In today’s society, it seems many entrepreneurs feel it has become tougher to balance their work-life—but why? It could be many things, pressure to complete projects and meet deadlines can have you pulling all-nighters in front of your computer or perhaps taking out your phone while you have dinner with family. In the past, if someone wanted to get work done on the weekends or work late, they would either have to stay in the office until they got their tasks done, or drag themselves into the office on the weekend.
With the endless amounts of technology that you gorge yourself in, it seems impossible to escape from work and focus on your well-being. Fortunately, I am here to save you from the endless amounts of emails and pdf documents that your smartphone is berating you with even as you read this.
Creating a healthy work-life balance can take time, but it’s worthwhile knowing you can reserve time just for work and time to enjoy being alone and with friends and family.
1. Put Down the Phone
You heard me, put down the phone and step away! By having your smartphone on all the time, you aren’t giving yourself the necessary time to turn “off.” The endless notifications you look at during the day only increases your stress levels. According to The Telegraph, the Future Work Centre reported that constant access to email is associated with higher levels of stress. There comes a point in the day where you need to step away from the constant notifications your phone is sounding off and focus on things that matter most to you—whether it’s your dog, recreational activities, a television show, or your family, you need time to de-stress from work and focus on something that brings you joy.
Start today by following the rule of “no phones at the dinner table” and enjoy some precious time with your loved ones.
2. Exercise and Meditate
Whether it’s running out in the open, playing a game of basketball, or doing yoga, find an activity to burn off some steam. Work can be a very stressful environment, so it’s important for you to find time to implement exercise into your day. According to the American Psychological Association and the Stress in America survey report, 37% of adults report exercising less than once a week or not at all. Furthermore, only 17% of adult’s report exercising daily. Many people associate their lack of exercise due to the levels of stress they face, yet 43% of adults who exercise to manage stress levels say they have skipped exercising in the past month due to stress levels. With that being said, 53% of adults say they feel better about themselves after they exercise.
Yoga, for example, is a great way to keep your stress levels down. It gives a place to relieve yourself of the work environment and lets you have an hour to yourself to think, de-stress, and rejuvenate. You’ll notice quickly how scheduling one hour of exercise every day will bring a tremendous change to your mind and body, thus making you a more mindful business owner.
3. Don’t Shut Yourself In
Do you often find yourself coming up with excuses to stay in when you’re stressed, rather than go out and socialize? Although it’s important to have down time and create time for yourself, it isn’t healthy to be alone and locked inside your home or apartment every night. Make time throughout the week to go out and experience something fun—whether it’s a concert, a movie or just going out to dinner. Your business is like a child and it’s understandable that you want to take care of it and be available as often as possible, but it’s not a living, breathing being, you can (and should) walk away at the end of the work day and go out and enjoy yourself or spend time with people you love.
4. Don’t Burn Yourself Out
This is way easier said than done, right? Although a strong work ethic is important, you need to keep realistic expectations for yourself so you don’t burn out and fizzle. You want your work to showcase your abilities, so if you take on too much work at once the quality of your work might decrease. Another important aspect of not burning yourself out is to not working extremely late into the night. It’s OK if you have one or two late nights a month, because life is full of unexpected events, but it’s important not to constantly play catch-up with your work. While in the office, it’s imperative you stay focused and on task so you don’t constantly have to bring work home. By staying on task, you can keep your work life at work and your personal life separate.
At the end of the day, the work and personal life should never constantly intermix. At times, it will be necessary to make sacrifices for work, but it’s extremely important for your health to maintain a healthy work-life balance. These four tips will help you start your path to a more balanced life, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try other techniques that will make you happier and less stressed. Every entrepreneur is different in their own way, that’s why you should start by identifying what’s bogging you down and create a game plan to correct it so that you can enjoy life a little more.
Freelance is a natural fit for graphic designers. In fact, 20 percent of people in the design industry are self-employed. But why has freelance graphic design gotten so popular? How does such a huge group of people do it successfully? And what can you do to stand out in a saturated industry? In this article, we’ll discuss everything from the pros and cons of freelancing, to building a portfolio that gets you noticed, to landing clients and dealing with them.
1. Why freelance graphic design?
A freelance career is something almost every graphic designer has considered. From students about to enter the workforce to seasoned designers ready to work for themselves, it’s an industry that has thrived on self-employment. But just because it’s a popular move doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Why should you freelance?
There are many personal questions to answer when deciding whether a freelance graphic design career is the right path for you. Do you have the right temperament? A good amount of willpower and internal drive? Do you thrive on an office environment, or do you prefer a different pace? Are you a self-starter or do you need someone breathing down your neck to get work done? Unfortunately, there’s no aptitude quiz that can determine whether you’ll be successful as a freelancer, but your work habits, professional goals, and overall personality are all criteria to the consider when you make the decision.
