Have you ever been hit with an idea that you just can’t get it off your mind? Something so exciting, with a dash of crazy that you just feel like you have to take a chance on it? That is exactly how my story of taking a leap of fierce begins.
I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur.. I’ve always been very ambitious and a go-getter – I graduated college two years early and shortly after graduating hopped on a plane across the country to further my career – but the idea of owning a business just wasn’t on my radar. Since making a life for myself on the east coast, I have long dreamed of a day where I’d be able to split my time more evenly on the east and west coast (where my family lives). But, the actual execution of making that happen has always a little fuzzy. That is until I had the idea for Bold & Pop.
How I got started…
After working in the social media industry for over seven years I was itching for a change and my latest idea was one I just couldn’t shake. My concept was simple. I wanted to create a collective of freelancers that would offer social media, public relations, branding, web design, and event planning services on a freelance basis.
A collective that provided support by working together on projects, but also the freedom without being locked in like a traditional agency. While the idea was certainly not revolutionary – there are countless agencies, I had a very specific sense of how I wanted the branding for the business to play out and I knew just the people whom I thought would be perfect for the start of the freelance network.
So I worked out some of the initial details in my head and introduced the idea to some of my connections one-by-one, and to my surprise no one told me I was crazy! Instead, I got the reaction of why didn’t we think of this sooner?
I partnered up with perfect co-founder, Mallory Musante, that not only got the concept, but was literally finishing my sentences as we were planning. It was at that point I realized that I hadn’t actually been afraid of the idea of starting a business, I had been afraid of doing it alone. Now, with an amazing co-founder by my side and a growing list of talented professionals in our network, that fear started to fade away. I know this sounds totally cheesy, but everything just seemed to line up as if this was the path we were meant to be on.
Flash-forward a few months later and we had our name picked out, our website, business licenses, social media accounts — the whole shebang! This was REALLY happening. Shortly after, we signed some of our first accounts and we were off to the races. Since then, we’ve been able to connect and work with so many amazing fellow business owners. Our excitement only gets stronger with each project and the freedom has been truly freeing. After my first trip of being able to visit my family for more than a few days, I know this is the right path for me.
My message to you is…
Sometimes you just need to listen to that little voice when you feel your intuition pushing you in a specific direction. Any kind of change or taking a chance on something is no doubt scary (most life changes are) but man can they be worth it!
Work through the details and come up with a plan. In my case, finding the right co-founder was just what I needed to make that step. Teamwork makes the dream work right?! If you have the passion and the drive to make something happen you will find a way to make it happen. Sure there will be some learning curves along the way, but if you believe in yourself, you too can be one of the success stories!
Anna Osgoodby is the co-founder of Bold & Pop, a collective of social media, public relations, branding, and web design freelancers. After working in the industry for several years, she decided to take a leap of faith into the entrepreneur world and hasn’t looked back since. When she isn’t helping fellow girl and guy bosses make magic happen with their businesses, you can also find her sharing posts on her lifestyle blog Anna Osgoodby Life + Design. You can connect with her on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Be honest. On a scale from 1 to 10, how DOPE is your Personal Brand? How authentic is it? How distinctive, demanding and attractive is it?
When you get up in the morning, are you annihilating the game, or barely playing in it?
Remember, you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so your honesty is critical. If there are gaps between how you see yourself and how others see you (and statistically speaking, there probably are) then 2016, is your year to change things around.
In other words, if you are showing up anywhere less than an 8.5, it’s safe to say you’ve got some work to do. This is the year for next level performance. While you may not be commanding the stage at Super Bowl, you are in fact in the performance of your lifetime. I’m here to tell you that it is high-time you started acting like it.
Let’s start examining your performance.
Do you go “all in” on everything you do? Or, do you have a half-ass mentality and work ethic for your projects and assignments?
Are your presentations mind-blowing?
Are your ideas well-informed and elevated?
Do you prepare for the opportunities that are presented to you or typically “wing it?”
Are your clients blown away by your service?
Are you constantly improving upon your performance or operating in default mode?
Is your phone ringing off the hook with people who want to hire, work with or do business with you?
