Collaboration, Entrepreneur

5 Conversations to have Before Choosing a Business Partner

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We know that heartfelt connections, strong relationships and soulful collaborations can transform a side hustle into a thriving small business. It’s hard being a solopreneur, and having someone to vent to, and brainstorm or celebrate with can help you accomplish twice as much. But taking the leap and committing to group work can be scary, so here are 5 conversations to have before choosing a business partner, so you can team up with confidence and success.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. We know that heartfelt connections, strong relationships and soulful collaborations can transform a side hustle into a thriving small business. It’s hard being a solopreneur, and having someone to vent to, and brainstorm or celebrate with can help you accomplish twice as much. But taking the leap and committing to group work can be scary, so here are 5 conversations to have before choosing a business partner, so you can team up with confidence and success.   |  Think Creative Collective

Why should you choose a business partner?

If you’re lacking a specific talent or skillset that would benefit your clients, and you don’t want to spend the time or money developing that skill yourself, a business partner could fill the gap. If there’s an untouched audience that needs your services, a business partner could help you enter new markets and expand your reach. If you want to make more with less input, a business partner could be the extra mind and muscle that your bank account needs.

How to choose a business partner (and not totally regret it)

Don’t choose a business partner because you just “really like” a creative colleague, you’re lonely in business, or because it feels like everyone else is forming a creative clique, collective, or partnership. Form a business partnership because it will better serve your craft, your clients, your lifestyle and your bank account.

I believe that the best creations are collaborations, and that hard conversations can save you a lot of heartache. Here are five key discussions to have with a prospective business partner.

1. Talk about your personal life, including your schedules, relationships, and family.

Talk about your work routines, schedules, how you prefer to spend time off and what life is like away from the business. What does your prospective partner’s individual work/life blend look like? How does it match up to your own? What about your definition of work ethic? If you like to work 10-hour days, and your prospective partner only works 4-hour weeks, then that’s a difference you need to iron out before signing on the dotted line.

It’s also important to talk about your most influential relationships — what they’re like, where they’re going, and how you foresee them changing in the future. Brene Brown calls these your “one-inch square” people — the tiny, one-inch square of names on a piece of paper whose opinions you really care about. They are the stakeholders in your business and life — your spouse, children, siblings, employees, mentors, or most treasured clients. They have the power to influence whether you say “yay” or “nay” to a partnership or project, so their buy-in is essential to your success.

Are you thinking about getting married, divorced, having a baby or moving across the country? Talk through the big life moments that could impact your business and working dynamic.

Questions to ask:

  • What does your average work day look like?
  • Who in your life needs to be onboard with this partnership?
  • What would help your “one inch square” people feel more excited, supportive, or encouraged by this partnership?

2. Talk about the success you want (or don’t want any part of!)

Be honest about who you are, and truthful about who you never want to be. My business partner and I both want the same thing — to be working creatives that serve our clients and pay our bills. We don’t want seven-figure launches every month or an invite to interview with Oprah.

Get specific about what you’re willing to do for money, and what you’re not. It’s just as important to talk about the success you don’t want as it is to talk about the success you do.

Questions to ask:

  • What’s your current business model?
  • What services do you want to add, and what services do you want to retire?
  • Who is your business idol?
  • What does your ultimate “I made it” moment look like?
  • What version of “success” makes your stomach turn?
  • Do you want to grow into an agency, publication, or a larger platform in the future?

3. Talk about your strengths, weaknesses, big wins and train wrecks.

You can learn a lot about me by listening to my biggest success stories. You can learn even more from my biggest failures, setbacks, and obstacles. When a client was fuming, I began to BCC my prospective partner. I wanted her to see how I handled the situation. If she appreciated the way I spoke to the client, was impressed by my problem solving, and thought I resolved the issue professionally, she could trust me to represent her in a partnership.

If you’re afraid to show someone the good, bad, and ugly of your experiences, then you may not be ready for a partnership, or they may not be the right partner for you. Strive for someone whose integrity you trust, completely.

