The Mompreneurship Guide

After the birth of my first child it dawned on me that my dreams to work for a big firm and have that coveted guaranteed paycheck at the end of the month would probably not happen without me having to give up time with this little bundle of joy. This is what sparked the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey.

I had a degree in interior design but no previous business background or experience. It all started with a business licence, followed by the cheapest version of vistaprint business cards and an ad on craigslist. No logo, no website, no mission statement or business plan. Just boom, I had a business and was totally unprepared.

Being brand new in a business, I dealt with things like: people stifling me, to straight out telling me I was too young to be taken seriously. It was a tough journey but nothing compared to what motherhood had in store. Being a mother has prepared me in more ways than one can imagine to run a business. I oftentimes get asked how can I do everything I do and have time to be a mom on top of it all. Here are some of the things I’ve learned through my experiences:

Mompreneurship

 

1. LETTING GO OF EXPECTATIONS FROM SOCIETY (OR YOUR OWN)

There is this crazy unspoken myth floating out there that as women, our main job is to be everything for everyone all the time. I can’t be a full-time mom, housewife and business owner all at the same time. This just isn’t physically possible and letting go of that preconceived notion was honestly my first step to success. There are weeks that go by that our house isn’t very clean, the laundry piles up, and dinners are far from being gourmet. And you know what? That’s okay. These mundane tasks that need to be done every day truly aren’t what will make us ultimately happy. Instead, concentrate on the things that give you the best return for your time spent.

 

2. HELP. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE

Maybe your help will come in the form of your partner doing more dishes, or you’ll hire someone to help watch your kids, or cleaning around the house. Whatever it is that is putting more stress in your life than necessary should immediately go. For me, it was hiring a great sitter that watches my kids while I work, occasional cleaning help, and my husband who is by far my biggest helper and supporter and does bedtime routine every night. All of that happened when I was able to understand that I had to give up some areas to gain more time for my business.

 

3. BALANCE ISN'T REAL

Achieving this perfectly balanced life where you spend the same amount of time and effort towards your work and loved ones isn’t always possible. That’s why it’s imperative to set realistic expectations. Some days are easier and others are harder, and that’s ok. Instead of balance, what I really strive for is making intentional time. This means being able to spend 20 minutes with my children where they have my full undivided attention is many times better than spending a whole day next to them but focused on other things.

 

4. DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY

Being a mom/entrepreneur isn’t for everyone so if there’s one advice I can give to other moms is to find things that you are passionate about. From doing volunteer work to running a fortune 100 company, do what makes you happy at the end of each and every day. Whether you are just now making the jump to being an entrepreneur or have been doing it for years now. I hope you can be kind to yourself and proud of all the great things you do for yourself and others. In the words of Mark Twain, "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover."

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: FERNANDA BERTRAND

A native Brazilian, Fernanda moved to Southern California in 2002 where she graduated from High School and attended college. She earned a Bachelor’s of Art in Interior Design before moving to Seattle as a newlywed. She quickly fell in love with the culture and scenery of this diverse city and has never looked back. Fernanda is an Interior Designer, and you can learn more about her and her work at her website: FernandaBertrand.com

8 tips to successfully transition from part-time freelancer to full-time freelancer

Congratulations! The days of scrambling around trying to balance any and all extra work that you’ve acquired on the side on top of an already demanding and exhausting full-time job are over. You’ve put in your two weeks notice and you’re preparing to make the leap to being your own boss — solely full-time! Hopefully you are excited, but you’re probably also pretty nervous — and that’s completely understandable.

part time to full time freelancer

Your work and life are both going to be different now. You will wear many hats as a business owner — hats that you didn’t always own as a freelancer. You won’t just be getting paid on the hour, for a specific task. Now that you’re an entrepreneur, your actual client work is just one small part of the job. You will need to have a totally different mindset, be even more professional and look at finances in a new way. Only you can hold yourself accountable to how, when and where you work. Business development (marketing your own business to get new clients and reach new audiences) is an entirely separate and huge aspect of your business, along with the client work. You will learn new strategies for making money via streams of passive income. You will also learn that in time, you won’t be able to do it all on your own. Successful businesses always have some kind of team built in place to keep things running smoothly. When you are booking work months in advance, you will need extra hands to get everything done. But, fear not. As someone who made the leap from full-time design employee and freelancer to business owner over a year ago, I know a thing or two about making that scary transition. Below are some tips that you will hopefully find helpful:

