5 Secrets to Keep Yourself Motivated

August 21st, 2010

As a solopreneur, you’ve likely had moments when you didn’t feel like getting out of bed, let alone getting into work. For me, I’ve had days when I just couldn’t bring myself to fire up the computer, opting for the lure of a lazy hammock in the backyard instead.

Once in a while, a day off can help recharge your mental and emotional batteries. But string a few days of unplanned ‘hooky’ together and it can be difficult to get back on track which can lead to missed deadlines, overlooked opportunities and lost clients.

Keeping motivated is critical when you run your own show. But how do you do that when work is the last thing you want to do?

Check out these 5 handy tips for keeping yourself motivated.

1.Give Yourself a Real Break. Taking time off doesn’t always mean we stop thinking about work. This is especially true for high achievers. But having time away from thinking about marketing, sales, delivery, etc. is critical to maintaining our mental and physical health. Give yourself a time limit to go walk the dog, go for a swim, work out - anything to get distracted. Having a time limit ensures an hour doesn’t turn into the rest of the day (or week!).

2.Change of Scenery. If you are an online solopreneur chances are you’re mobile. Try out a new room in the house to get inspired. Or, even better, treat yourself to a warm beverage at a local coffee shop or library. You’ll find other freelancers doing the same thing - thinking of them as your colleagues can help boost your desire to get to work.

3. Where’s the Carrot? Sometimes all it takes is a promise of a reward to get things moving with your creativity and delivery. Set a work goal for the day and once reached, give yourself that reward.  It could be a massage, an afternoon at the zoo or a slice of chocolate cake -  you’re the boss - you get to choose. Since no one else will pat you on the back for a job well done it’s up to you.

4. Switch it Up. The ability to focus is a great skill to have to help get projects done. But if you find yourself bogged down on something no amount of concentration helps. Try working on a different project. Choose something that challenges a different set of your skills. It allows you to come back to that original project with a fresh perspective.

5. Reach Out. Being a solopreneur can be lonely. Venting with someone in your support network can be a great way to shake off the cobwebs from lack of motivation. It helps to commiserate with a fellow freelancer because, chances are, they know what you are going through and can offer advice or simply someone offer an ‘ear’. 

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Vote For the Movie You’d Like to See Made

March 18th, 2010

istockmovietheater

 

Tired of coming out of a movie theater thinking, “I could have done better than that!”

Now’s your chance to tell Hollywood what YOU want to see.

If you opened the entertainment section of your local newspaper this weekend, which of the following films (if any) would you pay to see…?

 

SEARCH AND RESCUE
(Action/Adventure)

A Rocky Mountain Rescue Pro must team up with his future father-in-law, an uptight Japanese banker, to track his fiancé when she’s kidnapped and held for ransom by a psychopathic bank robber in the remote wilderness.

SHOOT TO KILL meets CLIFFHANGER

 

DEPOSIT SLIP
(Broad Comedy)

A foreclosure victim stumbles into an untraceable $1 million dollars from the very bank that took his home. Things are going great until he falls in love with the daughter of the embezzling  bank CEO…now he’ll have to break into the bank and put the money back without getting caught to save his future family.

 

RETURN DEPOSIT
(Comedy)

A guilty bank robber confesses his latest heist to his father, who then risks his life and freedom to break into the bank and put back the money, so his son won’t do 20 years hard time.

 

I GIVE YOU MY WORD
(Broad Comedy)

A broke Life Coach who teaches the Honesty Principles Program discovers he has an unusual brain tumour that forces him to lie for the week leading up to the biggest event in his career.

 

CRIME WAVE
(Sci-fi Adventure)

A test is introduced that can determine whether teens will become criminals…but when an honour student tests positive he goes on the run rather than turning himself in for mandatory reprogramming to prove his innocence.

MINORITY REPORT for young teens

 

TOO DAMN COMMON
(Comedy Fantasy)

A white trash trailer park guy traces his lineage all the way back to King Tut and sues the travelling exhibit to recover his family fortune only to find the curse of the pharaohs is no laughing matter.

 

GUARANTEED LIFE
(Comedy)

 

Diagnosed with a terminal illness a lifelong loser decides to make it up to his family by trying to get killed in one extreme sport after another so they can claim his life insurance…but when the diagnosis turns out to be wrong he gets a new lease on life, until he learns his family has gone into debt in anticipation of the $5 million dollars on his head and now they’ve come after his head to claim it.

