Categories
Business

10 Industry Leaders Give Their Best Business Advice for Creative Entrepreneurs

It’s sort of a loaded question to ask, but we asked it anyway because we want to give you the best business advice for creative entrepreneurs that we possibly can. Well, as much as possible without you actually being a coaching client or part of our revamped Jetsetter Academy 😉

 

Buuuut, before you get a glimpse into some of our industry’s top dogs’ brilliant brains, I need to give you a WARNING!!! because my goal is to inspire and empower you, not overwhelm you. That said, be on the look out for advice that fits where you’re at in this season of your business. Heck, in your life for that matter. Please, please, please do not walk away thinking you need to do it all or be it all. Be you. Just the best version of yourself. That might mean implementing one or two of these things to start.

 

Rant over. Onto the goods. We asked some of our favorite industry friends one tough question and we’re so grateful they’ve taken the time to share their thoughts and hearts with you! (Don’t worry, Jesse and I didn’t weasel our way out of answering this toughie. You’ll find our two cents at the bottom.)

 

If you had to boil it down to one thing that’s helped you get your business where it is today, what would that thing be?

 

I understand that, as business owners, we want to see RESULTS. But we must separate ourselves from the results themselves. You are not results. You are not defined by a client refusal. You are more than a denied project. You are not the outcome of a flopped launch. You are more than you let yourself believe. When we separate ourselves from the outcome, we free ourselves to believe that the right clients will find us, that new projects will arise, and flops are just valuable business lessons in disguise. When this happens, we are free to believe we are worth far more than our hearts can imagine. So, go on sweet friend, separate yourself from the outcome and enjoy the ride. // Jasmine Star

 

I think the single most important thing that I have ever done in my business overall has been thinking differently. The way we market, the way we create educational products, the way we try to see business is just a little different from the rest of the world and that has served us so well! We stand out in both the photography and education world because we’re not afraid to do things differently! // Katelyn James

 

Running out of money is the number one reason businesses fail. We see too many entrepreneurs who fail not because they can’t make enough, but because they spend too much — or don’t have a specific, purposeful plan for where their money is going each month. That’s why we recommend that everyone read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, and live and breathe his principles for managing money. // Amy & Jordan

 

Wise counsel! I meet monthly with a group of fellow CEO’s for Biblical business counsel and to learn alongside each other. It has been the best thing I’ve ever done for our business. I don’t feel alone on the “leadership island” anymore. Surrounding myself with this kind of accountability and support has been a gift! // Lara Casey

 

ONE thing is hard, but a BIG shift for me has been realizing I need to build my business to run when I can’t. Not just like, seeing that as a concept, but like, doing the hard work to make it happen. If I’m the quarterback of my own business, I don’t know when I’ll be out, right? I could get injured tomorrow and be out all season, so how am I constantly thinking of how I can build this to run either when I can’t … or just need a nap. // Ashlyn Carter

 

I realized that I have the power to change. When something wasn’t working, I made the change that I needed. When I realized that I was being “team too much,” I made changes to simplify and streamline in order to get on the other side of busy. You can continue to make excuses and put things off or you can realize that today, this very second, you have the power to change for the better. In your business and your life. // Shunta Grant

 

Focus. Now, I don’t mean the ability to focus on a task and be super productive and get all of your to-do list to done (I’m not the best at that if I’m being totally honest). What I mean is focusing on your business. Focusing on what you’re doing. And that’s it. The ability to put your blinders on, ignore everyone else, and keep your head down is what it took for me to build my business. It ain’t always easy! But, it’s so incredibly worth it. I mean, if it worked for Oprah during the talk show wars of the 90s, it’s gotta work for folks like you and me. You’ve gotta be your version of Oprah. Ignore Phil Donahue (and Sally Jessy…and Ricki Lake…and Jerry Springer). Keep your head down. It makes all the difference. // Tyler McCall

 

Opening up and connecting with women who get it, too! They’re the ones pushing me through hard times, challenging me to reach a dream and cheering me on as I do. My business would be a lonely, isolating place without them (and truthfully I don’t think it would be anywhere near “successful” if I didn’t have them in my life)! // Kat Schmoyer

 

Consistently seeking the wisdom of people who are smarter than us. Whether that’s through coaching, attending a workshop, or simply calling up a friend when I’m stuck on something, having the ability to pull from beyond JUST my own resources and brains has been invaluable. I honestly wouldn’t be in business today if it weren’t for our industry mentors-turned-friends who were there to either cheer me on or help problem-solve in some of the most challenging seasons of business. And what’s been really rewarding is how, now that we’re “veterans” in the industry, I’ve been able to turn around and occasionally offer advice or wisdom back to the folks who have always been there for me! // Abby Grace

 

Having a plan and a vision for where the business is going. Too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day details and miss opportunities that are right in front of us. Making intentional time to work on your business—stepping out and looking at the big picture—can re-ignite creativity and passion and help you build a strategy to move your business forward.

