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Mindy Lee M. Lipsky

Certified Business Coach
Certified DISC Practitioner

 

610-705-3526

 

Message Mindy

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What is YOUR method of Networking?

I attended a networking event this morning.  It was a casual meet and greet, before work style event. I like these types of events because it leaves the “structure” part up to the networker. What I mean by that is, there are no 30 second pitches, and it is really up to you who you meet.  You can interact as long or short as you choose.

While the 1st question that comes to mind is usually, “What do you do?” I tend to not lead with that. I often first approach someone I already know and ask about their family or a project I know they have been working on.  It starts a less formal conversation. Then when someone inevitably approaches us… we can bring them into what we were already speaking about. I feel this more informal manner really solidifies relationships on a deeper level, making these events easier to handle in the future.  It’s like working but socializing with friends at the same time

This morning I was chatting with someone I know more for her work background than her family… I mentioned my daughter is struggling with allergies… and she had stated her son was as well.  We began to share stories and remedies and how it effects our entrepreneurial schedules.  Someone stepped into the conversation to make an introduction… He apologized and we quipped that we were chatting about our kids… he quickly stated, “That is wasting precious networking time!”  Without a blink I replied, “no, actually I feel closer to her because we have something in common other than work.  We are building Know, Like and Trust and that is really important in business.  So, I don’t think it is a waste of time at all.”  He sort of stared and then said, ok…

At first I thought it was the difference between how Men and Women network… but then the man next to him said, “I have kids too… how old are yours?”  Turns out we have kids the same ages. We chatted about them a bit, where they go to school and then about how we each got started in our businesses… all before we even knew what each other did.  Turns out we CAN use each other’s business, but I am much more likely to follow up because we have a connection. 

I live by the philosophy that I DON’T want to be a business card collector.  I would MUCH rather make 1 or 2 strong connections than have a handful of business cards.  The more I network, the more relationships I create… I once heard Networking compared to a spider web… we are all interconnected.  Once you make a good connection it leads to MANY more… It can also work the other way.

What kind of networker are YOU? 

Build your Business Community (and some great friendships too!)

Being a woman entrepreneur can be tough.  Women need interaction and support by nature. As entrepreneurs, we sometimes feel isolated and in need of a community. OR we may just need a way to get some critical business education, but since we are not part of a corporation we don’t find as many opportunities to keep learning and growing. 

In 2014 I was looking for a group to join that had mostly (if not all women) with the ability to socialize, network, refer and learn.  Women tend to network and communicate a little differently than men do.  Co-ed networking groups are ok… but I really wanted to find one with women.  I struggled to find such a group in the area. As the good little entrepreneur I am… I created it!  I designed a group for women business owners and entrepreneurs that offered a social gathering over coffee and/or tea, where we could share about our businesses and be educated in a variety of different areas.  3 years later we have a thriving group where we help each other, lift each other up, educate each other and build our business together. I call it… Pottstown Women’s Networking Group!

We meet the 2nd Friday of each month at Productivity Pointe in Pottstown, PA. There is a Facebook group so feel free to check us out!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/PottstownWomensNetworking/

My challenge to you is to evaluate where you are meeting your clients and who is in your support community.  If you don’t have one… create one. You will find that with a support community and a social outlet it is easier to build and grow your business!

What is Business Coaching and who needs it?

Coaching is used across the world in MANY businesses and industries.  Coaching is extremely beneficial to those who work for themselves as entrepreneurs, small business owners or in the direct sales realm.  Investing in coaching for yourself and your business can help you create systems to move forward more quickly, expanding your business and increasing your income.  An investment in coaching can result in improvements in all areas of your life both financially as well as work-life balance, satisfaction, fulfillment, family life, etc.  Coaching brings positive change!  More importantly coaching inspires, motivates and empowers you!  

Coaching is a support system that provides you with:

  • An accountability partner
  • Safe opportunities for meaningful dialogue
  • New perspectives and expanded options
  • Inspiration and motivation
  • Potential solutions
  • Next steps

 

Coaching can promote BIG shifts in thinking, which creates forward movement toward goals!

Coaching is a highly-tuned and powerful process of communication and problem solving. The relationship you develop with your coach is co-creative and focused entirely on your interests, challenges and goals.  During each session a coach will help you engage in conversation to draw out solutions that you will be excited about and eager to implement. Your coach will ask deep and intuitive questions specifically designed to help solve your individual problem or deal with your current circumstance.  Together you will use all of your combined knowledge, resources, skills and intuition to expand your business and move you more quickly toward your ultimate business goals.