 

ATTENTION SEEKING BEHAVIOR
(Thriller)

 

A self-destructive young rock star goes to rehab in a remote location only to be menaced by her stalker from the outside world…but she’s been expecting him and has plans of her own to get him out of her life once and for all.

 

HARD CANDY meets THE BODYGUARD

 

DO OVER
(Comedy)

 

A disillusioned teen is considering suicide then realizes it might be better if she was never even born at all so she goes back in time to make sure her parents don’t get together.

 

BACK TO THE FUTURE meets DEAD LIKE ME/MY SO CALLED LIFE

 

TOYS ‘R’ MINE
(Comedy)

 

When their parents are laid off and unable to afford Christmas this year three determined kids decide to get revenge—by robbing the mega toy store that fired their families and bringing down the embezzling CEO behind the layoffs.

 

HOME ALONE meets OCEAN’S 11

 

FRIENDLY TAKE OVER/TAKE US OVER
(Sci-fi Comedy)

 

A tiny planet with a very small army gets an idea…attack earth, lose the war and claim war reparations to get out from under their galactic debt.

THE MOUSE THAT ROARED meets GALAXY QUEST or “The intergalactic MOUSE THAT ROARED.” 

 

GODFATHER OF THE BRIDE
(Comedy)

 

When a hit man’s daughter is about to marry a guy he doesn’t like, he’s surprised to find out that his next contract is…the groom. Now, on the big day, he’ll have to decide whether to march her down the aisle, or send him to the morgue.

 

MEET THE PARENTS meets ANALYZE THIS.

 

Any of these make you want to grab a bag of hot buttered popcorn? Let me know.

 

10 Ways to Spice up Your Blog Posts

February 17th, 2010

 

Spices in wooden spoons

 

Let’s be honest, blogging can be a real pain. Coming up with fresh topics to write about can be a big challenge.

 

The keys to a great blog are: relevant, current content provided in an entertaining way.

 

Check out these ideas to get you back into the groove when you’re stuck. Don’t forget - for the most part, apply one concept per post.

 

1. LISTS - Why do people love lists? Readers like them because they are quick and easy to read. Bloggers like them because they are easy to write. Try…Top 10 (or 5 or 3) lists, 7 Ways to…, 3 things NOT to do…. The key here is to hook them with a great title.

 

2. INVITE PARTICIPATION - Invite your readers to participate in a question, comment or discussion. 

 

3. INTERVIEWS - Talk to someone in your field - colleage, expert, controversial figure - then write about it and/or record it and put a link to the audio in your post.

 

4. RECOMMENDATIONS - Basically, if you use stuff and you have a list people will be interested in your insights and experience - from the kind of pen you prefer to your favorite vacation spot.

 

5. GUEST BLOGGERS - Invite a guest host to write a blog for you OR swap blog posts for a month with a guest host - obviously it’s someone you know, like and trust and vice versa. Don’t forget to have your final approval for content.

 

6. REVIEWS - Whatever works for your niche - music, websites, other blog posts, movies, food, books, services, gadgets, etc.

 

7. HOW TO’S - Share your expertise. We’ve grown up in the ‘how to’ and DIY world and people love easy to follow instructions to help them get further in their lives and their business.

 

8. GO VISUAL - Whether they’re from YouTube or your own collection, photo’s and videos can be great attention getters.

 

 

9. QUOTES - Share a quote or saying from someone famous or in your field related to your post.

 

 

10. Q&A - Answer readers feedback/questions/comments.

 

It doesn’t take much to spice up your posts (and recharch your creative energy). Try one (or all) of tips and you’ll not only have more fun with your posts, so will your readers.

The Power of Storytelling and How it Can Get More People Reading Your Stuff.

February 2nd, 2010

istockcampfire

 

I was vacationing in the Bahamas recently when I got an urgent email from a client of mine: “Mike, I’m in a jam! Are you available for an urgent project?”

This client, I’ll call her Vesna (cause that’s a cool name) had been labouring for over 20 hours on a thousand word article. She was stumped and behind the proverbial eight ball. “It’s due in 3 days and my editor told me it sucked! I don’t know what to do to improve it. Help!”

“Vesna”, I said, “Leave it with me.” So she did and I got to work.

