Have you seen Robert De Niro's latest film, The Intern? If not, you should. It’s about a 70-year old former phone book vendor (De Niro) who decides to “get back in the game” after retirement leaves him unfulfilled. To do so he becomes an intern at a clothing retailer ... and the antics begin.
But as fun as the movie is, the film’s premise brings up an interesting fact:
Entrepreneurism isn’t limited to 20-something millennials and Stanford MBAs.
In fact, starting a business today is a reality for anyone who sets his or her mind to it … regardless of age. And this is exactly the point author Brian D. Jones makes in his new book, Over 50? Start Your Business! Build Wealth. Control Your Destiny. Leave A Legacy. (available at Amazon’s Kindle store).
Jones (who continues the conversation on his website and blog, The MaturEntrepreneur) begins by debunking the myth that entrepreneurism is exclusively a young-man’s (or woman’s) game. This includes noting some of the many folks who started a wildly successful business later in their careers (Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s at age 52, while Ferdinand Porsche’s namesake automobile first rolled off the line when he was 56 years young). In fact, the complete list of late-blooming businesspeople and artists is inspiring and eye-opening.
The Over 50+? Start Your Business! book then goes on to provide readers with a step-by-step guide to starting a business. This includes detailed sections on: The 3 Foundations For Success, 5 Steps To Starting Your Dream Business, and a 90-Day Action Plan. You’ll also discover how to channel your passions into a successful business, rather than taking perhaps the road more travelled or expected. Plus you’ll get tips on how more mature business people can best tap into today’s Connected Economy.
The text also mixes in Jones’ insights on aligning your lifestyle and habits with success, geared specifically to those over 50 (but probably good advice for anyone of any age). Not coincidently, Jones also notes the importance of using freelance talent to accelerate business growth, as time-to-market is even more critical when you’re starting at 50+ (and probably have less technical skills than your average millennial).
An inspiring read for your parents? Colleagues? Friends?
If you’re an “experienced” talent and looking to start your own business, this an enlightening read. Or, if you know someone 50+ who has considered kicking off a startup or you feel might be a great candidate for entrepreneurism, you might want to surprise them with a copy or point them to the Kindle store edition. You might be amazed at what they’ll accomplish.
About Brian D. Jones
Brian D. Jones is on a mission to inspire and support people over 50 who want to start their own business. He enjoyed corporate success for over 10 years as an engineering project leader and management consultant. Since 1995, he has been a home-based independent consultant. Brian graduated magna cum laude from Drake University with a BA in Mathematics and Spanish. He later earned a Master’s degree from the Stanford School of Engineering, and also received his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. His website is http://www.thematurentrepreneur.com/
If you’re proud to be a freelancer, and you want to proclaim your independence and share your passion with others, look no further than our bold new infographic:
Inspired by the best-selling book The Rise of the Naked Economy(see article), this eye-catching work of art succinctly sums up what the book so eloquently explains: Freelancers are here to stay. It illustrates why there’s tremendous momentum behind today’s freelance economy, and why freelancers are thrilled to be a part of this revolution.
The poster brings to life the many elements of freelancer’s lives and careers that are being positively impacted. As Ryan Coonerty and Jeremy Neuner’s book explains, this includes advancing people’s careers and increasing their overall happiness. Not to mention making the world a better place.
<p><a href='https://www.elance.com/q/blog/new-infographic-your-manifesto-freelancer-revolution-show-world'><img src='https://www.elance.com/q/sites/default/files/page_images/blog/opportunity.png' alt='I Am The Freelance Economy' width='600' border='0' /></a></p>
Feel free to print out a copy for your office (or if you don’t have an office, fold it up in your laptop bag to rally around when you need inspiration). And pass the infographic on to others who now freelance or are thinking about joining the online work revolution. We hope you enjoy!
Elance CEO Fabio Rosati is a regular contributor to the American Express OPEN Forum, the financial giant’s online site powering small business success. Below is a recent column from Fabio discussing how companies are no longer limited to their local economies. See the original post here.
Brad Simmons was eager to hire employees for ClearMechanic, his mobile app development firm for the automotive industry. But he encountered one major obstacle: Because he’s based in San Francisco, he was competing for the talent and attention of workers who have an eye toward the Googles and Facebooks of the area.
Rather than straining to find employees in that market, Simmons turned to the great equalizer: online work.
“Living in an area where the cost of living is high, the time and money I save with online freelancers helps me be more successful and focus on what’s most important for our growth,” Simmons says.
These days, being bound to a region with too much competition or too few resources doesn’t mean you have to settle for mediocre work. It’s possible to be successful wherever your business is, regardless of what project you need to hire for, by tapping into the wealth of freelancers who work online.