Below is a list of common frustrations that entrepreneurs and business owners face…Do any of these sound familiar?

  • You need to grow your business faster
  • You are not making enough money or you don’t know how to manage the money you make and wonder where it went!
  • You don’t have systems in place so you feel like you are ALWAYS working
  • You are “Burning candle at both ends”
  • You have a serious lack of work-life balance.
  • You keep setting unattainable or unrealistic goals because that is what you “think” you should be doing
  • You are trying to please or impress your up-line, family or friends
  • You tend to focus on results instead of activity and progress
  • You are sick of the disappointment that come with direct sales (cancellations, reinvesting over and over, team members quitting, etc.)
  • Your business is fun but it is costing you money instead of making you money.
  • You don’t know how to overcome your mental blocks and fears.

I’m sure you can resonate with at least a few of these!

SO… what can coaching do for you?

I get it!  I’ve been where you are.  I have run my own successful direct sales business for over 18 years.  I have earned company cars.  I have moved myself up to management levels.  I have fallen and gotten back up again over and over.  I have stepped out of my comfort zone repeatedly.  I have mentored and coached 100s of women along the way.  I developed a passion for the business management part of entrepreneurship and LOVE to watch women “get out of their own way” and leap to success!

I now own 2 LLC companies (Innovative Coaching Services, LLC & Productivity Pointe, LLC – a co-working and flexible meeting space in Pottstown PA)

Most people start a business so that they can have extra income and flexibility around their family’s needs.  I can help you develop systems and tools to streamline your business so you are working efficiently and effectively so you can ENJOY the quality time with your family.  I help you organize your business and organize your life!  I help you push through obstacles, make big decisions, face the fear and do it anyway!  I help you distinguish between facts and emotion to make wise decision that coincide with your goals and where you want to be.  In hiring me as your coach you can gain benefits such as:

  • Having a non-biased accountability partner
  • Seeing steady, rapid focus and growth in your business
  • Learn the basics of business money management so you can tell your money where to go instead of wonder where it went!
  • Create systems and tools to work more efficiently and increase your time management
  • Learn to Relax and Enjoy Life again
  • Regain balance between work and play.
  • Learn to set realistic measurable goals based on activity and progress not emotion
  • Learn to Empower YOURSELF instead of please others
  • Learn to celebrate successes big and small!
  • Learn to deal with disappointment as simply a part of business and not take it personally
  • Have fun and make money at the same time!
  • Learn your DISC personality type and what it means to overcome your mental blocks and fears.

If this all sounds intriguing give me a call for a 30 minute FREE discovery session to see if working with a coach (me or even someone else) might benefit your business!

Gain more control over your business!

Coach Mindy Lipsky of Innovative Coaching Services is a DISC Certified practitioner. What that means is she can offer you something not all coaches can! She can help you better understand yourself by evaluating your personality and behavior style through a DISC assessment with Mindy.

What is DISC? (you know… the boring background stuff)

DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist Dr. William Marston, a professor at Columbia University in the 1920s, who was curious about the characteristics of emotions and behavior of normal people. Marston’s theory centers on four different personality traits: Dominance, Inducement (Influence), Submission (Steadiness), and Compliance (Conscientiousness).

Dominance

Perceives oneself as more powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as unfavorable. A High “D” Person places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, and confidence.

Behaviors – Sees the big picture – Can be blunt – Accepts challenges – Gets straight to the point

Influence

Perceives oneself as more powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as favorable. A High “I” Person places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships. Behaviors – Shows enthusiasm – Is optimistic – Likes to collaborate – Dislikes being ignored

Submission/Steadiness

Perceives oneself as less powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as favorable. A High “S” Person places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability. Behaviors – Doesn’t like to be rushed – Calm manner – Calm approach – Supportive actions – Humility

Compliance/Conscientiousness

Perceives oneself as less powerful than the environment, and perceives the environment as unfavorable. A High “C” Person places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency. Behaviors – Enjoys independence – Objective reasoning – Wants the details – Fears being wrong

Find out more of the History of DISC

Why use DISC? (now we are getting into the “what’s in it for me part”)

DISC can be used for many different reasons. A DISC assessment has been show to drastically enhance the coaching experience as well as give you practical tools for life. For Mindy’s clients, the main desirable results are building lasting customer/client relationships, enhancing communication, and creating a productive yet enjoyable work environment for yourself as a Solopreneur or Entrepreneur! All this leads to a sense of balance, more income, as well as, keeping more of what you make!

