Define your mission.
Gain absolute clarity on what you want to offer, who you want to serve, how you are going to serve them, and what you are going to charge for those services. I’ve created a worksheet (click here) to help you if you’re still fuzzy on some of these details.
Crunch your numbers.
This should be done in-depth as part of your business plan, but my experience is that a large percentage of people start (and run) their businesses without ever having a business plan. However, you must at least crunch some basic numbers to see if your plan is feasible. I’ve seen a plethora of businesses fail just because there was a lack of awareness on this subject. First, find out what your overhead is by adding up all your expenses. Then, figure out how much of your product or services you’d need to sell to cover that expense. For example, if your overhead is $3,000/mo and you are selling popcorn for $15/bag, you’d have to sell 200 bags of popcorn a month just to cover your expenses (not to make a profit). You can dig deeper into this (including your personal budget and how that relates to a beginning entrepreneur) in my employee to entrepreneur course.
Decide on your business name.
Your business name should be something that resonates with you and will be easy to brand. Many people just use their name, some people use a cute play on words, and others choose a word that has deep meaning for them.
Research and make sure no one else is currently using this name.
You can do this by typing your desired name into your favorite search engine and seeing if any other businesses come up. If that passes, go to the second stage, and check the US Trademark Office by typing in your desired business name. Finally, check with your Secretary of State to see if there are any businesses registered in your state with the name you want to use. For Oregon, you can find that information here. For other states, a quick Google search will find you the website you need.
Secure your URL
URL stands for Universal Resource Locator, but really it just means your website address. You can see if the URL you want is available by going to www.godaddy.com. Remember that your URL should be something short and easy for people to remember and type into a search engine. For example the business “Deschutes Resolution Center” is www.deschutedrc.com. Also, make sure that your name doesn’t accidentally say something that you don’t want it to. For example, the company “Who Represents” unintentionally becomes www.whorepresents.com. For more URL fails, click here.
Decide if you want a logo or image to represent your business.
You don’t have to have one, but it can help people recognize your business and it can evoke a powerful feeling in your prospective clients. It’s also helpful to use in marketing and branding. You can make this yourself, have a friend help, hire a professional branding company, or use an online service. If you are going to design the logo yourself, make sure that you don’t use images from the internet unless you purchase them with rights to use them. If you are going to hire a local company, you can Google to find ones in your area. In my area of Bend, Oregon, I recommend Adelle Dittman or Kate Miller. If you are going to select an online service, I suggest one of these: Tailor Brands, or Fiverr.
Research Business Structures
Next, you need to establish your business as Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, Limited Liability Company or S-Corporation. You can read more about these business types here. The easiest and cheapest to start is the Sole proprietorship. Barbara Weltman, a tax and business attorney and author of such books as J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes says. "As long as you are the only owner, you automatically become a sole proprietorship by conducting business," However, you still might have state and city laws to comply with.
Register your business in your City
Establish your business in the city where you live and work. You can Google to find out how. Usually, there is a small free $25-$100. For Bend, Oregon, you can register your business here.
Register your business with your State
Establish your business at the State level. You can Google to find the specific website in your state, for Oregon, you can click here. Usually, there is a slightly larger fee ($100-$150).
Register your business with the IRS
Depending on how you establish your business, check with the IRS about any paperwork you need to file. If you will have employees, you will need to do further work with the IRS (like getting an EIN #). If you are just opening a Sole Proprietorship (recommended for any small or home-based business), you can just use your social security number and to your personal and business taxes together.
Purchase Business Insurance
Even Sole Proprietors need general liability insurance because they are personally liable for all debts and obligations of the business. Different types of businesses need different types of insurance, so talking to an insurance professional is advised. When I first started my business, I just added my business insurance onto my Geico plan with my auto insurance. It’s really simpler than you think.
Get a Business Email
There is a plethora of ways to do this. Some people choose to just get a free Google email like email@example.com. You can also usually get and @yourbusinessname email hosted with your website. GoDaddy, recommended above, does that for a very reasonable rate.
Open a Business Bank Account
Choose a Bank or Credit Union to establish your business at. I’d suggest calling around or researching online to find our what requirement various banks have and the services they offer. After you’ve made a selection, make sure to ask them what paperwork you’ll need to bring into open your account. Most banks will need a copy of your business license, or something similar.
Secure a Location for your business
If you are going to start a home based business, then you need to set up a space where you can work, purchases a file cabinet where you can keep all your documents and create a system where you can stay organized with your business tasks. I’ve met many business owners who skipped this step and ended up missing out on opportunities because of it. For example, keeping (and documenting) all your recipes for business purchases will help you write off those expenses at tax time. If you are going to rent an office or a retail location, there is an entire other list of steps (not included here, but visit my blog for more information).