For example, my team meets quarterly to discuss what’s working, what’s not working, challenges, opportunities, and much, much more. Having this dedicated time together where we’re not buried in the to-dos allows us to do things like brainstorm new (or improved) products or put together a marketing plan for the next few months. If we didn’t have this time set aside, we may never have accomplished some of the amazing things we’ve done! // Amber Housley

 

You get two for the price of one here!
Jesse: Consistency. Yes, there will be times of hustle and pushing it, but there needs to be consistency, no matter what season of your business you’re in. When you’re consistent, you’re always making forward progress. Even if they’re just baby steps, you’re heading in the right direction!

 

Becky: Doing the scary, “risky,” hard things not everyone is willing to do. Sometimes that’s putting yourself in front of the camera. Sometimes that’s scrapping something you spent a lot of time and money on. Sometimes that’s trusting your gut and saying yes to a big, fat idea that seems crazy! Sometimes that’s humbling yourself and getting back in the game after a failed attempt. If you’re willing to get uncomfortable and overcome awkward, you’ll stand out from the crowd and gain a lot of confidence along the way. // (Yours truly!), Idealust

 

What stands out to you? What words jumped out at you? What inspires you to take a different approach to how you’re currently doing business? We’d love to hear in the comments below 🙂

 

Categories
Business Personal

How to Know When it is Time to Let Go in Your Business

Before we were ever business coaches for creatives, Jesse and I were wedding photographers.

 

In 2009, we spent hours, probably days worth of time coming up with our business name alone: Limelife Photography (we don’t recommend taking this long to decide on a business name). In 2012, we invested $8,750 in a new website and promo video. That business was our baby. Our everything at the time.

 

As the years went on, we started having conversations about transitioning our entrepreneur journey toward what is now Idealust. (Thinking of making a big move, leap or transition in your business? Read this.) We continued to get wedding photography inquiries even though we updated our website saying we were no longer taking weddings. Even though we weren’t using it, we kept the site up because how could we not?! It was the product of a lot of blood, sweat, tears and dolla bills.

 

Before long, I got an email reminding me it was time to renew our hosting. For years we automatically renewed. Obviously. We needed the site to help market our business. Duh. But now, we weren’t pursuing that business, so…

 

Jesse and I had a conversation that included a lot of these questions…

 

“Do we keep paying for it even though we don’t need it anymore?”
“Should we take the site down?!”
“WHAAAAT?! We can’t take it down, can we?!”
“We put so many hours and so much work and so much money into it!”
“Does it make sense to keep it up just for the sake of keeping it up?”
“Do we need it anymore?”

 

We decided to scrap our shiny $8,750 website. Our photography business promo video (we obviously have a thing for upbeat and quirky promo videos…here’s our Idealust vid) still lives on our free WordPress blog that we will probably have forever. But, the rest of it (the beautiful galleries, the clean and colorful design, the copy), well, it’s gone. Yes, it felt like we were breaking up with or practically burying a part of ourselves, but in the end…

 

That website worked wonders for us at one point, but it was no longer essential for the direction we were headed. It no longer served a purpose. We haven’t needed it or thought about it in the last 4+ years.

 

Recently, we scrapped our free Facebook group for Idealust and have been solely focusing on our private community for our 1:1 clients and those in the Jetsetter Academy. One of the best decisions we’ve made in a while.

 

We’re such big believers in streamlining and simplifying our business that we coach our incredible clients to do the same, when necessary.

 

For example, when we first started working with Stefani of Stefani Jessica Studio, she offered brand strategy, branding design, copywriting and website design. She is capable and talented at all those things but she wasn’t making money from all of those avenues. And, maybe more importantly, she wasn’t excited about the work she was doing in some of those categories!

 

After a few conversations and some nudging from Jesse and me (it’s hard to let go of the things we’ve built), Stefani decided to solely focus on website strategy, design and development (in addition to educating other designers with her in-depth content).

 

Making that one switch, letting go of something that wasn’t working for her business, Stefani has been able to raise her prices, book dream clients and continues to book her highest package over and over again. Oh, and she’s actually enjoying her work 😉 Worth it, wouldn’t you say?

 

I’m not saying you should finish this article and go delete your Facebook group or shut down your site or delete half of your services.