When you work with Mindy, you will not only find out what your style is, but you will learn to recognize what other people’s styles are. Therefore, you can change your approach to help communicate more effectively. Better communication leads to deeper relationships, which leads to trust, which often leads to increased sales! Best of all you can implement it immediately for immediate results!

Understanding your DISC profiles help you (and your team):

  • Increase your self-knowledge of how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress and how you solve problems.
  • Work and communicate more effectively with your team, minimize team conflict and emerge as a more effective leader.
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage your office work more effectively by understanding your disposition and priorities, then building systems you can relate to and accomplish with less effort.

How does DISC work?

If you choose to complete a DISC Assessment with Mindy, you will be sent an online questionnaire. Because of completing these questions, a customized DISC report will be created for you. This will tell you your dominant traits as well as which of the 15 Patterns you are helping you understand not only your style but also the impact of your style on others. If you so choose Mindy will help you go in depth with this assessment and help you make an action plan for your business (or a personal action plan if needed). The information you will find to be invaluable and can help you not only with business interactions but also help all interaction with others become more effective and meaningful.

Check out the DISC section of the Innovative Coaching Services Website for more details

6 Things I Learned From Shark Tank

 

6 things all Entrepreneurs can learn from Shark Tank – by Mindy Lipsky, CTACC

As an entrepreneur myself, and the fact that I coach dozens of entrepreneurs regularly… I LOVE the show Shark Tank!  It is a Friday night staple in our house. The whole family watches and critiques from the couch each person’s pitch to the Sharks.  We can all learn a lot about business just from watching the show.  The sow had undoubtedly inspired countless people to take a chance on their dream.  In honor of tonight’s episode when the Sharks reach $100 Million in investments… I thought I would share with you my observations of what any seasoned or budding entrepreneur can learn from the show and of course the Sharks themselves.

  1. You’ve got to know your numbers!

So many times, for entrepreneurs on Shark Tank this is the nail in the coffin before they even get off the ground. Someone comes into the tank and… well… tanks!  All because they didn’t come prepared.  I work with many business owners and one thing I noticed… the successful ones know their numbers and the struggling ones don’t. It is critical to not only know your income, but know your expenses too.  It is required by the IRS to keep business books and it is also a great idea to evaluate them often! You have to know your breakeven point before you can ever take a profit.  The simplified formula is Income minus Expenses = Profit. But if you have run a business you know it isn’t as cut and dry as that!  Knowing your numbers will make a huge difference in your growing business.

  1. Numbers don’t lie!

Another thing that trips people up… they know their numbers but didn’t take care of them! What I mean by that is… they got themselves in debt or their margins are awful!  Maybe they already have backers that own a part of their company so they are limited in how much equity they can offer the sharks. ALL of this leads to an increased chance of not getting a deal.  As an entrepreneur, you must measure risk. Investing in education, product or marketing isn’t always a bad idea… but you need to weigh the ROI (return on investment). If you are spending $10K and getting a return of $2K, something has to change or you will be in a tough situation financially and FAST! The moral of this observation… Know your numbers and take care of them!

  1. Passion doesn’t pay the bills!

It is necessary to be passionate about what you sell or do… but that is not enough. You need strategy, planning, marketing, number crunching, etc. etc.  You need business skills.  Not everyone who starts a business has business training.  You must do your research and continue to educate yourself on the current state of the market, changes in technology, changes in trends… and I may be biased here… but hiring a coach can help a lot! One of the perks of Shark Tank is when you get a deal, you get a Shark!  They know the “how to’s” the average entrepreneur doesn’t.

  1. Just because you love it… doesn’t make it a business! I say this one with a “But” to it.  It really depends on what your goal is… if your goal is to be a millionaire… you need to be sure what you are offering fills a need on a large scale. You may have heard the Sharks say, “You came in too early” or “This isn’t a business it’s a hobby” or “it’s not scalable”.  What your ultimate goal is matters.  If you are looking to help people and make a comfortable living for yourself and family that makes a difference.  Your business doesn’t need to be “scalable” it just needs to be treated like a business (not a hobby).  If you think your business is worth Millions… you need to be sure your product or service in needed by millions! It comes down to supply and demand… you’ve got to supply what people are demanding.  Fill a need or solve a problem. The key here is to make money you must be intentional. A business needs to be set up and managed to generate income.
  2. Know your Pitch!

