Guest Post: Kim Siever

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Kim Siever started his own freelance business after being unsuccessful at keeping corporate positions. Read all about his story and how he overcame obstacles to develop Hot Pepper Communications.

I used to think that working for someone else provided job security. This belief permeated all of my attempts to work for myself. My wife and I had tried several different businesses over the years, but because I always had a full-time job, none of them were ever successful.

Nearly 3 years ago, my employer of 9 years laid me off. I received a 7-month severance package. I had no idea what I was going to do, but having 7 months worth of wages would give me some time to figure it out. We decided to try our hand at selling home schooling supplies. It was pretty successful to start off, but we never made enough money to support ourselves, and after about 4 months, I decided to start looking for work.

In my last job, I managed a website, provided desktop support, ran video conferences, and managed inventory, but working in IT provided no satisfaction and it silo-ed me. I wanted to be in another industry. I took inventory of my skills, experience, and talents, and I concluded that I wanted to work in communications. My strengths were in writing, editing, and social media, and I wanted to do something that incorporated those three things. I had a couple of jobs over the next year or so. One job I applied for was in website development. It wasn’t the area I wanted to go in, but I knew I could do it.

Surprisingly, after my first interview, the HR manager phoned me to tell me they wanted me to come in for a another interview, but it was for another position. Apparently, they were so impressed with my skills and experience in writing, editing, and social media—the three areas where I wanted to focus my career—that they wanted to create a position customized for those skills. I was floored. This was exactly what I wanted: a position that could guide my career in a new direction. They just needed to have it approved by the CEO. The good news quickly turned to bad when I learned that the company had to enter a temporary hiring freeze, effectively dashing my hopes.

A couple of weeks later, I had an epiphanal experience that convinced me to go back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree. To help cover living expenses, I found a low-paying, part-time job writing letters and processing immigration applications. Toward the end of my second semester, I received a message from the company with the hiring freeze: they wanted to hire me. There was a catch. The position had to be part time. This was perfect for me because in another month, I’d have 10 courses out of the way and only 9 more left to finish. I was intent on finishing my degree, and a part-time job worked best. Within a week, I’d been hired and they put me straight to work managing their social media properties and copyediting multiple documents. I was in heaven.

A year later, I finished my studies grown the position into a full-time one, but 3 months after completing my degree, the company let me go. I was one of 12 people affected by a round of layoffs. I had 2 weeks to figure something out. When I returned to school, I started a communications company hoping to make some money on the side, but I never did much with it. I decided that now was the perfect time to resurrect this. I looked for clients while I was looking for another job. If one avenue didn’t pan out, maybe the other would. When I signed on an old employer as a client for half of what I was making at my last job, I knew working on my own was feasible. I quit looking for another job, and I focused all my attention on finding clients.

The last 10 months have been a learning experience. Building a communications business from scratch is a challenge, but even more so when you have no startup capital, you have 7 mouths to feed, and your spouse has returned to school.
I’ve had some pretty lean months, but I’ve had some good months, too. In fact, last month, I saw record-breaking revenue (even more than I received at my last job). I’m not where I want to be. Revenue is still volatile, which makes it difficult to budget properly, but it’s rising. Things are looking up, 2014 looks like it will be a great year, and I know that deciding to go out on my own was the best career decision I’ve ever made.

I used to think that working for someone else provided job security. Then I was laid off twice in three years. I’m no longer convinced that it is.

To learn more about Kim Siever, visit his website at http://www.hotpepper.ca. You can also check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

Write your goals down on paper

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I was involved in a wonderful conference last night about setting our goals for 2014. The director on the call mentioned that only 3% of the population write their yearly goals on paper. Those that do take the time to write goals down and post them are more likely to achieve them. This makes sense as to why many new year’s resolutions fail – they are not down on paper.

As I think back over the years to goals I have achieved. I admit that I am always one to write down major goals. However, I tend to close the journal or loose the paper these goals were written and then they never get achieved.

NOT THIS TIME.

This is the year I am reevaluating how I want to run my business. In the past, my freelance editing business has been a side project. I always wanted to eventually make it a full time job, but I never felt ready to take the leap. There was always the choice if I wanted to take on a project or not because I never relied on the income.

NOT THIS TIME.

The directly last night mentioned that a goal will be achieved if they stretch your limits and you have a drive to achieve them. Now that I am officially unemployed from my full time job, this is the year of my goals being achieved. All of them. Because I am writing them down and committing to them with a passion. I am so glad I made the effort to join the conference last night and am provoked to see my goals on paper.

Here is a sample of my goals that are written on paper for the year 2014. They are proudly on display in my office where I will see them regularly and they will become real this year. The posted list in my home is more specific, but here they are:

  • I have set a monetary monthly income that I will earn.
  • I have increased the number of thirty one parties I will host.
  • Call every past client and check in with them accordingly.
  • Mail out an introduction letter to announce that I have changed from part time to full time and actively seeking work.
  • Write a blog post every day and define each week’s schedule.
  • Write an Ebook.

There you have it. Some of my goals, written now on my blog to be held accountable. Once my goals were written out, I admit I feel a sense of relieve and of urgency as my goals are defined and my to do list is being developed to take on each of my goals in bite size pieces.

How about you? Are you the person who has written your goals down and achieved them in the past? Will you write your goals out this year? Share your thoughts below.

Learn from direct market selling

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So far, 2014 has found me learning how to market myself all over again. College training has taught me how to be a writer, but not a business owner. Learning to market my business is where I struggle and am learning each day what my talents are and how to share my insight with others to find the next project.

Last year, I started selling Thirty One Gifts because I felt that learning how to sell a physical product could help me sell my editing and writing services. Working for a direct sales company has improved my confidence to get in front of others and demonstrate the product. The owner of Thirty One Gifts, Cindy Monroe, started her company from her basement ten years ago. She has managed to turn it into a top company in the direct sales market. Her company started when she was working full time and was never able to shop the local boutique shops that were not open in the evenings. She partnered with one of these companies to sell the products in homes.

Many companies start when individuals have an idea and try to market themselves. I am also learning that perhaps in hindsight, a few marketing classes might have helped. However, learning through selling Thirty One Gifts has proven challenging and a fun way to learn. I am developing skills and gaining more networking connections that help with my editing business.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever used an unconventional method to gain a skill?