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Business

How to prevent entrepreneur overwhelm

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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!

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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

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…

Categories
Business

Amateur vs Pro: Breaking Barriers

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We’ve all been there. At some networking event, a meetup for creative entrepreneurs or just some Facebook group, and we find ourselves feeling out of place. The room is full of amazingly talented people. They’ve been in the industry for years. They are the professionals that teach the other professionals. We look up to them. And we find ourselves feeling intimidated and a little lost. Why? Maybe we’re new to this. Maybe we are just testing out this whole entrepreneur thing. Maybe we feel like total amateurs.

Trying to achieve the elusive professional status may make you feel really important, but if it doesn’t help you live your life the way you want to live it or help your business grow, it’s only getting in the way. Let’s chuck this idea altogether. It’s not a tryout. It’s not like there is some switch the professional police flips and BAM, you get a certificate in the mail saying, “Congratulations! You’ve made it! You’re a Pro!”

In the wedding and portrait photography world, words like faux-tographer and mom-ographer are thrown around about those considered to be amateurs. These amateurs might have less experience or be self-taught. Some aspects of their business may be underdeveloped. Maybe they aren’t even getting paid! Who cares? Everyone has to start somewhere.

All that really matters is how you conduct yourself and your business. Being a pro means you pour your heart and soul into your business. It means you’re always learning. It means you’re always trying something new. If you fail, you try again. You keep what works and improve what doesn’t, both on the business side of things AND the creative.

So let’s all stop wondering if we are this or that. You get to make that choice. ACT like a professional, or don’t. Here’s the perfect place to start.

Be confident.
This could singlehandedly change your business. I can be pretty shy, so this hasn’t been something that comes naturally to me. Meeting with prospective clients can be intimidating! I’m a total woo (Don’t know what that is? Read Strengths Finders!), so in the first year of business, I was always worried about whether or not potential clients would like me or if I was going to say the things they wanted to hear. I found myself stumbling over my words, trying to guess what they wanted and sometimes even changing a service we offered right on the spot! I’m sure that looked desperate. Fear, the unknown and inexperience are the biggest roadblocks to being confident. The good news? It gets easier. Learn all you can. Go into every meeting, job, event or conference insanely prepared. Practice having conversations about what you do, how you do it and what makes you the best person for your clients. Sounds cheesy. But it works. Do these things often and you’ll find yourself looking and feeling confident.

Never be good enough.
If you are the best at something right now, but you aren’t working to get better, you won’t be the best for long. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. Things are always changing. Take social media, for example. Not only are new platforms always coming out, but the ones you already use are constantly changing. This concept can be a little daunting at times, but it’s something that I have come to love about being an entrepreneur. We also can get so caught up in the business side of things that we forget to continue growing as artists or in our creative field. Schedule time to practice and make sure to make time for the things that keep you inspired!

Do what you love.
No matter what kind of business you are building, it takes serious work. I couldn’t imagine trying to build something if I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. It can be exhausting and draining, so without the passion to motivate you to push through, you could potentially find yourself in a pretty bad place. If there’s an aspect about running your business that you just can’t stand, or feel your time is better spent doing something else, then find someone else to do it! Outsource. Hire employees. Bring on an intern. Chances are they will do it better and more efficiently than you. You’d be amazed at how much brain power you’ll free up. It’s liberating.

Be consistent all the time.
What you do in your personal life and say on your personal social media platforms will affect your professional life. As an entrepreneur, people will not view you as “business you” and “personal you.” In my experience, I’ve come to believe people do the exact opposite. They will connect almost anything they’ve seen, experienced or heard about you to your business. (Side note: Use this to your advantage! This is SUCH an opportunity to make a connection to your audience and ideal clients.) YOU get to decide what kind of light people view your business in. Do this with consistency in your interactions with clients, others in your industry, on social media, when you are out for drinks with friends, on vacation or working at a coffee shop. You get the idea. The bottom line: there is nothing more unprofessional than seeing someone’s business life and personal life not match up. Chances are, people will remember what you don’t want them to. So, only give them the good stuff.

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Business

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

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The War of Art is one GIANT quote we should all burn deep into our brains and hearts. Whoa, that’s intense. But I’m totally serious. I underlined and starred something on every freaking page. Pressfield is one talented guy. And he’s real, just as vulnerable as the rest of us. “The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident, the real one is scared to death,” says Pressfield. It’s nice to know even the top dogs don’t feel like they have it figured out.

Read my notes below but don’t think twice about not spending the $7 to get your own copy off of Amazon. This book is for artists, dreamers, creatives, entrepreneurs, those hoping for great inspiration, those wondering how to overcome self-doubt and how to beat procrastination, those going through the world with a fine-tooth comb, eager for the next idea, the next step of success. It’s out there, yes, but Pressfield would argue so much more of what you’re looking for is inside yourself.

