Business, Ideal Client, Services, Booked Out

You're Building The Wrong Business (And It's Making You Broke)

Many service based business owners look in the mirror and feel like they’re not enough.

You know what I’m talking about…

It feels like you’re still playing “pretend business” and you’re wondering if you’re even smart enough to figure this all out like it seems like everyone else has.

This convinces you that the only way to get clients is to do what works for everyone else - posting 3x a day on Instagram, blogging “value add” content, showing up in Facebook groups where you *think* your client might be and so on…

You’re listening to countless other business owners tell you that doing all that ^ is what’s going to work for you...so why isn’t it?

Here’s the truth: it’s not you. It is the strategies you’re using. They aren’t right for YOUR business.

And when you rely on strategies that weren’t built for your business, you are tricked into thinking that you are inadequate.

You start using these tactics as your guiding light; judging yourself on how well you’re implementing them or getting results from them...even when they aren’t working for you.

Here’s the truth: it’s not you. It is the strategies you’re using. They aren’t right for YOUR business.  |  Boss Project

The Big Mistake: You’re Missing The Real Problem

The reason you and SO many talented service-providers fall into this try-all-the-tactics trap, is that you need clients.

Right?

Every new tactic that pops up in front of you seems like something that could work to get that next client in the door, to get you paid, to make it so you can actually make your business work.

So the REAL problem at the foundation of everything is this: You don’t have a predictable and proven way to get clients.

And when you’re constantly concerned about where your next client is going to come from, it’s nearly impossible to grow your business with abundance.

Scarcity takes over…

...and that’s when you make the crucial, but oh-so-common mistake: you continue to add on layers and layers of “shiny objects” to your business (think about when you’ve added on a digital product, started talking to a larger audience, decided you suddenly need to start a membership…). These decisions cost you money and are absolutely putting the potential of your business at risk.

Your drive is there, but your clarity is missing.

Your focus is in the wrong place.

You’re trying to make tactics work, rather than just going back to the foundation and simplifying: first get clients, get booked out, THEN work on growth from there.

You just need a system that focuses on getting that foundation strong.

One that’s actually designed for how your service based business operates.

Without it, you will continue to feel like you aren’t cut out for this.

We were there and we were sick of it.

That’s when we clearly saw that to create a sustainable service we had to focus on getting consistent clients. Period.

No more chasing down “everyone else is doing this” tactics. No more distractions that look good from the outside but don’t fill up a client roster.

Because there are countless service based business who are just getting started or are trying to get more clients that fall victim to this lack of focus. Let me show you.

Lesson 1 - The Tale of the Two Businesses

Especially when it comes to the creative service based industry many business owners come online (hello, you’re here) to learn how they should go about growing their business.

You’re promised “freedom”. And endless clients. And the ability to “make six figures without ever leaving your house”.

You’re inundated with strategies to help you… grow online.

“Get 10,000 blog readers in 30 days!”

“Get your first 1k Instagram followers!”

“Design your opt-in to get your next 100 subscribers!”

The problem is, those strategies aren’t designed for your business. They were designed for businesses that don’t have a 1:1 client model. Ones that NEED high numbers of blog readers, Instagram followers, and subscribers. Think about online education companies, like ours.

Remember, we don’t have 1:1 clients.

So our tactic to fill our courses and podcast listenership is going to look SO different from how we’re showing you to book out your service-based business.

But that distinction is SO easy to forget in today’s shiny online world!

So here’s what happens: You spend your nights and weekends totally crushing it learning strategies for a business you’re not running.

And so weeks and months and *gasp* years go by and when you’re still struggling to build your client base. You’re left wondering what’s wrong with you.

Because you did everything right. Truly.

You were simply deploying the wrong strategies for your business.

Those strategies, in and of themselves, aren’t wrong. We love them.

But they’re Long Term Strategies. With a capital L.

And you’re expecting them (heck, needing them) to work right now.

If you continue down the path of learning these sexy and fun strategies you will probably get some clients. I can’t say that you won’t.

However, what I can say is that it will feel like you’re constantly hustling for that next client. That you’re always having to refine who you’re talking to, how you’re getting content out, and who you’re getting in front of. It’ll be extremely difficult to track exactly what’s working (aka landing you clients).

You will feel like you have your mind in 17 different places. Your brain will never shut off.

You’ll begin to lack confidence that what you offer is any good and that maybe you aren’t cut out for this.

Are you beginning to feel any of that coming?

Compare all that ick to the small business owner that no longer thinks about where her next client is coming from (or if they’re the right fit, or if they’ll pay). When that business owner goes about her work she’s literally freed up an entire part of her brain that no longer has to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from.

She gets to think about fun things like…

“What can I add to this experience to make my client happier?”