You’ll have more freedom and flexibility, but also more responsibility. With the ability to set your own schedule you’ll be free to listen to your muse, which doesn’t always speak up during normal work hours. But this freedom can also be a burden, as you are the only person who can take responsibility for your work and your business as a whole.
You get to choose who you work for, but that also means managing who you work for. Instead of having clients built into your work, you’ll have the chance to select and screen them (depending on how desperate you are for work). Once you choose them, however, you also have to manage them. This means running point on all communications, keeping them happy, and eventually chasing down payment, which isn’t always a walk in the park.
You’ll learn new skills, but it’s pretty much required that you do. Freelancing is a bootstrapping endeavor. While you have the opportunity to pick up new design skills, you’ll also have to invest time to develop less glamorous skills like bookkeeping and time management.
Your lifestyle could improve, or it could be consumed. The flexibility of freelance means you have more time for the things you truly want to do. But if you don’t work towards an appropriate work-life balance, it can easily consume your life – sometimes more than a full-time job.
With all these pros and cons to weigh, why does it seem like so many people in the design industry still lean towards freelance? Flexibility might be the biggest draw. People want to work how they want, where they want, and when they want. This comes with challenges, but with commitment and diligence a fruitful freelance graphic design career is possible. We talked to two graphic designers who found success in our article examining why so many designers choose to go freelance.
2. Starting your freelance graphic design career
If you’ve determined that a freelance career in graphic design is for you, it’s time to think about how to establish your business.
But there’s also the more creative side of the business. Where will you work? How will you work? What type of work will you do?
One of the hardest things to conquer as a freelancer is time management. Without a boss sitting in close proximity or coworkers bustling around you, it can be hard to find the motivation to work. Face this challenge by setting up specific working hours that define your day. You should also set up a physical environment that’s conducive to work. Some freelancers work from cafes, others chip in extra to work from a co-working space, but many just work at home.
The key to working from home is creating separation between your office and living quarters. In our article on the pros and cons of freelancing, designer Grace Fussel describes her work-life balance ritual:
“Every evening at 6, I lock my office door and put the key in a separate room of the house. Even if I receive seemingly urgent emails after that time, it’s a handy technique to achieve absolute separation between my work time and my leisure time. In the morning when I take the key out and unlock the door, it makes me feel like the work day has officially started.”
This isn’t always possible, but you should try as hard as you can to distinguish your work life and personal life to keep you focused and sane.
When you’re just starting out another question to ask is whether you intend to specialize. While it always pays to be well-versed in many areas of your industry, there’s benefit to having expertise in one or a few areas.
We looked at possible graphic design specialties and the upsides and downsides to opting for a specialty in this article. Some of the pros include more professional respect, a more specific career trajectory, and the huge asset of expert knowledge. On the flip side, the cons include a potentially smaller client base, a career trajectory that’s too rigid, and the pressure of having to always be the best.
Like becoming a freelancer in the first place, developing a specialty is another big decision to make. Think carefully about the pros and cons and how your personal and professional goals might be affected by the choice.
3. Building your portfolio
A portfolio is every graphic designer’s greatest opportunity and most crucial asset. It is a representation of your experience, your aesthetic, your skills, and often your personality.
Building a website and online portfolio can be quite meta if you’re a graphic designer. The entire look and feel of the website will speak to your talent as a designer. Even the parts that don’t speak specifically to your work, like an ‘about me’ section, need to be impeccably designed. It should also showcase your aesthetic, acting as a litmus test for potential clients. This is one of the biggest tips we share in our article on crafting a distinctive design portfolio.
Most designers have a personal website that houses the basics: their portfolio, contact info, and ‘about me’ section. But a great way to boost your portfolio is to include a case study. This is a deep-dive into the work you’ve done for a client, showing how you took them from problem to solution with your expertise. If you’re just starting out and don’t have the experience to base a case study on, you can create a prospective case study based on a real brand or something hypothetical.
As you write your case studies, keep these tips in mind:
Focus on a past client that represents your ideal future client.
Detail the client’s perspective so new ones can easily relate.
Don’t be dry – tell a story about the client’s needs and your design process.
Show the success of your work through cold hard facts and numbers.
A social media presence is another must, and one that can be used to supplement your online portfolio. Several platforms offer the equivalent of a portfolio with added social features, like Behance or Dribble. These popular websites can be instrumental to getting feedback on your work, networking with other designers, and ultimately connecting with clients.