 

1. DON'T CALL YOURSELF A FREELANCER

This is the best piece of advice that I received from a former colleague who (years before me) had also made the jump from employee to business owner. Refer to yourself as a business owner because that is exactly what you are now. You’re not just taking on projects here and there when you have time. You are juggling a lot of different balls and you deserve to be treated with respect, taken seriously and looked at as a legitimate professional putting in the work, all day, everyday. When someone says, “oh yeah, you freelance, right?” you will be able to say, “I used to. I now own and operate my business full-time.”

 

2. HAVE YOUR CLIENT BASE READY TO SEND YOU WORK

People have often asked me if you need to have a savings account in place before taking the plunge. I don’t think so. Of course, have at least some cushion in case things start slow — but more importantly, as long as you have guaranteed work ready to be sent to you, you should be good to go. Let your current (freelance) clients know that you’ll be available for full-time work and to be an even bigger extension of their teams as of a certain date. This way, they will be ready to start sending you work and in turn, the money will start flowing in. Setup your calendar and start booking projects ahead of time. Get ready to start working right away!

 

3. DECIDE HOW YOU WILL NEED TO SELL YOUR SERVICES

Are you a 1:1 service provider? Do you prefer to help groups at a time? Do you sell products? I would suggest transitioning from hourly pay to setting your regular monthly clients up on a retainer. This simply means that for a certain flat fee each month, your client will receive either a set number of hours or projects from you. Instead of wrestling with a hundred one-off, individual projects all at once, perhaps gather some of your services into all-inclusive packages, which will allow your clients to get more bang for their buck and more of you. $50 here and $100 there will not always add up quickly enough to pay the bills. Charge what you’re truly worth and receive larger sums of money more often. You’ll also be able to know what’s coming down the pipeline, when and for whom, which will allow you to plan and budget better.  

 

4. TRUST THAT THE RIGHT CLIENTS WILL COME

Don’t just work for anybody. It’s really crucial to focus on the specific niche, market or demographic that you want to serve. You might be the right fit for a client, but it doesn’t always mean that the client is a right fit for you, your time and the way that you do business. Someone who wants to negotiate your services and not pay you what you want is just not worth your time and will prove to be more of a pain down the road. This is an especially good point to make after the above statement – charge what you’re worth. You might be nervous to increase your prices or change things up from the way you have always done them. However, you’re not a freelancer anymore. You’re a full-time business owner who chose this new lifestyle in order to do more of what you love and make more money doing it. In order to do that, you need to work for the right clients. They will see the value in what you offer and won’t stress over what you charge because they will want to work with you. It’s a win-win for both sides. You get to do great work and make more money doing it — and you’re improving business for a great client. Cheers all around!

 

5. SET UP THE RIGHT TOOLS AND SYSTEMS

You’re a business owner now – time is money. You need to have efficiency and automation in place so that you can spend more time working on your business, rather than in it. You should setup programs and accounts for sending proposals, estimates, invoices, contracts and to get yourself paid quickly and easily. There is an app out there now that can help you with any administrative task possible. For example, I use FreshBooks to send invoices and track expenses. I use Dubsado to send contracts to clients to digitally sign. (This way, I don’t have to print off a contract, sign, scan and email it back. That’s too much work!) I also use Dubsado (and sometimes Asana) to keep track of my client and project information, meeting notes, workflows, deadlines and more. I use Buffer to schedule my social media and blog posts and MailChimp to send out my weekly emails to my subscribers. Finally, I use PayPal (connected to my FreshBooks invoices) for people to pay me quickly and easily. Figure out the software that you like best and start entering names and numbers!

