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The Era of the Unintentional Entrepreneur: An Interview with Kevin Reeth of Outright.com (Part 2)

The Era of the Unintentional Entrepreneur: An Interview with Kevin Reeth of Outright.com (Part 2)

The Era of the Unintentional Entrepreneur

    In Part 1 of this interview, Kevin Reeth (Co-founder and CEO of Outright.com) and I discussed some of the challenges and benefits of entrepreneurship and the emergence of a new breed of “unintentional entrepreneurs” – people who, because of the economic downturn, find themselves exploring the possibility of going freelance, starting their own business, or hiring out as a consultant. In part 2, we discuss some of the technological tools that make entrepreneurship – unintentional or otherwise – a viable option right now.

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    Kevin Reeth (KR): One of the good things about the timing now is that it has never been cheaper or easier to start a company from the logistics and marketing perspective. The ability to get your name out there, to get a web presence, to get online, to get people to be able to find you, has never been greater. If you just know the basics, you can use technology to better manage your time, better manage your processes, and then get paid and deal with the money. Open Source software, websites like ours [Outright.com], all this new technology has made it a lot easier.

    Dustin Wax (DW): What are some of the most effective and promising tools that are out there for entrepreneurs?

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    KR: We’re big fans of social networks for self-employed people, because what it basically does is kind formalize those informal relationships. And you can get it down without worrying about curstomer relationship software and all that stuff. Of all of them, I think for professionals LinkedIn is the leading candidate.

    Definitely get on Google and use Gmail and Google Calendars. It’s free, it’s awesome,  and you can tie it to your own domain name using Google Apps for Your Domain. Phenomenal toolset, and it’s completely free.

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    And we strongly recommend that people take advantage of free online tools to get a web presence. Get a blog on WordPress or Typepad or Blogger. If you want something a little more expensive, get a domain. Go to GoDaddy, get a domain, get cheap hosting, and get something very basic website up.

    We also recommend Craigslist. It’s a great business tool! If you have to buy anything, do not pay retail. See if it’s on Craigslist first. Companies are started and fail all the time. And they’ve bought the things you need and they’re going to want to sell that stuff. You can find a lot of stuff in great condition. Also, you can use Craigslist to promote your services for free or very little.

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    And then of course, once you do start making a little bit of money and Uncle Sam wants their piece, then we strongly recommend people take a look at Outright.com.

    DW: I think the real interesting thing right now is the way that data is being shared between different applications, like from Freshbooks to Outright. Once that stuff starts being really integrated, when you can put your LinkedIn contacts for instance into your CRM program or whatever, that’s going to be pretty interesting.

    KR: I think you hit the nail right on the head, and that’s exactly where we’re trying to take this. You see it with The Small Business Web, a site that was put together with the folks at Freshbooks and Shoeboxed and BatchBook and MailChimp. One of the greatest things that has happened in the last few years with the web is, in addition to open source software, the open movement around data flow. You see this with Facebook and  the number of developers they can get building on top of it, you see it with Twitter. Most of the success of Twitter is all the people who’ve built stuff on top of it to extend it in really new and creative ways. Making the data open and available basically creates the opportunity for the broader population to innovate on it and it creates little micro-industries. It’s a massive development and I think we are at the very beginning stages of this.

    In Part 3 of this interview, Kevin and I will discuss the program at Unintentional Entrepreneur and how they’re working to provide knowledge and support to small business owners, solopreneurs, and freelancers. Be sure to check back Monday!

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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