 

I am saying do yourself a favor and take inventory of your tools, resources, revenue streams, systems, services, etc. and do a gut check on what’s working for you and what’s not.

 

A few questions to help you decide if it’s time to let go of something in your business:

  • What are you spending time, money or energy on that no longer serves a purpose for your business?
  • Do you pay for a service, app or system that you don’t use (as much as you’d like to be using and know that’s not going to change)?
  • Do you offer a specific service because someone else offers that service but you really, truly don’t want to be offering that service?
  • Do you offer services or products that aren’t making you money you’d like to be making with them? (Scrapping them isn’t the only option. It takes a lot of work to finetune marketing strategies and sales funnels, so those might be options, too.)
  • Do you have a gut feeling about something you’re doing in your business, like maybe, you already know you shouldn’t continue down that path?
  • Running a successful business takes smart plans and strategies but it also takes flexibility (and these things too). We have to be able to remove ourselves from the work and time and often, the money, we put into our businesses to make clear decisions that benefit the longevity of our businesses.

 
Sometimes, we have to cut our losses. Sometimes, we have to shift or transition. Sometimes, we have to scrap projects, ideas, services, lead magnets, Instagram ads or shiny websites, if those things aren’t serving their purpose.

 

It’s not always easy. But, if it’s the right move, we promise, it’ll be more than worth it.

 

We’d love to hear from you! What’s something that you let go of that’s made your business better and stronger? How did you feel once you finally let _________ go?

 
 
 

Categories
Business Personal

5 musts for keeping your business afloat when life knocks you down

I was consumed by one thing and only one thing: we probably weren’t going to be able to conceive a baby. I had already been grieving this for years, since we’d been trying with zero positive pregnancy tests. But, the second surgery proved it to be an even truer reality than I had imagined it to be in my mind.

And now, Jesse and I were faced with some soul searching and big decisions about where we were going to go from here, but we also had to run our business. Well, we weren’t just running a business, we were right smack dab in the middle of a busy wedding season, shooting almost every weekend as Limelife Photography and pouring every ounce of our spare energy into building Idealust. In the middle of that craziness, I was trying to figure out how to be okay with whatever God had in mind for our future family.

Can I get super honest with you? Good.

There were days when I felt so disconnected to all we had built as entrepreneurs, because I so desperately wanted the details of this other part of our life to fall into place. There were days when I just couldn’t get myself to sit at my desk and be the photographer or a business coach that everyone knew me to be. There were days when I just needed nothingness inside my brain because there was too much happening inside my heart.There were days when I just couldn’t get myself to sit at my desk and be the photographer or a business coach that everyone knew me to be. There were days when I just needed nothingness inside my brain because there was too much happening inside my heart.

And that’s okay.

Maybe you’ve felt that way before, too? Because of something hard or unexpected? Maybe a relationship went downhill or someone you love got a not-so-promising call from the doctor? We’ve all been there and the truth is…we’ll be there again, at some point. It’s part of life. But, what the heck do you do with it all when you’re a creative entrepreneur? When your clients are depending on you? When your family is depending on the paycheck?

I’m so incredibly blessed that I work with my husband. When things feel a little too wild in our personal life, and if my energy is shifted in that direction, he fills in the gaps. We are able to ebb and flow and take charge when one of our (wo)men is down. But, even still, there have been plenty of times when both of us needed to put business on the backburner to take care of ourselves and our people.

I believe entrepreneurship is such a gift for so many reasons. One of the coolest things is that we can turn things up fast and furious, momentum burning like a roaring fire. Or, when needed or wanted, we can slow things down. Pause the extras. Maintain the essentials.

That said, when life throws us curve balls (all of this can also totally be applied to planned life events that take us away from our businesses), there are ways to make it work. And not just work, but work well for us and those we serve. There are ways to make the most of all the effort we’ve put in, without backsliding in business and, at the same time, doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves, our circumstances and our people.

Here are our 5 musts for keeping your business afloat when life knocks you down. Learned from plenty of personal experience over the last 8 years 😉