 

6. HIRE AN ACCOUNTANT

There are too many little things to remember when it comes to being a business owner at tax time – and it’s truly worth investing in a professional to help you. A good accountant (and even bookkeeper) will help you think of expenses that you wouldn’t normally think of. My accountant has me setup to pay quarterly estimated taxes. I find that this helps a lot, as I’m not slammed with a large amount (of several thousand dollars) to pay all at once in April. I check in with him throughout the year to ask any questions and to see what I’m on track to make for the year so that we can adjust the quarterly tax payments if need be. It will help if you stay organized through the year with your monthly software fees, credit card or banking fees, office expenses and utilities (whether you rent or own your house if you don’t travel to an office space.) Your accountant will show you how to split up any bills that might apply to your business, as well as mileage to and from client meetings. And, your tax prep that he/she does can also be used as an expense for the next tax year.

 

7. MEET WITH A LAWYER

Setup a terms of service or privacy policy on your site and even a little something for your emails that go out to your subscribed list (in the footer.) This can include a copyright and “all rights reserved.” You can also mention that you respect the privacy of your subscriber’s email and don’t distribute or sell it. Even stating something similar in the footer of each page of your website is important. Talk to a lawyer about any practices that you should put in place now that you’re an official business, how to write the language in your contracts and more — so that you have yourself protected as much as possible. Also talk to a lawyer (or even an accountant) about the best fit for your business — setting up an LLC, S Corp or something else to help with protecting your personal assets. This way, you’re “legal.”

 

8. SET UP A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT

One of the first things that I did when I moved to a new state and had just started running my business full-time was setting up a checking account and getting a credit card (for business expenses only.) It’s smart to keep these accounts separate from your personal accounts and it makes your business even more professional and legitimate. In order to get a checking account for my business, I had to visit a local government building and register for a “Certificate of Assumed Business Name.” Keeping a separate account allows you to see what’s coming in, what’s going out and you can choose how often and how much you pay yourself each week or month.   

Enjoy this journey! There is nothing like being your own boss. You might work more than you ever have in your life (who I am kidding — you definitely will) but you will love what you’re doing, who you’re helping and serving — and the more premium paychecks that will hit your bank account. Trust in yourself and believe in what you do — and you will be successful!  

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JESSIE FORD COOTS

Jessie Ford Coots is the owner and designer behind Untethered, a boutique branding + design studio in the Midwest that specializes in creatively elevating visual identities for small businesses (especially female entrepreneurs.) She enjoys giving new and old businesses creative makeovers, as well as partnering with select companies and non-profits to provide monthly design services. When she isn’t designing, she’s traveling around the U.S. showing her quarter horse in barrel racing events and visiting friends and family. Originally an Ohio native, she and her husband live outside of Louisville, Kentucky. To learn more about how she can creatively improve your business, visit www.untethereddesign.com

Marketing as an Introvert

Are you an introvert trying to market a business?  Worried that those two things don’t go together?  Guess what…they do!  As a small business owner with a business that does events and marketing consulting, as a person who spends a lot of time doing public speaking and networking, and as a fiercely introverted human being, I assure you that your introversion can be a strength for your business.  You just have to master the art of marketing as an introvert.

marketing as an introvert

The key to marketing – no matter what your business is or who you are – is figuring out:

  1. Who your target market is
  2. Where your target market is
  3. How your brand will be best-showcased

The most effective marketing is going to be at the intersection of those three questions. 

As an introvert marketer, you have to factor your introversion into the last part of that equation.  There truly is an art to this.  If you are representing your brand, then you have to be your best self in order to showcase your brand properly.  So, how can you do that?

KNOW THE RULES

Specifically, know YOUR rules.  We are all different, and you probably have come to know the rules of your introversion by now.  What are your limits? 

Maybe the rules have to do with your schedule.  Perhaps you can only have a certain number of networking events on your calendar a month or you need to have exactly three days of solitude in front of a computer each week.

Maybe you have rules around how you interact with people.  Perhaps you need your networking to be centered on a group activity or you need to have tricks for turning everything into one-on-one conversation.

If you know your rules, you can find the ways to highlight your brand as it needs to be highlighted while staying within your social limits.