Questions to ask:

  • How do you handle difficult or upset clients?
  • Have you ever had to refund a client?
  • Have you ever had to dissolve a partnership or working agreement?
  • What is your favorite kind of work?
  • What tasks do you hate doing?
  • How to do celebrate wins?
  • What are you best at?

4. Talk about how much money you make.

Are you and your prospective business partner making the same salary? I teamed up with someone making the same money I was, in the same ways — as a contractor for larger agencies and art directors. Because we had a similar starting point, it was easy to project our future salary goals.

If you aren’t making a similar salary — and your prospective partner requires a dramatically different-looking paycheck every month to make her rent — you’ll need to spend extra time doing some financial planning for the business. Nothing is a deal breaker, but everything is up for discussion.

Questions to ask:

  • What’s your dream salary?
  • How much do you need to make a month?
  • How do you determine prices for your services?
  • Is giving back a part of your business model?
  • What are your one-to-one offerings?
  • What are you selling one-to-many?
  • What services or offerings make you the most money?
  • What’s services or offerings are costing you money?
  • Which business investments are most important to you? Travel, education, systems?

5. Talk about the worst case scenario.

What happens if you get sued? If someone quits, dies, or wants to dissolve business? Who gets the money, assets, clients and the newsletter list if you part ways? The best time to talk about the worst case scenario is before it happens. You don’t need to spend big money on a lawyer, but you should ask hard questions and write up a working agreement that you both can sign with confidence and clarity.

Questions to ask:

  • How do you build trust with the people you work with?
  • How will we split the revenue?
  • What happens if one of us wants to take a temporary break from the business?

A business partnership is not at all unlike a marriage, and creative partnerships are notoriously complex. You’re going to disagree, fall down, fall apart, and rally together in amazing and unexpected ways. But if you establish a foundation of trust and integrity in the honeymoon phase, you’re more likely to go the distance and live (and work!) happily ever after.



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Collaboration, Branding, Photography

How to Organize & Plan a Styled Shoot to Build Your Portfolio & Brand

Guest Post by Divine Mwimba, Culture Chic Wedding PR

Are you a new creative just starting out in the industry? Or maybe you are more of a seasoned entrepreneur but your name and business is not as out there as you would love it to be. We get it! In a visual business with an online presence, a great portfolio that is branded and has beautiful photos will make or break your business. Today we'll be showing you how to organize and style a shoot that will build your portfolio and online brand. 

Are you a new creative just starting out in the industry? Or maybe you are more of a seasoned entrepreneur but your name and business is not as out there as you would love it to be. We get it! In a visual business with an online presence, a great portfolio that is branded and has beautiful photos will make or break your business. Today we'll be showing you how to organize and style a shoot that will build your portfolio and online brand. | Think Creative Collective

A powerful and amazing branded portfolio is what you will need in order to stand out, get noticed, and start attracting your ideal clients. How can you possibly create a great portfolio with no experience or clients?  This is where organizing a styled shoot comes into play. Creating the perfect mock up of your services will let your ideal client know what it is you are all about. It is also a great way to start building your portfolio. 

With a styled shoot, you are able to effectively demonstrate your own style and design to show your ideal client exactly what you are capable of designing for them should they decide to hire you. Is something new and trending in your industry? Why not showcase the hottest and latest trends by styling your work and bringing it to life via photos? 

This is where staging, imagination, props, and themes come into play. We are now going to show you how to properly organize and style a branded shoot for your portfolio and business. 

Step 1: Work on developing a concept and Ideal goal for your Shoot 

Do not start planning your shoot without first developing the concept, ideal goal, and the outcome. What do you want the shoot to reflect? Think about your brand: What do you want to be known as? Chic, elegant, easygoing, elite, sophisticated? Write  a list of the different words, including colours, that best describe your brand. Then pick out one or two words and make them your focus. For the colours, choose at least three colours that compliment each other perfectly but also reflect your brand. 

Next you want to establish exactly what you are going to do with the photos once the shoot is completed. Are you going to use this on marketing materials such as business cards, postcards, and give away pamphlets? Will you add the photos throughout your website to showcase your brand? Are you going to send them as a portfolio to potential clients? Do you want to send them to a publication, like Style Me Pretty? 