The general social media sites Twitter or Instagram can also work in the graphic designer’s favor. You can join groups, use hashtags, weigh in on conversations, and keep people updated on your work.
With all of these functions on social media, some might be asking whether a social media presence can replace an online portfolio. We dissect this issue closely in our article on social media vs. traditional profiles, and the conclusion is clear: Social media should be used to bolster your online portfolio, but don’t rely on it to replace the foundational and professional tone of a portfolio.
4. Building your network
In addition to a stellar portfolio, a freelance career is dependent on connections. Clients won’t just fall into your lap – you’re more likely to find a paying job when you have relationships to tap. These relationships might be with other designers who can ultimately recommend you, or with clients who have been following your work. Either way, there are several methods for building your network.
Marketing isn’t just for brands and big companies! As a freelancer you are your brand, and you have to get it in front of the right people. This doesn’t mean you need to have a huge budget to buy display ads or send direct mail. Our article on marketing yourself as a freelancer spells out 10 realistic and low cost ways to market yourself successfully.
The best advice? Make your website much more than a portfolio – make it a place where you develop an ethos around your brand. This will lend credibility to your name and expand the reach of your website. To do this, brands usually share content that engages, informs, and excites, and you can do the same. Try out some of the typical mediums used to do this like a blog, video tutorials, email newsletters, or social media.
Speaking of social media, this is one of the best ways to meet and communicate with other designers or clients. Make sure you maintain a presence on traditional social media sites that have broad audiences, but don’t exclude the graphic design communities where you can get feedback on your work and impress prospective clients with a body of work.
Want to get out and meet people in person? Professional networks are a fantastic way to branch out in your industry. These organizations typically offer many services that will help you grow as a freelancer, including:
Discovering clients to work with doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. In fact, there are many sites built specifically to help you with this task. We break down the list of sites in this article.
Some of these sites are better than others, and some may serve you better at varying points in your career. Fiverr’s micro-style commissions are a great option if you’re looking to fill in the gaps on an already busy schedule – or if you’re totally desperate for work. On the other hand, Toptal is a place for the uber talented folk who are ready to service top-tier clients and receive a fair compensation.
Beyond these dedicated websites, there are also basic methods of discovery. Cold-calls might work if you’re looking to service smaller businesses. Keeping your social media maintained and reaching out to clients through these platforms might put you top of mind for a brand’s next project. And staying in touch with peers in the industry is always a good idea, as they can pass along offers or leads that they’re not ready to pick up.
Often, you’ll have to convince clients to work with you because there is so much competition in the freelance graphic design space. When you want to work with someone, it’s up to you to make the sale. If you’re making your case on the phone, in an email, or in person, there are a few tips to keep in mind:
Hook them with something memorable
Identify their issue and propose your solution
Make it easy to get in touch
Sometimes you might find yourself on the spot, sitting in a room with someone you’ve wanted to work for, or asked by a potential client what you could do for them. In this case, you’ll need a go-to elevator pitch. You can rehearse certain elements of the pitch, which should last no longer than the average elevator ride. Other elements might be harder to prepare for – like information surrounding the specific client, but you can practice your hook, your flow, and your public speaking skills at home in the mirror.
Once you’ve found, pitched, and landed a client, you’ll begin the process of agreeing with them. This can be a breeze or a somewhat belabored process.
To protect themselves and their work, many freelance designers will develop a contract for their clients. This can be as long or as detailed as you want, though keep in mind that most clients don’t want to trudge through pages of legalese. The typical contract, agreement, or brief as some may call it, contains key information like the scope of the project, pertinent deadlines, and payment information. For additional layers of protection you can add parameters for revisions, cancellation clauses, etc. that clearly delineate the agreement between you and client.
As you gain more experience as a freelance graphic designer you’ll be able to template your own unique contract to fit your working style.
Of course, sometimes you just can’t accept a job. Maybe you have too much on your plate, or the design work just isn’t up your alley. How do you turn it down without shutting the client out forever? It can be difficult navigating a “no”, but there are a few tools to use when you need to make this tough call. In our guide to declining a job offer, we outline a few steps:
Help the client see your perspective. If you’re declining because your work and the client’s mission are unaligned, don’t be afraid to discuss these challenges.
If you think someone is better suited to the job, let the client know! This helps all parties involved: Your friend or peer gets a job and your client doesn’t have to dive back into the freelancer search.
Think hard before you say no to a project you love because you’re just too busy. If it’s the perfect offer it might be worth reshuffling other lower priority projects. Certain offers are not built to be turned down!