A few of my favorite pieces of advice and inspiration for entrepreneurs:

1. Resistance is a bitch, a way worse character than the Big, Bad Wolf. It lies to you, sneaks up on you and will devour you, if you let it. Resistance takes on many forms of procrastination: Facebook, flat tires, crying babies, happy hour, etc. It can be overcome, but it ain’t easy. “The enemy is a very good teacher.” – the Dalai Lama

2. Fear is good for us. It means we care. It means we’re invested and headed in the right direction. “The more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul,” Pressfield says. Oh, and no matter how great you become, how much experience you have or how many followers you have on social media, fear doesn’t go away. And that’s not only okay but actually a good thing.

3. Resistance and fear might knock you on your butt, but you’ll know it’s worth the grit and failure and risk of ditching your amateur status and becoming pro when you’re creating and executing the ideas and life you see in your mind. “It is a 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 calls, ‘Suppertime!'” Pursue your calling. What’s the point of your life if you don’t?

4. If you make the jump as a full-time creative entrepreneur, you might be miserable at times. Push through anyway. “The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell…He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.” I laughed so hard when I read this. It sounds so ridiculous but it’s so true, at times. Stick with it. It’s worth it.

5. “We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause,” Pressfield says. Naturally, we want praise and recognition for our efforts, talent and brilliant creativity. And sometimes if no one notices how great we are, or notices but doesn’t acknowledge it, we feel unworthy. It is lame of us to feel this way, but super common. Next time that happens, remember this.

The Art of War is a super quick read. But take your time. Keep it handy for when you think being a creative entrepreneur is too hard, too lonely or makes you too poor. Let your favorite Pressfield quotes give you a good old-fashioned kick in the pants and then get back to it. Do more of what you love.

“It may be that the human race is not ready for freedom. The air of liberty may be too rarefied for us to breathe…The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find a master to govern over them.”

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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

Nontraditional Roles for Entrepreneurs

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My husband does the dishes 90% of the time. No, really, he does. And there are some days when he gets groceries, cooks and probably feels like a 1950’s housewife. But it works for us. Or, maybe it’s just me…he looks mighty fine in an apron. But seriously, those days when he’s manning the grill and the washing machine, I’m usually somewhere deep in a jungle of my own thoughts and productivity. I’m singing loud and working fast.

Our work/home roles are not very traditional. We like it that way. Running a business and a life takes BALANCE. We share all sorts of responsibilities. We have very specific and different job titles and duties for work. But, the rest of our life has a lot of blurred lines, depending on who has a deadline, if either of us is not feeling the best or just what we’re in the mood for that day. That may not work for everyone. Some entrepreneur couples we know have systems for every aspect of their life and it works wonders for them. Having structure with a side of flexibility works best for us.

When you work from home and have to manage your business and house/family simultaneously, it’s important to play to your strengths as much as possible. For example, I’m a morning person. This means that 90% of the time, I’m the one juicing kale and cucumbers at 7:30am; I’m the one emptying the dishwasher and switching the laundry by 8am; I’m the one who gets a couple hours of my most productive work in before my husband shuffles into the office, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He’s the one holding down the work HQs in the late afternoon; and he’s the one loading the dishwasher at 9pm.

It works out really well that one of us is a morning person and one a night person. We get to feel taken care of when it’s the other person’s go time. This means I also have to respect his strengths and weaknesses and not expect a brilliant performance at an 8:30am marketing meeting. And he knows he can’t spring business talk much past 6pm, otherwise my brain gets cooking all over again and I can’t sleep.

This is just us. It took a while to figure it all out. There are times when we hit some friction and need to figure out just a little bit more to make it better. But the bottom line is that it works. Not just because, but partly, because my husband does the dishes 80% of the time 😉

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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?

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Business

Defending your dreams

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Being a creative entrepreneur does not mean you suck at life. It’s just the opposite, really. But your parents or some of your peers might not see it that way. They might think you have your head stuck in the clouds.

“I was convinced my mother-in-law thought I was eating Bon-Bons all day.”
When we started our photography business in early 2009, our office was in my in-laws’ garage. Spiders kept me company while the hubs held down another job. I was convinced my mother-in-law thought I was eating Bon-Bons all day. They didn’t quite understand what we wanted or why we were trying to build what we now have. They thought Jesse should pursue medicine or at least something where he would be taken care of by The Man. I was frustrated because what we wanted made so much sense to us. Why couldn’t they see it? It doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter. But I let it affect me. BIG mistake. I should have kept my eyes forward. Sometimes all people want is for you to be happy, they just want you to find happiness the same way they did.

Not everyone has the desire and sense of adventure in their blood that entrepreneurs do. Those people might not ever get it. Nine to fivers find great security and confidence in benefits and health insurance that is automatically taken from their paychecks. And that’s totally cool. We don’t need to knock them. We just can’t let them dampen our dreams or steer our self-worth.

The funny thing is, older generations should technically totally understand. Why wait for retirement? Let’s get this party started NOW. Yes, plan for retirement. But let’s live now AND live later. Let’s live our WHOLE damn life, shall we?!

“Keep those spiders at bay and go have a Bon-Bon. You deserve it.”
If you’re stuck in a crummy spot right now, trying to explain to your parents or anyone else that this is the right move for you, you are not alone. Hundreds and thousands of us have been there before. Don’t let it shake you. Keep those spiders at bay and go have a Bon-Bon. You deserve it.