That is especially helpful not just for areas that are highly competitive, but also for areas that suffered the most in the economic downturn. According to Elance’s most recent report of online hiring, in U.S. regions hardest-hit by unemployment, total freelancer earnings were up tremendously last year. This includes Rhode Island (+89 percent), Mississippi (+67 percent), New Jersey (+58 percent), Michigan (+54 percent) and California (+41 percent). The same goes for Eastern Europe, where Poland, Bulgaria and the Ukraine levered their strong technical skills to significantly drive 2012 earnings.
Though she’s far from the competitive streets of San Francisco, Alisha Fuller also decided hiring online rather than locally was the best solution for her Jamaica wedding venue, Hummingbird Hall. “Being from a rural area, it can be hard to find talent at the right time and price,” Fuller says. “Using online workers is like having an extended team of specialists, everywhere, who I can use when needed.”
Small businesses that are seeking online workers are finding a surprising level of talent, as skilled employees choose to forgo the corporate world or industry hubs to work freelance jobs from wherever they happen to live. For example, Remington McElhaney, a 19-year-old worker from remote Idaho, specializes in animation graphic design for clients around the world, all from his Coeur D’Alene home. Online workers like McElhaney bring opportunities for small businesses. Even though high-profile companies and startups are scooping up much of the available programming talent within 500 miles, with online workers, you’re never shut out from building your own talented teams.
In fact, small businesses are counting on these employees to help them compete with larger companies. The biggest needs that they’re seeking to fill online include the technology talent gap (Web and mobile app development and programming), as well as a recent surges in online content needs (writers and editors) and design needs (from Web and graphic designers to Photoshop and Illustrator experts).
As a small business seeking talent, rest assured you can escape your local economy and run free in a market unhampered by geography. It’s the key to economic growth wherever you live, so take the opportunity and run with it.
What a year for 2011! Here on the Elance blog, we want to help you become the best contractor or client as possible by providing relevant tips for your success and sharing examples of how others have had great results. Now it’s time to take a look back and see which stories that you, the Elance community, found to be the most compelling.
Whether the work week is made up of two hours or two hundred, all freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners, experts have one common goal: squeeze every last ounce of productivity out of time spent working. After all, time is money, and maximizing productivity is something that typically translates directly into bigger profits. But even the most experienced veterans of work can unknowingly fall victim to productivity killers and undermine their earning potential, or worse – willingly and actively participate in killing their productivity. Here are six productivity killers you need to watch out for to ensure that you stay productive, stay on point, and maximize your potential.
1. Weak or Absent Goal Setting: Are your goals well thought out and clearly defined? If not, your productivity will take a hit. Specific projects, job-hunting strategies, bidding practices, and your long-term career plans all need clearly defined goals and milestones to maximize output. Otherwise, you’re spending valuable energy constantly re-evaluating where you stand, how far you’ve come, and where to go next, robbing yourself of not only work time, but also a clear map to success.
Some people prefer the ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants’ method, but in the long run, this can be self-destructive. Yes, even with clear cut goals, there needs to be room built in for creative brainstorming and trouble shooting; two things that strive on the positive stress of winging it. However, using this model for an entire project, or worse, your entire career, can keep you in a constantly high-stress state causing burnout and health issues that will eventually sap productivity levels to nothing. Speaking of health...
2. Sacrificing Your Health: Health issues aren’t just a concern for providers who don’t set clear goals. Everyone can fall victim to this big productivity killer. Living the dream means setting your own hours and being your own boss, but the dark side translates to late hours, lack of much needed sleep, overworking, and other potential health issues. If you’re not sleeping enough, your productivity most likely will not maintain its optimal level.
And don’t forget diet and exercise. Long hours toiling over projects is hard on the body, so if you don’t make sure to eat well and exercise, it will show in your work. If you take the time out to take care of you, you’ll have more energy and sharper focus, making projects easier to complete in less time. This makes investing in your health very worthwhile for yourself as well as those you work with.
3. Freelance Style Faux Pas: Multi-tasking is a big buzzword and sets up many workers for a huge potential productivity trap. Some people thrive only while juggling a dozen or more projects at once. But what if you don’t?
Many freelancers and business owners feel pressured to juggle multiple projects as part of the lifestyle stereotype, but doing so is by no means a requirement and can actually destroy your productivity. It all depends on how you’re wired.
Multi-taskers need the heightened stimulation achieved by solving many unrelated problems at once. The downside is that motivation suffers when a multi-tasker is forced to concentrate on a single task. On the other hand, focused workers thrive on devoting all of their energy onto one specific task before moving onto the next, and juggling many can cause overload.
