5 Ways Creative Entrepreneurs Can Get Fast Referrals

More, more, more! Everyone wants more! More clients! More reach! More likes + comments! More followers! More money for more vacations! I get that. I often find myself in that same spot, thinking…

How can we improve our business? How can we refine our processes to influence even more creative entrepreneurs? How can we increase our numbers so we can build that savings account and retirement fund even faster?

I want you to STOP for a second. I want us to stop for a second.

We have everything we need, right now.

Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like it. But, there are incredible opportunities at our fingertips. Referrals, relationships, inquiries…there, waiting for us!

So, how do experience all the goodness that’s waiting for us? Well, we want to share with you 5 ways creative entrepreneurs can get fast referrals…

  1. Take a look at your inbox…what relationships are sitting in there, waiting to be nurtured? Who can you encourage? What action can you take to help someone who needs it? Who can you send a genuine referral to? Who can you connect with someone else you know?
  2. Take a look at your current clients (whether that’s 2 or 20)…who can you reach out to to show you care? How can you over-deliver on your promises + contract? How can you answer their questions before they have to ask so they feel super taken care of? How can you treat your client more like you’d treat your friend?
  3. Take a look at the networking event you’re going to this month…who’s going to be there that you’ve been wanting to connect with? How can you offer value to someone you look up to? What can you do to make their life easier or better? Who can you start engaging with on social media before your next event?
  4. Take a look at your Instagram comments…who’s been cheering you on? How can you return the favor? Who have you met in the last couple of weeks that you can go encourage on Instagram? How many supportive comments and genuine connections can you make in one day?!
  5. Take a look in the mirror…have you been giving your all to everything you already have? The opportunities? The relationships? The clients? The hours you put in working? Are you scrolling Facebook when you should be working? Are you feeling sluggish and need to go for a run before getting back to work? What do you need to do to function at your best?

More is out there, waiting for you. There are people looking for YOU! And, I know it’s tempting to go and try to find them all at once! I mean, there are so many rad marketing strategies waiting for you, like using Instagram stories, using video for your business in other ways, getting super smart with your social media posts, starting a newsletter, building life-giving relationships with your fellow creative entrepreneurs, giving Facebook ads a whirl…SO MANY awesome ways to show the world who you are and what you stand for and how you can make your ideal client’s life better!!! BUT…

Yes, there’s a BUT…

So often, we jump the gun and go there first. ALL of those strategies will help you grow your creative business, but, we believe it’s vital to take care of what we’ve been given, all along the way, no matter what stage of business you’re in or how much money you make.

We believe the easiest advertising you can do, the fastest way to get referrals, well, it’s at your fingertips. It’s giving your all to everything you’ve been given.

Make the most of it + I guarantee more will come your way!


My 5 wisest words of advice for creative entrepreneurs

In the last 8 years, Jesse and I have created two businesses. The whole point of this entrepreneur adventure, for us, is to share all we have with the world and hopefully by doing this, we’ve made someone’s life better. Oh, and we definitely dig mid-day bike rides and soaking up sunshine on the coast (which certainly has something to do with us living and loving this gig, too).

Since a quarter of my life has now been spent in entrepreneurship, and I’ve had approximately 97 meltdowns along the way, I figured I’d share with you what I do know. My lessons learned over the years. My 5 wisest words of advice for creative entrepreneurs…

Take it easy on yourself. No matter what you do or don’t do; no matter if you meet your expectations for yourself or not, give yourself some grace. We are our own worst enemies. Think of the respect, grace and understanding you offer your best friend when times are tough. Are you that kind to yourself? I know I’m not, a lot of the time, because perfectionism wiggles its way into my mind and I can be really hard on myself. But the more intentionally I work on grace, the less disappointed I am. I am happier, freer and actually more productive and successful.

There are two ways I’ve learned to use boundaries to my advantage. The first is probably the most obvious: establish boundaries for work/life balance. Shut the office door at night. Put fun, social, personal things on the calendar first each week, so you don’t run yourself into the ground. Create office hours. STICK TO THE OFFICE HOURS.

