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Business

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…

Grace
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.

Boundaries
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!!!).

Strategy
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.

Persistence
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
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!

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Business

I’m So Over Instagram

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Don’t get me wrong; it’s my favorite social media platform. We normally rave about it. We even have a course teaching you how to use Instagram + Facebook ads. We know how powerful a tool it is to build relationships + make money. Buuuuut…

It’s causing people we know + love unneeded stress.
It’s stealing time from other profit-producing activities.
It’s making people feel like they’re not good enough or cool enough (including me, at times!)

Instagram is all the rage right now. We totally get it! It can help you do incredible things in your business. But I wanted to check in with you and ask you a few things I ask myself every now and then…

  1. Is the time you’re spending on Instagram taking away from other important parts of your business?
  2. Are you taking all this community and encouragement OFFLINE (partnerships, coffee dates, sending referrals to these new Insta-friends)?
  3. Do you feel life So-and-So’s success is making you jealous?
  4. Are you connecting with people on Insta that make sense for YOU and YOUR business to connect with?
  5. Are you missing out on real life relationships because you’re on Instagram or looking for an Insta-worthy moment?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in exciting movements + #hashtags. I just wanted to shoot it to you straight today…

Remember who you are, what your strengths are and why you started this business in the first place. Use Instagram to connect, encourage and be real with your people. Just don’t let it steal your confidence, joy + too many hours of your life! Create a content plan and posting schedule. Get in and get out and get on with sharing your beauty + creativity with the rest of the world!

Go get ’em (on + offline)!

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Business

7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Breeze Through Setbacks

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We all do it. No matter how far we’ve come or how successful we are, we all do it every now and then. We FREAK OUT!!! PANIC!!! We feel like life is over because of a setback or failure that feels like a dagger through the heart. The intensity of how much we feel these setbacks is valid, considering the amount of effort and soul we pour into our work and businesses.

But I’m here to tell you that failing is fabulous! Because guess what, you’re likely in this place because you put yourself out there, tried something new and got outside of your comfort zone and that, no matter what the outcome, deserves something so much greater than what we have the tendency to reward ourselves with. And even though you feel like throwing in the towel, you have an opportunity to take this setback and turn the bus around!

So, when you’re in freak out mode because something didn’t go as well as you’d hoped and you’re panicking about the state of your business and the state of your perseverance, here are 7 ways entrepreneurs can breeze through setbacks and get back to your go-getting, confident, money-making self in no time.

1. Get it all out.
I’m a firm believer in purging yourself of all limiting beliefs, negativity, self-doubt, fear, disappointment, frustrations, etc. as soon as possible. Vent. Cry. Be upset. But give yourself a time limit for all of this, because you have some really important steps to take next. Whatever you do, don’t stop here.

2. Focus on what you already have.
This is a great time for gratitude. Think about how far you have already come! Think about all the people who have worked with you and raved about you, your products or services. Go ahead, read all your incredible reviews. Also, take inventory of your current clients’ satisfaction level. Is there anything you can do to improve their experience? Go do that.

3. Shift your mindset.
A big part of why that setback sent you reeling is likely because you haven’t been strengthening your mindset enough as you should be. Have you been sticking to your morning routine? Check out The Miracle Morning. Page through Think & Grow Rich. Get off social media for a few days; no need to compare yourself to others in this fragile state. Instead, work on getting your confidence back ASAP.

4. Create a game plan.
Think back to what got you through your last setback. What worked for you? Do those things! What didn’t? Don’t do those things! If you’ve veered from your strengths, get back to them! Do what you’re good at and confident in to gain traction and momentum.

5. Add value for others.
It’s so easy to be self-absorbed when things aren’t going our way. When all you can think about is how you wish you could just catch a break, go be that break for someone else. Get outside of yourself and see what you can do to help someone else succeed. I promise this will make you feel better AND by providing value for others, down the road, they will provide value for you.

6. Seek advice from the wise.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. A lot of times, the answer to your problem is simple and just requires you to do a little tweaking. Get advice from your coach, mentor or other successful entrepreneurs in your life. Learn from their challenges, setbacks, and failures. Model after their perseverance and strategies.

7. Trust in the process.
You’ve likely been here before. I have. I have been in that place numerous times over my 7 years as an entrepreneur, and you know what, it always works itself out. So, trust in the process. Know that you will have another chance to accomplish what you hoped to do the first time around. Use this setback to make version 2.0 that much better! And then, get back to work.

You got this!

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Business

What Do You Want to be Known For?

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If you could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?

That’s a pretty intense question.

For all you Parks & Rec fans…”Am I right, Justin?”

In the sea of books that sits on our coffee table, I picked Essentialism, one I’ve been wanting to get to for a while. For me, in a time of big ideas, big moves, big decisions and big excitement in our life and business, it’s now more important than ever for me to stick to my guns. I like to help where I’m needed. I love to be part of all movements and ideas that support and encourage people to maximize their efforts and lives. I have a tendency to say YES! because I really do want to be part of all the rad things going on in this crazy creative entrepreneur world!

But guess what? If I say YES! to everything that comes my way, I’m letting other people’s agendas set the course and game plan for my time. If I say YES! to all that’s around me, I have to say NO! to the ideas and passions within me. Not sure about you, but I want to get those ideas and passions out in the world! I want to give them room to breathe, grow and manifest into the greatness I know there’s potential for them to be! And, in order for that to happen, I need to cut through all the noise and figure out what’s essential to me. What’s essential to our business. What’s essential in our life?

