Small Business

  • How to Build a Team You Love

    Is it time to expand your small business team? Have bookings and sales accelerated beyond your ability to stay a “solopreneur?” First of all, that’s great news– congratulations!

    Hiring your first employee is both exciting + potentially frightening. There’s payroll, taxes, worker’s comp… how does all that work? We’ll address those things in another post. What we’ll zero in on today is the question, “How can I know if I’m hiring the right person?”

    Choose your company culture

    It’s important to lay a solid foundation for your team before you start hiring. That means becoming very clear about the kind of company culture you want to have from the get go. What’s the “why” behind your business. You’ll have to answer questions like:

    What are my core values? What am I trying to achieve with my company? What goal(s) will we work to achieve as a team? What do I want the environment of the company to feel like? What do I want my team to be passionate about?

    Set expectations

    After you’ve thought through the type of company culture you’d like to have, you’ll need to develop a set of expectations or standards your team will need to function by. One of the number one frustrations of people in new positions is a lack of clarity. What am I supposed to be doing? When and where am I expected to do things?

    This is a great time to write a quick “Service Standards” document you can share with your new employees and/or interns. You can address the who, what, when, where, and why of your growing business. It will give your potential new teammate a clear picture of what you’ll expect from them.

    As we interview prospective new team members I take a full hour to go over our company culture and our expectations. If someone can’t or won’t align well with our expectations, then we know we need to keep looking for someone else to fill that slot. It has helped us so much– we have an amazing new set of teammates!

    Build Systems

    This is where you address the “how” of your new hire’s position. To set your new teammate up for success, it’s important to have a clear picture of how they will perform their job. It may be a loose structure at first until you can figure out how to maximize their productivity… but it’s important to have a jumping off point.

    Not sure how to build a system for your employee? Here’s a good place to start. What process do you use to take your clients from booking/buying on through the life cycle or completion of their time with you? Where could you use the most help within that process? It could be fielding customer service inquiries, sending sales emails, or posting to social. Then think through how your teammate can do those things most efficiently.

    As time goes by your systems will grow and change. That’s a good thing! You should always be striving toward the next best iteration of your company. Don’t get hung up on having it perfect from the get go.

    Commit to communication

    Another big pain point of most new hires is unclear communication. You’re running a thriving, growing company and it can feel like there’s never enough time. In those moments, communicating with your team may not feel like a top priority, but it should be.

    Part of having a team you love, is fostering healthy relationships with them. And we all know communication is key in the survival and growth of a relationship. It’s how you build trust. And you want your team to trust you during times of growth. You’re usually asking them to take on a lot of responsibilities or to maybe do something outside of their comfort zone… but if they trust you, they’re willing to go on that journey with you.

    Don’t be intimidated

    It’s entirely possible that you may have an applicant who is amazing. (That’s a good thing, right?) I mean, she (or he) is beautiful, talented, wildly creative, passionate and totally has their life together. For some small business owners, that can be intimidating! A voice in your head may be saying, “They’re more talented than me– that’s not right!?” But, sweet friends, that may be exactly what we need. If that person is the perfect fit for your company, you may have to overcome some personal insecurities for the greater good of your business.

    Don’t hire out of desperation

    Things are moving and growing and you NEED help. It can be tempting to hire the first person that comes along. But I want to caution you that hiring out of desperation usually has a messy ending. If your new hire doesn’t align with your vision, purpose, and goals, they may not give 100% to their position. By extension, your clients my end up suffering for it. And if your clients aren’t happy, it can hurt your bottom line. In our experience, you’ll have to fire this person eventually, or worse, they may quit unexpectedly while leaving you high and dry.

    The Takeaway

    Having a team you love starts with a whole lot of intentionality. While it is a enter site can you come more than once on viagra cold winter night essay follow link essay for wine of astonishment cialis online kopen belgie writing a concept paper essay on reflective practice in teaching write my report for me see url master thesis presentation epfl go site essay internship experience essays on futility by wilfred owen custom essay paper writing service definition of technical writing and creative writing contract law problem essay example native americans essay follow site define viagra pill viagra generika aus der apotheke how to write a good prefect application follow enter process, it doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s a chance for you to dream of the next phase of your company and what that will look like… then finding people who fit within that vision.

  • How to Enjoy the Slow Climb to Success

    Success. It seems like it never comes fast enough. While there are those who experience rapid “overnight” success, for the rest of us, it may take a little longer. And that’s not a bad thing! There are so many useful (and meaningful) things you can do along the way that will help you prepare for, and fully embrace, success when you get there.

