RSS

Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Business, Entrepreneurship and My Decision to Share More

For the past several months I’ve been thinking about revisiting a series on my blog about how I made the decision to start my own business, what drives me as an entrepreneur and lessons I’ve learned in the past 7 years I’ve been in business. I am, by no means, an expert. But I can say what has (and has not) worked for me. I am often asked by friends and acquaintances how I came to be a business owner and what it’s like to work for myself and work from home. I hope to share that and more with you.

DSC_4408Just to be clear, this series is not intended to tell you how to prescriptively open and run a business. There are a lot of business models and a lot of research you can do to start your own company. I did a lot of my own research (and still do), so I encourage anyone who is looking to start a business to really buckle down and learn before jumping into something that can so greatly affect your finances and lifestyle.

You also won’t find me giving you legal advice or tax assistance. I’m not a lawyer or accountant and have no plans to be either. If you need legal or tax advice about your business, there are a lot of great small business lawyers and accountants out there.

If you’re thinking about starting a business or just want to know a little about what it’s like to work for yourself, I hope you’ll follow along, ask questions and maybe even be inspired to start your own business or project that you find fulfilling. My own experiences and some obstacles here and there have taught me great lessons. I also plan to share some interviews or profiles of other women business owners who I respect and who inspire me. I hope this series serves as a source of experience and inspiration for you.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on September 13, 2017 in Entrepreneurship

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

This Season of Life: 12/52 “six years”

This Season of Life is a 52-week photography project through which my friend Mary and I will share photos that depict various moments from the current season in which we find ourselves. Having remained friends for the past 12 years, we have experienced a lot of seasons together (and some apart), as we now live in very different places. Having stayed in touch, we continue to share our life experiences and challenges with one another. This has been an incredible gift that continues to shape our friendship. We hope you will follow our Project 52 and enjoy the images that we share.

Six years. This past week I celebrated six years as a business owner. It’s hard to believe that six years have gone by in some ways. In others, it feels like it’s been double the time. I still remember the drive and excitement I had when I started my business in 2010. While I still feel that drive most days, there are hard days. There are days when things just don’t seem to be coming together as I’d planned. And there are days when the worries that come with a business take over. But then it’s time to snap out of it. And mostly, there are days when all we can do is be grateful for some of our favorite clients and the working relationships we have with them and special colleagues. Here’s to the next six, twelve, eighteen!

ATS_6 years-2

Now, take a moment and check out my friend Mary’s photo this week: Peek Inside. While you’re at it, look around her site, Moe-Digger Photography, a bit more and view our last Project 52. I am sure you will fall in love with her photos and see what a special person she is, just as I have.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

This Season of Life: 3/52 “balance”

This Season of Life is a 52-week photography project through which my friend Mary and I will share photos that depict various moments from the current season in which we find ourselves. Having remained friends for the past 12 years, we have experienced a lot of seasons together (and some apart), as we now live in very different places. Having stayed in touch, we continue to share our life experiences and challenges with one another. This has been an incredible gift that continues to shape our friendship. We hope you will follow our Project 52 and enjoy the images that we share.

Balance. We all strive to achieve it, but for some reason it is so hard for us. Is it even possible to achieve a real balance? I’m starting to think not, as life pulls us in one direction over another and we just need to adapt in order to tackle our crazy “to do” lists. My photos this week reflect the balance I’m trying to achieve in this current season of life. Between mailing out tax documents to those who work for me and trying to stay on top of my marathon training, I feel a bit like my head is spinning today, in addition to all the other items on my list. But all in a good way. I enjoy being busy and I do like to work, like really like to work (almost to a fault). However, even so, I feel the strain some days and have moments where I’m just trying to keep my head above water during moments of growth in my business. The nice thing is knowing that everyone else is in the same proverbial boat… we’re all busy. So, while trying not to glorify it, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in that. Now, excuse me while I warm up my coffee for the fifth time this morning and get back to my list. 😉 Happy almost Friday, friends. xo

Week 3

Week 3_2Now, take a moment and check out my friend Mary’s photo this week: Record Store. While you’re at it, look around her site, Moe-Digger Photography, a bit more and view our last Project 52. I am sure you will fall in love with her photos and see what a special person she is, just as I have.

