Weekly Pep Talk: Fighting FOMO

We have all heard it preached: the comparison game is a bad one to play, especially when it comes to your small business. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is all the more prevalent in the small business community because of social media. And while I don't want to demonize Instagram and Facebook, I want to offer some context and tools to combat small-business FOMO. 

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1. Success is not always quantifiable

The number of followers someone has is not necessarily an accurate measure of their profitability or integrity as a company. I cannot tell you how many times I have come across other wedding photographer's profiles that had 3-4 times the amount of followers as me but were doing half the amount of weddings and making half the amount of money. This is NOT me bragging--simply saying that followers and likes do not equal profit margins or even reputation. There are several small business owners that I know that have a strong presence in their community and a robust referral system that have less than 1k followers on Instagram. The next time you come across a fellow business owner/competitor that has a greater following, remember that quantity doesn't not guarantee quality, and that an actual sale with actual people who will sing your company's praises is always better than a few extra digits on a social media platform. 

2. Different doesn't mean Better or Worse

When you see that someone has been featured, shared, or picked up by the big shots, don't freak out. Stressing over how you can get noticed is just going to take your focus off the things that are going to directly influence your business. Their experience, whether it was being published in a magazine, featured online, or whatever, might differ from your experiences, but it doesn't make them better. So your products or services haven't been published yet? That's okay! The experiences you have with your client/customer base is unique and integral for the growth of your business and keeping up the grassroots connections with your clients is infinitely more important to pursue than just being featured. Sure, being featured can be really helpful to growing your business, but if that is your main pursuit you could forfeit your integrity as a business. The next time you feel that FOMO creeping in when you see a fellow business owner share their news of being published, don't hate! If you truly want to be next, you have to be ready for it by ensuring the quality of your company in the waiting seasons. 

3. Missing Out on Something is Inevitable and HEALTHY

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The simple truth is that it is impossible to be at everything and do everything all the time. For those of us who have tried, we can all safely say it is not sustainable. We fail, usually miserably, and compromise our health and sanity in the process. We cannot possibly be amazing at instagramming, storying, blogging, product photography, client meetings, business development events, brainstorming, finances, taxes, inventory, email, etc., all the time. Something has to give, and guess what? That is true of everyone. So you get on Instagram and that person just posted a perfect photo and it is getting a ton of likes and comments, and you start feeling self-critical and anxious that you're not doing that. Just pause. Chances are if they are doing Instagram really well, there is something else that they're missing out on to make room and time for their IG posts.They chose prioritize that over something else, and that's okay. For your own sake, prioritize and do the core things well. Master the first things first. Yes, you're missing out on some things, but so is everyone else. If you miss out on a BD event or a popup shop to create more inventory or design better stuff, you might miss out on some sales or meeting new clients, but that doesn't mean you're missing out on chances to grow and learn in other ways. If you miss out on posting to Instagram today because you need a break from social media, that level of engagement can't be compared to the time of peace and rest you gain in an un-plugged space.  

 

Fight that FOMO friends! 

Joanna

 

Whistle While You Work

There are days where we get into the zone, put our phones on DND, and crank out a lot of work. I can't tell you how many editing sprees I've gone on. I pick a playlist station on Spotify, stock up on my coffee, and just plug into Lightroom like my life depends on it. There's no funny business. And those days are necessary. We have to work hard to keep our businesses afloat. But we also know that work and no play will result in a burnt out, uninspired person, unmotivated person. 

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Unfortunately, especially if your creative business is not your full time gig, there is only so much time we can commit to working the side dream. Something has to give, whether its laundry, your business, or some self-care. Cutting out your creative small business doesn't feel like an option because it's what keeps you going amidst the frustrations and gruel of your 9-5. I know. I've been there. But you've looked at your schedule and aside from a shower and scrolling through instagram while you use the bathroom (don't lie to me, we all do it), there's not a whole lot of wiggle room to refresh your body and mind.

Seasons like this requires us to be flexible and be okay with coloring outside the lines. It's okay to work and play at the same time.

