Is it time to go out on your own?

You have had this desire to start your OWN business.

It has probably been a thought that has lived in your head rent-free for quite some time, maybe even years!

What an exciting thought too—getting to do business exactly how you want to, be the boss you’ve always wanted, and modernizing running things! Plus, the freedom of making your own hours, working from wherever you want…The list is endless…But the steps between dreaming about it and doing it, might not be as exciting. Truth is, it’s overwhelming! How does one get all the things together and what are even all the things needed?! Today, I’m giving you the cornerstones of starting and growing your business. The only reason it feels overwhelming is because it is a lot, but it doesn’t have to be.

If you have a road map, taking you from start to finish, you can make it happen. One thing at a time and before you know it, you will have a running business.


These are the things you need to start your business:

Foundation + Clarity

Before even starting to build your business, website and all of that other stuff.  You need the most powerful tool to success, CLARITY. 
If you start with the end-goal in mind and open to enjoying the process, whoa you are in for a treat! 

It’s important to ask yourself:

  • What is your end goal?
  • Why are you wanting to run a business online?
  • How can you make a greater impact?

The last one, may sound like “extra credit,” like this is something people do when they already have a successful business. Here is a little secret – this is how you create a successful business. It’s the true reason you run your business.  Beyond handling your day-to-day business, you get to make a greater impact on your clients, team and community. Every business starts small, and so will yours – but that’s not where it has to stay. Think about that! 

Offer + Pricing

You might have a few different ideas on how you want to offer your service, or heck even multiple ideas of what type of service you want to offer. Deciding on what that is and how much to charge is crucial! It needs to fit with your target audience but what you might not have thought about is, that it also needs to fit your way of living or how you want to live.

To figure that out you can use multiple different tactics, you can look at how other similar service providers set up their offerings and see how you can make it your own OR go back to those thoughts on how you would run your business if you had your own. For pricing, one of my favorite ways to look at this challenge, is to reverse-engineer it from how much you need or want to make a month!

Values + Brand Creation.

When you are just starting out it can be tempting to work with everyone. I get it, and right as you start you should, it will show you who you want to work with, but more importantly, who you do not want to work with.  In the beginning (or honestly at any time), it can be easy to forget that we are in charge, we get to make the rules and that’s one of the big joys of running your own show. This corner stone is very important. More important than you might think right now,  because the clearer you are on how and with whom you do business, the easier e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g will be.

Website + Online Presence

Probably one of the first things you think about when you start your business is that you need a website and online presence.  Yep, that is the today’s truth. Having the previous bullets clear first will make this process a lot easier. First step with an online presence—get your domain! Then simplify all your thoughts to the least necessary.  The website should not be an obstacle to get going, it should be a ticket to learn about and grow your business!

Marketing + Content

This is the one most of us don’t want to think about… because you are starting your business to offer your expertise and service, yep I know. But the kicker is if you have no customers or clients, you have no business. Sorry to be harsh, but you need to learn to sell your services and let the world know about them.  Selling can be fun if you do it the right way. There is a plethora of ways to market, so research different methods and then focus on the one you actually like.  (Just make sure your ideal client likes to receive content that way).

Tools + Optimization

Once your business is up and running, there are many different tools that can help you simplify life, to make it user-friendly for your clients (yeah, you can finally be truly tech forward). My favorite time-saving trick is noticing the patterns and tasks I repeat and turning them into templates and SOPs! Once you have a rhythm with your business, you will find this saves a lot of time!


Who am I kidding, it is all still a lot!


You want a little extra help to get it nailed down?
Well, I’m glad you asked! The thing is, I’m launching a program January (perfect start to the new year), where I dive into the details of all this, and guide you through each corner-stone.

So, if you have been wanting to make your business and website happen, but aren’t sure where to start or need some support to actually follow through. You are in luck! You, me, and a community of like-minded individuals will jump into this together and get you up and running.