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Getting noticed as a business

This post is another in my entrepreneurship series (read more here and here). Now that you’ve decided how to structure your business and file the necessary paperwork to make it official, you’ve got a lot to do to make sure you get your name out there and attract your first customers/clients. Here are 4 tips on ways to get the word out about your new venture.

1. Build a website. This may seem like a no-brainer, but actually, your site will really depend on the type of business and customers you have. Do you have a product, a retail space, a service to sell? No matter what your business, internet presence is essential. Sites like Etsy and similar sites are great for those who don’t want to build a website to house their storefront. The traffic is already there. Consumers know about the site. Once you get your goods photographed and posted, the rest falls into place. However, I’d suggest having a social media forum to promote your products. This way, people will know to visit your Etsy shop.

There are also so many easy-to-build website options out there. If you’re even thinking about creating your own website, take a look at sites like Squarespace, WordPress and many others and get a feel for what each one offers. There are many other options out there. Just do a bit of searching to find out what will work best for you. More complex sites may require you to hire a web designer. That’s ok! This might give you more freedom in what your site will allow you to do and can take your landing page to the next level. Check out options like Fatcow.com or GoDaddy.com. Again, there are so many possibilities. So, take your time and research your options before you commit to one specific site or space.

Be sure to purchase your domain name. This is important! This way no one else can use your domain name. You own it.

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (9 of 10)

2. Be social where your customers/clients are social. What do I mean by that? If your target market can usually be found on Twitter, start practicing how you can provide useful content in 140 characters or less. If your ideal clients tend to hang out on Instagram, focus your efforts on creating appealing images and captions that will attract these people to your IG feed and to your site. If you have a service-based business, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is updated and chock full of information that demonstrates your expertise. Be available to respond to comments and questions, too.

3. Respect the power of the hashtag. No, really. Use them. As annoying and overused as hashtags may seem in general, they are quite powerful. I prefer to put my hashtags in the form of a comment underneath my original posts on Instagram (so as not to clutter the caption), but within the tweet on Twitter (I think that’s the only option). It’s a matter of attracting only those who already follow you versus many more people who are searching for the item or topic you’re posting about. You’d be surprised how many more “likes” or “hits” you will get if you properly use hashtags. Look up hashtags that might fit what you’re posting about and research what people with similar interests use as hashtags, too. This will give you a good idea of where to begin.

4. Be social. What do I mean by this? It’s not enough to simply post your own content. You should also be commenting on others’ content and sharing ideas in a meaningful way. Leaving comments like, “Check out my page.” or “Visit my website.” won’t attract too many people. In fact, many people will probably block you from future postings on their pages. So, be sure to interact on others’ feeds and posts by sharing relevant and meaningful content that adds to the conversation.

Bonus tip! Make sure your site, feed, post, etc. has a “call to action” on it. Let people know how to find you and get more information on your services. What do I mean by a “call to action”? You could post something as simple as a short news blurb that affects your industry or product and that others might find interesting. If they are really interested, they’ll go to your profile, website or shop and want to find out more. If you don’t have a clear indication of how they can contact you or learn more about what you do, then you might as well have already lost them. Make what you do for a living and provide to your clientele very clear. Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you sell coasters. Yeah, I said coasters. Bear with me. You might post a photo on your Instagram feed of an appetizing cup of coffee or tea with one of your beautifully crafted coasters underneath. In addition to using hashtags that fit the scenario and your business, you should have your contact information or website listed in your profile. This way, when people come to check out your profile, they know that they can go to your page to read more, buy some of your beautiful coasters or just see what else you have to offer. A more straightforward call to action could be in the post itself. “Enjoying one of my favorite afternoon pleasures while testing my latest coaster design. Check back soon to find them in my shop!” See that? Call. to. action. 😉

 

 

Tags: , , ,

Perfect Timing: Week 49

Perfect Timing is a weekly photography project by two friends who met in college, became roommates and have been close ever since. We share a love for languages and travel, and although we’re from the same southern state, we now live on different continents, balancing a demanding work life with a private life. We both agree that everything happens for a reason, whether we see these moments as positive or negative at the time, propelling us ahead or slowing us down. We hope you will join us each week, as we share little moments of Perfect Timing with you.

