled with extreme social anxiety. In my early days as an entrepreneur, I dreaded networking and promoting myself, but knew it had to be done. What had started out as hours of ‘parking lot panic’ before an event, developed into blogs about how to overcome our fears in order to grow a business. The blogs led to offering a series of one-on-one sessions to teach ‘Social Success for the Quiet Entrepreneur’ at a local co-working space. The sessions filled up fast and I soon received requests for private coaching.

Over the last 8 years, I have learned that pursuing our goals isn’t as scary as thinking about it. We paralyze ourselves by the what-ifs, that we never take that first step. Additionally, I listened to, and believed, others who told me my ideas wouldn’t work. When I refused to believe it any further, I took a leap of personal faith. Whatever would happen, I had to trust that something would happen, and that I would be a stronger person for it. What has emerged is a joy of writing, solving content catastrophes for my clients, and an opportunity I never expected: encouraging introverts and others to pursue their own opportunities.

What did I want to be when I grew up? A writer! Did I expect to write for businesses? To become an introvert coach? To own my own business?

NO!!

However, I’m enjoying it all because I accepted the challenges and pursued them as far as they could go. The added bonus is the thrill of discovering what’s yet to come.

What’s your entrepreneurial/growing up story?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler

Networking Fear? Start with GOYA!

No doubt you’ve heard several practices to make networking work for you, but what isn’t addressed is what to do when you the cat has your tongue and your feet are buried in cement. We can make it our goal to attend two or more networking meetings each week, but they aren’t helpful if we can’t get moving and talking.

For years, this was my problem. My pre-networking activities consisted of staring at myself in the mirror, rehearsing my elevator speech and practicing opening lines. Then I’d get in the car and practice more while driving. I would always arrive early, because I needed time for ‘parking lot panic’. However, my pre-networking habits have diminished and I’m more comfortable with networking events (I still sometimes get the jitters, though).

It didn’t take long to realize that if I didn’t get moving and talking, I wasn’t going to reach my goals. I had to make changes and do it fast and it began with GOYA: Get off your Ass!

Here are my GOYA exercises to shake the networking jitters:

Remind yourself: you are not the only one feeling awkward or uncomfortable! Some hide it better than others, but most networking attendees have the jitters. AND, they are looking for ways to start a conversation, too.

In case you haven’t read it already, take a look at another blog I wrote on the benefits of arriving early: The Early Bird Gets the Leads.

If an early arrival isn’t possible, look for people you already know. Walk up to them, and even if they’re engaged in another conversation, it doesn’t hurt to wave and say a quick hello. Most of the time, the friend will introduce you to the new person.

Reach out to those hovering in the corner, near an exit or who are paying a little too much attention to their cell phones. These are classic ‘I’m not sure what to do next’ cues. So many times I have been that person and am building up courage to just say hello. Now I recognize the same behaviors in others and they are the first ones I approach.

Most networking meetings offer food or drinks. If you still have the jitters, stand next to the edibles because everyone comes by to check out the offerings. It’s also a common gathering place for others building up their networking courage—we can look busy and attentive while nibbling on snacks instead of looking lost and awkward standing alone in a large room. Say hello to everyone who approaches. Mention how yummy the dip or the hummus or the punch is. This is the perfect opportunity to add, “What do you do?” In a minute or so, the person will ask about you.

These GOYA exercises have helped me ease the pain of reaching out during events. How do you handle the networking jitters? What networking exercises do you have? Share them in the comments below. (Thanks to Eva from Knews.co for inspiring this topic!)

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

Introvert to Impromptu Presenter: How Do I Do It?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.” ~ Susan Cain

What’s it take to run a successful business?

For me, as an introvert, I needed to develop social confidence. That meant attending public events. Lots of them. In my first 3 years of business, I attended 3 to 5 networking events, within a 150 mile radius, per week. When my confidence wanes, or when I get too comfortable, I add more to my agenda.

This week I attended my first Medici Magic Meetup sponsored by the Medici MediaSpace, a new co-working space in St. Louis. Upon entering the room, several pairs of eyes turned to greet me—always an anxiety-inducing situation for an introvert. However, I implemented my GOYA strategy for a successful event, which included the dreaded saying hi to everyone in attendance. Individually.

Next, each of the 15 attendees were offered a moment to introduce themselves. When my turn came, with heart rate and blood pressure soaring, I introduced myself as:

A content development service which attracts clients and guides them through the sales funnel, plus an introvert coach to help introverts achieve their social goals.

Next, we were briefed on Medici’s event format where the audience chooses the discussions. No longer one to let my social fears hold back opportunity, my arm fired into the air, terrifying my brain into whipping up a topic before I was called on: Content Creation: Where are you in the Sales Funnel?

Throughout the first 4 mini-presentations, I listened, participated, while putting together an on-the-spot discussion. With 20 minutes left in the 2 hour meetup, Josh Levey, a co-founder for Medici, pointed to me and said, “I want to say first that you are the most fun introvert that I ever met!” (Thank you, Josh!) I stood, anxiety returning once again, and shared a quick story about being an introvert, my 2-hour parking lot panic and my reward system of chocolate. The crowd enjoyed my story and I noticed a woman, in the back, with a bright smile directed at me. My presentation went well, I received great questions, replied with solutions, and concluded with a call to action.