Both styles have their ups and downs. The trick to maximizing productivity is to know your style and work with it rather than try to be something you’re not. And for bonus productivity, build your team with a good mix of both styles to ensure everybody is performing at maximum productivity. Or if you’re a sole contractor, pair up with an opposite style freelancer to pick up or offload tasks to maximize both of your styles.
4. Playing the Victim: You lost the perfect deal, job, or contract you were sure was made for you. You’re crushed and can barely bring yourself to turn on the computer, let alone hunt down for more business opportunities. You mope around and do anything and everything you can think of to console yourself, except for the one thing that will actually cure you’re blues – land another deal. If you feed off rejection and let it sap time away from your end goals, you’re robbing yourself of time and money, starving your productivity in the process.
Just like with Facebook, companies large and small are hitting the twittersphere to build communities, offer customer support, engage users, and create a digital following online. Although Twitter on it’s own is a very simple, easy-to-use app, you can harness a ton of additional functionality and gain even more reach through the use of widely available apps, and we have Twitter’s open application programming interface (API) to thank for that.
As some of y’all might have guessed, I do quite a bit of the tweeting here for the Elance team. Over the past several months, I’ve amassed quite a tool set of applications that I use to help me engage with our Elance community. If you’re a business owner that is looking for ways to help stay on track, check out these apps.
Hootsuite: This one was a recent find for me, and I must say it's my favorite web-based application for managing multiple social media sources. Hootsuite offers the ability to manage multiple social media networks through multiple tabs on a single window pane (totally awesome). You can import multiple Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, LinkedIn, Ping.fm, and Foursquare accounts, and you can update one, some, or all of your statuses with a few clicks of a button.
Hootsuite also has a built in link-shortener for those distributing pages frequently, and it also provides a robust tracking feature for your shortened links. It also supports multiple team members (if you have multiple people controlling one corporate account) and has mobile applications for Android and iPhone, Chrome and Firefox extensions, desktop applications, and more. And it’s free! A must view for social media geeks.
Echofon aka TwitterFox: As any Firefox user would say, using Addons to increase functionality is one of the browser’s biggest selling points. Echofon is a simple, lightweight Firefox Addon that allows you to log in, view your Twitter feed, post new status updates, check out mentions, and receive and reply to direct messages, all without having to leave your current browser window. It’s extremely convenient to use, and if staying on top of your mentions is a must, this is a no-brainer.
TwitHawk: Interesting ideas utilizing social media and geolocation for businesses continue to come to life. If the phrase “targeted marketing” grabs your attention, TwitHawk offers a “real time targeted marketing engine” that will essentially find people talking about a specific topic (your products) and location (let’s say within 25 miles of your business location) and will either generate a list of matches for you to respond to or will automatically tweet them with a specific message you come up with. If your business becomes the topic of conversation with a group of users, wouldn’t presenting an offer or coupon be a great way to attract new customers?
If there's one thing in common across all small businesses, it's that they all want to grow. Fast. However, especially in today's economy, finding success running a small business can be a daunting task. Ramon Ray, founder of the Small Business Tech Summit in New York City and contributing author, gives his 9 rules of success to take your business to new heights.
Smallbiztechnology.com, is a very small business. Me (in my home office) and a virtual team, spread around New York City. However, the things we produce, like the Fifth Annual Small Business Summit with 500 attendees and journalists are pretty amazing.
If you're the owner of a small business you have to work harder, sell better, think smarter and move faster than your competitors. There's 9 rules that I follow as I grow Smallbiztechnology.com.
Here are my twelve rules. (If you want to read my Six Rules of Technology Success when you're finished - check it out here.)
I easily see hundreds of business professionals every month. Sometimes I see them selling something, sometimes I see them being sold to. One thing that is often missing is a good smile.
An honest, from the heart smile, is one of the easiest and most powerful things a business owner can project. Whether you are selling something to someone, speaking to an employee, listening to a partner, or just talking to a cab driver - smiling is essential.
When you smile, you convey a sense of pleasantness and calmness to the recipient of the smile.
2. Be honest
Honesty is something that we learn from our mothers and fathers as soon as we can gurgle a few words. However, as business professionals, some of you lie to your clients, lie to your employees, lie to your customers. It's not necessary. Being honest about mistakes made or envisioned problems is the best way to build trust and confidence in those we work with.
In 2005 I was calling upon many company's (BIG companies) to sponsor the First Annual Small Business Summit. On one of the calls, one of the potential sponsors asked me, "can you guarantee that you'll have the projected attendance?" My answer, "No. We might have NO attendees and you'll have lost your investment". We received a sponsorship check from them the next week and they've been a sponsor ever since!