Every once in a while it’s really nice to get out of my home office and get some work done in a different environment. This week I had the chance to do that when my friend Rowena needed to run an errand nearby. We met up for coffee (me), tea (her) and work time and spent the day outdoors being productive at a great little cafe. The rugged tables and weather-worn chairs were a fun backdrop to grab a shot of my Sojourner planner/wallet with a few fallen leaves. This is just about the only sign of fall I’ve seen around here lately, but I’ll take it!

Week 49
{outdoor office}

Mary of Moe-Digger Photography and I became friends in college after we realized how much we had in common. We each grew up with three brothers, played sports and studied history, languages and cultures. I still remember our SLR cameras and our love for shooting with film. We have shared many wonderful experiences together over the years and have supported each other through some of the most significant moments in our adult lives. I am excited to take on this project with her. Check out Mary’s Perfect Timing photo for this week, too: Hanging Lights.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Perfect Timing: Week 44

Perfect Timing is a weekly photography project by two friends who met in college, became roommates and have been close ever since. We share a love for languages and travel, and although we’re from the same southern state, we now live on different continents, balancing a demanding work life with a private life. We both agree that everything happens for a reason, whether we see these moments as positive or negative at the time, propelling us ahead or slowing us down. We hope you will join us each week, as we share little moments of Perfect Timing with you.

Yesterday morning did not go as planned. Fridays tend to be a little slower around the office, but instead, I was dealing with a very high maintenance client, who was putting a damper on what should have been a nice end to the week. I decided to step away from the situation (after handling it, of course) and call it an early day. I made my way over to Baum-kuchen to see Wakako, grab a bite for lunch and pick up my Midori Traveler’s Notebook Blue Edition (limited). I always enjoy talking to Wakako, as I believe in the type of business she and her husband have in Baum-kuchen and the way she handles her busy home life and her work. She and I have had our businesses for about the same amount of time. We also took on employees around the same time. Time with her is always well spent, because it brings me back to the perspective I want to keep for both my own home life and my business. When I left her studio, I felt refreshed and the end to the week finally felt as it should. All I needed was to step away to put my perspective back in place. I have big plans for this beautiful notebook. If you stick around, you’ll see them unfold. xo

Week 44
{stepping away for perspective}

Mary of Moe-Digger Photography and I became friends in college after we realized how much we had in common. We each grew up with three brothers, played sports and studied history, languages and cultures. I still remember our SLR cameras and our love for shooting with film. We have shared many wonderful experiences together over the years and have supported each other through some of the most significant moments in our adult lives. I am excited to take on this project with her. Check out Mary’s Perfect Timing photo for this week, too: Changing Seasons.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Perfect Timing: Week 40

Perfect Timing is a weekly photography project by two friends who met in college, became roommates and have been close ever since. We share a love for languages and travel, and although we’re from the same southern state, we now live on different continents, balancing a demanding work life with a private life. We both agree that everything happens for a reason, whether we see these moments as positive or negative at the time, propelling us ahead or slowing us down. We hope you will join us each week, as we share little moments of Perfect Timing with you.

I have kept this reminder on my desk lately to “just keep going”, as I’m starting to feel a bit of burn out these days. I know that not every day will be this way. So, instead of making a drastic change right now, I am choosing to just keep going and power through. I have some vacation time in my near future that I plan to take full advantage of. In the meantime, I’ll try to make the most of it.

{Postcard from Jess Lively.}

DSC_6508
{just keep going}

Mary of Moe-Digger Photography and I became friends in college after we realized how much we had in common. We each grew up with three brothers, played sports and studied history, languages and cultures. I still remember our SLR cameras and our love for shooting with film. We have shared many wonderful experiences together over the years and have supported each other through some of the most significant moments in our adult lives. I am excited to take on this project with her. Check out Mary’s Perfect Timing photo for this week, too: Blur.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Perfect Timing: Week 37

Perfect Timing is a weekly photography project by two friends who met in college, became roommates and have been close ever since. We share a love for languages and travel, and although we’re from the same southern state, we now live on different continents, balancing a demanding work life with a private life. We both agree that everything happens for a reason, whether we see these moments as positive or negative at the time, propelling us ahead or slowing us down. We hope you will join us each week, as we share little moments of Perfect Timing with you.