QUALITY OF QUANTITY

One of the great things about introverts is how in depth they go.  The joke is that introverts hate small talk.  If that’s true for you, it can be a huge asset for your marketing.  When you are inclined to get to a deeper level of conversation you are likely to have a much better conversion rate in your sales than someone who has a higher volume of contacts. 

Customers can sense when you have a genuine interest, and it builds loyalty much faster.  The more they share with you, the more you listen, the more likely they will be to buy from you.

CONSIDER ONLINE MARKETING

Introverts can be good marketers in any forum, but you might want to take another look at the option of marketing your business online.  First of all, there are a lot of introverts you can potentially meet online! 

Beyond that, you might be able to harness the power of your introversion through creativity in blogs, thorough and compelling comments on other people’s blogs and social media posts, or unique content that sets you apart. 

Introverts can be great marketers.  The things that make you introverted are the same things that can make your customers more excited about doing business with you.  Hopefully, some of these tips help you master the art of marketing as an introvert.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MELISSA FORIZAT

Melissa is a small business marketing coach and event manager with international experience in event and brand management. A former artistic gymnast for 18 years, she “retired” at the age of 22 and turned her love of sport into a whirlwind career of contracts with huge brands like the Olympic Winter Games (2006 and 2010), Rugby World Cup (2011), and the US Olympic Committee. Now, she owns Melissa Forziat Events and Marketing and enjoy helping small businesses and nonprofits to make the most of their marketing and events and to reach more people with their message.  Connect with Melissa at www.melissaforziatevents.com.

Products and Branding

Your brand is your customer’s perception of your company, messaging, and products. Your company and products have different layers of your brand. They should complement each other and drive consistency among the platforms where your brand communicates.

Whether or not your products are branded separately from your company, both your product and brand need to show a consistent mission, message, and tone.

products and branding

MISSION

Your company’s mission is the foundation for its success. Your mission is reflected in your site, but it should also be shown in your product design and goal.

Your company’s mission is the promise you make to your customers. The company’s mission is fulfilled by the brand and its products. The products or services deliver the results, which are reflected in the brand’s reputation. It may be something like:

Honest Tea: "... to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages."

Nordstrom:  "... to give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible."

Warby Parker: “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses."
 

Through their services and product offerings, each of these companies live up to their mission. By fulfilling, or exceeding, the promises they make with their mission to consumers, they build trust.

The company must begin and end with the mission in mind to succeed. That means developing a culture, products, and services around this core mission. It also means that deviations from this core purpose aren’t pursued.

It’s disconcerting when a product and its company don’t quite go together. Like Zippo’s women’s perfume. Even with the messaging and tone in alignment with the overall brand, a product that doesn’t make sense will stick out.

MESSAGING AND TONE

Your message and tone across your products should reflect the overall brand. From the words used to the types of visuals displayed, it’s important that both remain consistent when moving from a company to a product view. Both are indicators of the how behind what you offer.

For example, think about how you would characterize your company. Is it fun? Open? Different? This should be reflected in the types of products you offer and their messaging. If your products are clunky, boring, and at parity, you are not reflecting the same brand from company to product. If they are messaged differently from the way the company’s brand is characterized, they will be off brand as well.

A company with tight messaging and tone, along with visual delivery, is Apple. They say they are about being different, deliver a different product, and then sell it in an interesting way. Apple began the launch events that made launch marketing something people looked forward to. They also maintain their simple copywriting from their site to their packaging.

These types of nuances are made easier with a brand style guide. By keeping track of the way words are used, written, or styled, companies can keep a brand consistent in its fonts, use of colors and logos, and messaging.

VISUAL APPEAL

Product photography and styling should reflect the overall brand but can say something different about each individual product line. Just like fashion lines, each has a different perspective it’s trying to showcase. But it reflects the larger fashion brand.

You can think of it this way as well - by looking at your product’s marketing, an individual should be able to recognize what brand it is. When a product has a strong visual brand, it’s easy to identify the larger company.

You would never mistake Kate Spade for Betsey Johnson. Or an Apple for a Dell. These types of strong visual brands make an impression because their point of view is so clear.

For less visual brands, it comes down to styling, lifestyle photography, and information graphics. Don’t neglect the visual styling of your products. If your brand is cool, hip, and modern, avoid styling your product as frumpy and dated.

