Sunday, January 13, 2013

Join Me on Better Business, Better You

Hi, Folks:

I've moved, updated and refreshed my blog. "Better Business, Better You," at, takes off where "Kibbe on Entrepreneurship" started.

As I grow my business, I found I was growing as a person. "Better Business, Better You" reflects that journey with lesson I hope you find interesting, can commiserate with, and most of all, can apply to your own business and your life.

Read more at "Better Business, Better You" ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blogs I Wish I’d Written

I’ve done you all a bit of disservice.

As only a close family member can do by completely disarming you with an errant comment during the holidays, I was so reminded that if I wanted to end a blog, I should say so and not abandon readers.

She was absolutely right.

I’ve been blessed with a number of opportunities and I’m beginning to focus my attention on some new creative endeavors. Because of that, I’ve been neglecting “Kibbe on Entrepreneurship,” and decided to sunset it. There are others who write about entrepreneurship that can say things much better than I can. And to be even more truthful, I kind of ran out of things to say. I wanted to bring an honest voice to the blogosphere of what starting a business was like for someone in the trenches. Hopefully, I’ve given you some information, insights and viewpoints that have helped you in your own business.

I’ll still chime in to the social media world now and then when  I think I have something to say that will be useful and worth your time to read.

As I move on to some other projects – chiefly, a novel and possibly a completely new blog series – there were a number of other blogs that I wanted to write but didn’t fit the theme of “K on E,” didn’t know enough about to address effectively, or simply didn’t have the guts to.

They are, in no particular order:

  • Why I don’t talk politics in public, and why I don’t want to know yours either
  •  “Citizen reporters” are the worst things to happen to journalism since “Entertainment Tonight”
  •  I’m Catholic, and I’m proud. Deal with it.
  •  I could care less what shade of gray you are – I don’t want to know what or who goes on or in your bedroom
  •  Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ, all else is wrapping paper. If you don’t like that, tough. That said, I would love to celebrate any and all holidays with you as your tradition holds dear. If you don’t want to celebrate anything, I support your decision, but then you’re just a big ol’ meanie.
  • Why I think the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” IS the solution (I’m not violating my first non-blog because this is economics)
  • Why I believe reporters should never have blogs

Drop me a line and let me know what blogs you wish you had either written or read. I’d love to know!

Cindy Kibbe is owner of Cindy Kibbe Creative Communications, a professional writing services firm based in New England. She has written for several Boston-area media companies and was an editor for a regional business publication for a decade. She can be reached at

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Success is the Only Option

Heading into my second year of entrepreneurship, I’ve grown comfortable with a lot of the vagaries of self-employment. But every now and then, the siren song of a cubicle job echoes in my head, typically when the Visa bill arrives.

We experienced a budget crunch recently and I’ll admit I panicked. I cancelled some commitments I was looking forward to and sent out a few resumes. I started to think of all that I’d do if money continued to grow tight. Bagger at a grocery store? Get rid of cable? Move back to Chicago and live with my mother?

Then it occurred to me I was spending an inordinate amount of time planning for failure. I realized I hadn’t given my baby business a fair shake – there were several publications I hadn’t reached out to yet, hadn’t tried spinning up business in guest blogging/tweeting/Facebooking for clients. I hadn’t even broken into markets just over the border into Massachusetts.

I’m afraid I’m a bit of a pessimist; well, maybe aggressively pragmatic is a better description. I always try to plan for a way out, a safety net, an escape plan if something doesn’t work out. Being practical is one thing, but dwelling on failure doesn’t do anyone any good.

After I realized I really wanted to give my little business my all, I was determined to stop thinking of exit strategies and start putting more effort into success strategies.

And you know what? The fear vanished. In fact, I thought of the other areas in my life where I was “planning to fail” and reworked them as well. I’ve never felt more confident, and frankly, excited. When failure is not an option, it’s amazing how quickly the worry dissolves and positive action takes its place.

I can’t say that I’ve completely stopped being a worry wart and that I won’t have moments of cubicle weakness, but I do know I’ll start thinking of ways to be successful instead of ways to fail.