The second way is this: Guard your heart. Not everyone is going to understand, be interested in or possibly even support your ideas and decisions in entrepreneurship. That’s okay. Keep those relationships about something else. Don’t pour out your heart about your business dreams to these people if you know their response will disappoint you. There are so many people who DO get it (umm, hello, we’re right HERE!!!).

The fastest way to get to where you want to be is by having a strategy. This comes in all shapes and sizes, for all sorts of things like networking, how you spend your time working on your business and in your business, social media advertising, marketing . . . you name it, you need to have a strategy for it!

Ask yourself: What is my purpose? What can I do with this partnership, Instagram post or conference I’m going to that will better my business and take me to the next level? How can I make this a win-win situation for everyone involved? If strategy isn’t your strength (yet), write one of these questions on a Post-it and put it on your computer as a reminder to guide your business in that direction.

Those who make it to the top of the mountain have had plenty of crummy days in the valley. But the reason they “made it”? Persistence. You will doubt your dreams. You will want to give up, for good. Don’t do that! Instead, cry it out. Do some yoga. Just breathe, and maybe get yourself a brownie, too. And then, tweak your plan and try again. Repeat after me:

“Fear, pride, comparison, naysayers, self-doubt and failure will not stop me from living to my fullest potential.”

Use those challenges and setbacks to grow and position yourself as a leader whose ways are tried and true.

Gratitude is a cure-all. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy and experience true joy. And it’s the absolute BEST way to start your day. Even in the crappiest of situations, there’s something to be grateful for. Nothing is too little to go unnoticed either! Wake up each day and set the tone for all that’s to come. Make it a new habit to inject gratitude into your day.

Soon, this new habit will shape your new sunshiny perspective. This is HUGE when you’re a business owner because there will always be ups and downs. The more successful you become, the more potential there is for complicated challenges. Gratitude is one vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to a solid mindset.

No matter what situation I’m in or challenge I’m facing, one of these words is usually the answer. Try them out. Let me know what words have taught you the most and help you be and do everything you’ve dreamed up for your business!


How to prevent entrepreneur overwhelm


What we have for you here, is a little roundup checklist of years of experience: How to prevent entrepreneur overwhelm! Yes, you really can prevent it! And, it’s glorious when you do! These are the things we do so that hairy beast of a bad place doesn’t get to us in the first place.

Don’t wait until you feel like you’re going to crack, cave or cry. Be proactive! Start checking these things off the list and we promise your business will run smoother. You’ll feel happier and lighter.

Start a morning routine and stick with it!
☐Set realistic + SPECIFIC goals, that are still challenging.
☐Do ONE THING at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth.
☐Know what you want and be confident in going for it!
☐Get organized! Plan out your weeks.
☐Schedule YOU things (exercise, coffee dates, long lunch breaks) first, every week, every day.
☐Get your work to 90% and then move on. Done is better than perfect. Boycotting perfectionism is not being sloppy.
☐Do not go on social media until after 11am!
☐Read before you go to sleep, instead of scrolling through Instagram.
☐Know your ideal client so you can make fast marketing decisions that are valuable to her! Fast decisions = less time beating yourself up trying to figure it out = less overwhelm.
☐Tidy up your workspace. Shave your legs if you have to 😉
Stop procrastinating!
☐Read Essentialism and implement ASAP.
☐Surround yourself with like-minded people who just get it.

Adios, overwhelm!


Rip Off the Band-Aid

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You won’t see flat lays in our Instagram gallery.

A couple things to note before we get into this:

  1. In case you’re not familiar with the term flat lay, it’s this…styled photo of items. This could be: things on your desk, coffee + food, flowers, makeup, books, clothing, anything really! I’m sure you’ve seen them! They are typically clean, minimal + beautiful. An aerial view from above of a styled group of items.
  2. I do not dislike flat lays (I actually think they are very pretty!) or the incredibly creative + talented people I know (and don’t know) who curate, photograph and post them on their Instagram accounts. It’s just something I don’t do. It’s not how I think or dream or create.