From your design on your site to your in-store experience, think about how you want the brand to impact the customer visually.

When you’re thinking about your product and company brands, ask yourself:

  • Are your brands working together? Or are they in conflict? It’s like ordering a chocolate layer cake to find out that your icing is actually mayonnaise. They may look like they belong together, but the experience doesn’t live up to the perception. Take a look at your customer experience and satisfaction.

  • What can you do to drive greater synergies between your product line(s) brands and your overall brand? Think about your product messaging, delivery methods, and design aesthetic. If your brand is deviating from standards at the product level, it will undermine the integrity of the brand as a whole.

  • Is there anything that could be reorganized under a different brand or streamlined in experience? If a product is well-developed but doesn’t match with your current brand, something will feel off in the consumer experience.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SOPHIE NEWMAN

Sophie Newman is a strategist who loves helping entrepreneurs define, position, and grow their brands. She enjoys teaching yoga, blogging marketing on The Orange Slice, and reading fantasy novels.

Brand Kit: Flora & Fauna

If you’ve been ready to update your brand, but don’t have the money to invest in something completely custom - I have something new and exciting to show you!

I have been working tirelessly with the Create You team to create a full Brand Kit that will help you update your branding! There were several key things that inspired this project and they came from hearing from our audience that participated in our survey. Here’s what you said you wanted:

  • Consistent graphics
  • Purposeful content
  • Quick turnaround
  • Affordable pricing

From this need, the idea of creating a Brand Kit that has the graphics, website, and content assistance that you were needing (all at an affordable price!) was born. I am so excited to be sharing this project with you because it’s available to everyone! Everything that I do for my 1 on 1 clients I packaged up all of the pieces into a pre-designed brand kit for you. 
 

This particular Brand Kit is geared towards florists but is so versatile that we know any entrepreneur can make it work for their own brand.

    What's Included in the Brand Kit: 

    SQUARESPACE WEBSITE TEMPLATE

    • Video tutorials and files on how to create each page. No coding experience needed.
    • Video tutorials and Photoshop .psd files to customize colors and graphics.
    • Template features: Testimonial slider, two different service page layout, designed blog, a featured in (or press) logo slider


    FOUR SOCIAL MEDIA TEMPLATES

    • Matching graphics that can be used for social media or blog posts.
    • Video tutorials and Photoshop .psd files to customize colors and graphics.


    CONTENT GUIDE

    • Want to write a service or product page that appeals, not just a boring list? Having trouble writing your about page? I hear ya! Our guide goes over every page.
    • We believe in being intentional with your content so that your leads convert to clients.


    By creating your website and social media graphics with the video tutorials you learn how to manage your own content.

    If you don't want to create the website yourself, we can do it for you! After you create an account we will duplicate the website onto your account so all you have to do is drop in your photos and content. Either way your website will be up in no time.

    SEO for Squarespace: Part 2

    In case you missed it you can read the first part of SEO for Squarespace HERE. Now that we’ve covered the basics of SEO for your website, let’s take it up a notch! You’ve implemented the basics across the board on your website, and you’re doing it consistently throughout your website, but how do you get SEO to start working for you even more? I’ve got the details all laid out for you. 

    SEO for Squarespace

    We’re going to get you to take your SEO up a notch from just the basics, and here are the next steps you need to start working on:

    INCREASE TRAFFIC

    The purpose of SEO is to make sure that when people are searching for your services that you show up on the front page of google. That byproduct, of your page being on the first page of Google, will increase traffic to your website. However, we have to get there first.

    The best way to increase your ranking on Google is to get more traffic to your website. How do you do that yourself? Stay active and keep your website updated regularly. Blogging consistently (1x a week is great!), is a great way to start directing traffic to your website. When you write a blog post make sure you’re posting it on social media to drive traffic to your website, which brings us to our next step….

    SOCIAL MEDIA

    Cross promotion! Post on your top 2 social media channels regularly. Create valuable content for your audience that will post on a daily basis. Share the blog posts that you’ve written, and include links so that they can be directed to that post on your website. This will increase traffic! Don’t forget to recycle your blog posts, if you have posts that you wrote a while back that still contain relevant content, then reshare them on social media.  Also, make sure your social media channels all have your website easily accessible.