This past week, we had a meeting scheduled with another small business that we are partnering with. We wanted to bounce ideas off one another and talk through what the business relationship is going to look like. However, one of the ladies had a birthday, and both Jessica and I were running on fumes with the intense summer schedule. One of suggested we had a pool day, so we hatched a plan to work poolside. My type-A self struggled with this concept, but in hindsight I realize the benefits, and I'm here to tell you it's ok to work and play at the same time. Sometimes we have to. And while it wasn't the most efficient working session, it was relaxing and even productive. I walked a way refreshed without the guilt of wasting time. 

lifestyle Blogger - Raleigh Creative Community - Work Life Balance - Time Management Tips

 

 

 

Why You Should Do Something Outside Your Comfort Zone

breaking out of your comfort zone - taking risks in business

I used to hate sushi. Or at least I thought I hated sushi. I hadn't tried it, but I wasn't huge on fish and the smell of seaweed made me gag so I wrote it off. For years, my friends would go on sushi dates, and I'd order something from the side of the menu I was familiar with (vegetable stir fry anyone?). 

But then the other day I was working an event that was only supposed to last a few hours and ended up lasting much longer. The only thing on the menu - sushi. I was starving, desperate, and a little light headed so I took the plunge and devoured at least 5-6 of these little rolls. They were definitely different but not as terrible as I imagined. The next week I attended a holiday party and on the menu again - sushi. So I added a few pieces on my plate and gave it another go. 

Just those little introductions to something new, while scary, was apparently what my body wanted because a month later I woke up craving sushi. An idea that was shocking to my friends when I asked if they'd be willing to go on a sushi date. 

This whole idea of having to go outside my comfort zone turned out to be a great thing and I saw a parallel to my business.

Sometimes you get pushed outside your comfort zone, and it's just the thing you needed to see new possibilities. They say you have to eat something 7 times before your body starts to like it well I believe the same to be true in business. You have to keep trying new things and pushing yourself to discover things you didn't know you liked/want/needed. 

So go eat some sushi, think about you business, and don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone every once in awhile - because great things could be waiting for you on the other side. 

Our Favorite Tax Apps to Stay Organized

I have a pretty strained relationship with taxes. It's very much like the awkward ex-boyfriend that you avoid like the plague but keep bumping into every year when you go back home for Christmas and have to run to the grocery store for cornstarch...(Gilmore Girl Reference anyone?)

Anyways, if there is anyone who hates tax season, it is me, and it is mostly because I make it really hard on myself. Like most creative small business owners, I lean more heavily on my right side of the brain through out most of the year, getting coffee with clients, driving out to the middle-of-nowhere for a shoot and thus accruing un-logged, un-organized expenses out the wazoo. And then January comes along and I somehow  expect my out-of-shape left lobe to organize piles of receipts and emails and bundle them up with ribbons to be sent off to my CPA. 

If you have lived this life or are living this life, insert understanding nod of head here _____. 

After enduring this self-afflicted torture, we decided to scrap together three of our favorite  mobile apps that have changed our tax-lives for the better. We have chosen these because they work the best for our lifestyles, they are EASY and are FREE. 

 

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Description: This app is as easy as Tinder. It records your mileage through GPS and can (if you so choose) to run in the background overtime you take a drive. All you do is swipe left for personal drives and right for business. You can also add parking and toll expenses. It spits out really comprehensive reports for when you need to do taxes. Check out their website for more info. 

  • Free for up to 40 drives a month
  • $5 a month for unlimited drives
  • Available on the App Store and Google Play 

 

Genius Scan

Genius Scan is my no-brain way to organize my receipts, contracts, and anything that I need to keep track of. Basically all you have to do is know how to take a photo. Snap a pic of the receipt, contract, (or even computer screen) and it will enhance the photo into a black and white copy. You can input it into a folder such as "Contracts 2018" "Gas Receipts" or basically anything you want. I love this app because I literally don't have to think about it, I just grab my receipt, snap a photo as I'm heading out of the store or gas station and it's entered. And plus side if you lose a receipt you have this awesome backup. 

  • Available on the App Store and Google Play
  • Compatible with DropBox, Evernote, Google Drive, and iCloud. 
  • FREE 

 

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Description: This app enables you to scan and save physical receipts, email receipts, and business cards and then categorize and tag them for later use. You can also use this app to log inventory of equipment and log the expense items for those as well. This app also automatically creates reports based on the scanned receipts and can go as far as to generate IRS-guaranteed E-receipts.

  • Available on the App Store, and Google Play
  • FREE

PosyMarket Talks: Being Taken Seriously About Being a Small Business Owner

 
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Meet Laura:

She's the Girl Boss of PosyMarket. An online shop for all things vintage and adorable. 

When we were seeking collaborators Laura reached out about contributing. Below is her thoughts and opinions about being taken seriously as a small business owner. 