And that’s okay.

In fact, it’s more than okay.

Think of that old saying…

“If So-and-So jumped off a bridge, would you?!” And we’re all like, “Duh! Of course not!”

But then we translate that to…

“If So-and-So (who happens to have 77K followers on Instagram) posts flat lays, does that mean you should to?!” And we’re all like, “Hmm. Not sure. Maybe?”

The answer is…
If you want to!
If it works for you!
If it works for your audience!
If it’s worth your time + efforts!
If it will get you where you want to go!

Once in a blue moon, you’ll see something sort of like a flat lay in our Instagram gallery. It’s not who we are, so we pour our energy elsewhere.

Now, this might seem suuuuuuper trivial. Like, who cares if we post a certain type of image on Instagram. But, it brings up such a vital topic, one we chat about regularly with our clients…

Just because successful So-and-So uses/writes/shoots/edits/says/acts/dresses/does anything a certain way (and it’s working really well for them), that doesn’t mean it’ll work well for you, or is you, for that matter. It’s less about the actual thing they’re doing that’s bringing success and more about how they’re tapping into their true, authentic self + brand…that’s what’s working for them.

This online world of comparison is getting out of hand. I see so many creatives trying so hard to be someone they’re not. And, I get it! It’s rough seeing her succeed when you’re trying hard and nothing is happening the way you want it to. But, I think that’s the problem…

Sometimes, we try too hard. We need to slough off the excess. The facade. The characteristics + decisions we’ve adopted + made because they worked for someone else. We need to say, “Forget flat lays! (And everything they represent in this example!)”

Get back to the core of your business. Get back to your talents. Your creative genius zone. Not hers.

Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself to get back to (or,  get to for the first time ever!) that space that is your very own, so you can make darn well sure that everything you’re putting out in the world (social media posts, emails, images, etc.) feels like and lines up with who you are + the essence of YOUR brand.

1. What are your strengths and are you making the most of them?
2. What do your clients + friends love about you?
3. What makes you different from others in your industry?

These are just 3 of the 16 questions we prompt you to work through in the first of four sections of our Brandmap. There are 4 key steps to creating a stand-out (and true to you!) brand in this noisy world. Being authentic (and ditching flat lays, if you want!) is the first piece of the puzzle.

TK finish…Brandmap button….

As you begin to gain confidence in your brand, you’ll find what works best for you. From there, you’ll create a masterpiece. A beautiful, successful business. A beautiful, honest life…


Actualizing Your Strengths

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None of us like doing stuff we’re not good at. It’s not energizing and it leaves us feeling like neutered idiots. This, my dear friends, is why I’m a huge advocate for the StrengthsFinder® assessment. It’s such a great starting point for identifying what your core competencies are and how to create an environment where you can feel fully alive more consistently.

If you’ve never heard of the assessment before, here’s a little run down:

– Built on 3 decades of research (across multiple industries and nearly 50 countries).
– Measures the presence of talents in 34 general areas or ‘themes.’
– Talents naturally exist. Strengths must be developed and are the product that results when one’s talents are refined with acquire skills and knowledge.
– It’s a starting point for self-discovery.
– Signature themes (your top 5 results) are unique to that individual. 33,390,720 different sets of signature themes are possible.

That last number is why we use this thing at B!G DEAL BRANDING. It reinforces our belief that if you own who you are, develop your strengths and create space to function in your sweet spot within your business, no one will be able to touch you.  No one will be able to replicate the core of what you do because it’s unique to who you are. With practice, you will be able to provide consistent, near-perfect performance in a specific task. You’ll dominate your competitive landscape.

Does that not make anyone else excited? Even just a tad?