“What can I improve in my process to speed up the project?”

“What do I want to watch on Netflix tonight?”

When that brain space is freed up you get to work on your business instead of just in it. And that’s the secret sauce, my friend.

The advantages of ignoring online (for a while) and focusing on perfecting your client acquisition process first is crucial for the success and sustainability of your entire business. But how do you do that when you don’t have any more time in your day?

Lesson 2 - Identify Your Tasks

Right now it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ve monopolized your time with tasks that aren’t actually revenue generating. You’ve convinced yourself that they’re worth it for the growth of your business, but your business needs money to grow, not an audience.

Before we can teach you strategies to land clients quickly you’ve got to clear up your schedule first. Here’s what I want you to do…

I want you to look back at your last week or so of work and right down the tasks you did. For every single day. If you’re memory won’t go that far back (#guilty) then just start today. From the time you stepped into your office to the time you stopped work, what were you doing?

Once you have all of those items listed I want you to run them through an evaluation filter. Ask yourself these three questions: (Put a check mark next to each task for every time you answer “yes”.)

  1. “Do I enjoy this task?”

  2. “Am I efficient at this task?”

  3. “Is this task effective in landing me (or keeping my) clients?” i.e. there is a direct return (yes, $$) OR it is required/vital/necessary to keep your business running

quote_evaluation triangle.jpg

Now we’re going to categorize these tasks so you know what to do with them.

2 CHECK MARKS OR MORE

For everything that got 2 check marks or more I want you to make a decision:

You either need to:

  1. Do

  2. Decide

  3. Delegate

There are some things that you won’t be able to delegate (just yet), but I bet there’s more than you think.

BTW: When we talk about delegating here we’re not always talking about hiring it out to a VA or a contractor. There are plenty of systems and tools you can utilize to take something off your plate (like invoicing, email reminders, project management tools, etc).

quote_eisenhower chart.jpg

1 OR 2 CHECK MARKS

For any tasks that only got one checkmark you need to make a decision:

  1. Do

  2. Decide

  3. Delegate

  4. Delete

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the majority of those tasks just need to be deleted. Without pause.

However, there are going to be some that your business might still need to have done to function (like bookkeeping). That’s one that you can easily delegate to a person or a software or just work on getting more efficient at.

Spend some time really evaluating each individual task. Repeat this process for every task you run into in an average week.

By the end of this exercise I want you to have taken tasks off of your plate so you can create time to focus.

This exercise will be tough. You’ll need to be able to defend everything that’s on your plate, especially if you just “enjoy it”. Trust me, I get it.

You might even trick yourself into thinking all those tasks are effective in landing you clients. When that happens, you need to find the receipts. I want you to trace back where your last few inquiries and clients came from. If they DM’d you on Instagram, how did they originally find you? If they filled out the form on your website, how did they originally find you?

Take it back to the source so you can begin to work with true data instead of what you think is happening. This is where the magic and ease happens.

You are going to be shocked at how FEW activities you actually need to be doing to actually get clients.

When you have this new focus and you are spending your time on fewer things the more effective you become.

What Life Looks Like Now

Once you’ve gone through this process, you should have a good idea of exactly what’s working to get clients and you can seriously focus on those areas.

A word of warning: it's going to seem too easy. In a word that’s telling you to do all. the. things. to market your business online, I want you to resist the temptation to keep adding tactics back in. Remember, the goal is to create a process personalized to YOUR business so YOU can rock it.

And to FOCUS on what will actually get you clients and get you paid.

We’d love to have you share what you’re deleting off your plate. We want to cheer you on as you work through this exercise and begin to shift your mindset on how you get clients.

We’re happy to welcome you to our exclusive Facebook community, The Booked Out Creative. You can apply to join by hitting the button below.

Launching, Business

24 Ridiculously Useful Tips Every Small Business Needs to Generate Buzz and Plan Your Next Launch

Whether your new website is about to be revealed, you’re about to open up 1:1 coaching slots or a brand new product is about to hit your (digital) shelves it’s important to generate a buzz around it and create a launch plan. We know it’s hard to know where to begin. So we have come up with 15 organic ways to generate buzz and 9 steps to build your launch plan. Take it one step at a time and you are bound to see results. It's just that easy.

Whether your new website is about to be revealed, you’re about to open up 1:1 coaching slots or a brand new product is about to hit your (digital) shelves it’s important to generate a buzz around it and create a launch plan. We know it’s hard to know where to begin. So we have come up with 15 organic ways to generate buzz and 9 steps to build your launch plan. Take it one step at a time and you are bound to see results. It's just that easy.  |  Think Creative Collective

15 Organic Ways to Generate Buzz

To get your mind swirling we're sharing 15 organic (meaning free!) ways to boost business awareness. Take these as a jumping off point and curate your own pathway to success.  