Is your self-image so fierce that people wonder where you came from?
Let me let you in on a little secret. There are people who NEVER carry business cards. They don’t need to. Moments after meeting, engaging, hearing or interacting with them people are pulling out their phones to Google them. If you are exceptional, people will find you. No exceptions. Remember that.
But, if you are not slaying the game right now, you need to get clear on what are you waiting for:
One more degree
Someone to help you
The kids to graduate
An opening in your schedule
Your astrological season
If Sunday night was not a wake up call for you to step up your game, consider this message your wake up call.
You. Are. Dope. As. Hell.
But why does the world not know it? Why don’t YOU know it? I’m talking about the “knowing” that resonates with others because it is firmly entrenched in every fiber of your being that you can’t help but live it.
The truth is the only competition you have is yourself. You have one job and that is to be better than you were yesterday, last month and last year. Release that stuff holding you back from being your fiercest self. Don’t know where to start? How about here:
The Unapologetically Dope Video and Journal
1… The Dopest Journal Ever: Your Ideal Self: This week, I want you to buy the fiercest journal you can find. This is where you are going to record every idea you have about your ideal self. If you woke up one morning and traveled to your ideal destination in life: Where would you live, where would you work, how would you fill your spare time, who would be in your inner circle? What are your favorite brands? How do you give back? What designers do you wear? Where do you vacation? What types of projects inspire you? You get the picture…your journal will accompany you everywhere. This is the beginning of your next level manifestation.
2… The Dopest Video Ever: Something amazing happens when you watch an image over and over again. You start to believe it. Imagine putting a personalized movie together of your Fiercest Life. Imagine what would happen if you watched it every morning and night. Imagine if you internalized the fact that you are not only capable, but also deserving of everything your heart desires. Now, imagine if you put music so inspiring that you felt those images come to life. That Is Your Assignment. It’s time to tell the story of your Unapologetically Dope life. For the record, the music that inspires my movie is Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind. Resource: If you are looking for an amazing place to create your dream video, try http://slide.ly
In order for the world to see your brand as Unapologetically Dope, YOU must first see yourself as Unapologetically Dope. Once you do…your actions will rise to meet that. Here’s to your ascension!
Jennifer Ransaw Smith is the CEO at Brand id Strategic Partners. They are a full-service Personal Branding and Elevation agency that specializes in helping our clients elevate their visibility, credibility, influence and impact.
They have a division called The Personal Elevation Lab™ that is specifically for the visibility of women: http://www.personalelevation.com/
Retail trends are often short-lived and rapidly changing with consumers. Sometimes this fast-paced environment may be difficult for smaller establishments to keep up the pace with larger retailers out there. One positive outlook for the retail year of 2016 is that the trend of buying online will continue to grow, and small boutique retailers have an even playing field on the Internet if they know how to utilize it in tandem with their brick-and-mortar establishment.
Here are 9 ways you can make sure you stay in step with the big guns:
1. Nurture confidence in your brand.
Make sure that you provide your customers with the tools and information – both online and in your store – they need to discover what new products you have available, any promotions that are ongoing and guided recommendations tailored to the needs of each individual shopper.
The easiest way to do that? Consider creating a mobile app for you business that will help you collect information and data from the consumer to build a customer profile for your system, all while simultaneously stream-lining their shopping experience.
2. Now that you have an app, get rid of any obstacles.
Even though you’ve made your store’s mobile app doesn’t mean you’ve magically created the perfect shopping trip just yet. You need to make sure to include some key features for you patrons for the optimal experience.
- Give your patrons the option of shopping ahead of time for ‘in-store’ pick-up. This way they can try on any items they were unsure of, or add things to their purchases.
- Include one-click transactions to make regular purchasing ever so easy, and it’s popping up everywhere – here’s why.
3. Personalize the shopping experience.
Everyone loves to feel special. Personalize your patrons’ visit to your site and store by using the information you’ve acquired through customer profiles, purchasing history and the types of items associated with their interests and preferences. Your CRM is an extremely useful tool, as is any loyalty programs that you have available to your customer base.
