A Million Things On My Plate

I am feeling particularly overwhelmed this week.

I am almost glad the Grouvia beta testing is going slower than I had expected.  I’d rather have one or two people finding a problem than a hundred.  Especially since the development team seems to be dragging their feet with bug fixing.  It’s getting old.

But that’s besides the point.

The point is, I can’t even keep track of all the things that need to get done.  My desk is a disaster, my email is piling up, my VAs are asking me what to do next, and I have an SEO job posting on oDesk that is a month old because I can’t find the time to interview candidates.  And that’s only the stuff I can remember at this moment.

Example: (spoiler! embarrassing moment coming!) I spent the entire drive to my networking meeting this week practicing a new elevator speech about how Grouvia helps groups with four key areas: promotion, communication, planning, and sharing.  My mind kept wandering and I had to keep forcing it back to the speech.  I arrived at the meeting place and got my buffet-style, brown-edged lettuce and mayo-drenched “sea legs” stuff they call salad (don’t ask, cuz I won’t admit where we meet).

Then I sat through small talk with the guy at the table, the president’s intro, the 10-minute speaker, and 16 other elevator pitches.  When it was my turn I started out strong.  Then right in the middle I forgot one of the four things.  OMG.

Of course somebody reminded me what the wayward item was, and I made a joke out of it, and the embarrassing moment was over… but still!

I read Meg Hirshberg’s latest piece in Inc. this morning on the treadmill (yeah, I switched topics, just stay with me for a minute here).  She has real insight into the entrepreneurial mind, and she’s seeing it from the outside (which probably provides a lot more clarity than being on the inside).  But it made me smile, because the lady gets it.  I wish I had her cool in times like this, when I feel like I’m about to totally lose it.  (If you don’t know Meg, pick up a copy of Inc.)

Meg + treadmill = illusion of calm.  It’s temporary but that’s ok.

This crazy week will end, just like all the others.  It’s all part of the journey.  We learn from it, and move on.  I’m not sure what I learned yet.  Maybe just that life is weird and unpredictable and fun.

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Professional Networking is Not Just Good For Business

A few months ago I joined a professional networking group in my town.  My husband and I are still relatively new to this area and so I joined to meet people as much as for business reasons.

I have never belonged to one of these groups before.  I thought it would be similar to Chamber of Commerce networking events I attended years ago with my prior company.  It’s nothing like that (which is great because I hated them).  Those people you meet once, get their business card and never hear from them again.  This group, on the other hand, meets regularly every week, and you really start to feel a kinship with each other.

This particular group is what’s known as an exclusive referral group.  The members (only one per business type is allowed) are expected to refer business to each other based on their contacts.  So if you are an auto mechanic and one of your customers happens to mention that her daughter just got engaged, you should be able to refer her to your group’s caterer, photographer, real estate agent, travel agent, etc.  You essentially become a salesperson for each of the other members of your group.  It’s a pretty simple formula.

My ability to be a productive member of this group meets with two challenges.  First of all my customers are not your typical sales leads.  It is hard to explain to the group the type of referrals that are valuable to me and to Grouvia.  (BTW – each person has 45 seconds each week to stand up and tell the group what they do and who would be a good referral for them.)  Although a few people have mentioned that Grouvia might help their <whatever> group, I have not gotten any solid referrals yet.

My second challenge is that since I work out of my home office 99% of the time, I don’t meet a lot of people who talk to me about their needs.  Grouvia does not have many users yet, so I don’t have a lot of regular contact with my customers like other businesses do.

However, I keep going to the meetings every week, in the hopes that one of these days things will click between this group and me.  I’ve met some very nice people, and some are even becoming my friends.  It gets me out of the house — I force myself to dress up a little and put some makeup on, instead of just throwing on jeans and a sweatshirt and a pair of slippers.

Another benefit?  Being an entrepreneur is a lonely job, and this helps me feel less lonely.

So the bottom line is that even though I have not seen any tangible business benefit yet, there is definitely a personal benefit, which is equally valuable.

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You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.

2010: Grouvia’s Golden Year

The Year 2010 has arrived, and not a moment too soon.  I was so over the last decade.

This is a milestone year for me.  This year represents my 50th year on this planet, and I intend to make the most of it.

Grouvia will come alive this year.  I spent almost all of 2009 working on planning, building, and worrying about it, which I admit was way too much time.  Now it’s showtime.  This thing has to make it or break it by the end of June or I’m going to start implementing Plan B.

My stepson graduates from college this year.  Fly little birdie, fly!!!  That means now we get to start paying off the debt, instead of just racking it up.  Woo hoo!  At least we get a trip to Miami out of it.

My husband’s 50th birthday is also this year, and he’s bugging me to go somewhere fun for our combined birthdays.  We are hoping to somehow find the $ to take a trip to Spain.  We are taking donations — please email me if you wish to contribute.

I’m going to run my first half-marathon in May.  Holy cow that is a scary thought.  But even if I have to walk half of it I’m going to do it.

Obviously the big one for me (and for this blog) is Grouvia.  This project has been in the planning stages since 2006.  We gave ourselves five years to “make it big” but I believe that it needs to be successful before it can grow.

What do I mean by “successful”?  People like it, use it, find it valuable, and tell their friends.  Nobody hates it or thinks it’s stupid.  As long as I know that by the end of June, I know we’ll be golden.  Then I’ll have 18 months to monetize it and market the hell out of it.  Good plan right?  Yeah.

Yup, 2010 is an important year.  And I’m ready for it.

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Do you enjoy reading these posts?  Subscribe to the RSS feed of The Making of Grouvia.

You can become a member of Grouvia and create your own group in 5 minutes or less.  Join the beta site at http://www.grouvia.com.