  1. Write an article about a person, business or event you endorse. Make it unexpected and make it meaningful. A story that showcases their story with your own twist will not only delight them, but could potentially lead to them sharing it on their own social media outlets or website… Free press! 
     
  2. Share your passion and purpose. Don’t be afraid to really be open about how or why you started your business. What makes you tick? What gets your creative juices flowing? That inside information is pretty juicy stuff.
     
  3. Showcase exclusivity. Limit your offering to a certain set of customers. This list should naturally align with your ideal clientele.
     
  4. Create a waiting list. Limit your bookings and schedule your services for advance dates. We personally think Lauren Hooker of Elle & Co. Design does it best. She chooses to work with 1 client exclusively at a time and commits to three solid weeks of undivided attention. This process has set her schedule and she is always booked well in advance.  
     
  5. Launch a new product or service. Build anticipation around your launch with sneak peaks the weeks leading up to the big day. Share small tidbits to your email list. Post photographs to your social media sites and begin a countdown so people can follow along. Once your big day rolls around people will be itching to know more and participate.
     
  6. Begin a limited time promotion or deal. It sounds hokey, but it works. Simply taking a percentage or dollar figure off will bring people coming. Make it free and you might turn on the fence customers into lifelong enthusiasts.
     
  7. Network with influencers. Every industry is different and will have their own set of influencers, but find the ones relevant to your niche. Watch what they do. See where they hang out. Find a way to meet them in person or introduce yourself online. Many times these people are just as flattered that you want to meet them as you are that they will listen. Ask for a little advice. Come up with a way to work on a project together. Collaboration over competition.
     
  8. Be transparent and share your secrets. Now you are wondering how does transparency create buzz? Well truth of the matter is, few people give the inside perspective to how their business works. Share with people the inside scoop. Be open and honest. This will lead to trust. People do business with people they trust.
     
  9. Support a charitable cause. Get involved in a volunteer organization or give back with your time, talent and treasure. Your involvement is not only great for the community, but it opens doors to you meeting a diverse group of people from all over your city.
     
  10. Write guest blog posts. Find opportunities to write for other blogs. Many times blogs with larger audiences will allow you to contribute. And if you are lucky will give you the opportunity to link back to your own website. 
     
  11. Host an event. Invite people to gather and ask them to bring a friend. Whether you host an open house, a launch party or even a webinar these sort of events allow you to get in front of a crowd of people who all support what you are doing. Use this audience to tap into their resources.
     
  12. Run a giveaway. Launch week is the perfect time to host a giveaway. But even established businesses can benefit from doing a giveaway. You can use a service like Rafflecopter to give people points for completing certain activities like following you on social media or signing up for your email list.
     
  13. Start a challenge. Dare people to be different. Ask people to document their experience in either photographs or words and share it with their social following. 
     
  14. Teach a class. Host a webinar, hop on Periscope or start a Twitter chat! Use these platforms to educate your audience about your offering and why you’re the expert.
     
  15. Showcase your best work. It’s ok to show people what you are really made of. In fact if you don’t remind them how talented you are from time to time they might even forget what you do or why it should matter to them. 

Now that you've generated buzz about your business it's probably time to actually launch something! By hyping up your launch it can mean a difference between a couple dollars and thousands. You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into this! Let’s shout it from the rooftops. 

9 Steps to Plan Your Next Launch

You have seen it done time and time again, whether it was Lily Pulitzer coming to Target or the Simplified Planner releasing an app. You were part of a launch in process whether you realized it or not. Didn’t they get you excited? Were you in line at the crack of dawn? If so, they did their job right. Here are the 9 steps you can take to capture that same buzz and excitement for your own business and brand!

  1. Ask for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. You likely know someone who has been through this before and they often have the most valuable information. As of now, we’ve launched dozens of new products, websites and brands and each time was a little bit different. Before every launch we asked our trusted circle of peers how their own launches went. What do they wish they had done differently? What worked best for them? These brainstorming sessions are how we’ve been able to come up with unique and new ways to launch.
     
  2. Build your email list. Having a bank of people you can market to is crucial. Giving them a valuable incentive to sign up is the best way to continue this momentum. Whether you are starting from scratch during the pre-launch stage or you have an active list, you need to give them reason to join and a reason to stay. Think of ways you could add value for your clients or customers, perhaps through a discount or an educational white-paper.

    Pro tip: start collecting emails before you think you’re “ready”. You’ll figure out soon enough what to send them or how to communicate with them!
     