4. Be open and transparent
Customers like loyalty and honesty in their choice of shopping establishment. It fosters a trustworthy relationship between the retailer and the consumer. The bonus of being a small business owner allows you to have a more personal relationship with your customer base. Most likely, you will know many of your shoppers by name. 7 in 10 Americans labeled trustworthiness in a product as important for their purchasing. Utilize this tool to your advantage.
5. Build partnerships with similar small businesses
Are you getting some feedback from your customers on variety? Consider partnering with other small boutiques similar to yours with a cross-channel rewards program – think of frequent flier program partner programs like One-World or Star Alliance as examples. Being able to use other services or purchase goods from other companies while still earning rewards, creates a huge incentive for your customer base to remain in the retail circle you’ve built.
6. Take responsibility for the ownership of your products.
Becoming a student of your own business not only benefits you, but also your customers. Your finely cultivated expertise is a tool to educate as well as build the confidence in your brand. Because you have shown a real passion for the ownership of your business and a responsibility for the products that you sell, your customers will know they can depend on you for a knowledge in your field – as well as quality support.
7. Mirror your in-store community with your on-line presence.
Just because you have well-established on-line platform, does not mean you can neglect the brick-and-mortar part of your business. In fact, you want to convey the image of your brand’s ‘home’ in the same way it is done on-line. This requires routine maintenance in-store (proper cleaning equipment, updated displays or innovative design), with that same image mirrored on-line.
A study carried out in a 100-person workplace showed that a clean workplace yielded higher productivity, not to mention consumers are 70 percent more likely to return to an establishment if well-kept. Nothing is more disappointing to customers than feeling mislead by on-line photos that misrepresent the physical environment of your business and destroys the feeling of trust so important to shoppers.
8. Welcome feedback from your customer community.
Be inventive with ways social media can involve the shopping community. Ask for feedback on new products, introduce opportunities to become brand ambassadors for your company and make them feel part of something. If an individual advocates for something, generally that means they truly believe in the item, the cause, the company etc. Your loyal customers are your advocates – add that tool to your arsenal.
9. Make good on bonus perks to loyal customers.
Everybody loves a good surprise, especially a loyal customer. Deliver unexpected small gifts and promotions for their loyalty to your brand and company. Create a loyalty level system in which there are exclusive deals for your VIP members – like special sales or monthly events. These are all create incentives for your customers to enroll and remain as an integral part of your company. You have created a place where their patronage is not only valued, but rewarded.
This might seem a little overwhelming to the small boutique owner just starting out, but take note that all of these points are not meant to be done all at once. Building a solid on-line and in-store customer base will take time. This list is meant to give you a sort of ‘map’ to start, so you can get in there and compete with the big retailers.
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective.” Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.
The Drifter Collective: An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us.
Join Kacey on Twitter & Pinterest!
Entrepreneurs who start new businesses online are notorious for saying things like,
“I’m not ready for that; my business isn’t big enough.”
“I’ll do it when I start making money.”
“That stuff’s too complicated.”
“I’ll just copy what So-and-So did on her website.”
As counterintuitive as it may seem, we tend to put off doing the most important, albeit much less sexy “legal stuff’” when it comes to setting up shop online.
And for some entrepreneurs, the less sexy stuff sometimes gets put off indefinitely, or at least until they hear the words, “You’ve been served.”
No ostrich impersonations please.
Failing to mitigate your risk of liability is not a very “big girl” move. In fact, it’s an ostrich move, and sticking your head in the sand is just not a good look. Agreed?
If you’re going to be in business for the long haul you simply must start showing up like the fierce business owner that you are and that includes gettin’ legal with it. After all, your business is your baby—you need to protect it.
So, what exactly does it mean to “cover your assets” online and, what are assets, anyway?
IF YOU CREATED IT YOU ARE THE BOSS OF IT
An asset is something of value that is rightfully (i.e. legally) owned by you. This includes your website content, blog posts, your photos, design elements, not to mention your products and services. In short, all of your original work belongs to you, which means you are the only one who gets to decide where it is displayed or who gets to use it.
The more valuable the asset, the more precautions you must take to protect it. Or, you just might lose it.
