One of the best parts about being your own boss is that you get to choose your clients. I know we have all had clients in our careers that we couldn’t wait to move past. Part of attracting our ideal client is using our voice: our real voice, the one we use when we talk to friends, because people want to buy from friends.
Using your real voice is important in building your brand, because you use it to attract clients, get them on board ,and keep them. Maintaining constant expectations through your voice is key in doing this. I think about it like online dating. Even if these are unchartered waters for you, the fear of having the prospective date not be like their profile in person probably came up. When people view our websites and social media, they are checking our profile. They let us know they are interested by reaching out through email, and the relationship grows with a phone call or meeting. Your customer can date anyone so imagine their fears about working with you if you are really bubbly and outgoing online, but your emails are very stark and you take forever to respond.
On your end, you want to use your voice to repel people who don’t mesh with your personality. When I was looking around for a business coach, I could easily rule many of them out just by the words they used to communicate their message. I don’t like aggressive personalities. Any fear-based selling strategies like, “You will regret not signing up today” , or telling me I have to do something immediately, made me move on. But, those coaches have lots of clients that are attracted to their personalities and methods.
It’s not about the right or wrong voice, but about you building a brand that stands out by using your unique voice. Don’t be afraid to do it, feel empowered by it. If you are struggling with putting yourself out there and creating boundaries, please check out Brene Brown – she’s amazing!
It’s the dream to ditch the commute and work in yoga pants, but many people find the transition harder than they thought. Making it work is all about setting boundaries and testing what works best for your life.
Developing a work space
There are so many distractions at home that you don’t have in your office; those dishes in the sink from breakfast or that load of laundry waiting to be folded. You don’t have your regular co workers, but you do have family at home that don’t understand just because you are home, doesn’t mean you are not working. You may also find that friends and family now think you are available for anything and everything.
Set up some boundaries by making a space to work, complete with office hours. Create a space that is just for working where you can actually shut the door during your “office hours”, which allows you to focus and let little ones know you are unavailable. Explain to your family what your work hours are, and then communicate with them as you did before. Meaning, don’t give in to 30 minute phone conversations while you are working, even if you desperately want the distraction. Let your kids know that when the door is shut, they can only come in for emergencies. AND emergencies are not wanting a popsicle.
Finding a Schedule that works for you
Not only do you have to set boundaries for the people around you but also for yourself. It’s so easy to get pulled into the feeling of urgency to complete every task and serve every client. Basically, work all of the time. It’s hard to shut the door, clock out, and do life. It’s the desire for a better quality of life that prompts so many of us to take the plunge in to entrepreneurship, but work-life balance can still remain elusive.
It took a while to figure out a schedule that worked well around my family life and how I work best. If I don’t exercise in the morning, I just don’t get to it. Exercise is really important for how I feel mentally and physically. So, I had to make it a priority and let my work day start after that. I do my best work in the morning so anything I have to concentrate on, like writing these post or coding, I do first. I set three priority items and those are what I do in the morning. In my corporate job, I wrote out what I needed to do for the next day before I left and I still do this. It helps me to cut my work day off and focus on family. I always take a lunch break with my husband, even if it’s just 20 minutes. It’s a way to make time for each other and avoid snacking all day, which is so easy to do at home.
With my priority work done, if something comes up in the afternoon or a meeting runs long, I don’t feel so flustered and behind. The most impactful thing I have done to working smarter is scheduling everything in my Google calendar. I have my time blocked out for everyday things like going to the gym, emails, and priority work. Then, I also have monthly task like website maintenance, writing blog post, and publishing e-newsletters. Every Monday is accounting, marketing, and education. This way I keep up with invoices and taxes. I have a space and time for working on marketing my business and a time to expand my skill set. If you are having trouble with this, writing down or using an app, like Timely, will help you see how you are spending your day and how you can use your time better.
Enjoy the Perks!
Working from home can be isolating. You miss the water cooler talk and having a team to help you work through things. Now it’s you… doing everything and figuring it out as you go. I get out and meet a friend for coffee or go to a networking event every week. Community is good for your business and your well being. It also feels amazing and rewarding to enjoy the perks of making your own schedule. Go shopping during the middle of the day when stores are empty, have a long lunch with friends, and be the room Mom you never had time to be before. Being an entrepreneur is hard. Don’t forget to reward yourself by actually living the kind of life you took this chance for in the first place.
Your niche is that place where you can focus in on a service or product that allows you to rise to the top as an expert and become the go to person in your field. It’s a way for you to be really specific about who you are and what you do. The results of finding your niche are standing out from your competition, working with ideal clients, and being able to charge well for your expertise.
As people are drawn more to handmade items and sites like Etsy continue to spring up, so does the need for letterpress printing. There are lots of printing companies in your town who specialize in off set and digital printing, but letterpress printing is a different kind of craft. This kind of craftsmanship and expertise appeals to a specific kind of client, and they are willing to pay for it. Even though this is a small client base, there are also a limited number of experts, making letterpress printing a lucrative business. People who specialize in letterpress printing stand out in the printing industry as a whole.