  1. Give yourself grace. Ease off on the expectations for a bit. You don’t always need 15 super challenging monthly goals. Maybe you only have 3 this month and one of them is to get yourself to a yoga class twice a week. Success isn’t just about money and clients and Instagram engagement. Success is living a life full of giving and loving others. Remind yourself that it’s essential to spend time loving your people, including yourself and it’s more than okay not to spend that time in your business.
  2. Go into maintenance mode. Figure out what you need to do to keep things running smoothly, without piling on any extra commitments or ideas. This isn’t the time to pick up speed, but we don’t want to fall backwards either. Focus on the essentials like getting back to new inquiries quickly and taking care of our current clients. Give yourself permission to put the rest aside, for now.
  3. Take care of your clients. If you’re taking some time away from work, communicate any new, temporary expectations, like your response time. Your clients don’t need to know all the details, but they do need to know they’ll still be getting everything you promised them. If your workflows and systems are in place (high-five!!!), you will still be able to over-deliver without the extra strain.
  4. Have a backup plan. Depending on the circumstances, depending how long you’ll be in maintenance mode and depending on what exactly you do, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan. That might mean having a list of second shooters you can call and ask for help. That might mean handing off a little more responsibility to your VA for the next couple weeks. That might mean referring new leads to industry friends.
  5. Create more space. We have to expect the unexpected. I’ve found that the more consistent I am with my morning routine and the more time I spend with Jesus, the better I handle all this hard stuff. I react less and calmly address circumstances. I don’t beat myself up for not going 90mph all the time. The only way I get good at this stuff is by creating the space to practice self-care and by building in plenty of room for my priorities, outside of our businesses.  

We’ve coached and had conversations with hundreds of incredible creative entrepreneurs. Almost every single one of them has shared that this, entrepreneurship, is the dream because of the freedom it allows them. Most of the time, that means fun stuff like travel, doing what they love and getting to work from home. Sometimes, that means freedom, space and opportunity to take a step back from your business to take care of yourself.

Categories
Business

How implementing a morning routine transforms our business + marriage

I have a tendency to want to be seen and rewarded for my efforts. I struggle with comparison and thinking I need recognition. When I’m busy striving for greatness, I forget where my worth comes from. (Whoa! No easing into this post!) Theses tendencies come out when I’m not implementing a morning routine.

Jesse has a tendency to work too much. He struggles with FOMO and that jeopardizes boundaries we’ve set for our life. We both have a tendency to want to be right. We have strong personalities and sometimes lack patience and grace.

YIKES! We’re a mess. True story.

And, it gets soooo much messier when we let these things fester and dictate our days and rule our life. When left to their own devices, these flaws have the potential to wreak havoc in our business and marriage. We’ve been there and done that and have no desire to go back.

That’s why we have a morning routine. That’s why, even though for years Jesse was a self-proclaimed night owl, he decided to read The Miracle Morning and give it a whirl. Guys, my husband used to lay in bed until 9:30am, now he wakes up before 6am!

But, it’s not about being a morning person. It’s about how being a morning person, how taking charge of your mindset before the sun comes up and filling every ounce of your being with truth instead of lies, it’s about how that sets you up for gratefully and peacefully watching the beautiful sunset at the day’s end.

“By implementing a morning routine, you’re choosing to set the tone for your day. You’re making a decision about how you will respond, think, speak, act, work, love, etc. You are no longer reacting to the world but intentionally living out who you want to be as an entrepreneur, a spouse, a friend.”

We all know that being an entrepreneur can be a tough gig. Same goes for being married. (If you’re reading this and you’re not married, no biggie, this totally applies to having any kind of relationship with another human being!)

A couple years ago, I made a quick video talking about the morning routine that will change your life. But, today, I want to share with you how having a morning routine transforms our business + marriage and, if you’re up for the challenge, how we know it can transform your business, marriage, ___________ (whatever you’d like to improve), too.

This is what our life (business + marriage included!) looks like…

When we don’t start the day with our morning routine:

  • We are quick to argue, because we both feel entitled to being right.
  • We feel like ships passing in the night…like roommates who work in the same house.
  • We are impatient with each other and easily irritable because we’re busy with our own projects.
  • We are easily distracted and our productivity suffers.
  • We feel rushed to accomplish tasks and stressed out that there’s so much to do.
  • We feel disconnected and overwhelmed.
  • We complain, feel jealous and are easily angered.
  • We lack purpose and clarity.
  • We are quick to react and judge.

When we do start the day with our morning routine:

  • We feel closer to Jesus, like we are seeking him and his will for our life.
  • We are on the same page with each other.
  • We support each other.
  • We are more focused and determined.
  • We persevere more easily and react less emotionally.
  • We are confident in our business decisions.
  • We mind our own business, paying attention to our next move, not everyone else’s.
  • We feel inspired in our work.
  • We feel inspired to do nice things for each other.
  • We listen to each other.
  • We make things happen quickly and smoothly with our business.

The difference is night and day. It’s like, “Duh! Do your morning routine, guys!”