Have you heard about what happens to entrepreneurs who leave their assets exposed to online scallawags and kleptomaniacs? Their assets get ripped off.
Just like that.
I know, it’s sad to think that happens, but it does. I see it every day.
And the smaller the business, the bigger the target, because those unscrupulous types are smart; they know that most small business owners don’t have the money to fight it out in court. That’s why they figure they can so easily get away with stealing your stuff.
Creating a bulletproof business starts with becoming familiar with the laws that are there to protect you.
Here’s where to start:
1. Be sure to post a copyright notice on your website and prominently display the notice on every page of your website, as well as on all your products and services. Prominent display of your copyright notice means the bad guys can’t claim “innocent infringement” if they steal your stuff.
2. If you’ve got a business name you love, and/or a tagline that’s ideal, display a trademark notice by displaying the “™” symbol beside the mark. Also, consider a federal trademark registration.
3. Protect your copyright and your trademarks by making sure no one is ripping you off. Conduct regular searches using the Internet’s top search engines. There are even companies you can pay to do this for you. Failure to take action against possible copyright and trademark infringement weakens your right to claim that you have exclusive rights, especially if someone’s been using your content for a while. It may be seen as tacit agreement to allow others to use your content without the threat of repercussions from you.
I know. You wish you didn’t have to deal with all this “legal stuff.” The creative stuff is way more fun. But the joy of having your own business could very quickly become a nightmare if you don’t cover your assets online. As entrepreneurs we just can’t afford to take the risk of not lining up our legal ducks and docs. It could save you a lot of headache and heartache, not to mention legal fees, in the future.
Lin Eleoff is a lawyer who happens to be a life coach who happens to be an online entrepreneur whose mission is to help her fellow entrepreneurs launch, grow, and protect their online businesses.
Connect with Lin at www.LinEleoff.com!
Are you one of those people that always has a million ideas and not enough time to take action? Me too.
It’s gotten a lot better since I started streamlining my business, and using the right tools to leverage my time so I can focus on big picture stuff. Here are just a few of the tools I use to help me run my business:
I discovered Trello some time ago but I have to admit that at first I didn’t quite know how to use it in my business. Recently I’ve started using it to track projects (both client work and internal projects) and it’s been working out great. We even share a board with our virtual assistant, which saves us a lot of back and forth e-mails because we can keep track of which tasks are completed and which ones still need our attention.
If you have a ton of ideas, Evernote can be a great place to get them organized. For example you can create a notebook called “Idea Parking Lot” then create multiple notes for all your ideas. You can just add them as you go and decide later if it’s an idea worth following up on. That way you get your ideas out of your head, and you won’t keep losing your million dollar ideas. If you need some help getting started with Evernote, the Designer Guidebook has tons of helpful resources.
We recently made the switch to Google apps and it’s been working out great! We can access our email using Gmail, which includes the option of using Boomerang to remind yourself to take on action at a specified time. So if you want to follow up with a prospect in 2 weeks, just set it in boomerang and when the time comes it will pops up back in your inbox. We’ve also started using Google Drive to share documents, which keeps us from having multiple copies on different computers and never being sure which one is the final version.
One of the most important parts of being a business owner is getting paid, because otherwise you don’t have a business, you just have an expensive hobby. PayPal has been a really useful tool for us, because clients can use it to make payments for their invoices, and also to make love donations of any amount. It’s definitely better than waiting for a check in the mail.
We couldn’t discuss tools we use without including WordPress, because it’s what we use for all of our websites. Why WordPress? Because it’s super flexible and can meet your needs whether you’re looking for a simple blog or a full on e-commerce site.
There are plenty of free and low cost options out there so even if you’re just starting out you can probably find something that fits your needs. As a tip, when you find something that doesn’t fit your needs, write down the name of the program and WHY it didn’t work. Otherwise you might find yourself circling back in 6 months trying it again because you couldn’t remember why you ditched it in the first place. Having the right tools can free up so much time and mental energy so it’s definitely worth taking the time to find ones that will work for you.
Patricia Talavera is one half of the tech genius duo behind SYT Biz. She helps women entrepreneurs play in their zone of genius. She frees up their time by taking over the web design piece of their biz so they don’t have to stress over something they don’t know. This gives her clients the chance to finally implement those BIG ideas they’ve been dreaming about.
