Arlington Entrepreneurs

Archives for Arlington Entrepreneurs

Reflections of an Arlington Entrepreneur: Margy Rydzynski

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In this new interview series, we meet our Arlington Entrepreneurs Premium members. We begin with Margy Rydznksi, founder and Community Manager of Arlington Entrepreneurs. 

 

Tell us about your business.  Who do you serve? What difference do you make for your clients or customers?

Arlington Entrepreneurs is a networking and business development organization for people who are self-employed. We’ve been in business 10 – 12 years.

Freelancers and all other members of the “gig economy” have unique needs which other business organizations may not prioritize. For example, freelance workers often work in isolation, even if they’re at a coffee shop or co-working center. Arlington Entrepreneurs offers a wide range of social and networking activities designed to get people out of their offices and into the world where they can enjoy the company of other entrepreneurs and also get essential networking done with a group of people who share their needs and skills.

Freelance workers have to wear many hats. They are their own product developers, marketers, accountants, social media and newsletter publishers and computer support specialists. At the same time, they’re running a specific business. Needless to say, many who work in this environment are at a disadvantage since they the lack the financial resources and expertise to manage all these responsibilities. To meet this need, Arlington Entrepreneurs offers a series of educational networking seminars, often with follow up activities or “office hours” for those needing more help with a certain set of tasks.

Arlington Entrepreneurs is also working on some computer infrastructure products such as self-guided WordPress websites and the ability to create virtual classrooms, publish podcasts, set up e-commerce sites and more. The AE website itself is set up like a social network, where members get their own profile page and can interact with other members. Members can also join groups and host their own events, among other things.

AE’s emphasis on combating isolation and providing skills where and when needed has given it a strong community identity. Many have said that events run by Arlington Entrepreneurs are very different from other networking organizations.

What’s your next major business goal?

Arlington Entrepreneurs started out as a free resource. In the intervening years it has become one of the few voices for independent workers. Given its current size and scope of activities, it’s become crucial for the network to create a viable revenue stream. The organization convened an Advisory Board in 2016 and is currently working towards meeting this goal. It also began to consult with the Center for Women and Enterprise in 2018.

What advice or tips would you like to share with other Arlington Entrepreneurs?

Computer literacy is critical to the success of any business, especially very small ones. I would advise members to become more active on the site itself and also make it a point to attend at least the networking seminars. We have a lot to offer but it’s up to each individual member to take advantage of the resources that are available. I would also urge members to create and manage groups within the larger network. Group managers can run their own events, link their website or blog to the group and create forum-like conversations to ask and answer questions or work out joint strategies.

How can we learn more about what you do?

As the Community Manager of Arlington Entrepreneurs, I make it a point to be as available as possible to members or others considering joining the organization. Send me an email and we’ll meet for coffee! Come to an event and meet us in person. We also have a set of very dedicated Advisory Board members who would love to meet you and help you join our community. We’re here to help you!

Would you like to be featured on the Arlington Entrepreneurs website? These profiles are just one of many benefits of Arlington Entrepreneurs Premium membership.  Learn more at  http://arlingtonentrepreneurs.org/membership-has-its-privileges/

 

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act May Affect Your Business

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With a shout-out to the National Freelancers Union, here’s an article with more specific information about the advantages and disadvantages of the new tax law. Give it a read. If you have an accountant, you should be talking to them about upcoming changes.

How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act impacts freelancers

In case you missed it due to the holiday rush, President Trump recently signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), representing the broadest reform of tax laws in three decades.

With the new laws now taking effect, you’ll notice both some positive and negative aspects related to individual and business taxes. Suffice it to say, the TCJA will impact you as a freelance professional.

Read the rest of this article on the National Freelancers Union Website.

Listen to Freelance Nation – Arlington Entrepreneurs’s New Podcast!

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Podcast mic and computer setup

We’re on the Air!

Announcing – Freelance Nation, Arlington Entrepreneurs’s new podcast!

Freelance Nation will be talking about all things self-employed, from business development ideas, marketing and more, all from a freelance perspective. We’ll also be talking about health and wellness for freelancers, along with work-life balance and all other issues that confront people who work from home. We’ll be tossing in a bit of philosophy, art and politics along the way.