    CHECK YOUR LINKS

    Make sure your website is built well with no broken links. Go through and click on all of your links to make sure they: 1) Work, 2) Are going where you want them to. Create a custom branded 404 page just in case people do come across a broken link. Instead of a general boring 404 page, you can customize design with something that aligns with your brand and is fun. Keep visitors engaged by directing them back to popular pages on your website through call to actions.

    REGISTER YOUR WEBSITE

    Manually register your website to search engines. This is a simple task that you only need to do one time. I like to use: http://www.entireweb.com/free_submission This website is a great way to register to multiple search engines at once and it's free!

    GOOGLE ANALYTICS

    You will also want to register with Google Analytics. Squarespace has now made it easier. It used to be you needed to place a script code in the header of your website now all you need to do is add your tracking code to Squarespace. See how to do it here. Gotta love Squarespace!


    And now you’re well on your way to having an optimized website with great SEO! Make sure you check out the first part of our SEO series where you can download your FREE checklist to use for every page of your website, including blog posts! Check it out here.

    How DIY Design Can Hurt Your Brand

    Today we are talking about the problem with DIY design, and how it can hurt your business. Now, before you click off this post thinking I’m trying to sell you on an expensive design package, hold on! Even though I do sell valuable branding packages that will get you an amazing brand that will last a lifetime, that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.

    I want to talk through with you what happens when you decide to DIY your own branding and offer two solutions that will work so much better for you.

     

    DIY Design

     

    THE PROBLEM WITH DIY DESIGN:

    LOTS OF TIME FOR SUB-PAR RESULTS

    If you’re not a trained graphic designer and branding specialist, it is going to take you a lot of time to achieve a full brand than it would someone who is trained in that field. Just like if I, as a designer, were to step into your field of expertise. It would take me 2x, 3x, maybe even 4x as long to do what you do, and it wouldn’t look near as good as if you did it!

    Take for example a floral designer. Say I’m hosting an event and I want to have gorgeous floral arrangements at the event. Now, I can easily go to the local store and pick a bunch of flowers and DIY arrangements. However, I’m going to be “winging it”. If I had gone to my local florist and told her my vision and my budget, she would’ve been able to give me a beautiful floral arrangement that would be the centerpiece for my event!

    Ask yourself, how much time are you wanting to spend on this design?

     

    LACK OF STRATEGIC DIRECTION

    You know what you like, but does it strategically align with the goals of your business? Your branding can make or break your business, and if you don’t have the marketing and design knowledge to help ensure you reach your ideal clients, you could be shooting your business in the foot.

    DIY may be the most cost effective option, but if you’re not presenting your business in the professionalism needed to reach your clients, you’re actually losing money.

     

    DISCONTENTMENT WITH YOUR BRANDING

    When you start to DIY your brand you may feel excited (and overwhelmed) by all the things! Color palettes, fonts, patterns, so many beautiful things, how do you choose? This is where discontentment can come to play in your brand, and cause huge problems.

    How? Let’s say you finally decide on your branding mood, you have finally narrowed down the colors (that you love, but perhaps aren’t the most strategic), have settled on fonts and your logo, but then the honeymoon ends. You are happy with your brand for a month, maybe a few, and then you start wishing you had gone with different colors or fonts! It’s a spiral that can quickly get out of control.


    SO THEN WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

    I promise there are options for you, two of them actually!

    1. Premade design

    2. Hire a designer

    The advantages of pre-made design is that a designer has already done the work. You know it’s strategically created, and is going to have a professional look. If you’re on a budget this is a great alternative to hiring a designer to create a custom brand for you.

    When you start looking for a pre-made design, make sure that it has all the elements you are needing for your brand. You want all the elements to be there so you don’t have to mis-match or piece anything together that is missing.

    Rather than DIY your design, you can rest easy knowing that someone trained in the field of design and branding created the pre-made design. Just like you are a professional in your field, they are a professional in theirs. You will save yourself time and feel more content with your branding.