Curious what these morning routines look like? We got most of this from the book The Miracle Morning

This is what our morning routines look like…

Jesse’s morning routine:

  • 5 minutes of prayer/meditation
  • 5 minutes of affirmations/visualization (includes reading his monthly goals)
  • 20 minutes of reading (usually a business book or the Bible)
  • 15 minutes of journaling (writing out thoughts and little pieces that could someday be compiled into a more substantial piece)

My morning routine:

  • 5 minutes of prayer/meditation
  • 5 minutes of affirmations/visualization (includes reading my monthly goals)
  • 20 minutes of reading (currently reading + LOVING Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst)
  • One hour of writing (working on my book)

Our morning routine, together:

  • Make + eat breakfast. Jesse usually makes the eggs. I usually “make” the coffee (aka: Pulling the handle down on the Keurig and adding lots of creamer to the mug.)
  • Read the Bible + pray together.
  • Talk about what we’re grateful for.
  • Exercise (usually later in the day as a work break)

Do we do all of this every single day? Nope. Is it glaringly obvious when we skip our morning routines? Yep! More than anything, for us, our morning routine is a guideline for helping us be the best we can be for our clients, for our audience, for each other, for our families, for our friends, for everything we do.

And, when we’re operating as close to 100% as humanly possible, in all these categories, we know that’s when we are living out who God has created us to be. That’s when we become increasingly aware of all he is and is doing in our lives.

It’s easy to let our icky tendencies take over. It’s easy to make excuses and say, “Ah, well, that’s just me.” It takes effort and discipline to wake up every morning and choose to be the best you. But, life, business, marriage, all of it, is so much more rewarding when you do.

Do you have a morning routine? Can you tell a difference in the days you implement it and when you don’t? Let us know in the comments below if you’re ready to give a morning routine a whirl and/or if it’s time to dust it off and bring it back to life and serve it up strong with your morning coffee.

Categories
Adventure

What a trip to Joshua Tree reminded me about being an entrepreneur

We have been putting in some long hours. We usually do this in waves. We put our heads down, do the work and hustle like crazy and then we take chunks of time off. Or, we create a schedule for a couple weeks that’s light on the commitments and heavy on the Disneyland date days.

So, we had just finished one of those long hauls. Let’s be real here. Jesse and I aren’t an overnight success. We’re underdogs who invest in ourselves and also discipline ourselves to make things happen. And by things, at least this last time around, I mean improve our plan to help you even more. To come alongside you better. To answer your questions faster. To show you we get it and we’re here for you every step of the way on this wild entrepreneur adventure.

Anyway, we had just finished one of those stretches where the stove gets dusty and my eyes are dry from staring at the screen and our brains our mush. The only right choice to make after these marathons is to get outside. To run. To explore. To climb big old boulders and watch the sun dip below the mountains.

And that’s why we planned all that heavy lifting before this Joshua Tree trip. Jesse and I like to map out our intense work weeks, strategically cushioning them with seeing Beauty and the Beast two times in one week and road trips.

We were only there about 24 hours, because we had to get home in time for our client coaching calls on Tuesday and to take our nephews to Disneyland on Thursday. But, you can experience so much beauty, relaxation and joy in just a few hours. Just a few minutes really. When you decide to.

We drove all the way across the entire Joshua Tree National Park. We were visiting my aunt and uncle with my mom and so that was our posse. Driving two minutes, pulling over, skipping through wildflowers, getting back in the car, driving three minutes, pulling over, laughing, breathing in the desert air, smiling at the sun, talking fast + free about all the colors popping out of the brown earth. Because of all the rain Southern California had this winter, the flowers showed up in all their splendor in this super bloom, my new favorite phenomenon that only happens every so often.

It was a sunshiny, beautiful whirlwind. And it made me realize something.

This is what our quick trip to Joshua Tree reminded me about being an entrepreneur…

Those long hauls of crazy work weeks do pay off. The discipline to do the things that not everyone is willing to do, yep!, that pays off, too. The heart + soul we pour into our art and ideas, it’s worth it. It doesn’t always feel like it, when there’s nothing but dry, brown desert dust in our lungs, but…

Oh, the beauty when it all comes together! After dormant winters and struggles and doubts, that super bloom of fulfillment and inquiries and influence you have in your clients’ lives! It is a colorful, perfect daydream come true. And it is waiting for you.

Those flowers will bloom.

 

Categories
Business

Which Parks and Rec Business Owner Are You?

parks-and-rec-biz-owners-gallery-1

We like to take a good amount of work breaks. Sometimes that’s a trip to the smoothie bar. Sometimes that’s a hike. And other times, that’s watching reruns of Parks and Recreation.

We seriously laugh so hard at this show. Anyway, it got me thinking…

Which Parks and Recreation character are you most like in business? I know…serious stuff going through my brain today ???? Come see which ones we are and share your answer in the Idealust Gutsy Go-Getters Facebook group!