Listen to our first podcast, an interview with productivity expert Marina Darlow, who will be the featured speaker at our upcoming Networking Seminar (don’t miss it!).

You can subscribe to Freelance Nation on iTunes, or listen to/download it right from our website!

Subscribe to Freelance Nation on iTunes.

Just Touch It! A Productivity Hack from Marina Darlow

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With thanks to productivity expert Marina Darlow.  A simple reminder, but one we often forget:
When we procrastinate, sometimes the hardest thing is to start.

A good friend and an ADHD Coach Jennie Friedman teaches this fun and useful strategy. It’s called:
Just touch it!

You had to pay bills three weeks ago, but the dishes, the new article, that microscopic spot on your nose felt way more urgent? Just touch it! “It” being your favorite Bill Pay app, or the top of that stack of paperwork, shooting you resentful looks from the coffee table. Paying an Everest of bills is understandably scary. Touching the top envelop? Do-able.

Packing your entire house for a move? – God-awful. Can you touch that a flat cardboard box for me? Of course you can. And just like that you fold and tape it. And then put a few books in it. See how you get into flow?

This Just-touch-It hack is no less effective for work-related tasks.

Making outreach calls can be paralyzing. But if you just touch. your. phone – your brain will slide more naturally into making that first call. And then maybe the second.

Writing a book? Forget it. Even writing a chapter is daunting. But just-touching a mouse, double-clicking and writing a few characters of abracadabra is… silly. Way to gain momentum!

I could get into a lengthy scientific explanation why “Just Touch It” works, but it’s beautiful outside, so here’s the TL;DR version: When you touch something, you crush the barrier to start telling your brain “I’m in the middle of this task, catch up!” And your brain dutifully begins working at solving the problem at hand.

(If you want more detailed information on the topic – here’s a good book)

That’s it for today
Let me know what helps you start a big, daunting task!

 

Thanks, Marina! We’ll see you on May 17 at our upcoming AE Networking Seminar!

Do You Carry “I Should Do It MYSELF!” Shame?

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Reposted from Marina Darlow of Vision-Framework email, May 2017.

Here’s some great advice about our tendency to try to do everything ourselves. Marina has this to say:

Let’s talk for a sec about a particular kind of shame. The “I should be able to do it myself!” feeling. It can keep you stuck for ages – you should be able to do it yourself, but you don’t. And you won’t outsource or delegate, because you should be able to do it yourself. Welcome to a vicious circle.

I should be able to make scrambled eggs without burning the skillet.
I should be able to update my website without crashing it half the time.
I should be able to know how much I made last month.

Well, no.
No, you shouldn’t.
We aren’t in the Dark Ages anymore.

You don’t have to chop wood to heat your house. You won’t stay an old maid if you can’t cook. You don’t even have to be good at math, whatever they said in grade school.
Same is true for a business owner who cannot do her social media, or keep his books, or organize her schedule. You don’t have to be able to do all-the-things, all by yourself.

 For some reason (natural harmony? universal justice?) people with brilliant strengths, those with some unusual genius, tend to lack “basic skills”. And very often they are ashamed to admit it. Ashamed that their handwriting in school was so illegible, they were never given an A. Ashamed they can’t add seven and six and conclude to 13. Ashamed they avoid phone calls to service providers (the person in the last example one of the most successful people I’m friends with).

It’s a destructive and paralyzing kind of shame (wait, is there another kind? I’m trying to think up a action-spurring kind of shame. Help me out here, I’m coming up empty).

Well, as you can imagine, I call B.S. Let me illuminate my viewpoint with a few examples of true, recognized geniuses that are known for lacking some “really basic” skills:

  • J.K. Rowling admits she’s bad at math

  • Bruce Willis was stuttering(!) for the first twenty years of his life

  • Napoleon Hill couldn’t work in an office

  • Sir Richard Branson is famously dyslexic. Do you really think he did the proof-reading for Student magazine he started at 16?

 What’s NOT destructive and paralyzing?

Zero on a skill that you are really good at. Maybe you’re an incredible saleswoman (Hi Jennifer!). Maybe you create inspiring content at a breakneck pace, leaving the rest of us jealous and amazed. Maybe your coaching skills are so rare, they are life-changing.

Once you shine a light on your genius, it’s much easier to admit you are a sorry proof-reader. And then – let go.