The creative process is unique to every graphic designer. But once you’ve gotten the brief for the job, it can be hard to figure out where to start. Expert freelancer Grace Fussel has outlined a detailed work process to use when you’re getting started on your next job:
Stage 1: The brief
No designer is a mind-reader, so it’s important at this early stage of the graphic design process to assess exactly what the client is hoping for, and for you to communicate what they can expect from you.
Client meeting and brief analysis Talk to your client about the brief. Ask if they are able to provide information about their brand ethos and competitors within their sector. Get access to brand guidelines, if available. Even simple brand elements, like a color palette or fonts, can be a fantastic starting point for developing your ideas.
Market research Do some online research into your client’s industry and their competitors. You’ll find that companies in some industries will share design traits in common — you don’t have to mimic these, but it helps to have an understanding of the landscape. You can also avoid any unfortunate duplicate logo scenarios (these happen more often than you think).
Mood boarding Designers have their own preferred ways of sourcing and compiling inspiration. Some prefer a physical board using clippings, print-outs, sketches, and color samples. Some use Photoshop or InDesign as a convenient way to drop in images sourced from online. Still others use online tools like Pinterest.
Sketching Step away from the computer, pick up a pencil and paper, and start sketching. Don’t worry about refining your sketches or making them look good; at this stage your focus should simply be on generating lots of rough ideas.
Concept refinement Take a pen and circle the three ideas that you feel have the most potential for development. Once you have a trio of refined sketches, you can digitize them. At this stage, you don’t want to spend undue time refining the three designs digitally. After all, two of your designs will end up on the drawing room floor after presenting to the client.
Stage 2: Presentation
When you’ve got your trio of refined designs, it’s time to touch base with the client. Designers are often hesitant to reveal their ideas to clients before they have been perfected, but checking in with the client at this stage will actually save you a lot of heartache and time down the line.
Three-concept presentation to the client If you find presentations a little nerve-wracking, your best approach is to simply be prepared. Present your three design concepts in A4 or Letter-sized pages, making it easy for a client to print in-house, and keep the pages simple and free of clutter, allowing your designs to take center-stage.
Client review and further refinement While clients may not know what is best in terms of design for their brand, they will have a fine-tuned sense of what has worked for them in the past. If you’re open to suggestions, there’s always opportunity for a lukewarm idea to develop into something fantastic. With the client’s backing you can make headway on refining the approved design. Review your drafts at various stages and seek outside opinion from collaborators.
Final review and edits It’s wise to periodically print out your drafts, take a break from them, and review them with a fresh eye. Suddenly it seems completely obvious that a piece of text needs some kerning improvement, or your choice of colors is a little too brash.
When you’ve produced a near-perfect draft of your design, it’s once again time to touch base with the client. They may have lots to suggest, or very little, and it’s up to you to decide if the amount of edits required is covered comfortably by your original quote. If not, you should consider asking for the client to pay for extra hours.
Stage 3: Technical production
Sometimes, you’ve been contracted to complete an entire production from ideation to launch. This often requires a few extra hands, especially if you’re required to print work or develop something online. Read more about the technical production stage here.
Much of the freelance life is spent shuffling between jobs. Sometimes you’re too busy to sleep and other times you’re so free that you drive yourself insane. While it comes with great freedom, achieving a work-life balance in the freelance world might require even more work than the typical full time office job.
One of the greatest challenges of freelance life is figuring out how to schedule your time – how do you complete work for clients while remaining compassionate to yourself and your down time? We discussed a few methods above, like setting specific hours, working from a dedicated location, and declining job offers when your plate is full.
Sometimes a deadline is so close that no tool can help you manage it. Maybe you procrastinated or misjudged the scale of the project. Regardless, dealing with a looming deadline can be incredibly stressful. We listed five ways to deal with deadlines, even when they seem impossible. Some strategies should be employed at the outset of a project to manage unrealistic deadlines, while others can be used in crunch-time to just get the work done on time.
As a freelance graphic designer, you should give as much weight to developing your designs as you do to communicating with your clients. A clear and open line of communication will keep everyone updated on the status of the project, and putting in the effort to communicate as you design could prevent a lot of issues that arise once the final design is revealed.
Managing expectations will grow to be a big part of your job. When you agree on a brief with your client, you are agreeing to a specific scope of work and deliverables to go along with it. Clients will push this scope, often without realizing that they’re also pushing the boundaries of your agreement. And a handful of clients might ask for more knowing that it’s out of bounds, just to get more “bang for their buck.”