Leslie – The Optimist
No clients…no problem. I’ll just call everyone I know until someone hires me.

Ben – The Budgeter
Free webinar? I’m there! $27 course? Yikes. I don’t think so.

Ron – The Craftsman
Give me a stiff drink and a blank canvas. Close the door behind you.

Tom – The Promoter
My Instagram gallery is rocking with comments. Networking events? You don’t even have to ask. I’m there. Mixing and mingling and coming home with all the oddly shaped biz cards out there.

Ann – The Bestie
Let’s go into business TOGETHER! It’ll be so much more fun than working from home by myself in my jammies.

Chris – The Encourager
You got this! You CAN do it! OMG! You did what?! INCREDIBLE!!!

April – The Introvert
Leave me alone and let me take pictures.

Andy – The Extrovert
Emails? Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to them! Wanna go get coffee first? Did you see that video on Facebook about the monkey who brushes his teeth?!

Donna – The Queen Bee
Did you just leave a snarky comment on my post? You better delete that before I report you. #girlboss

Jerry – Poor Jerry
Some day someone will notice me. Until then, I’ll keep on creating because I’m good at what I do.

Who are you!? CLICK HERE to share! 🙂

Categories
Business

How I almost failed a client, industry friends and a best friend in just two months…

evelyn

We’re doing things a little bit differently with this one. One of our incredible Jetsetter Elite clients, Evelyn (of Letterlyn), approached us about writing a guest blog post for us, on a topic near and dear to our hearts: SAYING NO! We’re pretty sure her experience as a self-proclaimed people-pleaser will resonate with plenty of our readers 😉 We love Evelyn’s determination to build a business that brings her joy, but more importantly, we admire how she takes action, even through trial and error, changes course when she needs to and keeps moving right along, taking her business to the next level! After you read this, go check out her BEAUTIFUL invitations + calligraphy over at Letterlyn!

——–

Collaboration, strategic relationships: We all know they’re great ways to grow our businesses. I love being helpful and working with others. But, like many of us, I can be helpful to a fault.

I got more than 15 requests for editorial shoots for the months of April and May. I said yes to more than half. Some were small orders, while some took days to complete. It was a lot of work and most of it was unpaid. I was hoping to build relationships and boost SEO through publication.

I was working in overdrive and hadn’t made time for myself in weeks. One day, I told my husband I wouldn’t be going to my friend’s birthday weekend because I needed to stay home to work. Did I just think about putting my work over my childhood best friend? Then, I made a mistake on some client work and fixed it so it was “good enough.” I remember the words crossing my mind. Immediately, the blood rushed from my face. I was mortified. Next, I realized I hadn’t given 100% to one of the shoots. I didn’t spend the time or energy to create something unique because my creative energy had simply run out.

Miraculously, everything turned out for the best: I went to the birthday party, fixed the client work, and created something amazing for the shoot.  But, those were some close calls. I told myself that I was making these sacrifices to help others and to grow my business in the spirit of collaboration. In reality, I was so afraid that if I said no to the styled shoots, the vendors involved would never work with me. So, I kept saying yes. If the above examples taught me anything, it was this: In trying not to let fellow wedding vendors down, I was almost failing everyone. [quote align=’right’]If the above examples taught me anything, it was this: In trying not to let fellow wedding vendors down, I was almost failing everyone.[/quote]

Let’s get some solutions started

I created an affirmation about saying “no” when its the right thing to do. If you struggle with saying no, even if it’s the right choice, tell this to yourself until you believe it:

I will not sacrifice my relationships, the quality of my work or the quality of my life because I am afraid to say no. Sometimes, saying no to a collaboration or project does more benefit to all parties than saying yes and pushing through. If I can’t give something 100%, I shouldn’t do it.

Saying no will give me more opportunity to help than to hurt relationships: it fosters respect, and gives an opportunity for me to support another business through referrals.

I commit to quality over quantity, and to making sure that I’m giving everything my best self. The alternative is a disaster for my business and for my personal life. Saying “no” can be a really great thing.

After talking to some business owner friends, including my business coaches Becky + Jesse, I have some advice for my fellow people-pleasers:

3 strategies to know when to say “no”

  1. Make a list of all the things that are most important to you. Things that you might have to give up if you say yes to too many projects. It could be family time, reading, dog snuggling, traveling. They could also be important business items like writing blog posts or developing a newsletter that rocks your subscribers’ socks. Look at this list and ask yourself if you’re willing to give up some of those for this project. Ask yourself which ones do the most benefit to you and your business. (Thanks for this one, Becky!)
  2. Brainstorm all of the things that could get in the way of executing this project perfectly. Maybe its other client projects, family obligations, trips you have planned, things you HAVE to do. Look at that list and ask yourself if you can give enough time and energy to this new project when you have all those other things going on.
  3. Meditate on it. Imagine yourself going through every step of the project. What are you pushing aside to get it done? How do you imagine yourself feeling in those moments? Imagine if something went awry, would you have the time and energy to fix it?