  3. Organize a giveaway. People love free stuff. And (almost) everyone loves the opportunity to win. By organizing a giveaway either prior to your launch or during your launch you can continue to gain additional followers on both social media, your email list and even generate additional web traffic from it.

    Pro tip: ask and you shall receive! Shops, business and brands are generally more than happy to send a free item to you for a giveaway. 
     
  4. Build a community of support. Don’t feel like you have to do everything alone. Utilize the people you asked advice from. Reach out to your favorite Facebook group and see if people would be willing to participate. It is totally appropriate to ask for ambassadors to post on their on social media, supply items for your giveaway and help get the buzz going. Make sure that you make it mutually beneficial for them as well. We are all about collaborating over competition. 
     
  5. Plan. Plan. Plan. Don’t feel like you have to rush. Plan a launch for weeks, if not months down the road. Plan out every detail so when the day finally arrives you feel prepared and are ready to just fire away. Spending time on details like what you are going to post on social media, what your emails will look like or say and what content you will add to your website is crucial. Don’t be shy to plan a whole day to focus just on photography. 
     
  6. Do a survey. This may seem totally lame, but you can learn a lot just by asking. Before your product or service rolls out ask for feedback so you can incorporate that input into the product. Or perhaps you did a soft launch and you are just looking to analyze what your current readers are like. Simply make a form inside Squarespace or using a tool like JotForm or Google Forms. 
     
  7. Gain anticipation. A week or so prior to your launch, start giving hints of what is coming. Whether that is inside information for your email subscribers, a countdown on social media or just minor bits of information on your blog. By building the anticipation in advance, when the day comes you will have a line up ready and waiting! 
     
  8. Do it. Sometimes we get so caught up in the details it is easy to keep pushing our dates back. Focus less on it being perfect and more on just doing it. You can always re-launch the same product or service at a later date. Many of the foundation principles we have described we learned from Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula. Although it seems so obvious, sometimes we just need someone to walk you through the process. 
     
  9. Celebrate! No launch is complete without a party. Whether that is just with the dog and a bottle of champagne, a hip party out on the town or an ONLINE party you need to make it special. 

WE LIKE TO CELEBRATE ON INSTAGRAM!


Systems, Business

Why Your Business Needs a Systems Audit (If You Want to See Growth)

Emylee here. Words like “systems”, “audits”, “workflows”, “processes” and “checklists” - they can either make the extreme Type A person rejoice and ask for more or they can make the whimsical creative clam up and cringe.

Here at Think Creative Collective, part of “thinking creative” is to put on the business hat every once in awhile so we can check in with our growth and sustainability. And that’s exactly what a systems audit does for you.

Emylee here. Words like “systems”, “audits”, “workflows”, “processes” and “checklists” - they can either make the extreme Type A person rejoice and ask for more or they can make the whimsical creative clam up and cringe.  Here at Think Creative Collective, part of “thinking creative” is to put on the business hat every once in awhile so we can check in with our growth and sustainability. And that’s exactly what a systems audit does for you. | Think Creative Collective

But it’s not as scary as you think!

Running a systems audit on your business simply means carving out some time (perhaps an entire day) for you to check in with the way you run your business. It’s a deep look under the hood so you can spot problematic areas that are sucking too much time or energy away from important tasks. It’s designed to help you quickly notice areas of improvement so you can implement new systems that will ultimately save you a ton of time, frustration, and make you more money.

You see, as creative small business owners we relish when things are working, even if they aren’t working well. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re creatives first and business owners second so if there’s a system we’re using we’re usually sticking with it to the end of time.

Even if we hate the system.


Even if the system causes us frustration.

But there is so much value in taking a second look, truly knowing how long it takes to do a task, and always asking ourselves if it could be better.

For instance, take how you onboard a new client.

Let’s go to the very beginning stages. How does your client initial contact you?

  • Perhaps through a contact form on your website
  • Maybe they find your direct email and open communication there
  • Perhaps they message you on social media

What’s your next step for each of these ways of communication? What’s your preferred method that you want every client to use? How are you redirecting them to that preferred method?

To go from initial contact to scheduling a discovery call or consultation meeting could look different.

  • Perhaps you get the contact form in your email or you see their email directly and you respond back asking when their availability is. This results in a few back and forth emails for you both to set a time that works.
  • Maybe you’ve seen their message on social media and you take the time to answer a few of their questions first and you communicate for a day or so on Facebook or Instagram. Then you share your email or you ask for theirs so you can move the conversation there. This then results in a few back and forth emails for you both to set a time that works.

What if in your systems audit you realized that this took you a total of two hours per inquiry to even get them on the phone for a meeting? Wouldn’t you want to streamline that a bit?