Good luck with all your success options!

Cindy Kibbe is owner of Cindy Kibbe Creative Communications, a professional writing services firm based in New England. She has written for several Boston-area media companies and was an editor for a regional business publication for nearly a decade. She can be reached at

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Putting 'You' Back in Your Success Equation

I was laid off from a company once and it had always left me upset and frustrated. For a long time I was stuck in some sort of unresolved corporate grief. I worked my butt off for years, volunteered for things when no one else did, continuously upgraded my skills and was always looking for ways to bring in more revenue. Like a stuck record (I’m dating myself…), I could not get past the fact that, despite all this, the company no longer thought the value I represented was worth spending the money.

In a recent rainy Friday, I sat down in my living room and felt sorry for myself yet again. I asked myself why I couldn’t get past this. What positive was there in that horrible experience that I could learn from? That concept of “value” returned over and over again. Then it dawned on me    I did all those wonderful things simply to benefit the company. I was nowhere in my own success story. If I did more, learned more, maybe they’ll like me more and I’ll be safe. My over-inflated sense of loyalty left me a prime target.

I realized that instead of thinking, “All these skills will bring value to the company and I might benefit as a byproduct,” I should have been thinking, “All these skills will make me grow and might bring value to the company as a byproduct.”

The positive in this negative experience was the fact that learned an important lesson – the improvements I make to grow as a person and professional must serve me as well as anyone I work for or with.

Notice I said “as well as.” It’s very easy to look at this lesson and become conceited and selfish. The objective is really to look for the win-win as overused as that phrase is. But it also means to make sure you obtain one of those “wins”.

Some business owners, especially us new ones, might feel the need to occasionally debase ourselves just to make a sale. We’re just starting out, we want to make a good impression on prospective customers and we’re maybe a little desperate. A recent acquaintance of mine wanted to provide some editing services for free to a potential client. The first rule of business we all learn is to charge something for your product or service. What would she have gained if she did free work? Maybe a client, but what would then happen when she tried to charge for the next job? Where is the “win” for her in free work?

We all want  – and must – do right by our clients and/or our employers, but if you don’t receive some benefit, some positive growth experience, how are you succeeding? There’s only one person I can think of that completely gave of himself for others, and I’m nowhere near that standard.

If the needs of your clients or your company lead you to a formula for growth, make sure you are a part of the arithmetic.

Cindy Kibbe is owner of Cindy Kibbe Creative Communications, a professional writing services firm based in New England. She has written for several Greater Boston-area media companies and was an editor for a regional business publication for nearly a decade. She can be reached at

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kibbe on Entrepreneurship: Getting Back On the Wagon

I didn’t understand what some small-business owners meant when they said keeping up with their blogging and social channels was too difficult. I’m a writer, so writing typically comes as easily to me as breathing.

Then I became a small-business owner myself and ran smack into what they meant.

My weekly blogging habit faded, and I am now hard pressed to put out one a month! I developed a startling case of writer’s block, which for me, almost never happens. And when it does, I feel like my world has ended. Most of you have businesses outside of writing, but my business IS writing.

Still, I know I’m not alone when it comes to becoming lax in blogging, running out of ideas to Facebook, and Tweets dwindling down to monosyllables.

Here’s some ideas and thoughts to jump start your blogging/social habit again:

Idea 1: Ally Piper, owner of the web marketing agency Brighteyes Creative, suggested at recent presentation that erstwhile bloggers should make an editorial calendar for the year. That way you will always know what you’re going to write about before you sit down to post. I can see this being very helpful, especially if you’re going to discuss a topic over a multi-part series. You might even see that instead of a single post, it should be a series.

Idea 2: Always be thinking about blog topics. I did this all the time – ideas come from anywhere and everywhere – but I became lazy. Be aware of events, people, places, news, stories around you, and riff on them. One of my favorite blogs was reviewing/critique the Super Bowl ads. Sure, others do it, but no one has my particular form of insight.