When watching the pitches on Shark tank, you can tell who prepared!  They practiced that initial pitch hundreds of times!  Even if you aren’t going on Shark Tank, you need to be able to clearly and concisely explain what you do to a potential buyer/investor.  Although many of us are not looking for capitol… you need to be able to tell people what you do… more importantly what’s in it for THEM!  Practice your 30 second intro. Be a natural as you can and showcase what’s in it for Them.

  1. Success doesn’t happen overnight!

We live in an “instant gratification” world!  Impatience is a part of being a business owner. We work hard and want to see instant results. But success takes time… it is a dance of stepping forward, stepping back and sometimes falling. You just have to get up, dust yourself off, and try again.  You only truly fail if you quit!

So, I hope you enjoy the show as much as I do… Share with me what YOU have learned from the show (or even from being an entrepreneur!)  Congratulations to Shark Tank!

Is Eating Alone Embarrassing or Empowering?

Today I sort of messed up my schedule. I thought I needed to be at my first event at 10 am… well it turns out I didn’t need to be there until 3 PM.  I decided instead of driving back home the 45 minute drive and then returning again, I would instead set up shop and work on other things until my 3 PM event. In usual “Mindy Style” I didn’t plan well for my meals… something I struggle with but am working on. I knew it would be good to get a solid meal in before the event, so at 12:30 I decided to go to the local Bertucci’s for a solo lunch!  I didn’t hesitate because I do eat alone from time to time.  The funny thing is, when I tell someone I ate at a restaurant alone they get a shocked look on their face.  “What was that like??”  “Did you feel weird?”  Now, I’m not talking drinking a cup of coffee at Starbucks slumped over a laptop… I’m talking a full lunch in a busy restaurant alone…gasp!

 

Upon arriving I said “Just me” and smiled, the host only hesitated for a moment before putting back all but one menu and lead me to my table. I sat down and figured out what I wanted and decided I wasn’t going to linger on my tablet or cell phone… I was going to observe and relax for the time I was there.

 

So, here is what I observed-noticed: 

 

  1. The older people in the restaurant were engaged in conversation, while the younger ones seemed to be on their phones. (An unfortunate sign of the times I guess). The groups seemed to be in deep conversation, leaning in.
  2. I was served much more quickly than the other tables with 2 or more patrons. I didn’t have the chance to ask if that is by design or if they assume you don’t want to sit alone for “too long”. The tables with groups they seemed to time the meal at a steadier pace. I don’t think they were rushing me, but wanted to make sure I was taken care of. Food came out one after the next… I think I was seated and finished in about 20 minutes!
  3. I was checked on constantly… almost as if they wanted to make sure I wasn’t lonely LOL!
  4. I noticed no one would look at me. I could see people looking around the restaurant but they seemed to skip over me… especially eye contact. Except for one little boy, who on his way out with his mother and sister stopped at my table and said, “Good Morning!” with a huge smile on his face.  His mother quickly rushed him away saying don’t bother that woman. But I quite enjoyed his interaction and was glad I could say “Good Morning” back before he was out of earshot!  I wondered if HE thought I might be lonely and needed a friendly hello??  I did smile at a woman across the room… but she quickly looked away.
  5. There was 1 other person in the restaurant eating alone… She had her tablet and phone going and never looked up even when the wait staff checked on her. I wondered… could she be that busy or is she feeling embarrassed a little to be eating alone?

 

So, have you ever eaten alone?  How did it make you feel?  I loved the fact that I got to eat all 3 rolls in the Bertucci bread basket (my absolute favorite with their seasoned oil!  YUM!).  I loved looking around and really seeing the décor and the people there. I was content not looking at my electronic devices and just “being”, enjoying my meal. Don’t get me wrong… I love to eat with family, friends and colleagues as well!  But once in a while I think it is great to do things outside of the norm.  Eating alone can be very empowering and relaxing at the same time. Give it a try and let us know how it makes you feel!

 

From a Different View

From a Different View

My best friend and her 2 year old son are in town from Michigan this week.  For the first part of the visit my BFF has to work so, we are caring for her son for 56 hours (yes I am counting hours) while she is at a business conference.  I’m not counting hours because I don’t love being with this sweet, adorable, energetic boy… I count hours because our life for these 56 hours needs to be different due to his presence!