  • Perhaps you set up an autoresponder on your email that acknowledges their inquiry, introduces yourself and provides a link (in the email) for them to book their discovery call or consultation with you.
  • Maybe you set up an auto response system inside Facebook or one to use for Instagram that acknowledges their inquiry but lets them know you’d rather they fill out your contact form or email you to start the process (thus, triggering the auto response with your booking link).
  • Perhaps you skip the autoresponder all together and provide the booking link for your free consultation inside your contact form itself.

These are all variations of time-saving system hacks that you can find in your own processes by doing a systems audit. And there’s plenty more where that came from! We’re talking taking a look at every nook and cranny. In fact we listed all the places you might want to automate in your business over here.

Still not convinced? Perhaps there’s some tweaking we can do to your social media posting, specifically Instagram. Here’s what your process might look like:

  • Take picture
  • Edit
  • Upload to Instagram
  • Write Caption
  • Post
  • Type out your 30 hashtags individually

If you’re doing this for every single picture and every single post you’re wasting a lot of time.

Try this:

  • Batch shoot pictures
  • Batch edit pictures
  • Batch upload to Later using the app on your phone
  • Open Later on your desktop to batch schedule
  • Batch write captions inside Later on your desktop
  • Post as Later alerts you on your phone
  • Type in one phrase that auto-populates your 30 hashtags for that image

Boom.

None of this is rocket science, it’s simply looking at each and every process with a fine-tooth comb. It’s asking yourself if you’re using the systems and tools you already have to the best of their ability or if there are systems or tools you need to look into that can save you time and energy.

It’s when we save this time and energy for big and small tasks that we begin to open up our day to other things. It’s when we have a process for things like client onboarding or posting to social media that we stop resenting it when these things pop up.

If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re rolling your eyes about a new inquiry because you are dreading the process that comes with booking them then you know you have a problem on your hands. We know, cause we’ve been there.

It was when we dreading blogging, dreaded being on Instagram, dreading posting in our Facebook group, dreading when someone asked us if we offered a service we had discontinued that we would groan and complain.

Once we got a stack of those dreadful tasks we realized it was on us to look at our systems and do better.

Is it time for your business to do its own systems audit?

We’ve got good news for you: you can use the same format we used for our own systems audit for free. We’ve put together a totally free course called Your Biz On Autopilot because we know how many of you need to do this. But most of you won’t. Because it isn’t sexy or creative or fun...yet - until you free up loads of time to spend on tasks you do find fun.

Well, it’s gonna help your business run smarter not harder so it’s time you do it anyways.

You can enroll for free by heading to Your Biz On Autopilot.

We can’t wait for you to dive in and have some major a-ha moments about the areas of your business that need your attention. We’re literally giving you time back in your everyday after you take this course. You’re so welcome!

Get your booty inside Your Biz on Autopilot right now.


The Party is Always Happening on Instagram! 

Business, Organization & Productivity

How to Have the Most Productive Biz Year Ever

Abagail here. If you twenty somethings are anything like me, you are constantly on the self-improvement train. You immerse yourself in self-help articles, download every new app claiming to improve productivity, and you find yourself swirling with ideas and never really knowing what the heck you accomplished.

Not only am I on a mission for self improvement (dude, even good can always get better), but I want to help you accomplish more in life in business. Consider it our personal agenda to have you crushing goals and taking names.

Now, I definitely don’t have it all figured out. But after the year we had (building a multiple six-figure company, growing our team from 2 to 11, and still managing to shut down my computer everyday at 5:00 p.m.), we think we may have mastered a few things.

If your twenty somethings are anything like mine, you are constantly on the self-improvement train. You immerse yourself in self-help articles, download every new app claiming to improve productivity, and you find yourself swirling with ideas and never really knowing what the heck you accomplished.   Not only am I on a mission for self improvement (dude, even good can always get better), but I want to help you accomplish more in life in business. Consider it our personal agenda to have you crushing goals and taking names. | Think Creative Collective

Implement Healthy Habits

Clear Distractions

As much as I wanted to hold onto my paper notes, iPhone FULL of apps I didn’t use, and a consistently messy desk, I knew I needed to simplify. I said goodbye to SHIT. Yes, I said it: SHIT. I cleared the clutter both literally and figuratively. How can you get rid of what is bogging you down?

  • Donate clothes you don’t wear anymore - Pro tip: hang your clothes on the rod backwards, and once you wear them hang them normally. Go back in 3 months and see what you still haven’t worn once - immediately head to donate (unless it is completely out of season).

  • Eliminate items on your desk that don’t serve a purpose or inspire you to do more or be better.

  • Turn off all the damn notifications - you don’t need to know when someone emails, tweets, instagrams, facebooks, pinterests, etc. You just don’t, so turn ‘em off, all of them - on both your computer and phone.