Even your best efforts to regulate scope creep can be derailed by a bad client. Almost every freelance designer has one ‘client from hell’ story to tell. There are so many in the industry that there’s an entire website dedicated to the cause. We spoke to the founder of the Clients From Hell, Bryce Bladon, for tips on dealing with bad clients. The best advice is to be on the lookout from the outset. If alarm bells go off during initial communication with a client, trust your gut and move on.
Almost every freelancer has weathered a work drought, regardless of their industry. This can be a scary time, especially if freelance work is your only source of income. While there’s no trick to begin the flow of work again, there are a few things you can do to make the down time valuable for your career and to earn a few bucks here and there. Read our article on what to do when the freelance work dries up to learn more.
7. Getting paid
The first step of getting paid comes before you even do the work: Create an ironclad contract with explicit payment details. Include clauses on revisions, or at least discuss payment for revisions before you get started on them.
Try as you might, a contract doesn’t guarantee payment. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Freelancers Union, seven out of 10 freelancers working in New York have been “cheated out of payments that they’ve earned.” After submitting an invoice, days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months and the money doesn’t come. When you finally manage to get the client on the phone, you find out the bad news. After all of the time and energy you poured into the project, they’re refusing to pay your invoice. Unfortunately, getting clients to pay on time – or at all – can be difficult.
You can discourage late payments and no payments with a few proactive steps:
Set out expectations in a statement of work, and consider protective measures like a kill fee and milestone payments
Incentivize on-time payment in the contract by offering discounts or other benefits
Keep communication open and remind clients of upcoming invoices.
Exercise your right to withhold deliverables if you sense hesitation to pay
If you’re starting out as a designer or illustrator, arming yourself with the best graphic design tools and technology available will transform your workspace and your creative process. You’ll obviously need the basics – a powerful computer, a reliable broadband connection, a space to work, and an artist’s eye.
Entrepreneurs are something like a whole new race; a whole new biological species. Though they are just like any other person, there’s something special in all of them. Perhaps, it’s their intelligence, perhaps their desire to be successful and change the world. I don’t think, however, that this is a divine process. It takes several things humans are perfectly capable of – ideas, efforts, perseverance, work and discipline. Are you a would-be entrepreneur dreaming of corporate meetings and expensive holiday destinations? Here is a list of 10 things to try before becoming an entrepreneur.
Come up with ideas
Before you even start a business, you need a great idea. Entrepreneurs are full of them. So are writers. What’s the difference? Writers need as many ideas as possible. Entrepreneurs should focus on one concept only and do what it takes to accomplish it. If you follow several different paths, the chances of reaching the final destination are slim. Focus on each step every day and finish milestone after milestone. The plan is not working? That’s fine, find a new one.
Money is the most necessary evils in this world. It is not the essence of life, but it’s a nice asset to have at hand, especially if you want to be a successful businessman. Doing business means to a certain extent money management. Perhaps, you have noticed that the first thing big companies do when facing financial problems is adjusting and revising their money policies and management.
Wake up early
If you think that sleeping late will bring you millions or make you the next Bill Gates, you are mistaken. Why don’t you wake up early and use all the power and energy coming with the new day? Not only. You can have a nice breakfast and prepare your daily to-do list. Also, you can do some refreshing exercise and meditate a little bit. This will definitely prepare both mind and soul for the challenges to come.
Most people are good if not great at “locating” problems. Successful entrepreneurs are good at solving problems. Every problem a man faces is a potential opportunity. Why? Difficult situations make us think and use our full potential. So, sit down and make a plan – what’s the problem, where does it come from, what are its characteristics? And a final word, best businesses do not provide products, they provide solutions.
Read, read, read
Let’s imagine you have set up a successful business. Do you want to grow and expand? Do you want to be one step ahead of your opponents and competitors? A successful entrepreneur should read all the time and educate themselves all the time – what are the new breakthroughs, some new legislation, the right economic investment and political issues. What are the latest gadgets and how can you implement them and improve your business? In this digital era, everything changes so fast and anyone should adjust to the new realities. Invest in your business by investing in yourself. Below, you can find some three books you might find interesting:
Yes, you might not be the greatest of mathematician and so what? You can be great, for example, at convincing great mathematicians to work for you. Or you can be a terrific leader and motivate the people you work with. Do not focus on the things you are not a master of. Know your strengths and weaknesses and use them wisely. Begin with asking yourself and then ask other people what they think your most special asset is. Develop this skill or quality and you will reap the fruits.
Value your time
Time is the most precious asset we all have. Unfortunately, it’s non-renewable. When used properly, it can give you the impression of a 26-hour day. Here comes another aspect: organization. If you are disciplined enough, you can definitely increase the time you spend working on your idea, business or anything you are good at. Last but not least, it’s always about quality not quantity.