It wasn’t bad. But it was missing one critical piece: a story. People are always looking for a personal or biz story they can relate to. Once I captured that hook and passed it on, Vesna read it and instantly got it. So did her editor.

Result: happy client, happy editor and happy me with some unexpected cash for a nice lobster dinner.

Why is storytelling such a powerful tool?

Ever since we lived in caves and recounted stories from the hunt in the glow of the fire, we’ve been captivated with stories. Today that warm glow of the fire may have been replaced by a child’s bedside lamp or our 50” plasmas, but the principle remains – people love stories at the end of the day.

Why?

It’s more than entertainment.

Stories offer us a chance to live and learn through the experiences of others and offer the opportunity to apply those lessons to our own lives. Through our hero’s (and villains) we can learn how to be more courageous, humble, compassionate, successful…

What do we look for in stories?

  1.   To see how others do it and build skills by visualizing ourselves performing a particular skill successfully.
  2.   To see a reflection of who/where we are in our own journey.
  3.   To help makes us feel a part of something greater – something universal.
  4.   To give us comfort.
  5.   To show us how to work out our own problems through watching others work out their own.
  6.   To help us understand, manage and leverage our emotions.
  7.   To show us how to solve problems without having to reinvent the wheel.

Powerful storytelling can be a great promotional tool not only providing simulation or knowledge in how we can act in our own lives but also to motivate and inspire people to take action.

By incorporating some storytelling basics we can reach people on a much deeper, more meaningful level.

Face it – you already use story – testimonials, case studies, success stories – these are all a form of storytelling. How will you leverage your story?

 

It’s Not (Just) About the Writing

November 12th, 2009

frustrated-writerI have a client that I phone interview and record on a regular basis. I take those recorded conversations and turn it into his newsletter and blog postings. On our last call he confided in me “Mike, I know a lot has happened over the past week, but I just don’t know what to talk about.”

That’s when I knew that the value a writer offers to his clients goes way beyond the simple act of writing - when it’s done right, it’s really a collaboration in the truest sense of the word.

It’s not just about the writing…

A great freelance/ghost writer doesn’t just record great ideas, they help incubate those ideas. They need to be sensitive to understanding when it’s time to ‘birth’ an idea and when it’s time to back off. It’s about encouraging the creative process and knowing (and respecting) when it’s time to push and when to pull back  - and communicating that clearly.

Being a great ghostwriter is more than simply asking timely, thought provoking questions (very important), it’s about actively listening (MORE important) and listening for what’s between the lines (MOST important). Quite often that’s where the nugget, the real passion is found - between the lines.

Writing can be a tough job especially for those whom writing is a secondary skill or merely a means to an end. Helping to hold clients accountable (i.e. to a regular call time for newsletters/blogs) ensures their message reaches its intended audience in a timely, relevant manner  - a great ghostwriter can offer the structure and accountability necessary in the pursuit of success.

If you want to create value to the your information products then a writer can (and should) be an integral part in that value added process -  not just recording word for word but thinking strategically, with the client AND their clients at the top of their mind ALWAYS with an eye for business development and marketing.

So when a client comes to me saying they “just don’t know what to talk about” that gets me sitting up straight. It’s an opportunkity to step into a new level of the relationship and go beyond being merely being someone’s writer - it me into the role of collaborator and investor in my clients’ success - ya gotta love collaboration.

Set Your Sales Copy on Fire With One Word

September 21st, 2009

We recently installed two new fire places in our Vancouver Island home so we’re on the lookout for firewood and kindling. Today I saw a roadside sign that read, “Free Wood”. Like a lot of people, I love free stuff - always have. istockphotofirewoodpile

So why did I speed past the ‘free wood’ when I definitley would have stopped for ‘free kindling’ or ‘free firewood’?

Here’s why.

A birdhouse is made of wood. So is a dock and a shed and a fence and a telephone pole…you get the picture. 

This free wood could have been anything from the size of a bread box to a trailer truck load. I didn’t think they were offering either, but since they weren’t specific, I wasn’t sure - so I drove on past.

What’s this got to do with your sales copy for your coaching practice, speaking event or information product? 

Lots.

 This is a classic example of  feature vs. benefit in action. A feature focuses on the offering. A benefit focuses on how it helps the consumer.

‘Free wood’ tells me the feature - it’s wood and it’s free.