 

We have a 12 year old and a 10 year old… so it has been quite a few years since a toddler has been running amuck around the house. We all are on high alert making sure he is safe and happy.  He can’t be unattended like a 12 or 10 year old… so both my husband and I have adjusted our work hours and schedule to make sure we are more than vigilant but actively present during this time, so we can enjoy it!  It’s definitely different… It’s more time on the floor, so the house looks different from that perspective.  I found popcorn tucked under a chair where the routine vacuuming doesn’t reach…  I found a plethora of things little 2 year old fingers can grasp that I didn’t know was actually in reach.  I found he is FAST… I haven’t chased anyone in a long time and am now reconsidering returning to the gym to get back into better shape!

 

So what does this have to do with business?  A LOT!  When was the last time you took a look at your business from another view?  When was the last time you looked at your offerings from your client’s view?  When was the last time you looked at your business from your accountant’s view? Or your lawyers view? Or from your spouse’s view? Or your children’s view?  I could co on… The point is… things look different from other perspectives. 

 

Why not take a look at your business through different eyes this week?  Pick a few favorite clients and ask them to describe in their own words what you do… see what their perspective is.  (It may even help you update your bio or 30 second intro!) You can go even further and ask what improvements you can make in your offerings or services in their opinion.  Use the feedback to make your business BETTER! 

 

Don’t be afraid to take this challenge on!  Look at it as an exciting opportunity to see things from a different perspective and a unique opportunity to make positive changes and make your business better!  Let me know how it goes!

Something to Look Forward to!

Did you ever notice that life is more exciting if you have something you are looking forward to?  I certainly believe that to be true!  When I have a vacation or a visit with a friend coming up, I tend to look at the calendar a lot, counting the days and making my plan to fit everything in that needs to be done surrounding the event.  There is a positive buzz and even if other things aren’t going great, I have “Something to look forward to!”

 

I have a dear friend who moved away a few years ago.  I miss her terribly.  However, if I know specifically when I will get to visit with her again, face to face, it seems to make it better.  I have a more positive outlook and I know the end date (or goal), so I don’t seem to harp on how much I miss her, but instead on when I next get to be in her space. 

 

Sometimes it’s not a BIG event.  It might be something smaller like lunch or coffee with a friend.  Today I had a FULL schedule of work to do.  Some was exciting, some not so much!  However, I planned ahead and sprinkled in lunch with a friend to break up the day.  So this morning when things weren’t going my way, I simply remembered I’d have a break soon and be able to catch up, chat and laugh with my friend over a yummy meal at one of our favorite meeting places.  I came back to my office feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of my to-do list!

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The same is true in your business.  When you have nothing to look forward to it gets pretty dull and mundane!  BUT … When you are diligently working toward a fantastic goal or event, “work” is exciting and invigorating!  When work is exciting and invigorating you draw people to you and your business!

 

The best thing about it… YOU get to control what you get to look forward to in your business.  It could be a presentation you have coming up, it could be a HUGE opportunity you are looking for, it could be writing your first book, it could be acquiring that next amazing client.  It’s all up to you!

 

I have a vision board on the “back splash” of my desk.  This vision board has specific goals in pictures of things I want to achieve or have.  When I find myself getting in a rut I take a good hard look at the vision board.  I choose something to work for… to look forward to!  I set a SMART goal around it (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive).  Once I set the goal, I make a plan on how I plan to reach it.  Because after all, a goal without a plan is just a wish!  And voila!  I now have something to look forward to!  I can then make smaller goal posters or notes to remind me what I am working toward.  AND, when I meet with people to network my excitement will ooze out of me and get them excited too!

 

What are you looking forward to? If you don’t know… go find something!

The 3 “E’s” of a Productive Work Space

I was sitting at my desk… the chair was broken and squeaking every time I moved, my pen was annoying me and I was just plain grumpy!  I had so much work to do but all I wanted to do was go take a nap.  Needless to say my productivity was suffering in that moment.  Sometimes our workspace affects our productivity… heck sometimes it is a productivity killer!  Now that we are getting into a new autumn routine it might be a great time to evaluate your work environment.  In working with my clients over the years I have come up with 3 things that effect productivity the most – Environment, Equipment and Emotions.

 

Environment:  Take a look around… what is distracting?  Is it a squeaky chair?  Is it clutter? Is it too hot or cold? It is too light or dark? Are your kids interrupting you? The list could go on and on.  The environment you work in can make a huge difference in your productivity.  Take a minute now to look around… what is distracting you?  Find it, Fix it and see if that helps your motivation level.  I recently decided to change the décor on the top of my desk as well as purchase a room dividing screen.  The screen give me an additional level of privacy and blocks my view to the rest of the house.  The top of my desk went from a view of the router and paperwork and dust… to motivational painting, sculptures that mean something to me and pretty things to look at that bring me joy!  I am now super excited to head to my desk to work!  I feel like it’s a grown up and efficient space now!  Oh and I also bought a new desk chair… no more squeaking and memory foam seat!  Oh yeah!