Act, don’t talk
It’s no secret that to become an entrepreneur, you must have some really decent ideas. We discussed this already. Surely, you have to be a good talker if you want to convince other people to believe in your concept. Or to talk them into investing or buying the things you sell. But what does really make other people trust you? Actions. Words might be beautiful, but if a person does not act people will not take them seriously.
Well, not necessarily. But in this digital era, most processes and their successful completion is assisted by various technology and apps. Virtually, they can save the day. Let’s take a look at some of them:
Buffer -Social media is a significant part of contemporary businesses. Don’t waste time and let this app do the rest for you.
Workflow – this is a great tool to manage the most important non-renewable resource – time.
Mint – it’s an app that helps you manage your finances, especially if this is not your strongest quality.
Failure is part of success
God, you know it! Everyone knows that, it’s been said and repeated at least one million times. But it’s true. Failure is not an antonym for success; it’s an inseparable part of it. Entrepreneurs know this very well and can give you many examples of how they failed. Maybe it’s not the correct verb. How they found a solution.
Now that you have had a taste of this lifestyle, decide for yourself if this is your game. Would it be shameful if you didn’t become the next billionaire? No, not at all. It would be shameful, however, to think that becoming a successful businessman is a sword with one edge. On the contrary, it’s a multifaceted venture, which requires various personal and professional qualities.
We all desire a self-defined level of financial comfort. For some, this might mean having the ability to pay the bills and have no debt. For others, the dream of elaborate mansions and fancy cars stoke their imagination. In a world where many navigate a rocky financial landscape with little to no financial knowledge, the challenge of attaining financial comfort can be difficult or impossible—leaving far too many simply wishing for happy outcomes. There’s a stark difference between wishing and putting plans into action.
The challenge exists for planners and consumers alike to develop a thoughtful, meaningful and values-based plan that is understandable and approachable. There are vagaries of financial decisions because so much depends on future events.
What will the markets do?
Where will interest rates be?
Will I have significant health costs?
What will be the cost of college in 16 years?
How much will I really need in retirement?
It’s little wonder why there is so much difficulty and confusion in trying to pin down all these variables.
Before you throw up your hands in surrender, it is vital to consider, decide and plan—simply because not doing so puts in you in an undefinable jeopardy. If you have been hitting the wall, unable to make important decisions, change, and improve your life (financial and otherwise), you will be thrilled to know that help has arrived.
Robert Goldmann has published a book “Act From Choice” (Clarity Publications, LLC) a self-management handbook to help you turn thoughts into action in a way that is positive, approachable, and foundational. This book is a guide for real action. It offers a step-by-step approach for improving your life using methods that work.
We are creatures of habit. Some of those habits are good; we brush our teeth, take in good food, get sufficient exercise and sleep. Some habits—not so good. We skip items that need our attention, and we have figured out how to bury the urgency. We need to understand where our habits help us and where they create roadblocks on the route to achieving our desires. “Act From Choice” brings the reader through these habitual impulses and sets the stage to understanding the concept of self-management—defined as the setting for the action of taking control of your life.
In this mind-blowingly complex topic, Robert Goldmann explains it simply and approachably for everyone to pick up and work towards a more empowering life.
The idea is simple: We make choices constantly; what to eat, what to buy, what to save, where to go—but when you inject the idea of choice, we turn up the amplification on the fact that our mindfulness in making decisions can pilot us to greater life satisfaction and happiness.
Robert’s Seven Steps from his book are:
Identify what it is you do, and how you do it.
Pick an objective for what you want to do instead.
Identify the considerations that motivate you.
Decide whether to commit.
Commit to an action.
Train your awareness.
The most wonderful aspect of this work is that every step of this guide has been considered from all angles and offered to the reader with kindness and humanity that will assist you in all aspects of life.
Money is one aspect of the bigger picture of life’s confusions and complexities. We stand in the way of our true happiness and success by allowing our unconscious habits to rule our actions and thereby our outcomes. Whether it is about your finances or your life, “Act From Choice” will help you if you’re willing to look inside and make active decisions and hold the truths close to your heart. I know you want to. I know you can.
Or you can get more creative and actually customize t-shirts with names or other items for specific customers.
Scented Candle Maker
Candles are also popular products for people to purchase on sites like Etsy and Amazon. You can purchase some basic supplies and make your own scents and designs right from home.
Likewise, you can mix a few basic ingredients, along with scents and other customizable materials, to make handmade soaps, lotions and other hygiene products.
If you’re more visually inclined, you can start your own at-home painting studio and sell your original creations online.
Or you could make a living selling illustrations to customers online.