  • Organize your computer - everything should have a place and if it doesn’t it, delete it. Your desktop should be cleared off at the end of every day. You will be shocked how much junk you are letting pile up.

  • Walk through your home (don’t be a crazy person) and start thinking about what you actually need to survive. You’d be shocked about what you are “storing” or letting “sit pretty” on a shelf that doesn’t serve a purpose. No, I am not knocking knick-knacks, I just prefer simplifying.

Ok, stop your judging. Yes I still own things I don’t need. It isn’t practical for me to live in a shoebox and have a swiss army knife with a built-in toothbrush. I still have plenty of things I don’t need, but I dedicated a couple days to eliminating as much as I could handle. And have plans to do it again in a couple of months.

Set Daily Affirmations

It sounds silly, but by writing these things down, miraculous things have happened. We’re talking record sales months, family members surviving stage-4 cancer, and watching Emylee get the call about adopting. For some people affirmations feel like lying, but for me, telling the universe what I want just seems to make it that much more likely to come true. Need ideas on what you could affirm? Here are a few of our favorites:

  • We’ll make $8k from this launch

  • We’re not going to have any tech difficulties on today’s workshop

  • We’re going to be productive and create valuable content today

  • We’re going to get 5 “yeses” from the email to influencers we send out today

Keep in mind these aren’t goals - these are just statements of truth. They may seem a little unorthodox, perhaps even a bit woo-woo, but just try it.

Write what you want on a piece of paper or in your Trello calendar and reference it often. Occasionally review your affirmations and see what has come to fruition.

Make Gratitude a Priority

Recently, Emylee and I both started writing a Daily Gratitude Statement. It simply lives like a card in Trello, much like our Affirmations, and we write about what we are thankful for. It may be a big win in business or it may be something small. But having this little slice of graciousness allows us to reflect on how far we’ve come.

I decided to take this a step further and go out of my way for others. Not because they particularly needed thanks, but just a happy word of encouragement. Every Monday before I can officially close out my day I write two letters to friends, family, or #TCCTribe members. Sometimes it’s “Happy Birthday”. Sometimes it’s “thanks so much”. Sometimes it’s simply “thinking of you”.

I don’t expect anything in return, but I figure it’s the smallest thing I could do and it only takes me a couple of minutes a week.     

Know Yourself

No, not a literal mirror. A figurative one. Do you like the woman you are becoming? Do you like the path your life is on? Is your business headed where you want to be headed?

If you don’t know yourself, like gut check, know, then how are you ever going to get to where you want to be? I encourage you to really spend some time thinking through what your personal mission is. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you want to leave behind? What legacy would you want to live on after you?

Sometimes this can feel yucky. Sometimes we don’t like what we see. Babe, I have so been there. There are times in my life where I hated my work, my body, my lover, my life. So much so that I even wrestled with depression and considered suicide.

No, my life isn’t a walk in the park. But I am way more self aware than I used to be. When things start conflicting with my personal values in other parts of my life I know I need to reassess and see if I am still on the right path.

So now that we have done the physical decluttering (throwing away all the shit), metal decluttering (spending some time knowing what we really want), we finally have space for some biz chat. As much as I would love to chat business all the time, I realize you don’t just walk into a room and leave everything else on the other side of the door. We carry baggage with us EVERYWHERE and hopefully by implementing some healthy habits you feel a bit lighter now and have some room to give your business.

Create Systems

Emylee and I could literally chat systems all day long. They are our jam. They are our zone of genius.

In order to reach optimum productivity mode you need a central system in your business, a command center so to speak. For us, Trello has been the magical solution. First of all, the system is FREE and the program that we created to teach you how to use it is only $29 bucks. Winner winner, chicken dinner (and save me some dark meat).

Get your systems in order with Trello For Business >

Trim the Fat

Once you have a system in place it is super easy to start to see what is and isn’t working. Not to mention what you keep avoiding (because you loathe it) and what is just not your cup of tea (because you know someone else is better at it).

Trello allowed us to see the fat. The blubbery stuff that was either slowing us down, wasting our time, or costing us unnecessary money. And because we had a system, all of a sudden we could see “ok, well this isn’t adding any value so it can go” or “we definitely still need this, but let’s find someone to take over that chunk”.

In a matter of months our team went from just us, to 11 people. I know that can seem excessive, but we put people in place who we know are the bomb diggity at their one piece of the puzzle. They help us with everything from blog post formatting (ain’t nobody got time for that) and Facebook group moderating (keeping 6,000+ women - and a few dudes - in line is not a task for two people).

Identify what simply is bogging you down and what you potentially need to delegate. Then set some dang dates for when you are going to make that all happen. Ready? Go.

