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10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business

10 Things You Realize When You Start Your Own Business
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If, like me, you have been an employee your whole life, and your immediate family have all been employees, jumping off of the employee treadmill and starting a small business is going to turn your mind inside-out in some pretty profound ways.

In fact, you might spend the first year or so of your new career spinning your wheels with a deer-in-the-headlights look, and therefore not getting a whole heck of a lot done. That’s okay; it’s why God created unemployment benefits and temp jobs. And don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it.

Here are some of the things that have melted my mind:

1. When you start your own business, you’ll never, ever have to go job hunting again. Ever.

Sure, there may be times when you’re tight on cash and have to work at a café or take on some freelance projects for a little while just so you can eat, but this is totally different from thinking of a job as being a long-term “career”. You know that this job a tactical move to tie you over until your REAL career – your business – picks up again.

(Of course, you probably won’t want to tell that to your temporary boss.)

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2. When you start your own business, you’ll never waste your time and energy making someone else rich again.

You’re working for one person: YOU. And you’re working to make YOU rich. Not Wal-Mart, not the neighborhood repair shop – YOU. Nobody else.

(Okay, maybe the “rich” part hasn’t happened yet, but the potential is there.)

3. When you start your own business, you’ll never have to put up with awful bosses or office politics again.

You may one day BE a crappy boss; and if you are, your business will suffer, so you’ll either learn to stop scaring off your staff or go belly-up. But you can control you. You can’t control your boss or your coworkers.

4. When you start your own business, you’re going to work harder than you ever have in your life … and you’ll love every minute of it.

Why? Because you’re figuring out how to make yourself rich. It’s hard to have that kind of motivation when you’re working for someone else.

5. When you start your own business, other business owners and CEOs become your peers, not your employers.

When you call up technical support, you’ll realize that the CEO of the company who made the product you’re using isn’t just some faceless goon who might show up in the media now and then if they’re famous enough. No, they’re ordinary, flesh-and-blood people, just like you … who started out small, just like you. In fact, if it’s a small company you’re dealing with – say, an iPhone app developer – when you make that technical support call, you might even end up talking to the CEO herself.

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Suddenly, the playing field just got even.

6. When you start your own business, you, and you alone, are responsible for your income.

This means that you’re going to become obsessed with two things: marketing yourself, and keeping your customers happy. No marketing or doing a lousy job means no customers, which means that you don’t eat. You get direct feedback from your efforts.

It’s your butt on the line. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

7. When you start your own business, you’ll find out who your real friends are.

As much as your friends and family may love you, and as much as you may love them back, the ones who are employees are simply not going to “get” what you’re doing. Their butts aren’t on the line like yours is. So while they may offer lip service to supporting you, you can’t rely on them to help you out in meaningful ways.  It’s not their fault; they mean well, but ya gotta actually walk in someone else’s shoes to really understand them.

(Don’t be surprised if you start hanging out with other business owners more than you do your old friends.)

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8. When you start your own business, you’ll realize that you have the potential to be paid what YOU’RE worth, not what the job is worth.

Even if the money part doesn’t happen overnight, it’s hard to describe the feeling when you realize that your income isn’t, by default, limited by the arbitrary amount set by the company you work for.

That “glass ceiling” everybody’s always talking about? Gone!

9. When you start your own business, you’ll learn how to manage your money really, really well.

Forget buying $300 sunglasses or blinging out your pickup with fancy chrome wheels. Since you’re not always going to be able to count on a set amount of money coming in each month, you’re going to think twice before spending your hard-earned cash on anything you don’t need.

At first, expect 99% of your income to go toward paying bills, buying food, or covering business expenses. Anything left over, you’ll probably want to sock away for the next lean month.

10. When you start your own business, you’ll feel freer, smarter, more independent, more resourceful, more in control, and more powerful than you have ever felt in your life.

Economies and governments may collapse, financial systems may fail, but if you’re working for yourself, you know you’ll survive.

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Why?

Because nothing can ever take away your mind, your talents, or your skills, and there will always be someone who wants them.

Your turn: How has starting your own business changed YOUR thinking?

Featured photo credit: Steve Jobs painted portrait / Thierry Ehrmann via flickr.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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