Keep all of this in mind as you start planning your shoot as this will help you determine the types of photos you need, it will help you communicate better with the photographers and other vendors exactly what is it you are trying to capture. 

Step 2: Create a cohesive theme based on your brand and style  

A styled shoot portfolio is your way of you letting the world know about your brand as well as communicating your message about the type of clients you wish to work with. Use this to inspire creativity for your ideal audience. How can you pick out the perfect theme that will work well with your brand? Think about the blogs and magazines you read. What inspires you to read them everyday or weekly? Is it the colour? Does the font used look good to you? 

To help you come up with the best themes, focus on the season and the latest trends happening  around the time you are planning the shoot. You don’t want to be so 2006. Unless your theme and brand is from eras such as the 1920s decade. Think Great Gatsby! The possibilities are endless. 

Step 3: Getting your team together 

The next step is to get the best team out there that can help you bring your brand to life. If you love photography and you are great at taking photos, that’s great. For those of you who are not photographers, we suggest working with a professional to help capture your vision. Your work should reflect quality and letting the professionals do what they do best is our number one tip! 
Find and pick a vendor that is closely related to the type of brand and overall theme you are looking to achieve. If you feel that a lifestyle photographer will work best in capturing your work, then research lifestyle photographers. It makes it so much easier to work with vendors who understand your brand and story.  

Most vendors are okay with working with different people for an exchange of work, client referrals, and publicity so try to use this option if you have no money to spend. Source out all your vendors, models if you need, and anything else you might need for the shoot.

Step 4: Setting the Date and Location 

Once you have your theme and style figured, you will need to determine a date and location for the shoot. Keep the season in mind when planning your shoot. Consider everyone’s availability as well and ensure it all works out. A lot of people tend to be busy on weekends depending on what industry they are in. 

Step 5: Organizing the little details

Depending on the details and the shots that you want, really think about the little details. These details mean a lot to someone engaging with and judging your brand. You will need to be extremely organized with your idea, the vendors, and the day of the shoot. If it ends up looking disorganized your outcome might be a waste.  The last thing you want is to disappoint the people that are helping you get your ideas come to life.

Step 6: The shoot and the after shoot 

On the day of the event make sure you arrive early, introduce yourself, and start the shoot right away. You will have creative direction for the shoot, just make sure all the shots you want are captured and nothing is forgotten. Get as many photo opportunities as you can.

Once the shoot is completed, send thank you emails, and if you promised any trade of services ensure you deliver your part. 

Go ahead and update your website, portfolio and social media platforms with your new photos. 

It may seem overwhelming at first, but by using these 6 steps, you'll feel AND be more confident when planning your first or next styled shoot! 


About the Author

Divine Mwimba is the founder of Culture Chic Wedding PR Firm – a Public Relation marketing firm specializing in helping wedding professionals market and grow their wedding business. She loves all things weddings, vacationing and romantic movies. 

Divine Mwimba, Culture Chic Wedding PR

Website | Contact


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Collaboration

How to Avoid Collaboration Burnout

It seems like we’re hearing how important collaboration is for businesses every day. Heck, we even preach collaboration in our own tribe and community a lot. But it also seems like we don’t hear anything about taking collaboration breaks. Or more importantly, how to avoid a collaboration burnout.

It’s so easy to fall down what we call the “collaboration rabbit hole”. You put some feelers out there to work with others (maybe it’s for giveaways, guest posting, or a joint webinar) and you find people you love. Then you find some more. Then you find yourself saying “yes” to #AllTheCollabs and it feels great!

It seems like we’re hearing how important collaboration is for businesses every day. Heck, we even preach collaboration in our own tribe and community a lot. But it also seems like we don’t hear anything about taking collaboration breaks. Or more importantly, how to avoid a collaboration burnout.  It’s so easy to fall down what we call the “collaboration rabbit hole”. You put some feelers out there to work with others (maybe it’s for giveaways, guest posting, or a joint webinar) and you find people you love. Then you find some more. Then you find yourself saying “yes” to #AllTheCollabs and it feels great! | Think Creative Collective

Until it isn’t. 