Automate, delegate, or outsource.
Focus on the stuff that makes you feel powerful. The stuff that makes you happy. The very thing that made you start your own venture.

That’s it for today.
Go do amazing things!
Marina (Darlow)

Thanks, Marina! Now, all of you get out there and do amazing things. Actually, you’re already doing amazing things – bravo!

Conquering Chaos (at our Networking Seminar)

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Drawing Boards Come in all Sizes

So much to organize; so little time! The tasks mount up and glare at you from your paper-strewn desk. You absolutely promise to yourself that you’ll create the best budgeting plan known to humankind but, frankly, it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

Running a business, while managing a household and having a life, is not easy. We may love what we do, but sometimes our own bad habits get in the way. Efficiency expert and AE member Marina Darlow has some advice to offer. Here’s an introduction to her approach, starting with the absolute basics – planning.

Marina will be talking about this, plus introducing some great software tools to make this set of tasks easier to manage. Our May Networking Seminar will feature a presentation by Marina, along with the chance to network and enjoy a few munchies while you’re doing it. Reserve your spot today!

And now, Marina’s advice for getting the ball rolling:

Long-Term Planning: Four GLARING Mistakes

My last few weeks were a whirlwind of activity on the client front. A few of my favorite people are all going through an intense launch phase, and a couple others are starting mega-exciting projects. All this work inspired me to write about Long-term Planning. It sounds like a pretty boring subject, so to make it juicier, let’s talk about

The glaring mistakes you (might) make when planning Long-Term

1. You stick your plans in a forgotten drawer

You never do this! No! It’s not like you made a really nice well thought-through plan, let’s say it takes five pages and… that’s it. Three months later you find it when you’re cleaning your desk.

All the planning workshops and sessions in the world are powerless against this strategy.

2. You confuse Goal-setting with Long-term Planning

Goal-setting: I want to quit my day job, so I’d sell an online class making $50K. (For the advanced goal-setters – imagine sign-up emails in your inbox, rave reviews,  thankful notes from people you’ve guided through an incredible transformation).

Long-term planning:  I’m going to do research (2 weeks), then to pilot my class (4 weeks), then collect feedback (2 weeks), then decide on tweaks (1 week), then write the class (1 week? No, that’s way too optimistic. 3 weeks, I know myself, I’ll agonize over the smallest details). THEN, I’m going to market and launch it (4 weeks), then open the cart.

Where does this timeline brings us? Let’s do some quick math: 2+4+2+1+3+4= 16 weeks, a.k.a about 4 months. Great. Now let’s think pricing, conversion rates, etc…

Many people tend to confuse long-term planning with goal-setting . Goals-setting is essential – you won’t get anywhere without a clear goal. But it’s not enough. Long-term planning is the next step –
the not-too-detailed (that’s important!) roadmap to the goal you’ve set.

Here are the key differences:

A Goal describes a finished outcome that relates to a specific point in time. It may even be a dream come true. We often set goals guided by our deepest emotions and desires – seeking independence, influence, connection.

A Long-term Plan is first and foremost a sequence of events we need to happen to get to the goal. First we do A, then we do B, and these will lead us to C. Each event has an approximate duration, and someone who’s responsible to make it happen – even if we don’t know at the beginning who that person will be. For example – if you plan to design a web page two months from today, you know you’d need a web designer, even you don’t have a specific name for the page in mind yet.

Here is another way to look at it, if the words “sequence” or “logical chain” make you squirm:

A plan is a story. It’s a Narrative, where something happens and it leads to something else. The Ring of Sauron has to be destroyed (the Goal), so Frodo takes it upon himself to throw it into Mount Doom. The heroes plan the path: to cross the Misty Mountains, through the Redhorn Pass, across the flank of Caradhras. Elrond and Gandalf form a Fellowship of the Ring to help the hobbit overcome the dangers of the journey.

3. You don’t plan the money ins and outs

If you have planned how much do you aspire to make, you’re already ahead of the majority. However, have you planned how much you’ll need to spend? Where would the money go? How much would you invest in the Facebook ads? How many VA/designer/tech hours would your plans require? If you sell a physical product, did you plan material costs?