‘Free kindling’ tells me SO much more: it’s wood; it’s free; it suits my purpose (lighting fires); it’s easy for me to carry; it’s small enough to fit into my car; it’s ready for my fireplace, etc.

The power of a single word…

The reason I didn’t stop for free wood is exactly the same reason online traffic speeds past the ‘buy’ button of most sales copy - because it doesn’t highlight the benefit.

What’s the one word that will set your sales on fire? You’ve probably figured out already, it’s different for all of us.

The challenge is to go through all of our sales copy to find that one word and add or remove it.

I Highly Recommend Mike’s Work Ethic and Writing.

June 16th, 2009

“Mike’s writing, editing and content generation for the Herb, Bud and Beanstalk Boys organization was instrumental in giving them a professional, approachable and useful website. He also created extremely thorough and clear operating documents. I recommend his work ethic and his writing highly.

Mike has an extremely strong ability to communicate with others to get results - both verbally and in writing. I counted on him for his strong
work ethic, patience and sense of humour and would recommend him to anyone else seeking an energetic and conscientious team player.”

– Nicholas Mangozho, former Program Facilitator with Calgary Alternative Support Services

Sample Articles

June 16th, 2009

What’s Your Type (Your Marketing Type That Is)?

Struggling with marketing yourself and your business? Finding it hard to get enough clients to make a go of it? Spending thousands of dollars on yet another ad that turns up no new leads? Marketing is critical to attracting potential clients. So why do so many therapists find it difficult to succeed in marketing?
Knowing your marketing personality type can help put you on the fast track to finding new clients. Take this Self-Quiz and answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to see what your marketing type is and how that can help you bring in more business.
1. Would you rather have root canal than speak in front of a large room full of strangers?
2. Do you design and create your own ‘thank you’ cards and/or invitations?
3. Does working at a computer feel like second nature to you?
4. You don’t hesitate to attend networking events.
5. Does the idea that people are out there searching the web looking for counselors right now excite you?
6. Are you a great conversationalist when it comes to one-on-one, but the idea of pitching your business or ‘selling yourself’ to a group of strangers makes you uncomfortable?
7. Can you start a conversation with just about anyone at anytime?
8. Do you have a knack for turning a boring space into a spectacularly decorated room for any occasion (birthdays, Halloween, Anniversary)?
9. Small talk feels superficial and like a waste of time.
10. When you hear about a new online therapist locator site do you immediately check it out and sign up?
11. When you do a presentation, you arrive early and stay late so you can network.
12. Do you have a website and love to fuss over it and add all the latest bells and whistles?
13. When giving a presentation do you prefer to make it a ‘hands on’ experience for the attendees?
14. Do you avoid ‘cold calling’ at all costs?
15. When it comes to marketing your business, do you like to think ‘outside the box’ instead of going for the ‘tried and true’?
16. Does your energy come from interacting from other people – the more the better?
If you answered yes to 1, 6, 9, 14 you may be The Introverted Marketing Type – these types typically excel at listening and can use that strength to help them market themselves and their business.
If you answered yes to 3, 5, 10, 12 you may be The Techno Lover Marketing Type – these types are typically extremely effective at utilizing technology to develop their marketing strategies.
If you answered yes to 2, 8, 13, 15 you may be The Creative Marketing Type – ‘Creatives’ excel at design to capture the attention of potential clients.
If you answered yes to 4, 7 11, 16 you may be The Extroverted Marketing Type – This marketing type are the envy of other marketing types for their ease in meeting and making connections with people from all walks of life.

Each Marketing Personality Type has it’s own, distinctive strength and challenges. Knowing what marketing type you are can give you a leg up on your competition. Regardless of your personality type, isn’t it time you used your strength to find more clients and make more money?
For more information on Marketing Personality Types and how to make a living while making a difference, click here to buy a copy of ‘Be a Wealthy Therapist.’ 
_________________________________________________________________
Knock Out (Top Banana) Websites.

So, you say you’re an introvert and you don’t like to cold calling, networking or speaking in public in an effort to get known and to get new clients. Or maybe you feel ‘technologically challenged’ and find the idea of creating your own website intimidating. Whatever the reason, creating and maintaining a website offers a simple and effective way for therapists to market their services.

As a therapist, what’s so important about having a website? 

Great website accomplish two things:

1. They help people get a feel for who you are and what you are all about from the comfort of their own home/office.
2. They make it easy for potential clients to take the next step by taking action –reaching out to you for your help.