Idea 3: Take a hike – literally. My problem lately has been idea generation (Note to self: See Idea #1). I went for a walk, rededicating my mind to the question, “What am I going to write about?” and a couple of ideas popped into my head somewhere around the 1.5 mile mark.

Idea 4: Dedicate time to write. For me, it’s actually Friday morning. That’s the day I’ve dedicated to working on my business (sending out invoices, updating accounts, correspondence, computer work, etc.) as opposed to at my business, aka writing articles. I set my posts to publish on Monday morning, but I’ve actually been thinking of moving to mid-week. Most people publish on Monday, and I don’t want to get lost in the Inbox clog.

Idea 5: Take the cheap way out if you have to. By this I mean, create a blog based on someone else’s. It could be as simple as a paragraph of commentary on a blog or article you found interesting or important. But it’s very important to remember that you have to be giving your readers something genuinely useful. And include the original link or citation. No one wants to read, much less write, blather.

Looking forward to seeing everyone back in the blogosphere!

Cindy Kibbe is owner of Cindy Kibbe Creative Communications, a writing services firm based in New England. She was an editor for a regional business publication for nearly a decade. She can be reached at

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kibbe on Entrepreneurship: How Time Flies

It was a year ago almost to the day that I started this blog. My goal was and still is to share with you some of the things I learned during my many years as a business journalist and editor that might help your small business. Little did I realize at the time that I’d become a small-business owner myself. It’s amazing where life can take you in just 12 short months.

I wanted to share with you some of my reflections from this past year.

In an earlier blog, I mentioned that I fought becoming a freelance writer/business owner tooth and nail. I was motivated by fear, not by success. A bad way to go, indeed. I can happily say that’s behind me, although the specter of the fear of failure does creep up now and again. Just the other day, I talked with someone about a part-time job. The hours were all wrong for me, but I left feeling crazy for turning my back on a “sure thing” for this silly writing business I fancied I had. Not a minute after I got home, the phone rang with a potential client inquiring about my services. Message heard, loud and clear.

The transition from a “cubical creature” to a business owner was not an easy one for me. One of the most important things I’ve learned is I have the power to set my own schedule and to work as much or as little as I want. That identity shift of who and what I am has been monumental. I still catch myself sometime referring to myself as being unemployed. I am not; I have a small business. It might be very tiny, but it is a business, I’ve made some money and new clients are coming.

Really owning this choice of how I want to work was difficult and I’m still learning it. Again, fear was a motivator. Early on, I took on a lot of concurrent work and was on the fast track for burning out very quickly. That wasn’t the way I wanted to run this business. During the following months, I realized I had worked flat out for all of my adult life. There’s nothing like a cardiac surgery going badly in OR and needing uncrossmatched blood from me to get the adrenalin running. Long hours of managing computer system installs and even chasing news stories were also a part of my career picture. When I looked back on what I had done, I realized for the first time I could make the choice that I didn’t have to run a daily marathon if I didn’t want to. That was an awesome choice to have.

That choice was also scary for me. Self-employment work balance is a double-edged sword. As a freelancer, the checks only come when you write something. No words, no dineros. No duh. I had to learn what as an acceptable level of income – or lack thereof. That’s a big change of mindset with big real-life ramifications (e.g. loans, taxes, retirement planning, life insurance, etc.).

During the past year, I’ve learned who my true friends are, people who have your back no matter what. When you’re a reporter, you get a lot of “friends” because of a perceived easy access to free advertising. When you no longer have a press pass, calls sometimes aren’t returned quite so quickly – or at all. That hurt, especially when I received that kind of response from people I had known and trusted for years. That also leads to growing a thicker skin, something essential as a business owner.

I’ve learned that it’s OK, even expected, to admit you don’t even know what you don’t know. That’s when I reach out to my resources to ask for help. I’ve noticed I’m starting to get as much business from consulting as from writing services. It was time to build that into my pricing structure certainly, but more importantly, I needed help learning how to support my clients by providing an appropriate amount of resources without cutting off my nose to spite my face. The Center for Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University and the Small Business Development Center are going a long way to helping me better serve my own customers.