The result:

  • Several attendees and I had extended conversations
  • It was suggested I do a Ted Talk about my introvert experience—an opportunity that I would never have considered <2 years ago!
  • I arranged an interview for the Missouri SourceLink
  • I’ll be an upcoming guest on the TLC Radio show
  • I provided an introduction for one of the attendees

As I was heading to leave, Theo Clark of TLC Radio, called me aside and introduced me to the woman with the bright smile: Brittany Blount, executive assistant and radio producer with TLC Radio. As a fellow introvert, she was eager to ask me, “How did you do it?”

Again, I was flattered. I shared that I still experience anxiety and it’s an ongoing process to accomplish my goals. Then she asked, “How long did it take you to get over it?”

“It’s not something you’ll be totally rid of nor will you want to,” I explained. “There is strength and joy in solitude, thriving in our own company, and working in a quiet environment.”

With pen and paper ready, Brittany was ready to catch every nugget:

  • Acknowledge and accept your introvert tendencies; that includes the anxiety in social situations. Practice at home, in front of the mirror, and if you are comfortable, in front of family members.
  • Recognize your weakness: which part of a social situation is hardest for you: convincing yourself to attend? Introducing yourself to others? Entering an existing conversation? Exiting a conversation? Once you identify that, ask yourself what it will take to move past the fear.
  • Practice & prepare; have your tagline, elevator speech, and answers to potential questions memorized. Know them so well that you can present without freezing or Filler Words.
  • Go with a goal: what do you wish to accomplish from this event? You are there for a reason, so have your goals memorized so you don’t flee when the discomfort appears.
  • Make the situation about others: start by saying hello and asking them to share what they do. Then listen. But be ready, they’ll ask you the same question.
  • Reward yourself: not before, not during. After! Have that reward waiting for you in the car or at home.
  • Relax: even with your reward and the satisfaction of reaching your goal, you’ll be exhausted. Find a quiet place. Block off noise, people, and distractions. If that’s difficult for your family to understand, let them know you need some undisturbed time alone.

Getting to where I am now isn’t easy and requires ongoing practice, refining, pushing past self-doubt and sometimes tears. What keeps me going is the desire to solve content catastrophes for my clients—making the client my priority. With time, patience, and understanding, you can do it and remain true to yourself.

To learn more about my GOYA Strategy and introvert coaching, call me at 314-856-5747 or write me at kris@kristhescribbler.com

Kristen Edens
An introvert in business

Doing the Hustle: What’s your Definition for Business Success?

Photo by: Romondo Davis

What’s it take to have a successful business?

Have you ever asked this question—to yourself, a mentor, or a business coach? If you have, most often it’s answered with one word: hustle!

But what does this mean? Is it the same for everybody? Every industry? Or is it individualized?

I believe it is individualized, based on needs and goals. I knew I needed to get outside of my comfort zone as an introvert; I needed to ‘get out there’ to put a face with a name and to build awareness if I expected any business growth. Action steps: I attended 4 to 5 networking events within a 150 mile radius per week, for over three years, perfecting my tagline and elevator pitch and identifying my target audience. The result: I gained a better understanding of my customer persona, their pain points, and obtained several speaking engagements and appearances on podcasts. Eventually, I could enter a new event with someone approaching me to say, “Hey, aren’t you Kris the Scribbler? I’ve heard of you!” This is now spreading through social media and when I attend national conferences.

While this is my experience, I was curious how other business owners and entrepreneurs defined hustle. Here are their words:

Dick Slackman, Tenby Technologies: working hard and smart to get things done. Identify what that is for you and DO IT.

John Vitale, VP of The Small Business Administration says: bust your butt to make your product, service, or idea stick. Cultivate the opportunities through online and offline activities to gain 1-to-1 conversations. Surround yourself with other like-minded people because they are the ones who can refer or connect you with someone helpful.

Greg Christoffel, The SCORE Association: be prepared to talk to anyone who asks about your product, service, or idea without fearing what they think. You must be willing to take any feedback without the expectation of something grand. You’ll find that support comes from unlikely people and places.

Robert Arnone of Arnone Specific Chiropractic: this means not getting comfortable with where you are at; there is no relaxing. Push for more.

Jane Wyatt, Independent Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics: Keep looking forward for what can be done next to improve your business and make your customers happier. Continue to budget and make goals, but don’t quit when a milestone is reached; make a new goal. Deflect negative energy.

Sandy Tomey, The Love Luminary: make swift and efficient forward movement toward an intentional goal. Define what that is for you and pursue it.

Stan Jechura, All Safe Inspections: If opportunity doesn’t knock, break the door down! Be proactive. Nothing will happen on its own so it is up to you to make what you want happen. He began his home inspection service by placing door hangers on every for-sale house within his region. It didn’t get him any business, but he proved to himself he could get it done which motivated him to do even more.

Tom Van Cleave, Data Dynamics: he believes entrepreneurs are too focused on obtaining funding rather than sales. “While it will take longer, it’s more effective to hustle for funding through customer sales.”

Les Landes, Landes & Associates: go after what you want like a bat out of hell: make the first move, the first call, promote and go way beyond your comfort zone.

How do these views influence you? Do you agree or have a different approach? The common denominator for all respondents was to keep up or be left behind.

How do you hustle for business success?

Kristen Edens
Kris the Scribbler