When it comes to marketing your services on a website, keep in mind what the best websites have in common, they:

- Are simple in design.
- Are a reflection of your personality and style.
- Identify the pain/problem of the potential client.
- Identify a potential solution to that pain/problem.
- Offer something free (quiz, report, newsletter, etc.)
- Have a ‘call to action’ for the reader to take the next step with you.

If you’ve decided that a website is right for you (or you want to refresh an existing website) where do you start?

First, ‘Google’ ‘therapist’ or ‘counselor’ and see what comes up. Take a look at fellow therapists’ sites and make a note of what you like/dislike about them. Though checking out your competitor’s sites may be helpful, be aware that some of them may not be making any money from their sites.
Try searching other websites and making note of some that you particularly like. What is it about those websites that appeals to you. The colors? The Use of Photos? Personal Stories? Layout? Writing Style, etc.

Next, find a designer who can design a site for you. You can do this by asking for referrals or simply choosing a website you’d like to emulate and emailing that person requesting the contact information for their designer. Alternatively, if you look at the bottom of your favorite website, the designers’ contact information is usually found there – contact them direct for a quote.
Note: If you are a self-starter you can find templates for website design than offer an easy, step-by-step set up to get started. Casey, I hear you have a website template for therapists, maybe you want to insert a link here.
The key here is: It doesn’t have to be complicated.

One word of caution: If you approach a designer and are quoted thousands of dollars, you need to find another designer. IBM and Microsoft may have the budget and the need for pricey websites, but yours does not. There really is no need to spend more than a few hundred dollars to get started with a basic website. You can always ‘add bells and whistles’ as you go. The goal here is to make it doable.
 

3. The Upside of Being an Introvert When Finding New Clients.

When you find yourself with low energy and feel the need to ‘recharge your batteries’ by interacting with a lot of people, you are likely an extrovert. Extroverts are the envy of many when it comes to marketing their business because of their ease of talking about themselves and what they do.
What if you are an introvert and get ‘recharged’ by finding a quiet place to be alone? Does that mean you are destined to struggle finding clients to fill your practice? It doesn’t have to.
 
Here are 4 simple ways for introverts to get more clients:

1. Most people love to talk about themselves. Introverts love to listen. Talk about the perfect match! Set yourself up as the best listener in your field.
2. ‘Be’ yourself instead of trying to ‘sell’ yourself. If you are uncomfortable with selling your services (i.e. selling yourself) potential clients will pick up on it and may focus on that, rather than how you can help them.
3. Volunteer. You get a chance to be yourself and meet other people who service you ideal clients. People get to know the real you, one-on-one and are more likely to make referrals for you.
4. Find a business-networking group that is structured. Attending meetings with formal agendas means you won’t find yourself standing around trying to schmooze and hand out business cards to strangers.

Introverts typically avoid being the center of attention. It is this ability to put the spotlight on others that can really help fill your practice.

4. How To Reduce Business Burnout.

If your car ran out of gas while going down the hill it might take a while before you realized you were out of fuel, since the vehicle would still be in motion. At some point, however, you are simply running on fumes. Once you hit a level stretch of road and the car runs down and stops – it becomes pretty clear you need to refuel (or get out and start pushing).
When this happens in business it’s called ‘business burnout’. Except the vehicle is your body and the ‘fumes’ you are running on is often adrenaline.
Feeling powerless, overwhelmed, irritable, experiencing lack of sleep can all be signs of business burnout. You may already know how to reduce burnout when it comes to your daily life – exercise, eating right, getting lots of sleep, etc. but what practical steps can you take to reduce business burnout?

1. Stop what you are doing. This is the time to prioritize things. Look at (or create) your ‘to do’ list and distinguish between items that are: ‘emergency’, ‘urgent’, ‘important’, ‘can wait till later’, ‘things that can be ‘scratched off’, etc.
2. Set your work hours and stick to them. This is the designated time you are ‘open for business’. Of course you need to be flexible and occasionally work ‘overtime’, but make the commitment to yourself that that will be the exception, not the rule.
3. Set your hours of ‘no work’ time. Time where you do not work on or think about your business. Plan to do something fun and make sure it is away from the office.
4. Talk about it. Make it a point to hook up regularly with other small business owners to talk over, well, business stuff. Family and friends may be well meaning and offer certain levels of support, but there is no substitute for commiserating or problem solving with someone who is familiar with the ups and downs of running a business. You don’t need to find someone within the same field to talk to. In fact, it’s sometimes better if they aren’t. It ensures you focus on working ‘on’ your business instead of ‘in’ your business. You won’t end up ‘talking shop’.

