small business entrepreneur

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

 

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!    

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

 

4 Quick Tips to Update Your Instagram

Take Original Photos

Original, quality photos are what everyone loves about Instagram. If you rely too heavily on reposts, your followers will lose interest. Poor quality images or too many selfies can  also clutter your profile and send the message that you're not serious about your business. Your profile should be clean, professional and personal. 

Solidify Your Aesthetic 

Decide what impression you want to give when someone views your overall profile. Do you have a specific color that ties your images together. For example, Copper Creatives has a hint of copper and mustard running through most of the posts that gives the profile a cohesive look. Some profiles favor white space, natural light, bright bold colors, or geometric lines, etc. Figure out what you want this to be and be intentional in what pictures you post to promote that look. You don't have to go in and delete every image that doesn't quite fit, but from here on out ask yourself if it fits with your overall aesthetic and represents your business or your current brand. Make sure your feed has a flow that viewers find visually pleasing and that represents your business or craft. 

 

Tag Your Vendors

Are your photos featuring a vendor, product, or company? Tags are the easiest way to gain exposure and make connections. We can't tell you how many times our photos have been reposted because we tagged a vendor or company. Stop by your favorite doughnut shop - or buy a new pair of shoes - tag the company who sold/made them. You may not get noticed right away but when it happens it's great free exposure. 

 

Update Your Bio 

You only have a few characters to say who you are & what you do so make them count. You need to clearly state what you do (be specific) and give people a reason to follow you. There should be some kind of incentive.  

For example - Interior Designer, Based in L.A. - Providing retro & modern inspiration, design tips, and give-aways for all the spaces you love. 

Make sure your contact information is clearly defined. Your website and email address are a  necessity.

Have a strong, static profile picture. Your profile picture should be engaging. If it is a photo of you, it really should only be your shoulders on up. Since IG gives such a small circle for a profile photo, a photo of you standing in front of a building gives me very little idea of who you are and what you look like. Lastly, try not to change your profile picture too often. When your followers are scrolling through Instagram, they will recognize your brand immediately if they can recognize your profile photo.

We would love to see your Instagram profiles and feature them on some upcoming posts, so comment with a picture of your home page. Happy Instagraming!

-Jo