Patricia earned her Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology, but decided to start a business so she could do the work she loves, while having the flexibility to put her family first.
Look around your house today. Count how many things are NOT made in China, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, or Vietnam. Now, compare it to the number of things you own that are produced in those countries. The number will undeniably be astounding. It is safe to say that many of those products were made in factories which operate under abhorrent working conditions and its employees are paid next to nothing ($2 dollars on average for a 12-14 hour day).
It is important to ruminate on these things, but it is even more important to do SOMETHING about it. Whatever that means for you – supporting your local artisans, boycotting goods made in those particular countries, or trying your hand at making more of what you own – do it. For me and my lifestyle, it’s a bit of all of those things, but what I find to be most important is to focus on supporting brands that are socially and environmentally conscious. Over the years I’ve generated a list of companies and non-profits that work to divert away from fast fashion and instead embrace women’s empowerment and craftsmanship – be it from a different culture or place or somewhere familiar. Though the following few companies are only a small preview into the vast world of fair-trade, ethical production, it is a start!
After you dump that recycling into the bin, do you ever think about where it heads off to? Is it being used efficiently? Luckily, Eric Hudson asked himself these exact things; he was curious if these valuable materials available from recyclables were being used to their fullest potential. From this initial phase of exploration, he and his father opened a company, Preserve, and began with one product: a functional, well-designed toothbrush made from all recyclable materials. After this design and intent gained some popularity, the company added more sustainable and functional products to their roster, everything from razors to kitchenware. These products are not only manufactured from recycled and environmentally-friendly materials, but they are also all made here in America. The company also encourages all of their customers to recycle these products once they are done with them, giving them packaging materials or information about drop-off locations. Preserve is an awesome company with sleek, stylish products that will have you confident in the future of recycling!
Matt & Nat
A little different than the others here, Matt & Nat is a accessories-focused company which explores the synergy between MAT(T)erial and NATure, i.e.- they refrain from using leather or any other animal-based materials in their products. Instead, the company is committed to exploring the possibilities available through recyclable materials, such as bike tires, cork, plastic bottles, and cardboard. In fact, 100% of their linings are made from recycled plastic bottles. What does that actually look like, you might ask? About 120,000 recycled bottles a year. Talk about a doozy. Looking at their bags, you wouldn’t even be able to distinguish the difference between a bag of theirs (no animal products used) and another leather bag; the quality is high and the aesthetic is beautiful. So, next time you are trying to decide what your next handbag might be, opt for the sustainable choice and try Matt & Nat.
*To be totally transparent, some of their production has been recently sent off to China, but they have made great strides in building personal relationships with each and every member on their production team.
After her years plugged into the high fashion world, designer Carol Miltimore decided that it was time to step away from that world. She knew that more could be done to steer the world of fashion towards socially conscious practices, and additionally, there were artisan communities with who could be employed to make shift this happen. And, Seek Collective was born. The company works with artisans skilled in hand-block printing, hand loom weaving, and natural dyeing both in northern and central India. Carol works diligently to ensure the groups she works with earn a fair, dignified income and that the communities these artisans come from are also prospering from this work; with the help of Seek Collective’s production, the artisan communities have set up various health and education initiatives for those in the nearby area. A major bonus point — the majority of the silk and cotton fabric and dyes used in their production is organic and non-toxic!
You’ve definitely heard of them before, but including them here is to just hammer into your head just how good they are. Warby Parker is a transformative lifestyle brand and one of the world’s leading socially conscious businesses. The brand offers designer eyewear at an affordable cost and with each pair purchased, a pair will be distributed to someone in need. Each month, the number of glasses is tallied up and then a donation is made to their non-profit partners to source the glasses. Partnering with VisionSpring, Warby Parker trains low-income men and women so that they can then offer eye-exams and sell ultra-affordable glasses to their local communities. They chose this initiative instead of simply donating the glasses because the company wanted to ensure it was a sustainable mission so that a culture of dependency would not develop within the communities they were working in. Cheers to the new wave of aid and development!