Establish a Business Phone Number
If you are going to have a business-only phone, now is the time to sign up for new service. Most business owners I know these days just use their cell phone. In this case, make sure to change the outgoing message on your phone to reflect your business, and make it sound professional.
Build a Website
Any business in this day and age MUST have a website. You can hire someone to build your website, or you can build your own using one of the many applications available online. I personally like Weebly (www.weebly.com). I find it easy to use, and I love being able to update it whenever I want to without having to go through a third party or a website designer. You can direct your website to any url(s) you buy (above). Make sure that you fill in the back SEO part of each page on your website. For clients coaching with me or taking my employee to entrepreneur course, we can build your website together using Zoom during our session time.
List your Business with Search Engines
· Google: https://www.google.com/business/
· Yahoo: https://help.yahoo.com/kb/SLN26672.html
· Bing: https://www.bingplaces.com/
List your Business on Referring Sites
This helps drive more traffic to your site. Make sure that you have a solid bio rich with key words and that all your information (address, phone, etc) is accurate and matches on each of the referring sites.
Create printed materials
At the very least, you will need business cards. Depending on your business you might also want to create posters or brochures. Vista Print is an inexpensive easy way to get started.
This is where you are going to go out and sale yourself. Many entrepreneurs find this to be the most difficult task. In order to sell yourself, you have to believe in yourself. You have to be confident, clear and comfortable with your products, or services and what you charge for them. People can feel your energy, and it is important that you are aligned (thoughts, emotions, and actions). If this is an area where you struggle, you can work through your blocks in my employee to entrepreneur course.
Once you are aligned, you can confidently and gracefully communicate with people who need your services. Tell your family and friends about what you are doing. Offer free courses or workshops relating to your business, identify people and businesses that could use your services and go talk with them. Drop of brochures and put up flyers. Go out and shine!
Business is an expansive and exciting subject, and this blog has just begun to discuss the tip of the figurative iceberg. For a more in-depth exploration, read more of my blogs or join my employee to entrepreneur course.
So, you’ve found yourself in a situation where you are having a conversation, a Facebook discussion, or a text battle with someone who has a different opinion than you. Maybe it is even an opinion that you vehemently disagree with, or causes you to have bile rise up from your gut. It’s okay. Here’s how to handle it.
Take a Time Out.
If you are feeling angry, defensive and reactionary – you are in your reptile brain, and there are only three things you can do in your reptile brain: Fight, Flight or Freeze. Since these three things will not help to have a productive conversation, you need to get back into your cortex or thinking brain. For more information about that reactionary space, also known as an amygdala hijack, or being in your reptile brain, check out my blog here.
Okay, now that you are back in your cortex and you can operate like a human and not a reptile, the first order of business is to listen. Now, let me tell you a secret about listening… most people don’t know how to do it. The lack of listening skills is epidemic in our American culture. I have a blog on listening here, but these are the basics you need to know in a situation where you are conversing with someone with a vastly different opinion than you.
“You said it even better than I could have said it”
“Yes! You totally get me!”
Then, and ONLY THEN, can you go to the next step.
Share your position.
Now that you are positive that you’ve heard and understood the other person, you can clearly express your opinion. To allow yourself to be more easily heard, use these tips:
Be aware of your energy. Lets be honest here, when someone thinks that you are wrong, dumb or foolish – you can feel that energy. All of us have had a time when we’ve experienced someone’s words being nice, but their energy saying something very different. So, keep your energy open and curious.
Keep your Language Positive. Stay away from name calling, labeling, or using sweeping generalizations.
Use Expansive Words. Stay away from closed words like “always” and “never” that limit possibilities. This also includes ‘should-ing on’ people. Don’t ‘should’ on someone. No one should be a different way. Allow others to be exactly who they are. For list of expansive language, click here.
Do not use sarcasm. Sarcasm can often be misunderstood and can frequently feel like a put-down. If you do use sarcasm, clarify it and your reasons for using it.
No ad hominem attacks. This basically means, do not direct your argument against the person, remember to direct it at the position they are maintaining.
Offer Respect. Never be disparaging with another human. ALL of us have value and our environments created all of the opinions, feelings and thoughts we each have. Stay open and curious about why the other person sees the world as they do (especially if it’s vastly different than your own world view).
Check in. Ask the person to repeat in his or her own words what you have said so that you can make sure that no miscommunication has occurred.