If you don’t have an answer at the end of all this: set a time limit. If you haven’t made a decision in one hour, that’s probably a sign that you need to say no.

After committing to these steps, I was asked to do more styled shoots in May. They sounded amazing! And before establishing the promise to myself I outline above, I would have said yes. Instead, I said, “Even though I’d love to, I’m won’t be able to participate right now because I wouldn’t be able to give it 100%. Hopefully, we can work together on something else soon!” No fear of missing out, no fear of letting them down and never working with them again. They all understood and were grateful for my fast response and my honesty. Saying “no” can be oh so good!

Categories
Business

How to make Instagram’s new algorithm irrelevant

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Instagram IS changing. No amount of signatures or petitions is going to change that. We may be able to help shape HOW it changes by providing feedback, but that’s not what we are here to talk about today.

Before we get into how to make these changes work for you, let’s take a minute to talk about what all this fuss is about with Instagram changing its algorithm, as far as we understand it…

Old Instagram

  • News feed is chronological
  • Your posts go to ALL of your followers
  • Posting at different times of day could drastically change your engagement
  • ngagement was only good for social proof and building relationships and community

New Instagram

[list] [list_item]News feed will show you what you will likely be most interested in (just like Facebook does now)[/list_item] [list_item]Your posts might not reach everyone[/list_item] [list_item]Your posts could be shown to followers when they use IG throughout the day, regardless of the time you posted[/list_item] [list_item]Engagement will play a big role in determining which of your followers actually see your posts[/list_item][/list]
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Why are things changing?

On Instagram’s post about the upcoming changes, they said the following:
“…People miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.”

I know I miss a TON of good stuff I’d love to see on Instagram!

But that’s not the only reason things are changing. We saw something similar happen to Facebook Business Pages a few years ago and it took away a TON of free reach with your posts on Facebook. While this new algorithm on Instagram doesn’t look nearly as restrictive as what we saw then, it is the first step towards that. Today, if you want any consistent results with Facebook, you have to pay to promote posts via Facebook Ads. And I’m sure we’ll see something similar come to Instagram pretty soon as well.

Here’s the thing, we all have been loving Instagram for our businesses for so many reasons! We’ve been building our brands, creating relationships, cultivating communities AND booking clients. The SAME thing was happening on Facebook years ago. And we all got fired up when things changed. In fact, we fought the change for as long as we could. Then, while some gave up on Facebook as a business tool, others of us decided to give Facebook Ads a try, and we’ve never looked back!

How to make the algorithm changes irrelevant

It’s super simple. Use Instagram Ads. There has never been a better time to get started either! Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Instagram Ads is relatively inexpensive since not many people are using it yet. On average, it costs us $7.50 to get in front of 1,000 people.
  2. Since not many people are using it yet, the sooner you get in, the better results you can expect.
  3. If you create an ad that encourages engagement, it can help your organic reach a lot!
  4. You don’t have to wait for your following to grow organically for your posts to be seen and Instagram Ads WILL help grow your following (and if you use even more strategically, your list)!
  5. If you use Instagram Ads, you don’t have to stress about the algorithm changing again. We’ve seen (and our clients have seen) some of the best results EVER in paid advertising by using Instagram ads!
  6. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, we have a good idea how this story ends. Organic reach for businesses will eventually be limited, so we can either be early adopters and take advantage of the opportunity, or we can wait and hope for the best. I’m not a big fan of leaving the success of our business up to chance though ????

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m all for using Instagram organically (the free way) for your business. We do it all the time! We just can’t solely rely on it because it will not stay this way forever.

 

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Categories
Business

Money on the Mind

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It’s that time of year. For the next month, your inbox, news feeds and commercial breaks will be filled with new year’s resolutions, weight loss and exercise plans, and advice on basically every way imaginable you can be a better human being this year than you were last year. All good stuff.

But as creative entrepreneurs, we also set new goals for our businesses. We want things like: more clients, more Instagram followers, to be full time entrepreneurs and more money.