Even if you are in a large industry, like weddings, ask yourself what couples within that group can you serve in a specialized way? You can be offering a service or product that you keep getting asked about. Maybe it’s your process that produces unique results. It could be appealing to a customer’s specific taste, like boho brides. Look for a way that you can serve people with unique expertise and position your business through exclusive content, marketing , and voice to speak to that customer.
I hear from so many people that they struggle with finding the perfect color pallet! How can something so fun, be so hard right? If you are stuck choosing your colors, what’s holding you back is probably a disconnect between your brand message and images or a flat color palette. Let’s talk about what that means, and then I made a worksheet (at the bottom if you want to skip down) that you can download to get your color palette together.
Brand Message – Color evokes emotions from people based on their association between the color and context they attach to it. Some people love nature and may associate rich greens with adventure and national parks. Other people hate camping so this evokes a context of being uncomfortable (bugs, weather, tent sleeping). So what we want to do is make sure their is cohesion in our brand by being clear about our message and using our colors, logo and photo styles to support that.
Color Theory – They actually give an entire course just on color in art school, so don’t feel bad if you are struggling here. Pick one color you really like, let’s say turquoise. You want to add a complementary color like a shade of green. Complimentary colors are next to your chosen colors in the color wheel. If you were making turquoise with paint you would mix green and blue. So green and blue are your complimentary colors. Now you have turquoise, green, and blue in your pallet. Next you need a pop of color. This can be a color opposite the color wheel, or a bright color in our color family(what we would mix to make our palette). In this example you could use yellow, lime green, or red. Now you need a neutral. This can be something in the gray family or a really light version of our three main colors. To finish off our pallet we need a dark color. This can be a dark gray, black, or a dark version of one of our three main colors.
Having a variety of color will keep your color pallet from looking flat. Now you have a go to grid for designing your branding materials and website. You have your main colors, plus a light and dark color for text, and a neutral for backgrounds.
I was having a coffee date this week with a fellow entrepreneur, who is a business consultant. We were talking about how no matter how solid your business plan is, there is a always a learning curve when it comes to working for yourself. It takes time to put your plan into practice. It takes time to perfect your systems and see what works and what doesn’t. Of course, there are always the unplanned events. Clients come and go, and family emergencies happen. Then, there are the unknown factors. Unlike our jobs where we clocked in for someone else, there is no one else to step in when we don’t want to deal with something. What has surprised me the most about working for myself is that while it brings out my strenghts, it also makes me face my weaknesses. This can be really uncomfortable, but incredible for personal and professional growth. What I have learned from talking to so many others who have chosen this path is that these types of ups and downs ar just part of the journey to building your dream job.
What I really want you to know is this: You have everything you need to succeed.
You have the knowlege, skill, and passion to make money doing what you love. So let go of the fear of failing. Silence your inner critic that tells you, you aren’t good enough. Be vunerable enough to really put yourself out there, because you will connect with the world in meaningful ways.
Being an entrepreneur is hard, but you can do it. Anytime you feel overwhelmed thinking about sales funnels, getting new clients, and paying the bills just take a deep breath, let it out and repeat, “I have everything I need to succeed.” Because, the only thing holding you back is you.
Design communities are a wonderful thing. The world is becoming smaller with online social groups, collaborations, and access to designers work. But, like on any playground, some kids don’t play nice. I teach my children to take the high road, but I know sometimes it is really hard not to give in to that first emotion of retaliation. For those of you who felt your work was copied, or had a client stolen, I hear you. It really sucks.
Design is a way of communicating. We learn through our education and practice how to prefect the art of supporting and idea or telling a story through images. There is beautiful moment that feel like magic when inspiration, vision and design come together in perfect harmony. It’s addictive and fulfilling. The only thing that can bring you down from this is high is when the client rejects the deign.
This can be so hard! Take a break and detach your emotions from your work. Think back to the discovery meeting. What were their pain points? What did they tell you was important? Were you really listening, and did your design really convey what they wanted?
I always tell people to think of their website like an employee that works 24/7. I listen to what issues they are having running their business and what their customers are asking them to see how their site can serve them better. When you are selling your services and closing the deal showing this value to the customer makes them feel excited pay you. It’s a win win. Finding the right software for scheduling and billing can be a huge time saver for small business owners. Think about having to schedule, send appointment reminders, and invoices for over 100 people a month! These are 3 apps for scheduling and collecting payments that I really like to use.
Passive income is a way to generate money without expending a lot of energy. It’s a way to maximize your time and income potential. Especially when you are a one person operation and your time is limited. These are some ways to offer a product or service within the scope of what you are already doing.
One of the most surprising pains in starting and growing your own business is actually yourself. You can have the skill, experience, and desire that it takes to succeed, but if your head isn’t right you will fail. Sounds harsh right? As creative’s we get emotionally attached to our work. Rejection of this work can can cut deep, as it seems like rejection against ourselves. When you work with clients there is no buffer between you and the work. Your business is you, and you have to feel confident, excited and ready to be vulnerable. This is what it takes to share and sell what you have to offer, making your business a success.