3. It's YOU. Not Your Business
Sometimes we forget that as small businesses, we don't often have a 20 year track record of success behind our logo, nor do we have the look or feel of a BIG business that we can hang our hats (or purse or shawl) on. The most important asset we have is ourselves. Whether you are selling a copier, steak or marketing services, businesses will (for the most part) be influenced to buy from us based on our personality and "vibes" they feel about us.
John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing says it best: Marketing is getting people to know, like and trust you. Once you have these things taken care of, the sale is pretty easy (assuming they have the budget and/or need/want your product)
The smaller you are the more important your personality is to the success of your business.
We’ve seen quite a few posts come through here on the Elance Blog covering a wide range of topics. Now it’s time to take a look back and see which stories that you, the Elance community, found to be the most compelling.
Now, I present to you the best posts of 2009, in reverse chronological order:
5 Signs You Need A Website Redesign Now: If you can't tell whether or not your website is outdated, chances are it probably is. Here are 5 telltale signs that your website is in need of a redesign. After all, a modern makeover doesn’t just look nice – it could increase your bottom line.
5 Ways To Drive More Traffic To Your Website:You know your site has something to offer, but getting the right people to show up at your doorstep is the hard part. If you’re stuck scratching your head with low traffic numbers, check out these 5 basic tips to start bringing in more traffic.
Now that you’ve learned the ropes around the Elance Work System, it’s time for you to push the pedal to the metal, crank up the volume, and get awarded more jobs than ever before.
After personally spending quite a bit of time studying the Elance universe, I’ve learned that there are a few ways that you, as a provider, can stand out and shine from the rest. So before you jump the gun and send off your next proposal, familiarize yourself with the following tips.
1. Keep Your Profile Up To Date: Your Profile page is one of the most important assets for any provider on Elance to maintain. Having a well-written, fully-completed, typo-free page shows your potential client that you will take meticulous care of their work, similar to your profile page. Additionally, take the time to fill out the Summary and Keywords sections in detail as these are two key areas that attract the eyes of many employers. DongoDevTeam and Yourtravelgirl are examples of great profiles.
2. Write Awesome Proposals: Making a great first impression is key. Proposals are a lot of times the very first communication your potential client will see from you, so be sure to spend some time preparing your proposal. Aside from replying with just, “I can do this in one week,” ask thoughtful, poignant, and relevant questions, prepare a detailed timeline, establish a standard communication channel and frequency, and spec out your milestones. This will clearly state to your potential client that you mean business. You’ll show that you have put serious consideration and thought into the job as well as understand the requirements and have foresight into the project. For more on proposals, check out our this blog post: Make Every Proposal Count.
3. Take Skill Tests: If you’re debating on investing the time in Skill Tests, consider this: A recent Elance survey identifies that 77 percent of prospective clients found that Skill Tests and Verified Credentials to be important factors when making the hiring decisions on Elance. That’s nearly four out of every five employers on Elance! If you’re still debating on taking Skill Tests, remember, you aren’t playing the odds, my friend.
4. Join Groups: By joining an Elance Group, you are showcasing your talent and professional skill that is officially recognized by a sponsoring company – for example, Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Excel. Talk about real street cred. Your Group affiliation is prominently displayed on your profile page as well, which helps employers quickly identify the cream of the crop of a specific skill and expertise in no time.
Using Twitter is easy. Getting people to care is the hard part. Here are 8 tips on how to effectively use Twitter for your business. (Yes, that intro is less than 140 characters!)
Like the rest of the always-evolving social media world, finding the most effective way or ways to utilize Twitter for your business’ benefit is still a game without a clear-cut winning formula. However, I’ve put together a quick list of basics, tips, and other relevant information that will help you, the uninitiated Twitter user, get humming right away.
1. The Basics: Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know to tweet. Your message or status, which goes in the “What are you doing?” box, must be shorter than 140 characters. Once you click “Update”, your short message gets shouted to all of your followers. People you “follow” are the people who you hear when they submit a tweet, and your “followers” are the ones that hear you when you tweet. Got it? Good.
2. Slightly More Advanced: Writing is fun, but reading other people’s tweets is where the real fun begins. Read a tweet you like and want to pass it on? Copy the tweet and add a “retweet” marker (RT) at the front to spread the word. Want to reply to someone’s message? You can publicly direct a message by adding an “@” symbol in front of their username, and they’ll be able to review their @replies once they log in. (Same goes for you as well.) Using a hash tag in your message, like #laborday, hyperlinks the word and allows users to quickly follow all updates that contain the same hash tag – think of it as an open chat room. These are great for getting up-to-the-minute commentary on any topic out there.