We know the collaboration burnout all too well. Earlier this year we put it out into the universe that we’d love to collaborate more (to meet more creatives and to get in front of other people’s audiences). And, boy, did it happen. 

Next thing we knew we were co-hosting webinars, co-creating courses, hosting giveaways, and so much more. 

And then the burnout came. And I’m not talking about just the burnout we felt, but the burnout our audience felt.

This is the important piece.

Sure, we were tired of working with extra people (figuring out schedules and emailing back and forth can get tiresome), but our audience was aslo tired of seeing new faces.

They missed us.

The numbers of people signing up for things and then actually showing up started to decline. 

We realized that nobody could get in front of our audience and give them what they truly loved like we could. Nobody else would give the kitchen sink, be as energetic, or put our unique spin on topics like we could. 

So we took a collaboration break. We shut it down. We looked in and found what we could provide. We took months off from collaboration and it felt so good.

After a few months of no collaboration we decided to give it another go. We had found another creative who we thought our audience would love. 

But, after the collaboration ran its course we realized we felt the same as we had months before. It just took one collaboration to put us back in the feeling of burnout. What was wrong? 

We realized maybe we needed to take a harder look not at who we were saying yes to (because all the creatives we’ve worked with have been amazing), but maybe we should pay more attention to what we were saying yes to.

  • Was our audience asking for it?
  • Was it something they could benefit from?
  • Was it something we couldn’t teach or offer?

It seems that if the answer is “yes” to all of those questions then everyone could benefit. Not only would there probably be higher sales for whatever we were co-offering, but we wouldn’t feel so quite inauthentic about the process. 

So, perhaps you’re in this same position. Maybe you’ve been approached by some creatives to work on something together and you might be a little hesitant.

Maybe you can’t quite put your finger on what the issue is, but if you ask yourself the questions above about the collaboration you might get some clarity.

Maybe you’re saying “yes” to the collaboration because that’s what you feel like you should do. Instead, ask yourself if it’s the right move for your audience. 

Because at the end of the day, if we’re just focused on providing our audience top-notch material that they actually need then we’re doing the right thing. 

We want you to collaborate. We know how powerful working with other creatives can be for your business. We still stand by collaboration. But maybe before you get too deep in it you can create a process to insure that it will be the best for you brand. 

Don’t be afraid to say “no, thanks” to the next collaboration that comes your way. Your audience might just thank you for it. 


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Collaboration, Blog, Community

We’re Now Accepting Guest Posts

Blogging is what started it all. It is the outlet that has allowed us to reach hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. It is what has catapulted us into a world built on community, and allowed us to build a brand that goes far beyond what either of us imagined.

As we have grown our business has gone through many transitions. We’ve started building our team. We’ve educated small business owners by the thousands. And this THING that we have built has become bigger than us.

Blogging is what started it all. It is the outlet that has allowed us to reach hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. It is what has catapulted us into a world built on community, and allowed us to build a brand that goes far beyond what either of us imagined.  As we have grown our business has gone through many transitions. We’ve started building our team. We’ve educated small business owners by the thousands. And this THING that we have built has become bigger than us. | Think Creative Collective

We always knew that fostering community and growing a tribe would be a part of this journey. We were just never really sure how it would manifest.

Well, ladies and gents. The time has come that we open the door to all of you in a new and exciting way!

We are now officially opening the doors to guest contributors and we invite you to apply to be a part of this process.

To participate we have made it super easy. Just hop on over to our Contact page. Scroll down and fill out the form to show your interest in guest blogging.

We will need a few contact details, a brief synopsis of your post, ideas for the catchy headline, main points you would like to cover and links to at least three (3) other blog posts you have written.

After you have submitted your brilliant idea a member of the team will be in touch. We CANNOT wait to see what you come up with.

 

We can’t wait to share your story!