If you know of a friend who has been talking about starting a business forever, to the point that it is annoying. Do them (and you) a favor and forward this note to them, it will be the best support you can offer them! 

Are you ready?

Let’s go,

Choosing the right partnerships

Do you listen to your gut when you choose who to work with?

I do (most of the time).

The “most of the time” part is connected to the times partnerships turn tricky or not as pleasant as they should have been.

Listening to your gut might sound a little fluffy, but in my opinion that is one of the strongest tools for guidance you have. If you are not sure what I’m talking about, or maybe not relying on it so much, it can be hard to “hear” your intuition. But the more you pay attention and follow it, the better choices you will make.

Listening to your gut isn’t the brain analyzing, it’s nonlinear knowledge. It is like a second kind of intelligence, and you want to use both.

So, if you are more the analytical kind, no fret, your intuition is something you can train. Our intuition is activated by messages from the right side of the brain, and all of us have one of those.

Here are a few things you can do to train your intuition when you are partnering up with somebody. Ask yourself:

“Does this person make me feel uncomfortable, or do they make me feel excited and at ease?”

Pay attention to the energy this person gives you:

“Do I feel drained or energized?”

Then a general practice; go out in nature (or just walk around the block) or mediate.

As you take a moment to slow down practice listening to your intuition, hearing your thoughts, and being conscious about the decisions you make.

The thing is, if you train your intuition and get better at picking partners not only will you be more happy working together, but your client will also enjoy the project more.

Being conscious about picking clients is also something that is a big part of your brand. 

It is important to be honest with who we want work with and who we do not and consider the gut feeling when making this decision. When you are honest and trusting of your intuition the connection and honesty will correlate to your brand voice and message

I’m sure you have worked with someone who did not align with your values.

Why? Well, maybe because it paid well, you wanted be kind, or you had availability.

I have certainly worked with someone who I did not see eye-to-eye with and at the beginning of building a business that is what you must do to learn who fits and who doesn’t. 

It is important to pay attention during these times, not only to learn who you want to work with but also to train your gut instinct.

before you know it, you will be able to pick out your perfect client within seconds.

Business Highlight: Xena Financial Planning

One of my favorite parts of each month is sitting down to highlight an incredible business.

We have traveled the globe with our highlights, learning about the ins and outs of multiple businesses ranging from authentic mezcal, Australian letterpress, and California ceramics.

This month I am focusing on a wonderful client, Danika Waddel, the founder, and lead planner of Xena Financial Planning.

If you are anything like most, the conversation surrounding finances can be incredibly overwhelming. With how often women are left out of the finance conversations, it is no wonder entering the conversation often feels intimidating.

Danika removes all feelings of uncertainty, instead educating her clients and inviting women into the conversation of money.

Like many women, Danika knows from first-hand experience how often women are left out of finance and investing conversations.

As the founder, Danika’s focus is on women in the tech industry who receive equity compensation, typically in the early to mid-stage of their careers. Her goal is to help her clients make sense of all their options, working directly with her clients to navigate all that life is throwing their way.

Women make up a surprisingly small portion of the tech industry, around 30%, making Xena’s commitment to empowering women even more respectable. Xena is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion while creating a judgement free community where every woman is treated as an individual, one with her own life experiences and dreams.

As a woman who started my own business after an incredible journey of learning from others, I have immense respect for any woman who steps into the role of a businesswoman, especially in a male dominated industry like finance.

Danika’s path into finance was not linear, rather she spent the 15 years post college (with her BA in Mathematics! What a wizz!) in multiple accounting roles where she felt human connection had almost entirely disappeared. This lack of connection encouraged her to build her own practice, one that allows her to be “more nimble and innovative, while specializing in a particular niche”.

As you enter Xena’s service page, you can feel the power of the women, and their dreams, behind this firm.

Danika’s uses Gloria Steinem’s powerful words on her homepage…

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lost the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.”

Thank you, Danika for the gentle reminder to never forget the importance of dreaming.