In this busy season of holiday parties, consumerism and high-demands, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed because you are also trying to make your dreams come true, and that takes time and effort and strategy. We encourage you to take some time to focus on these things, so you don’t get sucked up into the abyss…

What do you want to be known for?
What are you deeply passionate about?
What are your strengths and how do you enjoy using them?
What do you stand for?

Answer those questions. Prioritize all tasks that help you live a life and run a business that clearly represent who you are and what you’re working to achieve! Say NO! to the rest.

“We aren’t looking for a plethora of good things to do. We are looking for the one where we can make our absolutely highest point of contribution.” – Greg McKeown

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Business

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…

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Business

We Are Strikingly Different

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We are very different from a lot of those around us. Those climbing 9-5 ladders. Those working on house projects one weekend after the next. There are people in our life doing these things. And we love them so. We are just strikingly different.
Our goals are rooted in freedom, creativity, travel and living out passion and skills we’ve been given. We are working toward working from a hammock in Costa Rica, and someday (hopefully not for a very long time!) dying empty, with all of our ideas and efforts left to better the world.

The contrast in lifestyle is apparent. And as a whole, it makes a lovely picture. But it’s so important to find community on our side of the fence. So, the distinct line continues to portray beauty, not hardship. Take some time this week to build your creative entrepreneur community. Schedule a coffee/work date with someone you know or someone you’d like to get to know. Take time to encourage and genuinely compliment those you bump into on social media. Freely and enthusiastically give out high-fives to other creatives, who are hustling but may be feeling stuck or too much like a #solopreneur.

We’ve all been there. We’ve felt isolated and like we don’t quite fit in with those on the other side of the fence. We don’t. We are #gutsygogetters. But that’s why fulfilling our purpose is so important. Being who we’re meant to be makes for a perfectly beautiful and balanced picture.

So remember, you are strikingly different. And that’s a good thing.

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Business

How to get in the creative zone

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Every designer, photographer and writer knows there’s something out there, be it a place, a Spotify station, a type of experience that sets them free into an untouchable sacred zone. A place where they turn all Girl on Fire, Katniss-like. Fierce, flying with ideas and intentions that are hot, hot, hot. There’s a flow & rhythm in the zone. It’s where you get stuff done. It’s what helps build confidence and excitement about your task, your motives, your endeavors. It’s a place that sometimes sneaks up on us and we need to act fast and get down to business before it slips into the abyss.

When creatives arrive at this place, it’s magical. Steven Pressfield talks about it this way in “The War of Art,” It is commonplace among artists and children at play that they’re not aware of time or solitude while they’re chasing their vision. The hours fly. The sculptress and the tree-climbing tyke both look up blinking when Mom called, ‘Suppertime!'”

You feel at home with your mind and your work when you’re in the zone. It’s peaceful and exhilarating all at once. You want to be there All. The. Time.

But, the zone is hard to come by when we’re feeling distracted, uninspired or too busy. Just like anything, the less and less we show up in the zone, the harder it’s going to be to ever get back. There will always be something or someone trying to keep us from the zone. Just like an athlete has to overcome his defenders, screaming fans cheering for the other team and booing his efforts or the debilitating memory of last game’s missed shots, as a small business owner, you must wade through the crap and find your sweet spot.

So, how do you get in the creative zone? Here are a handful of simple and effective ways you can prepare to arrive & stay in the zone:

  • Clean your workspace.
  • Exercise.
  • Fill your stomach with something healthy.
  • Go do something outside.
  • Get everything else out of your brain and into a notebook or Evernote or somewhere where you don’t have to think about it until you need to.
  • Meditate. Relax. Just sit and breathe for a second.
  • Close your email.
  • MOVE YOUR PHONE OFF YOUR DESK.

Because it’s such a unique place to be, we sometimes make our arrival to the zone way harder than it needs to be. That, my friends, is called good old fashioned procrastination. There’s no magic way to get to this magical place. You must be diligent and create it for yourself.

Now, go…

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Business

Tips for introverted entrepreneurs

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I’m an outgoing introvert. I like hanging out in small groups, for a while, and then I like to come home and get into my sweatpants. You may or may not find me wearing those same sweatpants the next morning at work, in our home office. If I STILL have those same sweatpants on that evening, I know things have gotten out of hand and it’s time for me to go for a bike ride, meet a friend for coffee, or just take a shower.

It’s not just good hygiene. It’s good business.

I learned early on in entrepreneurship that it’s super important to be intentional with your schedule, especially as an introvert. As self-motivated as I am, too many office days in a row make me feel depressed. Too many meetings, shoots or events in a row drain me. Balance is king. It keeps me sane, and it forces me to get outside of my comfort zone and outside of myself!

Introverted entrepreneurs! Ditch the sweatpants and ditch the comfort zone. Staring at your computer won’t spark any creativity. I know you might just want to be alone. You might already have a long list of reasons why it’s okay that you’re a shut-in. BUT IT’S NOT OKAY! Being around other people can be hard work for us introverts. But we have to use our strengths to our advantage (small groups & one-on-one conversations), rather than letting our weaknesses (ginormous networking events or ANY room full of more more than 5 people) get the best of us.

A few tips for introverted entrepreneurs:

  • Hang out with other creatives, in small groups.
  • Make yourself go to one event a quarter that leaves you craving sweatpants and alone time.
  • Just listen. Be a sounding board for someone without co-workers.
  • Have coffee with a new social media friend. One-on-one dates aren’t so bad!
  • Invite an entrepreneur friend (or a small group) to your place to work.
  • Only schedule meetings on one or two days a week, so you can keep your energy high the other days.

Introverts! What else do you do to make the most of your work days and sanity?