Know What You’re Working Towards

How do you know you’ve reached your destination without a destination in mind? You have to know what you are working towards. You have to set goals. You have to set dates. You have to hold yourself accountable.

I could go into lengthy detail about why it’s important, but instead I am asking you to trust me. Why? Because I’m awesome, and I know what the heck I am doing! Do you?

Have Monthly Check-ins

Team or not, once a month you need to have a meeting with yo’ self! Put it on the calendar. Reflect on what has and hasn’t worked. See where you can improve. Check your analytics and go over the numbers. Were you a hot mess and yet somehow profitable? Or were you distracted and let things slip?

Without a monthly meeting days slip into weeks and weeks slip into months. Before you know it a whole season has gone by and you were so busy doing the work you didn’t take the steps to improve what was already in place.

Automate Everything You Can

I was absolutely baffled with how I went through life before I started automating EVERYTHING. I was so busy, I didn’t even have time to realize just how busy I was. I was doing everything 5x slower than it needed to be done.

Why?

Because there wasn’t a system. There was no workflows. I didn’t have a checklist. And I sure as hell didn’t know what Zapier or IFTTT could do for my life.

I’m not asking you to change everything (yet), but what I am doing is asking you ever so kindly to consider what you could automate. Take, for instance, blogging. It has the same steps every time (your process may be different, but here was how I used to do it):

  • 7:00 p.m. - shit, I haven’t written a blog post

  • 8:00 p.m. - why am I still on Facebook, I need to write a blog post

  • 9:00 p.m. - husband shouts from bedroom, “you coming to lay down honey?”

  • 10:00 p.m. - outline and part of draft written

  • 11:00 p.m. - need a snack

  • Midnight - ok, let’s format this thing

  • 12:05 a.m. - WHY DID I NOT TAKE A PICTURE FOR THIS?!

  • 12:15 a.m. - scour the internet for free images I could use for the blog image

  • 1:30 a.m. - finally have it formatted

  • 1:35 a.m. - schedule it to post at 5 a.m.

  • 3:00 a.m. - still can’t sleep because I got myself so worked up about writing that dang blog post, and

  • Rinse and repeat

If this seems all too familiar, I promise there is a better way. You can:

  • Create a content calendar and know what you are writing weeks (or months in advance).

  • Have a system from outline to published that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out.

  • Actually spend time with family and breathe knowing everything you planned is actually taken care of.

This may feel like a pipe dream. But I promise if you take steps to systematize it all, it can all get done!

Be Mindful

A well laid plan is only just a plan until you mark that off as DONE! I am sure you have good intentions, we all do. But we get distracted. Life pulls our attention. Barking dogs wanting to eat dinner pull us away. We totally get it. Life happens, but you still need a plan. And you need a plan to fall back on should something happen.

We want you to know there is a better way. We want you to know you do not have to operate in a constant state of stressed out. Organized and productive is possible. Are you ready to have the best year ever?!

Babe, you can do this. And sometimes we know you just need a little extra nudge to get you there. We’re here to help you. Yes, you.

We created a totally free brand spankin’ new audio training and you can have it right now.

Inside you’re gonna figure out how to have your most productive year yet.

We’re sharing 3 no BS strategies that will give you the structure and the confidence to accomplish more than you ever have before in your business.

Because this is what you need to learn first. You can take all the topic specific courses your little heart desires, but they’re just going to sit there until you learn how to be productive.

Because you can learn it, babe.

So if you’re ready to say buh-bye to lackluster productivity and hello to freaking rockstar status then you need to get your hands on this free audio training right this second.


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Business, Goals, Entrepreneur

25 Tips to Take Your Business Seriously

When you begin to treat your business like a business, things start to shift. It’s really simple. If you’re still treating your business like a “hobby” or “side hustle” it will only ever be one of those things. Even if your business isn’t exactly where you want or need it to be today you can still treat it like it’s on its way to getting there. Just because your business hasn’t reached the figure you want it to (yet!) doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like it’s the next best thing since the dollar section at Target! Here are the ways we treat our jobs like the big biz they are.

When you begin to treat your business like a business, things start to shift. It’s really simple. If you’re still treating your business like a “hobby” or “side hustle” it will only ever be one of those things. Even if your business isn’t exactly where you want or need it to be today you can still treat it like it’s on its way to getting there. Just because your business hasn’t reached the figure you want it to (yet!) doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like it’s the next best thing since the dollar section at Target! Here are the ways we treat our jobs like the big biz they are. | Think Creative Collective
  1. Write a business plan: it may seem pretentious, or as if you are trying to be something you aren’t ready to be, but it helps you get in the right mindset, create a clear guide for what you are going to sell and a system to make it happen – need help getting started, try the easiest business plan ever.
  2. Create SMART goals: these allow you to hold yourself to something that is actually achievable! Plus who doesn’t love checking all these things off as DONE? If you’re not sure what a SMART goal is or how to make one, start with this exercise.

