Stacy Karacostas, founder of The Unchained Entrepreneur, is a woman on a mission to end entrepreneurial overwhelm and marketing madness, and help overworked solo-entrepreneurs market and grow six-figure businesses and still have a life! A practical marketing expert, reformed copywriter, and business lifestyle architect with five previous businesses under her belt, for years she’s been hot on the path to helping others and making a good living without working 60-70 hours a week (or even 40).

Often accused of having way more fun than entrepreneurs should be allowed, Stacy firmly believes that a big part of business success lies in loving your life. In her last business, SuccessStream Sales and Marketing Solutions, Stacy increased revenues by 50 percent annually while reducing her work hours by 30 percent. Her clients regularly see up to a 300 percent increase in their own sales and conversions by following her advice — without working harder.

In 2008, SuccessStream won second place in the “slacker-friendly category” of StartUp Nations 100 Best Home-Based Businesses contest. In 2009, her free report “The 7 Deadliest Marketing Sins — Are You Guilty?” was ranked #11 of 50 Free Business Books You Really Need to Read by onlineschools.org. In January 2010, her syndicated blog marketing-junkie.com was voted one of the top 50 independent small business blogs by konector.com .

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on growing my business while maintaining a good work/life balance. I’ve found anytime I’m launching something new in my business I have to pay extra attention to how I prioritize and manage my time.

Lately I’ve been launching a series of signature virtual coaching programs — including my Marketing Catapult, Website Catapult, Business Lifestyle Catapult and Copywriting Catapult — designed to help overwhelmed entrepreneurs put more of their marketing on autopilot and grow their businesses without giving up their lives. It’s been wonderful helping so many people all over the world, but transitioning from one-on-one consulting and live one-day workshops to multi-week virtual programs has definitely taken extra time.

But priorities are priorities. Mine include time with family and friends and exercise. I’ve still gotten out a good bit to enjoy the outdoor sports I love — whitewater kayaking, mountain biking and skiing — as well as wonderful vacations and adventures with my hubby and our friends.

3 Trends that excite you?

Wow! There are so many exciting trends happening right now that are great for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs …

First in my book is the social media and online marketing revolution. Nowadays it’s easy for any entrepreneur with the right message to reach thousands of prospects without spending a dime. Then keep growing those relationships using Facebook, e-mail marketing, blogging and more until those prospects turn into clients, and eventually, raving fans.

Second would be the trend in consumer buying preferences toward specialists, experts and niched small businesses versus generalists and corporations. People want that connection and they want products, services and solutions tailored just to them. If you have a unique, specialized, benefits-oriented brand with a real human behind it chances are you’re going to shine.

Third would be the fact that working from a home office is now a totally acceptable way to run a business, which also has spurred growth in the Virtual Assistant (VA) industry. Outsourcing to a team of VAs is simply the best way to stay on top of all that online marketing and social networking every entrepreneur needs to be doing.

These three trends make it possible for solo-entrepreneurs like me and thousands of others to have authentic brands and successful businesses run from our homes — without giving up our lives to make it happen.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Nothing happens until something moves. So how do I manage to always have something new launching? Well, I do quite a bit of planning first off. Then I simply follow my plan.

To be more specific … I spend a good bit of time contemplating my goals and putting them in writing. Then I break them down into smaller objectives. Once I have my objectives set, I create strategies to achieve them and step-by-step action plans with deadlines and dates. Then I simply enter the action steps in my calendar and take care of them as they pop up. Before I know it another big initiative or program has been brought to life!

What is one mistake that you’ve made that our readers can learn from?

The biggest single mistake I’ve made over the course of more than five businesses is thinking I had to do everything myself if I wanted it done right. It’s simply not possible to do that and have a life, let alone sleep or take vacations. Instead you want to focus on the things you’re best at or that bring in money, and outsource everything else to people who are better at it, and cheaper, than you.

What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?

One of the best books anyone should read — whether they’re an entrepreneur or not — is “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely. He makes it crystal clear why humans make the illogical choices we do, and how to keep from falling prey to our own bizarre decision-making process. At the same time, business owner can get a zillion ideas on how to sell their products or services more effectively.

As for tools, I really like Basecamp. It’s the project management software my VA team uses, and it rocks for keeping us all organized and communicating effectively.

What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If you really want to grow your business, spend 15 to 30 minutes first thing each morning doing one thing to market and grow your business.

How did you get into helping overworked entrepreneurs grow their businesses without giving up their lives?

Well, mainly because I gave up my own life for all of my first few businesses, and while they did okay, I didn’t. I ended up throwing out my back, getting exhausted and burning out. Now that I’ve figure out how to grow a business the right way, and still have a life, I want to help others do the same.

You talk a lot about setting priorities in your personal life, and making sure life is fun. What do you do for fun?

Well, I’m a big outdoor sports junkie. In fact I met my hubby whitewater kayaking and we also telemark ski and mountain bike. Plus, we love to travel and eat all kinds of crazy ethnic foods. And I’ve taken dance classes for years So, if I’m not at work, you can usually find me outside somewhere playing hard or cooking and eating great meals.

Connect:

You can find loads of articles on marketing, business growth, outsourcing and more on my blog at … http://theunchainedentrepreneur.com/blog

Or connect with me on:

Twitter @stacykaracostas
Facebook facebook.com/unchainedentrepreneur
Biznik http://biznik.com/members/stacy-karacostas

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