Burnout is not a sign of weakness nor does it have to be a badge of honor. Don’t forget, working long hours isn’t the same thing as being productive.

 

5. Balancing the Business With The Rest of Your Life.

Entrepreneurs with no spouse or children often feel little pressure to get home ‘on time’. But, when you are juggling family life with business commitments, finding a healthy balance can be a big challenge. 

So, how do you know if your life is out of balance?

We all recognize some of the typical indicators that our lives are out of balance such as: lack of sleep, anxiety, irritability, jumpy, eating too much or too little, quick to anger, lack of concentration, frustrated, sense of a lack of control, not having any fun with life, etc.

If you suspect your life and business may not be in balance, here are some tips to help get things back on equilibrium:
 
 Set a work schedule and stick to it. Make use of a calendar and a red and green marker (or red and green stickers). Mark on the days that you are working with green (for ‘go’) and the days off with red (for ‘stop’). This can be a very powerful visual reminder. 
 On your days off, decide what you will do instead of ‘playing it by ear’. Plan something fun that involves getting out to a change of scenery – it will boost your energy level.
 Communicate. Let family members know what is going on with your business. The big picture is all that’s necessary. They will be more understanding if they know you are coming upon a very busy time. Let your loved ones know so they can be prepared.
 Schedule some ‘me’ time. When you board an airplane and the flight attendants give you the pre-flight instructions, they always point out ‘in the unlikely event of change in cabin pressure’ that you need to don the oxygen mask first, before helping anyone else. This is because you are not going to be much use to anyone if you are passed out on the floor from lack of oxygen. It’s important to take care of yourself first. Socialize with friends, go for a walk, swim, see a movie, and bake some bread - whatever healthy diversion that gets your mind off your business for a few hours.

In terms of operating a business, being out of balance can lead to decreased productivity, reduced job satisfaction and burnout which can all have an affect and cause stress within family relationships. As a business owner you are the CEO, customer service expert, secretary, janitor, etc. Trying to balance your life with all that’s involved with operating a small business is a challenge. Taking some simple steps can ensure you keep both you business and your personal life running smoothly. 

 

6. Four Reasons NOT to Use Pay Pal.

Do you remember what it was like before we had cell phones?
If you had an emergency or needed to call home because you forgot if it was eggs or milk you were supposed to pick up, you’d have to scramble to find the nearest mall or gas station and hope you had change for the pay phone.
Love them or hate them, cell phones have revolutionized how we live and do business. In terms of operating a small business they are one of the great equalizers. They help make it possible for small business owners to go head-to-head with the ‘giants’ in their fields and to do it from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day.
What cell phones have done for business communications, ‘PayPal’ has done for small business owners who want to compete locally, nationally and internationally. They have made it possible for the ‘little guy’ to compete in the ‘big leagues’ by offering options for invoicing (and paying) people anywhere there is a connection to the Internet. 
But, just because ‘everyone’ is using it, does that mean you should too when it comes to billing your clients for counseling?

Four reasons why therapists should not use PayPal:
 
1. As a healing professional, people put us in the same category as doctors. How would you feel about your doctor asking you to go to your computer and pay for his/her services?
2. PayPal is owned by eBay and has had some difficulties with fraud.
3. With PayPal, when you get paid is in the hands of the client.
4. Picture this – you are in your office after your session with your client and they want to pay you. How does that work? You have to have them sit at your computer and pay you via the PayPal link. Do you really want someone sitting at your personal computer? What if they hit the wrong key and delete something important or accidentally view confidential information?

Some people recommend using PayPal until your business is bringing in at least $1,000 a month - but I think counseling is a bit different than your typical Internet business. I encourage therapists and other healing professionals to get paid by check or credit card at each session

Think about it, how would you feel if your orthopedic surgeon asked you to pay via PayPal before your surgery?

Sample Article - Thinking Ahead: How to Reduce Your Taxes This Year.

