This past weekend (Sept. 15 – Sept. 18) was a wonderful weekend of touring Savannah, Georgia and finally getting the chance to meet my #bizbestie Cami Monet! Cami creates beautiful watercolor invitation designs and she and I have become close friends over the past year because we both went full time on the same day last year: September 16th. As our one-year business anniversaries drew close, we started to brainstorm ideas of things to do together. For one thing, we knew we finally wanted to meet in person! And second, we knew we wanted to do something to benefit our fellow creatives that were just getting started in their own businesses (or longing to get started, but not knowing quite how).
That’s how the #BizBirthdayBash was born, an online webinar that featured each of our Top 5 Lessons Learned in the first year of business. The webinar took place on 11am EST Sept. 16, 2017 as a direct celebration of our business anniversaries! We had more than 450 people sign up for the webinar, and at least 100 people were able to attend live at one point or another during the webinar, which was a huge deal! Cami and I were so overwhelmed with the positive feedback that we were received from everyone. We also had some amazing party favors that we sent to our attendees, one of which was our PDF Guide “Top 100 Tips & Tricks Every Creative Biz Owner Should Know”. Lucky for you, if you’re reading this blog post and you want the chance to download this PDF you can still do so with the opt-in on this blog!
After we wrapped up the webinar on Saturday morning we spent the rest of the weekend adventuring around Savannah, Georgia and walking until we thought our feet were going to fall off. Some of our favorite stops included The Gryphon, The Olde Pink House, Mirabelle Café, Forsyth Park, Chocolat, The Paris Market, E Shaver Booksellers, and so many others! At the bookstore Cami and I became fast friends with the two in-house cats and we spent about 2 hours working on the Harry Potter puzzle they had set out on a table. Sadly, we were only able to make a small dent in the 1,000 piece puzzle (we thought we might be able to finish it), but not for the lack of trying!
I’m including some amazing photos of our trip in this post, but I also wanted to give those of you who haven’t watched the webinar a quick overview of my Top 5 Lessons Learned; y’all, my first year of business was great but it was also so hard in many different ways! Cami will be posting a blog post with her Top 5 Lessons Learned as well at some point, so make sure to check that out when it’s available.
1. Take ownership of what works for your business.
It’s important to keep in mind that what works for someone else might not necessarily be the magic sauce for you! People are out there selling all kinds of courses and systems for small businesses, and sometimes it’s best to “keep your blinders on” and do what is best for you. Be courageous enough to forge your own path instead of following someone else’s. Experiment as much as possible, and when you find the right thing, stick with it and take ownership of it with confidence!
2. Create a daily to-do list of three tasks to complete.
This tactic is incredibly helpful for staying on track with projects that need to be completed. People so often talk about long-term goals (are you sick of hearing, “What’s your 5 year plan?”) when sometimes the best thing you can be doing is checking off your daily items to keep yourself organized! If you can’t stay afloat each day, how will you make it through 5 years of your business? Creating three tasks each day allows me to focus on what needs to get done, and when I finish those things I feel extremely accomplished! Having a slow season? Create a to-do list with 3 things regardless. There’s always something that needs to get done.
3. Set up client expectations as clearly as possible.
Let’s be honest, there are some people out there that might never be happy; but, chances are, if you have an unhappy client you might not have set up their expectations correctly. If they are unhappy it’s because they assumed that the process would be a certain way, except it wasn’t. Did your client order green envelopes from you and receive purple? Well, they’re going to be unhappy because their expectation was that they would be getting envelopes that were green. That is a very simple example of expectations, but throughout your entire process you need to be communicating and letting clients know how long everything will take, exactly what will happen, and exactly what they should expect. This is why “welcome packets” are such a great idea. Set up your client’s expectations appropriately, then exceed them. That will result in a happy client every time!
4. Learn how to organize your communication channels and emails.
Anymore we receive messages from so many online avenues it can be hard to keep track of everything. We have messaging available through email and text, but also through Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more! It’s very important early on for you to develop a way to handle all of these messages. On your Facebook business page, create an auto-responder that directs people who message you to your website. It’s the simple things that will make your life so much easier. Also, for your email inbox make sure you have a good way of keeping it organized! I used Gmail and I love using folders to organize my messages into 4 main categories: Leads, Clients, Collaborations, and Questions. Look up some YouTube videos on how to achieve “Inbox Zero”. I look forward to email because I love keeping it organized (weird, I know).
5. Above all, take care of your mental health.
I really learned this lesson the hard way this year. I went through a personal rough patch between March to August of this year where my depression, anxiety, and loneliness were worse than they had ever been before. For those of you reading this and hoping to go full-time with your dream job, please know that working from home is not easy. Regardless of whether or not you are introverted or extroverted, all of your emotional tendencies will only be magnified when you are working from home alone. I have finally implemented ways to keep myself emotionally healthy and on track with the help of my family, my counselor, and my husband. Now that I’m taking care of my mental health correctly, I will be able to achieve so much more in my business!
Whew! That about sums everything up from this past weekend. I already miss Cami and all of our fun adventures… but the bottom line is that it’s far from being over! She and I have plans to definitely make the #BizBirthdayBash and annual thing, so stay tuned for things we may come up with in the future.