How to Find Your Own Community of Business Owners: A Review of Fizzle.co (with Behind-the-scenes video)

In this video review, I discuss online marketing training and tips from Corbett Barr. Do you ever feel lonely as a business owner?

I know I do. It can be tough work owning your own business, and doing it all by yourself.

In fact, loneliness is a major contributor to business owner burnout which causes so many businesses to fail. But there’s good news.

It turns out there is a better solution.

I knew I didn’t want my business to fail, and so shortly after I started working for myself, I looked for a community or communities I could participate in where I felt like I could belong.

I want to share with you a community of other entrepreneurs and business owners that I belong to today which has really helped me to feel less lonely and more like I’m in this journey together with others who think like me.

That community is called Fizzle, and it’s an online training program and community aimed at entrepreneurs who want to create and grow an online business, or just grow their online presence.

Just like building an offline business, building an online business is not easy.  Even if you have an “offline business” but have a website and want to attract more clients and customers to it, you will find there are no silver bullets.

Thousands of people try to build their online presence every day. Many of these would-be entrepreneurs end up wasting a lot of time, energy and good intentions and ultimately, they fizzle out.

For years, I was one of them. I blogged without much direction or progress. I wrote about various legal topics and it was boring. No one was interested.

Worst of all, I knew no one. I did not put in the time to develop relationships with others who could help me in this journey. I should have known better.

Fizzle has pretty much changed all of that.

An Online Training Program and Supportive Community

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Why I Recommend Freshbooks for Time Tracking and Invoicing

Freshbooks, accounting, cloud accounting, cloud invoicing, cloud timekeepingOne of the more frequent questions I get about my law practice is what I use for billing and invoicing.

I have used a couple of different systems, but one of the best I’ve ever used personally is Freshbooks.

I’ve written about Freshbooks before but I’ve never done a dedicated review, so here goes.

What is Freshbooks?

Freshbooks is a cloud-based billing system that provides easy and elegant time tracking, billing, and invoicing.

You can format beautiful invoices custom-tailored with your logo and accept online payments quickly and painlessly.

You can also accept online payments very easily. Freshbooks boasts that accepting such quick online payments means you will get paid quicker, and I believe it. I’ve been accepting credit card payments for years now, and I’ve felt it really helps with getting paid on time.

Even though the amount I pay per year in credit card fees makes me wince, I find the convenience for clients worthwhile.

NOTE: the links to Freshbooks in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you click through and sign up for an account, I’ll receive a small commission (though it doesn’t affect the price you pay). If you do like this review and want to become a Freshbooks customer through our affiliate link, we really appreciate it.

How Freshbooks works

You can create estimates for potential clients, then convert the estimate to an invoice with two quick clicks. Another nice feature is if you have subcontractors, they can set up free accounts to invoice you, which you can then turn around and turn into an invoice to your clients.

I used Freshbooks for a few weeks around the time I set up my firm, and I really liked its features. I would still be using it but I decided to start using a cloud-based practice management feature called Clio which is designed for small law firms.

Clio offers a similar feature, and I am already paying $49/month for Clio, so I didn’t need to use both. However, if I weren’t using Clio, I would use Freshbooks.

There’s one feature my Clio account does not have which I miss from Freshbooks. Freshbooks has a cool feature where you can pay about $2 per bill and they will print, address, stamp and mail off a bill for you.  That’s really cool.

I prefer to send invoices by email. But if you have a couple of clients who want an old-fashioned paper bill, this can save you time.

Two Free Trial Offers

Freshbooks has two free trial offers. You can try out one of their packages for 30 days. Or you can also create a “free” plan with up to 3 clients. That’s what I did.

For some people and some businesses, that may be adequate. I definitely lets you play around and get a feel for the system and what it offers.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Freshbooks paid packages start at $19.95/month for up to 25 clients. Check it out!

 

 

 

How to Start a Business on a Dime: My Video Review of The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau’s life is impossible. Or at least improbable.100 dollar startup by Chris Guillebeau, $100 Startup

He has been self-employed for almost his entire life.  He spent four years as a full-time volunteer in West Africa for a medical charity, while supporting himself at night with moonlighting and business consulting.

In the past four years, he has written two books, publishes a popular blog, traveled extensively (more on that in a moment), and founded a tremendously popular conference  each summer (which I will be attending for the first time this July).

Oh yeah, and in his free time, he’s on a quest to visit every country in the world. This is no lofty, pie-in-the-sky, “I want to own the Dallas Cowboys” kind of goal. As of this writing, he’s actually only one country away from actually achieving it.

His latest book is The $100 Startup, which chronicles numerous boot-strapping entrepreneurs who manage to build successful businesses using not much more than their own pluck and a crisp Benjamin Franklin.

Guillebeau backs up the case studies with concrete advice on everything from marketing to copywriting, based in large part on his own experiences.

Here’s what a few people I admire said about The $100 Startup:

  • bestselling author Dan Pink called “a kick in the pants to get started on your dream.”
  • John Jantsch said the book should “persuade anyone thinking about starting a business that they don’t need a fortune to make one.”
  • Pam Slim said the book “delivers exactly what a new entrepreneur needs: road-tested, effective and exceptionally pragmatic advice for starting a new business on a shoestring.”