June 16th, 2009

Last year it was green tea and red wine. This year it’s dark chocolate and pomegranate juice. Each new year brings with it the latest discovery meant to postpone our own demise. What’s this got to do with taxes you may be wondering?

It was Ben Franklin who originally tied death and taxes together as the only two certainties in life. I’ll suggest a third certainty: that we always do what we can to postpone both.

Though you can’t avoid paying your taxes, by employing some of the simple strategies today, you can ensure that your tax bill in 2008 will be a little less painful.

Maximize Your Deductions – It sounds obvious but is so often overlooked. A deduction is simply an expense that reduces your taxable income. The best way to maximize deductions is to find out what you’re eligible to deduct and make sure you follow through by keeping records and receipts. Some key deductions are: start up costs, education, professional services (lawyer, accountant etc.), vehicle, equipment, charitable donations and business travel.
 
Tax Credits- Purchasing a hybrid vehicle this year? Paying tuition? Perhaps you’re paying for child day care (or even summer day camp)? If so, you may be eligible for a tax credit. Unlike deductions, tax credits directly reduce your tax dollar by the amount of the tax credit.
 
Hire Family Members – What’s the advantage? By hiring family you may avoid paying federal unemployment tax and avoid withholding income taxes and social security.
Before adding cousin Chester to your payroll, ensure that he’s being paid reasonable wages for reasonable work that benefits the company.

Hire Independent Contractors – If you can’t (or don’t want to) hire family consider hiring an independent contractor. The advantage is the same as hiring family (see above). Just make sure they qualify as an independent contractor under IRS rules.

Hire A Tax Professional – Do you cut your own hair? Do you fix your own car? Chances are you hire a professional to do what you can’t (or don’t like to) do. So, if you’re not an accountant, why waste time dealing with your taxes when you could be working on your business? By hiring a tax professional you free yourself up to do what you love to do. Besides, it’s a legitimate deduction!

Being proactive in reducing your tax bill means you can avoid the stress that often accompanies taxes. Who knows? That reduction in stress could mean you’ll live to see the next life-prolonging discovery – my fingers are crossed for donuts and ice cream.

Remember: the tax code changes every year. Always consult a tax professional for guidance on any tax reduction strategies.

Sample Quiz - How’s Your Integrity?

June 16th, 2009

For some, integrity simply means telling the truth, but it goes deeper than that. Integrity has more to do with living the truth than merely telling it. Since integrity is intimately linked with each of our own, unique set of core values, we alone are the best judges to determine how well we are adhering to our internal code of moral or artistic values – ultimately, we are the only ones who can know with certainty if we are living in integrity or not.

Are you living the truth in your everyday actions with loved ones, friends, colleagues, and, perhaps most telling of all, in your interactions with strangers? Take the ‘Self-Quiz below to see how well you do and discover whether you are living in integrity.

1. I take responsibility for my actions even when I expect the results may be personally unpleasant or uncomfortable.
2. I don’t make excuses for my actions, when I have made a mistake I face up to it with confidence.
3. I make it a point to tell the truth, even when it would be just as easy to say nothing.
4. I speak my mind even when I know I may not be accepted, understood or well liked.
5. I am straightforward and respectful in my communication with people and never resort to being passive aggressive.
6. On the occasions that I know I’ve acted out of integrity, I own up to my behavior with others, despite any potentially negative consequences that may affect me.
7. When I realize I have acted out of integrity I do not rationalize my behavior and move on – I own up to my actions not only internally, but also with the people I may have affected.
8. I deal with unpleasant situations upfront and have no unresolved issues (bills, taxes, relationships etc.) that are at loose ends and without closure.
9. When I compromise in life, I never feel like I go too far and sell out my values.
10.  I don’t lose sleep over, become obsessed with or avoid issues altogether – I face them head on.
11.  When I try to sell someone something (an idea, a service, my choice of movie) I do not avoid eye contact, blush, stammer or hesitate.
12. When I notice other people’s errors, I don’t feel the need to quickly to point them out.
13. I don’t feel separate, alone or isolated from others.
Our integrity is most often tested when our ego senses that something is at stake for us: a pay raise, a promotion, a new client, dating, pride, etc.  If you answered yes to 6 or fewer of these questions it may be time to ask yourself what you are afraid of losing.
Ego is integrity’s natural enemy. When the ego’s need for attention, recognition, personal security and feeling in control kicks us into survival mode, it can be challenging to operate within a position of integrity.