    Thankfulness Journal

    It seems almost impossible to me now, but at the outset of 2018, I was ready to close my business!  I’d spent three years laying a foundation and pouring my heart + soul into my dream, but I wasn’t seeing the results I’d hoped for. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted, but something inside me told me to keep going. That’s when I decided to focus on the things that were going right in my life, rather than dwelling on everything that was going wrong.

    I purchased a cute (but inexpensive) journal, and every morning I would wake up and write down something I was thankful for. It didn’t matter how small or trivial it was, I just had to express gratitude. Honestly, it was hard at first, but after a few weeks, I’d find numerous things to write about. Something inside me shifted, and I became a more optimistic person, which gave me the energy to keep going in my business. I’m so thankful I did, because a few short months later, our bookings quadrupled! It was exactly what I’d been dreaming of, but I wouldn’t have gotten there if I’d given up.

    Celebrate Every Victory

    When things don’t seem to be going well, it’s time to celebrate every victory. I mean EVERY. Single. One. If a new client books, or you make a sale, do a victory dance– or play your favorite song, eat a special treat, play with your dog, kiss your S.O.– just do something to mark the occasion. Why? It’s important to remember that even though you aren’t where you want to be, you’re on your way! Good things are happening, even if they’re small things. All forward progress is important.

    Keep Learning

    It’s easy to take your foot off the gas when it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. However, it’s during the small or slow times we often learn the most. First of all, we can learn from our mistakes. If something isn’t working, take the time to dig into why it isn’t working so you can fix it. There’s something so liberating about finally improving in an area that’s been difficult.

    Sometimes we stall out in our businesses because we lack a certain skill set or knowledge base. Finding books or courses on those topics might be just the thing you need to get a breakthrough. Again, you want to enjoy the process, so find authors or course creators you enjoy! If reading isn’t your thing, there are some amazing audio books out there– many available through your local library.

    Get Systems in Place

    This might be my favorite tip of all time. Get rock-solid, scalable systems in place while your business is still small. I promise this will help make the journey so much smoother and less stressful as you go forward. Sure, you can stay on top of every email/order/inquiry right now when there are only a handful, but what would you do if you got 100 new leads or sales tomorrow? What systems would you need to have in place? Go through every aspect of your process from beginning to end, and develop a standard for each step. That way when you do experience massive growth, you’re already ready!

  • Does Your Marketing Need a Makeover? (How to Tell & Resources to Help)

    Marketing Woes

    Does the word “Marketing” fill you with dread and tie your stomach in knots? If so, you’re not alone. Marketing woes are common among small business owners, bloggers, and freelancers. Sometimes ensuring your product/service stands out from the crowd feels like a full-time job. It can be frustrating, exhausting, and can make you want to throw in the towel!

    The Test

    But what if you’re not sure your marketing needs a makeover? Here’s a quick test.

    Does any of these sound like you?

    • Is your booking calendar empty? (or too empty for comfort)
    • You have a great product or service, but people have a hard time understanding what you do or sell.
    • You have a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L website, but it’s not converting views into sales.
    • Your revenues aren’t growing.
    • You’re on every social media channel, but not gaining much traction.
    • When people ask you what you do, you don’t have a clear answer.
    • You have high-quality social media posts, but aren’t sure who your target market is.
    Where to start

    If any of those hit close to home, it might be time to give your marketing a closer look.

    I’ve found many fellow entrepreneurs struggle with a certain amount of confusion regarding their target market. As much as we’d like to think our products are perfect for everyone, it’s just not true. Besides, trying to be everything to everyone is a surefire path to burn out.

    It’s important to clarify who you’re trying to reach and why. It’s digging into the “why” that (usually) brings a lot of insight into what your potential clients are thinking, feeling, and needing. This can lead to new product ideas, and a deeper sense of empathy and connection with your clients.

    Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s important to know what to say. Having a simple, clear, effective answer to “What do you do/sell?” is a must.

    Resources to help

    For clarifying your message, the best place to start is “Building a Storybrand” by Donald Miller. This easy read takes you through an entire framework for making your messaging more concise and easier-to-understand.

    To cut through the marketing clutter, reading basically anything by Gary Vaynerchuk or Seth Godin would be helpful. “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne is another great resource for developing a strategy for setting yourself apart.

  • Infusing Your Style Into Your Business

    Here we are, four years into running my business. It has been the most challenging, exciting, fun, and exhausting thing I’ve ever done. This journey has stretched me in ways I could never have imagined, and I’ve learned so much along the way.

    One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it’s vital, as a creative entrepreneur, to infuse your style into your business. I mean, it is your business after all.

    It was a real struggle for me at first. I think my problem was twofold:

    • I saw what everyone else was doing and felt I needed to be like them.
    • I was afraid people wouldn’t resonate with what I was putting out there.