Here’s my 3 minute video review of The $100 Startup:

Links mentioned in this video:

 

 

How to Be Happier: My Video Review of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Happiness Project by Gretchen RubinGretchen Rubin had an epiphany one morning – and it wasn’t the good kind.

It was of the what-am-I-doing-with-my-life variety.

She realized she wasn’t happy, and that life was passing her by.

Unlike so many of us who soothe such passing moments of melancholy with food, alcohol or other vices, Rubin decided to do something about it.  And fortunately for the rest of us, she took her readers along for the ride.

Rubin chronicles the next 12 months in which she turned herself into a happiness guinea pig, trying out different life tweaks in an effort to generate more joy in her life.

The difference between Gretchen’s particular flavor of self tune-up and every johnny-come-lately with a blog and a passing understanding of “lifestyle design” is Gretchen really knows how to write about the experience in a moving and heartfelt way.

I usually review books here which are more of a business nature. However, Rubin’s book jumped out at me after I came across her blog and heard her interviewed a few times.

I believe we can’t do our greatest work if we’re truly miserable inside. That’s why this book is a great tool for so many entrepreneurs who spend such vast chunks of time endlessly fiddling with their businesses only to ignore the fundamental overhauls needed on their (human) insides.

Fix those problems, and your business may have a chance. Ignore them at your peril.

Here’s my quick (2 minute, 30 second) video review:

Links mentioned in this video:

One final note: As a relatively new parent (my son is 2 years, 5 months old as I write this), Rubin’s wistfulness at the swiftly passing days of her daughter’s childhood really puts a lump in my throat. Trust me – watch this 60-second video “The Years Are Short” and if you aren’t watery-eyed by the end, you can check yourself in to the hospital right now because you are a vampire.

Seriously, I’m talking Night of the Living Dead here. Check your pulse because you probably don’t have one.

 

Should You Be An Entrepreneur? A Review of The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth

Carol Roth tells it like it is.The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth

In fact, she has always told it like it is. So much so that when she was young, she had the nickname “Lucy,” as in the character from Peanuts who set up a “The Doctor Is In” booth and started dispensing advice to anyone who wanted it.

As an investment banker, she earned a reputation for telling entrepreneurs “how it is” – she was known for dispensing tough love with a hard emphasis on the tough.  (Not so much on the love.)

There’s a method to her madness though – why waste anyone’s time (the entrepreneurs’, the investors’, the hopes and dreams of countless family members and friends) when in fact it’s the entrepreneur who shouldn’t be an entrepreneur in the first place?

Fortunately for the rest of us, she took the time to sit down and capture those thoughts in her book, The Entrepreneur Equation which is an excellent primer on who should — and more importantly who should not — be an entrepreneur.

This book is for anyone who is thinking about starting a business and wondering if they have the right stomach for entrepreneurship. It’s an excellent compliment and prequel to The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, one of the best business books of all time.

It’s a great book, and one which I’ve already recommended to clients and friends. I agree with almost everything Carol Roth writes in the book, only she says it much better than I ever could.

My biggest disagreement with her in general is on who is going to win the Superbowl next year, which is clearly going to be my Redskins and not the Chicago Bears. (She is a big Chicago Bears fan.) But hey, no one is perfect.

Here’s my quick (2 minute, 55 seconds) video review:

Links mentioned in the video:

 

How to Launch The Right Product The Right Way: A review of Charlie Gilkey’s Epic Launch Playbook

Charlie Gilkey, Productive Flourishing, Epic Launch Class, Dusti Arab, Angela Wheeler, Lisa WoodHave you ever released a product that was a complete failure?

Have you spent days or weeks of your time creating a product, only to release it to the world and have it die a slow and quiet death?

I have. It wasn’t pretty.

After releasing a few digital products that failed to get any significant traction, I jumped at the chance to take a class focused on how to release a very successful product.

It ended up being one of the wisest decisions I made all year.

(NOTE: you can assume the links in this review are affiliate links, meaning if you decide to click through the link and buy, we get a  commission but your price remains the same. If you do buy, I appreciate it! Of course, you will see below that every review I do covers both the good and the bad and I will not recommend a product, book, or service I haven’t used and liked.)

The Epic Launch Class — since renamed the Epic Launch Playbook  — was put together by Charlie Gilkey and the team at Productive Flourishing, a small business consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon.

The class was taught live via webinar and did a deep dive into what types of products business owners put out, what types of products they should put out, and what they should do specifically to ensure their products are successful. Because these three things are not always in alignment.

Although the focus was in releasing online products (from courses to ebooks to online coaching), the core was really grounded in solid business principles, so the content was applicable no matter what type of product you put out, in my opinion.

Charlie Gilkey has a lot of thoughts on the topic of how to put out good and successful products, especially online products, and a lot to say about it.

In fact, saying Charlie has “thoughts” on product pricing, selling, marketing and execution is a vast oversimplification. The man speaks in fully formed paragraphs, like he wrote the question you just asked him.

Even calling him a small business coach doesn’t really give what he does justice, given how many people run around calling themselves a “business coach” these days.

It’s kind of like me saying I like to swim, and Michael Phelps likes to swim, so we’re both swimmers. I’m not even in the same league as Michael Phelps. Most small business coaches aren’t in Charlie’s league.

But enough about him. Let’s talk about how you launch an epic product.

What is Included In the Epic Launch Playbook

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