While many people yearn to work from home, I find it a bit lonely. I’ve learned I have to get out and network, not only to build contacts and to meet potential clients, but for my sanity. And it may sound mundane, but I also learned to balance CK Creative work with housework – and when one should take priority over the other.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is my value. I think most new business owners take any contract because of the fear no others will ever come again. I certainly thought the same way. I had a potential job lined up was still waiting on the particulars, including how much I’d be paid. I was soon faced with turning away jobs that I had signed contracts for or keeping this potential job I knew little about. I had to let that one go and it probably caused a bit of bad blood. I did my best of offer suggestions of other professionals who could take on the job only to find out they were considered “too expensive.” In other words, I was cheap. Needless to say, I learned to have my ducks in a row before I agree to work – and that I am a professional, not a chump.

Lastly, I’ll admit to everyone who will listen how incredibly blessed I am to have even had the opportunity to learn these things and have these choices. If my life were different, I’d probably be feeling just as blessed if I had a job at a fast-food restaurant. I’ve never been one to take the good things in my life for granted, but I am more grateful than ever that what began as a very dark chapter in my life has turned into perhaps one of my life’s biggest blessings.

Cindy Kibbe is owner of Cindy Kibbe Creative Communications, a writing services firm based in New England. She was an editor for a regional business publication for nearly a decade. She can be reached at

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kibbe on Entrepreneurship: Great Expectations

One of the first things a new business owner has to learn is how to manage customer expectations. The more thorough the discussions you have with your clients at the start of the project will go a long way to helping you ensure you deliver what they wanted.

As important as that is, few people talk about managing your own expectations as a business owner. Certainly, you must do due diligence in understanding how much money you truly can make from your endeavors, but there’s more to it than that.

I’ll use my own experience as an example.

Workflow as a freelance journalist is very different from that of a writer working in a newsroom. I was used to researching, writing, and editing several stories at once, handing it all in to my editor. He’d tweak it for publication, send it to Production, where it would be published a few weeks later.

I expected able the same workflow patterns in the freelance world. I figured there might be a request or two for some minor tweaks within a day or so of me handing the assignment in. I was way off base.

Articles could be held for weeks at a time, and just when I was deeply involved in another project, an older article would come back with requests for extensive revisions. Or worse – they don’t know what they want, but what I gave them wasn’t it, and they can’t articulate what they want me to change.

The lessons here are less putting the burden on the client and more on me.

First, if I’m a subcontractor on a project, I now make sure the base contract with my client’s client has been signed and ready to go. It doesn’t matter if I know and trust my client – if it’s not a done deal, “shovel ready,” it’s not a bona fide job.

I’ve learned to explain to the client the approach I intend to take on an article – the lead, some of the experts I intend to interview, etc. – before I even touch the keyboard. That goes a long way to proving if you and your client are on the same wavelength.

There’s concurrent projects, and then there’s concurrent projects. While it might take me only a day or two to complete an article, editors are busy people who are dealing with more writers than just little ol’ me. I knew that, but underestimated the time they take in getting back to me. Since the only way I can make more money as a freelancer is by writing more articles, I have to ask for – and build into my contract – a check-back time. I need to know within 72 hours of me handing in an assignment if it’s at least in the ballpark of what the customer expected. If it is, I have the green light to work on or solicit other work. If not, at least I won’t be backed up with subsequent jobs and can focus on giving my client exactly what he or she wants. As an employee, you don’t have this amount of control over your work. As an entrepreneur, you do.

Lastly, and one I don’t know if I’ll ever completely learn – it’s just business. Freelancers have to be prepared for a lot of rejection. I’m finding many clients can be, well, rather nasty when what I’ve given them isn’t exactly what they wanted. Maybe they’ve been burned and they don’t think I’m willing to do what it takes to make it right. I don’t know. I was expecting more civility out there. Understand and own your gifts because you might be your only fan that week.

If you’ve done your best and want to make your clients happy, no one, not even yourself, can ask for more.

Cindy Kibbe is owner of Cindy Kibbe Creative Communications, a writing services firm based in New England. She was an editor for a regional business publication for nearly a decade. She can be reached at