    I hid behind my less-than-real self/imagery and put out some pretty bland stuff. It was easier to be rejected for something I didn’t really care about than to actually put myself out there. The results? Frustration. Lackluster sales. Dissatisfaction.

    It was terrible. Just terrible.

    Then, I learned an important lesson that changed everything (thanks B-School)– You need to be you in your business. It’s so simple, but it makes all the difference in the world!

    The Re-Brand

    I’ve talked about my company’s re-brand in previous posts, but I can’t stress enough how it completely transformed my business! Bookings tripled, profits shot up, but more importantly, I was revitalized. I got my energy and spirit back. I’m more excited than ever to be doing what I’m doing. It was more than just a name change, it was a total shift in how we think about and do business.

    I sat down with my teammate, Kala, and we began to define why + how we do what we do. We got crystal clear about the types of events we’d love to plan, and the types of customers we dream of working with.

    My Style

    In my personal life, I’m obsessed with things like recycling, minimalism, flowers, and all things natural. It only made sense to incorporate those elements into the business. Our new business name reflected it, and we even planned an entire photo shoot around it.

    We chose The Farmhouse at Grassroots Farm as our venue. The owner, Miki, is incredible. I love how she gives vintage furniture new life as her ceremony seating and uses wash cloths, rather than paper towels, in the wash rooms. There are earth-friendly details galore at Grassroots, so it was easy for us to come up with the elements for this shoot. Bamboo plates, seed paper invitations, vegan cookies, natural linen napkins, and a greenery backdrop installation… I was in heaven!

    We do what we can at our events to infuse eco-friendly elements, and our clients and other vendors have responded very warmly! It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s okay. We’re attracting the right clients for us.

    Embracing You

    Like I said, I used to be terrified that people wouldn’t like what I stood for. But trying to be everything to everyone was a mess. By actually embracing what we love, people have responded so positively! We’ve booked the most incredible brides and grooms over the past few months. They’re exactly what I dreamed of when I started this business.

    Here are some things to thing about to help you embrace you:

    • What is it that makes you, you?
    • What sets you apart from other businesses?
    • What parts of yourself can you incorporate into your messaging + branding?
    • Who are your dream clients?
    • How can you uniquely serve those dream clients?
    • If you weren’t afraid of what other people thought, what would you embrace in your business?
    • How can being you benefit your clients?

    It’s incredible how getting real and embracing the real you can boost your confidence. Start small, but start. Ask the tough questions. Get vulnerable. Get real. Don’t let fear hold you back any longer.

    • Photography: Water and Grace Photography
    • Venue: The Farmhouse at Grassroots Farm
    • Rentals: Grassroots Vintage Rentals
    • Invitations: The Letterbox Shop
    • Bouquet: Blue Daisy Flowers and Gifts
    • Dress: Bella Rose Edmond
    • Ties: Two Guys Bow Ties
  • Three Things They Don’t Tell You About Working From Home

    Working from home is the dream. At least it was my dream. Still is! And while I absolutely love running my business from the comfort of my home, there are a few small things I wish I’d know before I started this journey. Unfortunately, I never heard anyone talk about these three things:

    Chores are… harder

    Stay with me for just a moment. You’re probably thinking, “How could chores be harder? You’re at home more!” That’s exactly it. Since I do work from home most of the time, I don’t have a clear delineation between my “home” life and my “work” life.

    When I worked a full-time job, as soon as I came home I’d cook dinner and do chores. After all that, I would start working on my business in the evenings. There was a natural, easy structure to my life. Now, I have to make a concerted effort to set aside time for housework. There’s the constant lure of my home office. Just one more email. Just one more blog post. You get the picture.

    When you start working from home, it’s important to build a framework for your day. If not, it’s incredibly easy to get sucked down the “work” rabbit hole.

    Weight gain is… easy

    It literally never crossed my mind that I would gain weight when I left my day job. But here I am, about 10 pounds heavier than I was two years ago (when I left behind the 8 to 5). I mean, the kitchen is literally right there. All the delicious food I could want is at my fingertips.

    I recently put a treadmill in my office space so I would get up and move around. For months, I would chain myself to my desk and rarely get up. I just wasn’t as active as I used to be.

    Some days are… lonely

    I’m the farthest thing from the “lonely” type. I actually love alone time. However, there are days I find myself craving socialization. It’s easy to take those little interactions with co-workers for granted!

    Of course, I have meetings with clients and my team, coffee with friends, church, etc. I do get out of the house a lot! However, there are still those days when the house feels too quiet.

    Your journey

    If you’re starting your “work-from-home” journey soon– congratulations! It’s a fun, exciting, challenging adventure.

    I’m so glad you read this post, because now you can have a plan in place to combat overwork, weight gain, and loneliness. It’s all about finding a rhythm or system that works for you!