You can repeat this process as many times as you need to. Even if both of you walk away retaining your original opinions, you will walk away feeling good because you have been heard, accepted, acknowledged and respected.
It’s not about forcing people to think like us and be like us, folks. It is about sharing ourselves in an open and vulnerable way and listening to others with the intent to understand them.
This is communication. This is how we make a difference in the world.
When I was a little girl I was taught to be a peacemaker. Keep everyone happy, don't offend anyone, don't make waves, be neutral, accept people for who they are, be non-judgmental, and be quiet and compassionate. Many of these things on the surface seem like wonderful ideals. I still tout silence, compassion, acceptance, and being non-offensive. However, I believe that these ideals can be used to such an extent that instead of creating more peace, they actually create less peace.
Let me give you a few examples. In my first marriage when my husband would lose his temper yelling at me and breaking things, I sought to understand him, to be compassionate, and to not judge him. I put my own self at mental and emotional harm (repeatedly) in order to keep my (internal) status as the peacemaker. However, I didn’t create more peace in my home. In fact, by not standing up and saying, “No.” the peace in my home gradually decreased until I was so broken and afraid that I left the house in secret with my small child and the clothes on my back.
I once worked with a client who loved her adult son so much, and wanted to accept him for who he was, be nonjudgmental, not make waves in the family, and above all give him ‘unconditional love’ that she allowed him to stay a part of their lives even as he got deeper and deeper into doing and selling drugs. By not standing up and saying, “No.” others in this family (even her grandchildren) were exposed to drugs (and some became addicts) because of this person. The peace in their family was not increased by these common ‘peacemaker’ traits, but rather, over years the peace decreased.
There once was a woman named Rosa Parks, and many like her, who every day stood or moved to the back of the bus so that white people could have the front 10 seats of the bus, as designated by law. By doing this, they did not increase the peace in our country. Then one day, December 1st, 1955 to be exact, she said “No.” By saying no she changed the course of history. She increased the peace in our country, and for her entire race.
Now, in our current times, there is this guy named Colin Kaepernick who started a movement of kneeling during the national anthem. He said, “No.” to standing to honor an anthem that was written when slavery still existed and contains a third (not-often sung) third verse that talks about how slaves cannot escape the “terror of flight or the gloom of the grave”.
When asked why knelt he said, “I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Colin’s statement explains that he felt that it was morally out of alignment for him to stand for a song that touted the land of the free when many people of color still have fewer rights in our country. It would be saying that something was what it was not (what we, in essence, call lying), and so he took a knee.
When a player is hurt on the field, the other players take a knee to show respect for that injured player. Kaepernick and the other men who followed are taking a knee to show respect for our injured nation. I believe that this will also go down in history as one of the Civil Rights movements that brought our country more peace.
Building healthy boundaries and learning to say no is paramount to creating more peace in our lives (and in our world). This takes courage to do, and in order to do it, we must examine who we are and what we stand for. We must be willing to make our morals visible in our actions. We must be willing to take criticism. We must learn that saying no and having boundaries is a part of love not in opposition to it.
It is important to note that sometimes the road switching from allowing everything to having healthy boundaries can be bumpy. When I first left my ex-husband and started saying no, things go so bumpy that I had to get a restraining order for my son and I. Right now, I see Kaepernick’s actions creating waves, putting our country on a bumpy road. I think it’s great because I’ve witnessed time and again (with myself and my clients) that change is bumpy, but new (better) results are on the other side.
What are you currently allowing in your life in the name of ‘peacekeeping’? What are your actions really creating? Is it increasing the peace in your life and in the world? Are you willing to be courageous enough to learn how to create healthy boundaries?
You are allowed to say "No" anytime you are being treated with injustice or you witness another person being treated with injustice. At work, At home, With family or strangers. You are always allowed to say, "No."
Dr. King said, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”.
If you, like me, were taught to be a peacekeeper, I challenge you to redefine what that means. Are you promoting the absence of tension, or are you fighting for true peace, which is justice for all?
Dear NFL Players and Coaches,
We are fans of the game of football. We spend our fall/winter watching you play because we appreciate the skills you have spent most of your lives perfecting. We also understand that with these skills you have become very visible to everyone in the world, achieving fame, and with this fame, great responsibility.
Thank you so much for recognizing that when it comes to freedom and liberty for all, there is no "personal life" and "work life". Social justice encompasses both those areas. Freedom of speech gives you the right to stand up for injustice and inequality, and you should always take your right to do this. Always.