Collaboration, Business

Are You Ready for a Business Partner: 3 Things to Ask Yourself First

As a two-woman team (with the help of a lot of #TeamTCC minions) we know a thing or two about working with a partner. In fact, it’s the topic we get asked about the most frequently. 

  • How did we know it was a good fit?
  • How do we work together?
  • How do we handle conflict?

While it’s difficult to put into words (sometimes you just know), there are three key foundations that we know are at play. It’s these three things that work well together to make the big picture work. If one of these pieces were out of line then we’re in serious trouble. 

So if a collaboration or even an official partnership has been on your radar be sure to ask yourself these three questions first.

As a two-woman team (with the help of a lot of #TeamTCC minions) we know a thing or two about working with a partner. In fact, it’s the topic we get asked about the most frequently. So if a collaboration or even an official partnership has been on your radar be sure to ask yourself these three questions first. | Think Creative Collective

Are your goals inline?

We start here, because if we’re being honest every other thing can be work on and adjusted. But you can’t really change your big dreams or goals. You can’t ignore them and you can’t work towards someone else’s dream. 

Now, we’re not talking about what one of you might be nervous or scared to do (like public speaking or writing a book), we’re talking big picture. We’re talking financial goals, lifestyle goals, missions and legacies. 

If you own a shop and one of you wants to maintain local mom & pop status, but the other wants to be featured in Vogue and have a line in Nordstrom - there’s going to be conflict.

If one of you wants to make a million dollars before they turn 40, but the other wants to just have a little extra money to travel with - there’s going to be conflict.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these scenarios, but the important thing to realize is that each of them have completely different business strategies to make them happen. 

So if you’ve got a business partnership in mind it’s time to ask this question. Get real and be honest - there’s no point in holding anything back. 

This conversation was one of the most eye opening for both of us. We were sitting on the office floor talking about the dreams we had for our life and business. 

They were nearly identical.

Being on the same page with our hopes & dreams made the brainstorming and action plans easier. We knew we were both working towards the same goal so the strategy behind our moves would be cohesive. 

Do you know your weaknesses?

We’re not just talking about the Meyer’s Briggs Assessment or the Color Test to see what your strengths and weaknesses are (although that’s a great place to start). We’re asking you to dig deep and know what you’re truly not great at. 

Know your weaknesses and know them well.

Know them well enough that you can check them off with your fingers in a conversation with you future business partner.

If you know what you’re truly bad at it helps with a lot of things like:

  • You won’t have to do those things (because you suck at it). If you’re bad at math maybe you shouldn’t be in charge of the books. If you’re bad at closing the deal maybe you shouldn’t cold call clients. 
  • Your business partner won’t have to point them out to you. This one is huge. There’s nothing fun about telling someone that maybe they’re not that great at something. Don’t put your business partner in this awkward and uncomfortable position, bring these things up yourself.
  • Your business won’t suffer from it. You’ll be able to do the things that you truly shine with and your business will be able to move forward faster. There’s no sense in correcting a mistake that you can prevent in the first place.

Know your weaknesses, babe.

What about theirs?

This is the harmonizing secret sauce. If you know your businesses partner’s weaknesses (even the ones they don’t know about) you two will be floating on a cloud of amazing business cohesion. 

This isn’t about keeping a tally of the things they suck at. This isn’t even about telling them if it isn’t major.

This is about your expectations.

This is about you knowing what you’re getting.

It’s about you picking up the slack, giving it another eye, making an adjustment. And being okay with doing it. 

It’s about you knowing they’re not the best speller so you go in and edit that post. Or knowing their tone might come off harsh so going in and making that comment nicer. Or reorganizing that workspace after they go through it because they’re kind of a slob. 

It’s not about nitpicking their flaws or expecting them to “just do better next time”. We’re our own boss most likely because we hated that aspect from our old jobs. There’s no reason to recreate that environment in your own business.

So before you jump into a partnership because it seems like you’ll get double the work done, truly think about these questions.

Ask yourself.

Ask them.

We love our partnership and wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are days when we “get” each other 200% and some days where it’s more like we’re a bickering old couple.

We know that our business has grown because of our partnership and not in spite of it. For that we’re happy.


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