Here’s what happens when you’re not functioning in your strengths (this is straight up from the book Strengths 2.0):

– You’re quite simply a different person.
– In the workplace, you’re six times less likely to be engaged in your job (yes, the workplace includes your home office).
– You’ll dread going to work.
– You’ll have more negative than positive interactions with your colleagues.
– You’ll treat your customers poorly.
– You’ll achieve less on a daily basis.
– You’ll have fewer positive and creative moments.

Sound familiar? Need a Prozac? Kidding.

Here’s the deal. When we’re functioning in our strengths, it is PROVEN that we’re more positive, hopeful, confident and action-oriented. Most people aren’t living in their strengths because they don’t even know what their strengths are! So, the first step is to buy one of the following books:

1. Strengths 2.0 — Tom Rath (for the basic run-down of how this thing works — also the most popular)
2. Strengths-Based Leadership — Tom Rath (for those of you who want to know how your strengths play into leadership roles)
3. Now, Discover Your Strengths — Marcus Buckingham

Don’t buy a used book! The code that comes with the book is what gives you access to the online assessment. Only one code per person. Yes, that means you have to buy a book for each person who wants to take the assessment (which I highly recommend for teams). Follow the directions from the book and take the 30-40 minute online assessment. When you’re finished, you’ll get your top 5 results. Study them, interact with them, start carving out opportunities to practice them more regularly. If possible, get a certified Strengths Coach through Gallup to help you better understand what they mean. Whatever you do, don’t just look over it once and put it back on your bookshelf. This WILL NOT help you better understand what you’re capable of and how you can maximize your potential.

If you’ve completed the assessment, we’d love to hear what some of your strengths are and/or how this has helped you in business and life! Leave a comment below. And, stay tuned! Next week we’ll go over how to incorporate your strengths in your business.


Mind Your Own Business


Do you ever find yourself comparing your business to another business? Or comparing how much you charge to how much they charge? Ever wish your business could just plain be more like that one? Then I have some bad news. Your business can’t be like their business. And you don’t want it to be.

Trying to be a BETTER business turned into trying to be more like someone else’s business.
In 2009, Becky and I blindly started a business. Having no experience in entrepreneurship, we began devouring information from anyone and anywhere. We were trying new things and testing the waters as business owners. Learning how this new industry worked. And as we started learning more about the industry and the other businesses in it, it became harder and harder to not compare our business to the others. Trying to be a BETTER business turned into trying to be more like someone else’s business.

We started using these unhealthy comparisons as a guide. We let them decide our next move. We were so focused on trying to do what the competition was ALREADY doing that we couldn’t think outside the box that we let them put us in. We assumed that because they were doing it, it must be working for their business and that it would work for ours.

Our new business was doing alright. We grew here and there and learned some good lessons along the way. But if we would have stayed on that track, we would have always just been mediocre. Always looking to do what everyone else was doing, which would ultimately have lead to ALWAYS playing catch up and never getting ahead.

When I say it like that, it sounds like a no brainer. Of course we don’t want that for our business. As creatives, we didn’t start a business for it to be just like another business. We started a business because we wanted to create. To build something that allows us to do what we love and make money doing it.

This can be a difficult thing to remember, everyday. We hear about what is helping this or that business grow. We see it on social media. We hear about it over coffee with them. Hell, we pay people to tell us about it at a workshop.

Stand up for your business. Let it be its own. Make it be its own.
So what’s the key? It’s simple. Stand up for your business. Let it be its own. Make it be its own. Sure, take an idea a colleague gave you. Absolutely, read a ton of books. Go to workshops. Sit down with another entrepreneur to pick their brain. And use what you learn. But whatever it is, make damn sure it fits into YOUR business and how YOU want to run it.

What’s even better than that? Figure out, on your own, new ways to grow. Brainstorm regularly. Come up with a plan. If it fails, tweak it. Try again. Failed again. Try again. Failed again. Scrap it. Make a new plan. It worked? Make it better. You get the idea. Eventually, you’ll find something that works for your business and no one will be able to do it quite like you.

Do that enough and you’ll start to notice you don’t care so much about what anyone else is doing. And after you spend some time doing that, you’ll be the one people are asking to coffee.