In addition to the obvious “let’s see what my budget allows” insight, long-term money plans have a curious side-effect  –  motivating us to act. When you see the investments you need to make, your plans feel more tangible and real. And most of us won’t get off our collective butt unless real and tangible things need our real and tangible action.

The spending plan doesn’t have to be exact or even too detailed – it’s enough to say “$5000 for coaching, $1000 for software, $10000 for taxes”.

4. You stop at long-term, never planning the middle-term

This point may actually be the hardest to implement – breaking down big chunks into smaller tasks, executing the small tasks, weaving them into daily routines. This requires discipline, focus, motivation, and, surprisingly, a healthy dose of creativity.

If this last sentence resonates – know you’re not alone.

There are methods and systems to make it easier (in other words, to make it actually, you know, happen). But that’s a story for another time.

Come to Arlington Entrepreneurs’s May Networking Seminar: “The Essential Tech Tools to Run Your Business.” Come away with new contacts and some great ways to make your business easier to manage!

May Networking Seminar: The Essential Tech Tools to Run Your Business

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Wednesday, May 17 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Workbar Arlington, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington
Parking and refreshments available

Register for this event.

Fee: $20.00 per person. $10.00 per person for AE Premium members.
Event co-hosted by Arlington Entrepreneurs and Workbar Arlington

Join us in May for Arlington Entrepreneurs’s first Networking Seminar of 2017! Do some networking, nibble on some appetizers and then get ready for a presentation by AE member and productivity expert Marina Darlow.

The Right Tools

Marina will help take your business into the stratosphere with the latest and greatest tech. Learn how to choose the right tools for managing your business: time management, communications, information management, and sales.

Have a question about a tool, or a general productivity challenge? Send us an email beforehand (margy AT arlingtonentrepreneurs DOT org) and we’ll address it in this seminar.

Get more information and register here.
Become an AE Premium member.

Marina Darlow is the founder of Vision Framework. She helps heart-centered entrepreneurs clear the chaos in their business and life, by putting systems in place for managing money, time, people and information. The results allow her clients to get 10-20 more productive hours a week, along with bigger paychecks and fewer stress-fueled breakdowns. Visit her website and connect with her on Arlington Entrepreneurs. You’ll be glad you did

One Happy Hour, Coming Up!

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Thursday, May 25 from 7 – 9 pm (new date!)
Menotomy Grill and Tavern, East Arlington

Fee: $15.00 per person, free for AE Premium members

Join Arlington Entrepreneurs for our first Happy Hour of 2017. Menotomy has a great assortment of craft beers and wines of distinction, plus any other alcoholic – or non-alcoholic – beverage you can imagine. They’re also a great place for lunch and dinner.

Take a break

Chill out!

Relax after a day at work with friends and colleagues. Do a little networking, brainstorming or just plain old relaxing. Don’t forget your business cards. Maybe you have a skill someone in the group might need. Maybe you need something an AE member can provide.

Make some new connections and have a great time doing it. See you at Menotomy!

More information and registration here.

As always, this event is free for AE Premium members. Join today!

January Coffee at Kickstand: What’s Your Goal for 2017?

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kickstand cafe menu board

What are your plans for 2017?

This is going to be a busy year and we’re going to be kicking it off with our monthly Coffee at Kickstand. Join us this Wednesday, January 25 from 2:30 – 4:00 pm. Coffee at Kickstand is one of AE’s “isolation busters” and provides an opportunity to get out of the house and spend some time with other people. We will be on-hand to talk about upcoming events and workshops, beginning in February. We’ll also be talking a bit more about AE Premium, a new initiative aimed at bringing more services to our community of freelancers and other self-employed folks. We’re starting that program with discounts on upcoming events starting in February. We’ll be adding more features on a regular basis.

We also want to know what your plans are for 2017. Just as important, we’d like to know how AE can help you meet your goals. Please share your goals and your needs. We’ll be listening!

Register here!

 

December Coffee at Kickstand

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Wednesday, December 14 from 2 – 4 pm
Kickstand Cafe, 594 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington

Fee: $5.00 per person, payable online at Eventbrite

It’s getting chilly out there! Time to bundle up and come in for a hot beverage, company and snacks. Take a break from the computer or stop by before or after doing some holiday shopping. We’ll be waiting!

Please RSVP here online.

See you in December!

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