People will also pay for artwork that features calligraphy or other artistic lettering. Or you could even offer this as a custom service.
For those who create any sort of visual art, from paintings to illustrations and more, you can also print out copies of your work to sell online at more reasonable prices.
Custom Portrait Artist
You can also offer custom artwork to online customers who want portraits drawn or painted of them or their families.
For more tech savvy entrepreneurs, you can also offer a variety of different products that you design using your computer or other tech tools.
Paper Goods Seller
Paper goods like invitations and notecards can also make for popular handmade products that people can purchase online.
You can get really creative with different materials and styles by designing your own line of handmade bags and purses.
Or you could make hats out of yarn, fleece, fabric or other materials.
Scarves can also make for great handmade products to sell online.
Hair Accessories Designer
If you want to make a larger variety of products, you can create a line of hair accessories ranging from small pins to decorative headbands.
Tie Dye Artist
Tie dye is a popular method of decorating anything from t-shirts to fabric shoes. You can experiment with different colors and patterns in your home or yard and then sell the products online.
You can also customize a variety of different fabric based products by starting your own online embroidery business.
Cross Stitch Artist
Cross stitch is a similar artform to embroidery. But it can be a bit more involved. You can sell cross stitch hoops and other pieces of handmade art using this technique.
If you’re more of a knitter, you can create a variety of different products to sell, ranging from scarves to large blankets. And you can do the same with crochet.
Plush Toy Maker
Or you can make kids’ toys from fabric, stuffing and a variety of different materials that you can find at regular craft stores.
Sculpting is another popular method of making handmade products. You can buy clay and other materials that don’t require a kiln or any other specialized equipment, so you can make your finished creations right from home.
You can also start your own creative business as a photographer, taking pictures in a home studio or even your yard and then selling them online.
Picture Frame Maker
Then you can also sell handmade frames that you create from plastic, wood or other materials. Or you can even have customers send you photos or artwork so that you can create a custom frame around it.
Tech Case Customizer
Tech accessories like phone cases are in high demand right now. So you can purchase plain versions and then decorate them using various supplies.
For more old-fashioned entrepreneurs, you can also start your own business by selling baskets online that you weaved by hand.
Gift Basket Service
Or you can start your own store that sells gift baskets with handmade baskets and other products inside.
You can also sell products that people can use to make their own handmade items. With a few pieces of equipment and materials, you can spin your own yarn and then sell it to crafty customers online.
Or you can use yarn, wool and other fibers to make woven wall art that you can sell as a finished product.
If you’re interested in creating larger handmade products, you can make your own quilts with fabric, fiber and a sewing machine.
For seasoned sewers and knitters, you can also create unique patterns that you can sell to other crafters online.
If you want to help people preserve special memories, you can start a scrapbooking business where you offer patterns or even custom pages.
Or you can design stencils and similar products that scrapbookers can use to make their own creations.
Rubber Stamp Maker
Similarly, you can carve stamps out of rubber and sell them to scrapbookers or other creative minded customers.
Or you could make beads out of clay, glass or a variety of other materials and sell them to jewelry makers.
If you sell any kind of natural fiber or fabric products, you can dye them using items you may already have in your kitchen, like avocado skins and turmeric.
If you want to sell books or journals, you can actually create your own covers and binding using basic materials from any craft store.
Large wood products like furniture might be a little too involved for many home-based entrepreneurs. But you can carve smaller products like knick knacks out of wood with just a few supplies.
You can also make your own candy products right in your own kitchen and then package them for sale.
If you want to start a handmade business that’s more service oriented, you can offer to alter clothing and other items for customers who send their items right to your home.
For more festive entrepreneurs, you can also design and craft your own custom holiday ornaments to sell during the season.
Doll Clothing Designer
If you want to make clothing but work with smaller pieces of fabric and other materials, you can make clothing to fit popular dolls and then sell those pieces online.
Pet Accessories Maker
Or you can make clothing and accessories made for dogs, cats and other pets.
Online Gift Shop Operator
If you want to make a variety of different products, you can actually start your very own online gift shop with all of those different categories accounted for.
Sometimes the best way to market your business involves having a really good story behind your product.
There are some great examples out there of entrepreneurs getting really creative in their efforts to solve problems and create new products. Here are some unique product stories to serve as inspiration for your own ventures.
Inspiring Product Story Examples
This uniquely shaped coffee mug was inspired by — you guessed it: goats. The story that inspired the product happened way back in the 13th century.
According to the tale, a flock of goats discovered a bush full of berries and immediately became full of energy. The shepherd, trying to replicate that energy, took some of the berries and decided to brew them.