Since we moved, my desk has been much more bare than it used to be. Ok, truthfully, part of this is because most things are still in boxes. But if I’m being honest here, I really love it. I have only what I need on my desk when I need it. The rest of what I use most every day is in the desk drawers or on shelves in my office. Having more bare space on my desk makes my mind feel less cluttered while I work.

I know that the act of simplifying my work space and increasing my feeling of productivity is not earth-shattering news for anyone, but it’s been eye-opening for me to do this. It was a most productive week for me with my work. In fact, I’m writing this on Friday before noon, and I’ve already finished the majority of my work for the day. I’ve finished some projects I had planned to do over the weekend, which leaves me more time to do some things at home this weekend… ahem, painting and hanging a Roman shade in the kitchen. I may even start a new book!

DSC_6456
{simplifying my space}

Mary of Moe-Digger Photography and I became friends in college after we realized how much we had in common. We each grew up with three brothers, played sports and studied history, languages and cultures. I still remember our SLR cameras and our love for shooting with film. We have shared many wonderful experiences together over the years and have supported each other through some of the most significant moments in our adult lives. I am excited to take on this project with her. Check out Mary’s Perfect Timing photo for this week, too: Rope.

 

Tags: , ,

Perfect Timing: Week 27

Perfect Timing is a weekly photography project by two friends who met in college, became roommates and have been close ever since. We share a love for languages and travel, and although we’re from the same southern state, we now live on different continents, balancing a demanding work life with a private life. We both agree that everything happens for a reason, whether we see these moments as positive or negative at the time, propelling us ahead or slowing us down. We hope you will join us each week, as we share little moments of Perfect Timing with you.

This weekend marks another milestone for me, which couldn’t come at a better time. It will be the start of the 6th year of my business, and the perfect time to celebrate 5 full years of working for myself, with all the ups and downs that come with it. Admittedly, I’ve been quite tired lately. As any small business owner knows, we wear a lot of hats and we can take nothing for granted. So, the sweet journey this has been up until now deserves some kind of celebration, I think, even if only for a moment. It’s time to sit back and reflect on all the good things this business has brought to my life: great colleagues, travel and fulfilling work, to name only a few.

When I started my business five years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. It’s been challenging to learn so many aspects of how to run a business, but boy is it rewarding. This little baby of mine is growing into something big right before my eyes. My project managers are truly the very best, and I couldn’t do what I do without them. The growth we’ve experienced in the last few years amazes me every day. Here’s to another year!

DSC_5950

{cheers to another year}

Mary of Moe-Digger Photography and I became friends in college after we realized how much we had in common. We each grew up with three brothers, played sports and studied history, languages and cultures. I still remember our SLR cameras and our love for shooting with film. We have shared many wonderful experiences together over the years and have supported each other through some of the most significant moments in our adult lives. I am excited to take on this project with her. Check out Mary’s Perfect Timing photo for this week, too: City Parking.

 

Tags: , ,

“What’s it like…?

…to work from home?” I get asked this question a lot. I find this intriguing, because it seems that most people I talk to already have some perception of what it’s like to work from home, even if they have never done it. If this is not the question I hear, then I often get told, “Oh, you’re so lucky to work from home.” Well, yes. And… no. Every situation has its upsides and downsides. Here’s my take on it.

DSC_5451The good

There are a lot of good (even great!) things about working from home.