Most of us here in the real world are too afraid that we would become unemployed were we to behave in our workplace the way many of you are in yours. You inspire us to stand up for injustice even at a personal cost to ourselves. Thank you for showing us how to be the land of the brave.
The National Anthem is part of the the country we enjoy. It is your job, as an American, to stand up, sit down, take part, abstain, and do whatever it takes to uphold America as the land of the FREE and the brave. Do your job and continue to remember that when people of any country "keep their personal lives out of" atrocities can occur.
Your social statement, on and off the field affects positive change to bring communities together. Continue to stand up for equality and inclusiveness, and to not allow our president to foster more anger and divisiveness among us. We are all American, and no one should be punished for standing (or kneeling) in protest for injustice.
Your Fan (and a passionate advocate for liberty and justice for ALL)
I recently organized an event for my community, and I enrolled 225 volunteers for a two-day fundraiser! I'd love to share with you the steps I took to create this success.
First, a note on success creation and building positive relationships, then we'll get down to brass tacks. My experience is that you can do all the right things, but if you are not coming from the right energy, you will not experience positive results.
The most common energy that I see non-profits, businesses and entrepreneurs get stuck in is desperation. When this energy is behind all of your actions, your actions become less powerful and can be perceived as predatory and sales-y. This is never the warm, attractive invite that you want to put out to your community or prospects.
This means that your first order of business is to get yourself aligned. I have other blog posts about how to do this if you are interested. When you achieve this alignment, then you can come from a plus of confidence, win-win, and collaboration.
Now, a quick note about relationships to ensure your next event or endeavor prospers. Here is the big secret: It’s all about relationships. It doesn’t matter what you are doing or what you are selling – it is the relationship that matters. Authentically investing in the relationship by genuinely caring about the people you interact with (yes, every single contact) will allow your business or organization to flourish. In addition to caring for your contacts, the second part of a relationship is sharing yourself, being vulnerable, open, and honest. Even in the professional world, I suggest revising your emails, letters and phone scripts to include space for you to share about yourself and learn more about your prospects.
Okay, and now down to the actual ‘to do’ list for enrolling volunteers:
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, suggestions, or to just to share a story.
So, you’re hosting an event in Bend, Oregon? Wonderful! Here are some ways to promote your event:
#1 Create a logo/graphic for your event. It’s helpful if the jpg has an image, your event title, your event dates and times, and your event website. This way someone has all the info they need without having to read the text of your listings. To make these images, you can use a free software like befunky.com or picmonkey.com. You can also use Microsoft Word to layer images and text, and then save as a PDF and you zamzar.com to convert your file into a jpg.
#2 Make a poster, or have a poster made, promoting your event. We have lots of great designers in Bend, Oregon. Here are a few I love: Bend Rubber Stamp on Bond Street in Downtown Bend for my printing needs. They are amazing!
#3 Distribute your poster to local businesses that are willing to display it. Usually bars, coffee shops and break rooms are great places to put up posters.
#6 Engage with Facebook groups that apply to the niche of your event (you have to do this as a person, not a business). There are group like these ones that can be really helpful to connect with people looking for specific events in the area:
discussion area of your event to build excitement. You can share stories of how you are preparing for the event, you can share photos of the previous year’s event or things to expect at this years event, and you can share quotes connected to your events niche.
#7 Create a hashtag for your event, and invite people to post their pictures on Instagram or Facebook using this hashtag. You could also have a photo contest with these photos. Make sure that you use these hashtags on all your social media posts.
#8 List on all Bend event sites:
#9 If you have a website, make sure all of your event information is listed on the website. If you have a blog on your website, make sure to write a blog (or blogs) about your event. You can even list them on appropriate directory sites, then make sure to fill in the SEO section of your site, and ping your blog so that it can be found easily on the Internet.
#10 Contact local hotels, bed and breakfasts, air bnb’s, vrbo’s (etc.) and ask if you can leave a flyer/poster at their location or in their rooms.
Mindy Amita Aisling
ICF Life Coach,
NFPT Fitness Trainer,
OMA Certified Mediator
Mindy Aisling is a certified life and business coach in Bend, OR, exceeding all of the educational requirements & training set forth by the ICF.
She has worked with such organizations as St. Charles Hospital, Soroptimists, The Dispute Resolution Center, Olympic Medical Center, Americorps, and Juvenile and Family Services.
Mindy has been featured in the New York Times, The Seattle Times, The Bend Bulletin, The Peninsula Daily News, KOMO 4 TV, The Oregonian and many more. You can learn more about Mindy here.
Mindy offers professional, affordable online coaching to clients around the world, and local coaching to clients in Bend, Oregon.
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