In the minds of Goat Mug’s founders, the goats never really got enough credit for essentially discovering coffee. And so the Goat Mug, which is an ergonomically shaped vessel that resembles a goat’s horn, is an homage to them.
But it’s not a useless product that just relies on an interesting story. The mug also comes with a crossbody strap and wrist attachment so you can easily enjoy your coffee on the go.
Today, you know Bubble Wrap as the protective packing material that’s also fun to pop. But that wasn’t its original purpose.
Inventors came up with the concept for Bubble Wrap when trying to develop a new type of textured wallpaper. They essentially sealed two shower curtains together.
But once the wallpaper idea didn’t work out, one of the inventors had a brainstorm during a flight that the material could be used to protect products during shipping and transport.
TRX Training Bands
These popular pieces of workout equipment came to be thanks to a Navy SEAL with a unique set of skills.
According to founder Randy Hetrick, all SEALs actually learn how to sew so they can repair their own equipment if needed. So when he was out on a deployment, Hetrick used those sewing skills to create a product that would allow him to stay fit when he didn’t have access to a gym full of equipment.
He made the first prototype with an old jiu-jitsu belt and some surplus parachute webbing. From there, he discovered the versatility of the product and refined the actual process and materials a bit.
The iconic Play-Doh substance wasn’t originally meant to be a kids’ toy. In fact, it was originally made by a company called Kutol as a wallpaper cleaning substance.
At the time, coal was the most popular way to heat homes. And so homeowners needed a lot of wallpaper cleaner. But as the need for that product waned, the company needed another way to make money.
The solution came from an unlikely source. The owner’s sister-in-law ran a nursery school and was looking for a cheap way to make Christmas ornaments with the kids. She found out that the wallpaper cleaner worked for this purpose. And of course, it was fun to play with.
So Kutol took out the detergent from its wallpaper cleaner and added some almond scent and coloring, since the product was initially white. And thus Play-Doh was born.
Warby Parker Glasses
Warby Parker set out to disrupt the eyeglass industry for one reason — glasses are too expensive!
One of the company’s founders discovered this the hard way. He lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and, being a student, couldn’t afford to replace them. So he spent the first semester of grad school squinting through classes.
When the founders figured out the high prices resulted from low competition, they knew they were on to something.
Smile Squared Toothbrush
Smile Squared is a company that donates toothbrushes to children in need whenever one is purchased.
The company’s founders adopted their oldest child from Guatemala and then did some volunteer work in a dental clinic in Guatemala City. That’s where they learned about some of the serious dental problems children around the world, including in the U.S., face due to not having access to proper dental tools.
So they set out to solve that problem while also offering quality products.
Innocent Juice and Smoothies
Innocent is a juice and smoothie brand that started in a particularly interesting way. The product itself isn’t what’s notable though. Instead, it’s the way the company’s founders officially went into business.
Early on, they started by selling their juice at a music festival just to make some extra money. Then they put up a sign asking buyers if they should quit their jobs and just make juice full time.
There was one bin customers could put their empty containers in if they thought it would be a good idea, and another for those who didn’t think so. By the end of the festival, the response was pretty overwhelmingly positive. So the founders quit their jobs the next day.
Entrepreneur and New York Times-bestselling author Grant Cardone was deep in debt before building his building his multimillion-dollar fortune.
What sets the self-made millionaire apart from the rest of the population, he says, is how much he works: “Most people work 9-to-5. I work 95 hours [per week]. If you ever want to be a millionaire, you need to stop doing the 9-to-5 and start doing 95.” That comes out to about 14 hours of work a day.
Ultimately, “if you can outwork the rest of the population, you’re going to get lucky,” Cardone tells CNBC. And once you dostart seeing success, don’t change your mentality: “If you gave me $5 billion, I’d still be grinding tomorrow.”
He’s not the only millionaire who says you should be spending more than 12 hours a day, seven days a week, pursuing your goals.
Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of digital marketing company VaynerMedia, says that if start-up founders want to make it, they should put in at least 18 hours a day for the first year.
In launching a business, “you have made a decision that does not allow you, in Year One, any time to do anything but build your business,” the self-made entrepreneur says. “Every minute — call it 18 hours a day out of 24 — if you want this to be successful, needs to be allocated for your business.”
“I think one of the biggest reasons so many people go out of business in the first year, first two years … is they don’t realize how hard it is and how all-in you have to be,” Vaynerchuk says.
Self-made millionaire and “Shark Tank” star Daymond John has a similar perspective. Ultimately, the secret to success boils down to one thing, says John: “Work. Bust your butt. Get up before everybody, go to sleep after everybody, and bust your butt. That’s it.”