Want to know more email her at posymarket@gmail.com

Want to shop her store -> Click Here

Follow her on Instagram -> here

 

I was at a friend’s dinner party recently and folks were going around the table sharing what they do for a living. When it was my turn, I said that I own a vintage shop. And, as always follows, I was asked if I had an “actual” store somewhere and when I responded that I don’t, the conversation died.

I used to scramble and attempt to explain all that I do and ways that I sell, but stopped when I realized I’d already been dismissed. So, year after year, I’ve focused on ways to grow my business and be “successful,” but I recently concluded that I’ve been working toward others’ idea of success and my desire to be taken seriously by them.  

The beginning of a new year is when I map out the months ahead, where I’ll sell, where I’ll buy, ways to expand my reach with new customers and ways to encourage repeat business from past customers.  But this year, I’m adding another to-do regarding this serious business…talk it out and then let it go. Better yet, focus on being taken seriously by the one person whose opinion really matters: me.

Over the last year or so, I keep noticing a similar thread when I talk to other makers and vendor friends: we’re all wanting to be taken seriously. Whether that means a certain number of likes or new followers, getting into an actual brick-and-mortar space, wholesale customers or financial stability. We all want the acknowledgement and have developed tricks for getting it.  Like how a maker will not mention their non-related full-time job, because they don’t want their handmade business to seem like a hobby. Or folks like me, avoiding the “mompreneur” label for fear it’ll seem like our business is something we do to fill the space until the kids come home. (And, as a side note, how many business articles mention the number of kids a male business owner has within the first paragraph of the article?!)  Or owners that have P.O. boxes so that their home address doesn’t diminish their look, or, speaking of, trying to “dress the part” so that you exude your brand in every possible way. (The wonderful Grace Bonney of Design Sponge posted about this on Instagram, how she’s finally letting go of that wardrobe worry.) The list of “what-if’s” goes on: what if I…raise my prices, build a fancy website, teach classes, get a business mentor, participate in bigger and farther markets, talk about my company as “us” and “we” when it’s just “me,” collaborate with local businesses, host a pop-up, on and on and on. How many “when’s” and “what if’s” will it take to be taken seriously?

My advice.....

It’s the same that I give my eight-year-old daughter when she needs a boost: chin up and let it roll off your back. Surround yourself with a nurturing, creative, empowering network of like-minded makers and business owners. Share your frustrations and laugh about the naysayers. Don’t compare yourself to others; look at what you’ve accomplished.  Focus on your own goals and not the milestones you think others will recognize.  Be brave.  

I started taking steps toward this last year and they were crazy scary, so much so I had a very thoughtful doctor (and EKG!) tell me I needed to calm the heck down. A goal of mine has been to participate in bigger, regional markets and shop long-distance sales, getting outside my comfort zone of a 20-mile radius.  This meant, for the first time, disrupting my home life, making work trips, piecing together childcare and even having my full-time, in-an-office-working husband work from home so I could be gone. It meant renting a van and getting hotels.  It meant real-deal expenses and big-deal pressure.  And I made it through…learned a lot, dramatically improved my booth design, reached a lot more customers and made new dealer friends, but most importantly, it was the push I needed to say, “I’m really doing this. This is my work and my job. I am taking myself seriously. There’s no going back.” And it feels damn good!    

Weekly Pep Talk: You Got This ! (Friday Fall Edition)

You are running a business you're a "girl boss" "boy boss" "boss boss" which means you are totally in control. 

You have accomplished a feat most people just dream about and that is the first and most crucial step to becoming self sufficient. 

So what you've had a few inquiries with no responses or had a client meeting that didn't book - we've all been there and you know what that next client is going to make it all worth it - because they are going to be exactly what you're looking for and remind you why you started this business in the first place. 

Oh and yeah - It's FRIDAY! Which means IT'S THE WEEKEND. Treat yourself to a little girl's night out, a delicious dinner, a manicure, or something that makes you feel good. 

And it's the start of a new season - Fall is upon us and if you're in the wedding industry you know how hectic it can be. And if you're a crafter you are gearing up for the holiday rush. Just know you're not alone and you got this! 

 

 

The 5 Minute A Day Business Building Challenge

We've compiled 6 items that can each be done in under 5 minutes that will not only boost your business but engage your audience, gain new followers, and push you forward in your entrepreneurial goals. 