  • I don’t have a commute. This makes getting to work on time a cinch. 😉 That said, I don’t work in my PJs all day. I do actually get dressed and pull myself together. I take my job seriously, so for me, that means getting ready, even if it is more casual than most people’s office attire.
  • I have flexibility with my schedule (at least in theory). I can sort of choose the hours I work, but honestly, I do have to work my clients’ hours… at least if I want to keep them around, that is.
  • I can easily jot down an idea I have at any given time and it will be waiting for me in my office on the next business day. This is really nice, because I can put things away or file them when I need to without having to run back to an office like many people would. I’ve learned to set limits, though. People often write to me late at night or on the weekends, and although I used to answer right away, just to get rid of the message from my inbox (seriously, five messages sitting in my inbox gives me anxiety. I need to deal with things and move on to the next task!), but now I do this less and less. Even though I may read the message, if it’s not pressing and the response can wait, I will hit send on my response during those hours. I may draft my answer right away, but I’ll schedule it to go out the next business day during business hours. Boundaries… they are refreshing.
  • I can throw in a load of laundry in the middle of the week while I work if I need to. This really doesn’t happen as much as I’d like it to happen. Maybe once a month? Usually I’m doing laundry on the weekends like most of my friends and colleagues. It is quite the interruption to be going back to the washer and drier every 45 minutes if I’m in the middle of a project. So, most times, the laundry waits.
  • I can be available to deal with issues (this goes under both lists, since it can also be a burden). It’s nice to know that I can deal with something that randomly comes up if I have to. I have learned to prioritize these things, too. I won’t jump just because something goes wrong. Once I “triage” the situation, I decide whether or not I need to deal with it during business hours or if it can wait until later.

The not so good

  • I probably work too much. I think this is true of most entrepreneurs, and yes, it’s my decision to work for myself. But sheesh. I may work more now than I did when I had two jobs (but probably not as much as when I had three).
  • The work is always right there. You can’t really get away from your work when your office is at home. For me, the best solution is to have my own office that can be closed off from the rest of the house if I need it to be. I have great respect for people who have their office right smack in the middle of another room of their home. If they can be productive and still take time away from their business while it’s staring them in the face, more power to them.
  • Some people think I don’t work or that I can pretty much do what I want all day and don’t really have a schedule. Say what…?!? It’s true. I used to think I was misinterpreting comments I would receive from friends or acquaintances who know that I work from home. My mom always worked from home, and now I feel like I understand how she felt when people would assume she had all this free time on her hands. Quite the opposite, folks. If you call me in the middle of the day and assume I can take your call because I work from home, think again. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a break in my day from the swamp of e-mails and client projects I’m wading through. I do work normal business hours and even what most jobs call overtime.
  • Social interaction is quite limited. I do miss not having colleagues I see daily, but at the same time, I don’t deal with any of the office gossip stuff or the nosy co-worker issues. I have amazing colleagues, but I interact with most of them virtually or over coffee.
  • When home calls, you’re the one they call. Any time there is a small (or big) crisis at home–the internet went out, there’s water leaking from the guest bathroom faucet, someone needs to be available for a delivery (ok, that’s not a crisis, but you get my point)–you’re the who is expected to be available. This means that whatever time was spent dealing with said issue is now time you can tack on to the end of your day. There’s no dealing with these issues over lunch. They happen when they happen, and you’re expected to be available to deal.

The best

I. am. my. own. boss. This is probably the best of the best. I didn’t realize how much I liked working only for myself until I made the switch from working for other people. I worked at two other jobs simultaneously for over two years while I got my business off the ground. The day I quit working for others was one of the most exciting (and scariest) days of my life. People who really get it will often say, “Wow. I don’t know if I could work for myself, not knowing how much my business will make from month to month.” or “How do you turn off from your work if you work from home?” I want to hug these people. They get it. They understand that most entrepreneurs who work from home are not on the couch watching episodes of Ellen (but that does sound nice… remind me to set the DVR) and that, as the t-shirt says, “Every day I’m hustlin’.” But, for me, it’s a good hustle. It’s one I’m proud of, as I watch my business grow in terms of sales, new clients and new processes. It’s been exciting for me to take something I started as a side freelance job and turn it into my career. There will always be people who “get it” and those who don’t. It’s not my problem to worry about those who don’t.

I feel lucky to say I love my job, which I understand is not the case for everyone. I feel blessed to say that I have a job when we live in a world where many have lost their jobs due to the economy or other reasons. And I feel good in knowing that what I’ve created is working for me and my clients are happy. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but by gosh, it’s mine. Now, excuse me while I go fill up my cup again. Yep, it’s Saturday, and I’m working. That’s life!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2015 in Entrepreneurship

 

Tags: , , ,