  3. Have a designated workspace: it doesn’t matter if it’s a table in your living room corner or you take over the extra bedroom. You need a place to stay organized, spread out, and get to work.

  4. Set office hours: this is a tremendous help for all those people in your life who think you can just chat all day. Set your hours and stick to them! Tell friends and family, add them to your email footer, and put them on your website. It’ll help you stay focused during work hours and “turn off” from work afterwards.

  5. Have a separate bank account: how can you know what’s your business’ money if it’s mixed in with grocery trips? Plus, this helps the tax man and other legal stuff be legit and easy to organize.

  6. Keep track of your expenses: do you know if you made more money last quarter than this quarter? What about comparing holiday seasons? You won’t be able to track this if you aren’t keeping track of your income + expenses. Whether you use the old fashioned pen and paper, digital spreadsheet, or a software application, you need to get it organized.

  7. Utilize contracts: it is all too easy to get yourself in a pickle. If you are selling services, contracts can really save you time, headaches and money. It lays out the scope and protects you from client retaliation if something were to go south.

  8. Send out invoices: this not only keeps billable clients organized but helps act as a receipt for both of your records.

  9. Know your one sentence: I love Nikki Elledge Brown’s tips for this one. Know your sentence that describes what you do in a way that leads conversations.

  10. Quit working for free: it’s time you get out of the “portfolio building” phase and put dollars in your bank for what you do.

  11. Invest in yourself: need some mindset shifts, an accountability partner, or cheerleader? Consider hiring a business coach to help you stay on track.

  12. Invest in your business: maybe there’s a book out there that can teach you selling strategies or an e-course that can teach you how to master MailChimp. Learning from the experts may costs money, but can save you loads of time and patience.

  13. Talk about what you do: there’s no reason to hide what you do! Talk about it, shout it out, tell everyone, and be proud.

  14. Have a beautiful (and functioning) digital storefront: there’s no magic level or certain amount you need to be selling or bringing in before you worry about your digital storefront (i.e. your website). The time is now.

  15. Plan out your content: whether you write a blog or just have social media accounts, tailoring a plan not only will save you time, but give you a more holistic take on your messaging, focus and calls to action. Start tracking with this handy worksheet.

  16. Measure your success: It’s hard to know where to spend your time if you don’t know what is working. Make sure to check your analytics to see what posts are most popular, where your traffic is coming from and what just isn’t working. You might be surprised about what you find.

  17. Order business cards: you never know where or when you’ll run into a future client or customer, so be prepared!

  18. Ask for help: we don’t expect you to be a pro at everything. Recognizing where you might need some extra help is key to moving forward. Consider hiring out things you don’t have time for or haven’t mastered.

  19. Join a mastermind or networking group or creative club: having a support system can make all the difference! Find a group in your area to start connecting.

  20. Change what isn’t working: is there a certain marketing strategy that costs big bucks but just doesn’t work for you? Cut it out. Being in business is all about learning from trial and error.

  21. Give yourself a title: want to be called Boss Lady, Creative Director, CEO? Whatever makes you feel most legit, go for it.

  22. Order merchandise: there’s nothing like seeing your logo on your notepad every day or on the mug you drink from. Once you see a part of your business in real life like that it changes things.

  23. Pop up at must-attend events: be in your community. Snap amazing pictures and share your experience. People love connecting with people, so be a person and stop hiding behind what you sell.

  24. Know when to turn away business: it seems goofy that you would ever turn away a paying client, but if they aren’t the right fit, going to cause too much of a headache, or it isn’t the work you love doing, it is ok to turn people away. We give you permission to say no.

  25. Grow a tribe: There is strength in numbers and people love being a part of something bigger than themselves. See how you can start connecting with your clients or customers on and off line. Grow a community. Want in on ours? Join our secret society here.

We realize that these steps are just tiny pieces of the gigantic puzzle that makes a small business successful. Sometimes before we can even begin to learn or implement things like contracts and business cards we’ve got to take it a few steps back a lay the foundation. We’ve created the best FREE tool for you to do this! We’d love to have you map it all out with the Easiest Business Plan Ever!!

Stop wasting time and turn your dream into a reality. Let’s turn your side hustle into a soul fulfilling, goal-crushing, freaking profitable creative business. We get it. You work all day and then you come home and you hustle even harder. Balancing essentially two full time jobs is not for everyone. Let’s make a plan, simplify and start earning what you are worth.

 


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