1: Take an Original Photo

We're not talking an award winner but a photo that is authentic to you, your business, or a personal goal. Post that photo on social media. But it's more than just posting make sure you use appropriate hashtags that not only attract your ideal client but also gain the attention of fellow creatives in your field. 

2: Email Vendors & Thank Them 

Have you worked with a vendor recently? A wedding planner, florist, or calligrapher? Tag that business in a photo you took of them or your collaboration and publicly thank them. These vendors may even repost your photo or recommend you in the future so it's always a good to create positive and lasting impressions. It will benefit your business for years to come. 

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3: Reach Out To Someone You'd Love to Network With

What's the harm in sending an email? I've personally connected with a dozen or so photographers and other creatives in the the area  that I would have never otherwise met.

It's these little messages that can ultimately lead to great friendships, collaborations, and maybe even referrals to grow my business in a new market. These same principals remain true when you're establishing your business. 

4: Ask for a Review

You worked for your clients, now get them to do a little something for you. Send your clients emails with links for them to leave you a review. Reviews are a MAJOR selling point on peer-to-peer sites, wedding sites like WeddingWire or The Knot, and even Etsy. Reviews can really influence your customers so make sure you to reach out to the clients who have had favorable experiences. 

5: Drop a Business Card

Carry business cards with you everywhere you go. I can't tell you how many times I've been at an event and overheard someone ask about a wedding photographer, family photographer, or even event coverage. I've also handed out my friends business cards. Dropping a card to someone and introducing yourself goes a long way, and it shows your prepared no matter where you are. Even in the virtual world, if someone is looking for a recommendation throw your name out there. This is a great way to gain exposure of a new market and meet new people.

6: Take a Break

On occasion its helpful to take a step back, take a breather, and relax. Some of my greatest brainstorming ideas have come from driving in the car and trying NOT to think about work. Just like a machine, your brain and work ethic can suffer from overproduction and occasionally needs a little reboot. Don't neglect yourself. 

There you go! These are some quick and easy ideas of how to build your business in under 5 minutes. What are some of your 5 minute challenges you'd like us to incorporate into the list? We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below. 

 

 

5 minute small business challenge

The Do's and Don'ts of Meeting with Clients

You've received an inquiry and the potential client wants to meet with you. It's the next step on gaining a client, a sale, and perhaps, if you do it right, a new friend.  These meetings can't be taken lightly or flippantly. 

DON'T assume: The number one mistake to make during a client meeting is assuming that the client is going to book with you. It doesn't matter if they have made you all the guarantees. Until you have a signed contract, every time you're out with a client, you should always be selling yourself without being salesy. How does this translate? In everything you say and do, aim to instill relational trust and educate them on why they should buy your product or service. Dress appropriately, always pay for their drink, dinner, etc - and always be informative and friendly. 

DO let your personality come out: The first few minutes of your meeting is usually filled with small talk. Ask the client about the details they have shared with you in their inquiry. Ask them about who their pulling for in the Superbowl. Here's where you show a little of your personality and see if you click with your potential client. 

DO choose a comfortable, neutral location- we typically suggest coffee shops as they are relaxed, casual, and your tab can only get so high (great for new business owners with small expense accounts). Always ask a client's location and try to meet them in the middle. 

DON'T start off with numbers. Leave the details til the end - this should be a conversation that makes your potential client feel engaged and appreciated. They are not only trying to confirm your qualifications but also want to make sure they feel comfortable working with you. Thus always wait til the end of the meeting to go over contract specifics. 

DON'T do all the talking. Part of the reason for meeting with clients is to learn what they want past the straight forward package or product. Ask them to explain their vision or plan. Ask them what about your service or product is their favorite. For example, if you're a florist ask them what is the general theme they desire to communicate through their arrangements. If you're a water color painter, ask them if they want a certain tone captured in the art piece. Get a feel for their vision. 

DON'T  push a contract signing. Never ask if they are ready to sign but instead give them a window such as "No need to sign today but I'll touch base with you in a week to see how you're feeling" etc 

DO define the next steps. You have spent the last hour getting to know their vision, and informing them on what you have to offer. Now lay out to them the next steps. Be careful not to pressure them here. For example, you can offer to send them samples, or a contract to read over and explain that you will follow up in a week at which point they can inform you on if they want to proceed, take more time to consider or move on. This DTR conversation with your client will keep you from unnecessary anxiety and give the client some direction of what to do next. 

DO end well. Shake their hand, and thank them for their time. Always.

-Jo and Jess