Let’s talk about that last one for a minute, not because I think money is the most important of the goals we set (it may not be), but because I think we tend to have a pretty screwed up mindset about money when it comes to business. Let me run a scenario by you. As you read it, I want you to know this is not a trick. There is no catch or sales pitch. Just a story…

Let’s say you went to your bank to make a withdrawal. The teller greets you with a smile and helps you with your account, just like every other time. But instead of asking you if you’ve heard of their latest credit card offer, she says…

“I have an opportunity for you.” As she says those words, she pulls out a briefcase and opens it. “I want to give you the $10,000 cash that is in this briefcase in exchange for $3,000.”

After looking around for a camera and TV crew and picking up a stack of bills to make sure it’s real, you ask “Just like that? I bring you $3,000 and you give me $10,000? What’s the catch?”

The teller answers with a big smile, “Just like that. No catch. But this offer is only good for 24 hours. Do you want it?”

What would you do in that situation? What would be your reaction? The way I see it, there are only a few answers, and your answer says a lot about your mindset on money, and especially how money pertains to your business.

“Ask yourself, “How much of a return on investment will a new website, Instagram ads, a new studio space, gear, inventory, coaching, [fill in the blank], give me?” If there is potential for a big return, how much is that worth to you? How much of a risk are you willing to take to get there?”

“Thanks, but no thanks.”
– Chances are you have a tendency to be a skeptic. Everything is too good to be true.
– You calculate every move you make in your business very carefully.
– You might miss out on really great opportunities.
– You rarely lose (but you never really win big either).

“I’d be so in…but I could never come up with that kind of money in 24 hours.”
– You love the idea of taking risks, but have a hard time pulling the trigger on big decisions.
– The root of the issue could be a lack of self-confidence or lack of a support system.
– You don’t spend money on your business because you are scared you’ll waste the investment.

Answer on the spot, “I’m in!” But two hours later, “I tried to come up with $3,000, but it’s probably not going to happen anyways.”
– You get so excited about the possibilities of your business, but rarely follow through.
– You suffer from the fear of missing out (FOMO).
– You bounce from idea to idea, but rarely complete anything.
– You spend money on things without looking at the bigger picture, and end up making a lot of smaller investments in your business you probably didn’t need (and only used for a little while).

“24 hours? I don’t know how, but I’ll come up with $3,000. I’m in!”
– You are determined and will find a way to work out problems that may arise.
– Your business consistently grows.
– You capitalize on opportunities and don’t shy away from a challenge or hard work.

“Do you take American Express?”
– You take risks.
– Some might think you are careless or have a little too much entrepreneur in you.
– Chances are you’ve seen the success and downfalls of taking risks.
– You always see the potential avenues where your business can grow quickly.

Now What?

Well, as you make goals and look to increase your revenue from your business, think about the answer above that you chose. Yes, this was a completely hypothetical situation with a 100% sure bet, but it serves a really important purpose. It tells you a lot about how you may look at money that you invest in your business. Ask yourself, “How much of a return on investment will a new website, Instagram ads, a new studio space, gear, inventory, coaching, [fill in the blank], give me?” If there is potential for a big return, how much is that worth to you? How much of a risk are you willing to take to get there?

Things involving money can be complicated. My challenge to you this year is not. Don’t be scared to invest in your business when you find an investment that could bring you big returns. Be willing to take a risk and step outside of your comfort zone.

That’s where real growth happens.

Categories
Business

I finally shaved my legs

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Instead of working yesterday afternoon, I cleaned out all the half-used travel toiletries and stuff we haven’t used in ages from underneath our bathroom sink. I went to the do-it-yourself carwash, vacuumed all the remnants of camping trips from our backseat and gave that baby a spray down. I went to Target and bought cleaning supplies to freshen up the upholstery in our car. I bought and changed lightbulbs. I bought coffee maker filters so Jesse can start using the dusty coffee maker that’s been sitting in our closet. I even shaved my legs.

And then, I sat down and worked for 4 hours straight last night, uninterrupted.

It might seem silly that cleaning the car and shaving my legs made me more productive, but they did. They are just little things. And our hurry-it-up culture that we live in, the demands we put on ourselves and the responsibilities we have in our families and other relationships, sometimes pushes those chores or things that seem like a chore to the back burner. I mean, building a business is more important than buying filters so we can use our coffee maker, right?

Of course. BUT, the satisfaction and brain power I got by taking a couple hours away from work, made me feel free and light and ready to work on the really important stuff!

Two of the books on my must-read list are The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Essentialism by Greg McKeown. After yesterday’s super rewarding action-packed day of dejunking, I’m bumping these babies to the top of my list.

What are some chores you can accomplish TODAY that’ll make you feel relieved? What can you donate or get rid of that you don’t need anymore? I challenge you to spend 30 minutes today doing these things. Check them off your list! And then let us know if and how your energy level and motivation to work has changed.