This year I renovated the top of my desk… I removed all paperwork and electronics and replaced them all with things that brought me joy and peace.  What do you think?

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Equipment: This is one that is overlooked.  The little things grate on us without us even knowing it.  I have a favorite pen.  If I have a lot of writing to do it is important that I have a comfortable pen, that I like the way it writes and glides across the paper, and that the point thickness is good for the way I write.  For me I love fine tip pens… medium pens make me crazy!  What kind of notebook do you like? Spiral bound, composition style, tablet?  It does make a difference.  How about your computer…  Is it slow? Is the keypad comfortable?  Can you read the letters on the keys?  Is your chair comfortable? One of my client’s was working hard to finish a book she was writing and was not motivated to write at all.  In one of our sessions I said, “Tell me about the pen you are using.”  She promptly told me she hated it and the notebook she was using.  I encouraged her to change it. Well what do you know… al of a sudden she began writing again! It is not always that simple, but it is a good place to start if you are not getting the results you want!

Here is an example of the pen I chose for my promotional materials… I love the color, the grip and the way it writes!

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Emotions: How we feel definitely affects our level of productivity.  This is both what is going on in our lives as well as our behavior patterns.  Extroverts don’t do well working in isolation.  If you get your energy by being around other people try working an afternoon at the local coffee shop or find a shared workspace.  Sitting alone in your office hours on end will be draining. If you can’t go someplace where people are… put something on in the background or invite you child to read in the room with you while you work. 

 

Another part we overlook as entrepreneurs is to take breaks.  Set a timer and take a 10 minute break every so often.  Walk outside, get a cup of your favorite drink (mine is a Chia Latte from the Proximity Café here in Pottstown!), journal, listen to a favorite inspirational song, do some yoga or meditate.  Remember to recharge when you can so you have the energy and focus you need!

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So there you have it.  3 things you can take a look at and adjust to see if it helps your productivity level!  If you need more ideas contact us!  We can help!     

Do you have something on your website that could get you sued?

It was November of 2013.  I had opened the doors to Innovative Coaching services just 4 short months earlier.  Things were moving along and I was learning a lot each day about being a Solopreneur!  It was a Tuesday… November 12th to be exact.  I had gotten the mail and found a letter addressed to “The Legal Department of Innovative Coaching Service”.   I said out loud… “Oh isn’t that cute someone thinks we are big enough to have a legal department!”  I chuckled and opened the letter.  My laughing quickly turned to panic and I admit… tears!  I was being SUED for copyright infringement of a photo I used on the blog portion of my website.  (The Blog had been written and posted way back in JUNE!)

 

Of course I called my attorney, which began the months long process finally ending in a settlement of a reduced fine, yep… a fine plus now attorney fees to boot!  So what happened??  It is a case of “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” I THOUGHT I was searching for “FREE” images when I used Google Image search. Turns out the image may be free… but you may need a license to use it.  There are also people out there who plant seemingly “Free” images then hire an agency to follow it’s “rights and recovery”…  in plan words… these images are planted on the internet waiting for someone to use it… they hire college students to troll the internet to “find” them… then sue people for using them without permission or the proper consent.  It’s a legal loop hole that makes them thousands, sometimes even millions!

Some Photos are not free

It was a horrible experience so when it was all said and done I asked my attorney and numerous web designers how I can protect myself from that happening again.  The only REAL way is to ALWAYS take and create your own images.  ALL of them!  You can either get pretty good at taking creative photographs or you can hire a photographer to help you create stock photos for yourself.  You can purchase pictures online, BUT I warn you to be sure you have the proper licensing for distribution if you plan to post it on your website or blog. My suggestion is to hire someone you trust to take relevant picture for you!  If you need referrals just ask!  I know a ton of Fantastic Photographers… even some who specialize in stock photos!

There are some sites that are 100% free.  As long as you read the fine print and can ENSURE you are using them up to the terms intended… maybe give it a try.  I must admit I am a little gun shy even with those sites!

My new plan when I am not feeling creative is to browse Google images and find one I like… then recreate it!  I am not a perfect photographer, but it sure beats getting sued!  So I encourage you… take a moment to check your website… take down any images you don’t OWN or own the rights to distribute.  I don’t wish that letter on ANYONE!