Building & Maintaining a Strong Reputation

Do great work. Have integrity. Genuinely care about your clients.

If you ask me, that is the recipe for building and maintaining a strong reputation.

How did I get to this?

I believe it’s a combination of a few things.

For starters, I work with my innate gift of communication and design, my upbringing teaching me to follow through on my word, and lastly, recognizing how the incredibly lucky amount of support from my family and friends has encouraged me to want to pay that support forward.

I am a people person and have a deep fascination of human behavior, which is pertinent in branding and user experience, but also within the service industry and working with directly people. I have developed active listening skills and the ability to pinpoint peoples extraordinarily qualities, which is a serious magic trick.

building a strong reputation doesn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure.

I moved to California in the end of 2008 and started my business 2009 as a side gig. I didn’t have much of a plan, I just knew I liked design and the computer was a grand tool to experiment with it.

By 2014, my side gig turned into a side hustle that had me working 24/7 and I wasn’t living a healthy work-life balance. So, I did what any sane person would do; I gave my two weeks’ notice at my “real” job with no plan.

I remember asking myself, “Um, what do I do if the clients don’t keep coming like they have…?”

Then 2017 came and new life circumstances gave me a fresh start. These experiences were extremely challenging and were filled with frustration, tears, and a lot of time searching, listening, reading, and thinking.

During the very slow and long process of building up my company, I had built a reputation with my clientele of doing branding + websites differently, and my audience stood out in a saturated market. I gave everything I could to my clients (and a bit more) and I genuinely cared about how they did.  

I still do this today, but with a much clearer process, improved work, and even more care and enthusiasm of how I can be supportive to my clients and their growth. 

When you do great work, have integrity, and genuinely care about your clients you also build the most important element of relationships: trust.

My clients know they can trust my company, our work, and what we can do for them.

With clarity and intention this can be done faster, but this was my long journey to realizing what really matters. 

Do great work + do what you say you are going to do + genuinely care about it

This is the recipe to doing what you love for a very long time!

It’s such a gift and when work is a fun – whoa, life is good!

Planning for the future in the present

Do you have a clear process?

As a creative, I used to have this idea that I should go with the flow, create when creativity hits me, when motivation strikes…

Yes, I’m a creative who solves problems with design, and that may not be your creative way, but whatever way you are creative, with numbers, knowing laws, creating content etc., it works the same.

If you are waiting for motivation or creativity to come to you, you will most likely que the crickets or be frantic scrambling to get things together as time runs out. 

What I have learned is: you can train your creativity, it’s just like any other muscle.

Oh processes, it’s like angel music to my ears! The more I can streamline and create processes, the easier it is to both create and plan for the future. It also makes handing off tasks to others or new members of your team much easier, especially as you grow (or are planning for it to grow!).

If you don’t run your business with different processes, start by writing down what you do step by step, like you were teaching someone else to do your job.

When you have that list, you can start optimizing that process by removing things you might not need to do or perhaps you combine things, creating more time for yourself.

You can have processes for just about anything, such as onboarding clients, different projects, scheduling, receiving feedback, how you build a website, information collection, the list goes on.

Then, when you need to do a task, you pick up a process and start with step one. No need to wait on any creativity or motivation.

Having these processes also means starting to get a great grasp on how long something takes, giving you an opportunity to plan ahead.

One important tip: These processes need to be reviewed frequently, as your business is a living and breathing entity and things constantly change as you grow.

Do you have something that you can turn into a process and be more consistent and effective with?

A big bonus: I don’t know how often I get clients pointing out how they appreciate and value our process, how they feel inspired by it, and some even mentioning they are “stealing” ideas for themselves.  So, it’s not only good internally, but also a tremendous benefit for who you work with as well!

Are you planning for growth? Look for things you can simplify and turn them into optimized processes.

Business Highlight: Clay & Craft

We take pride in highlighting incredible companies all over the world.

From Melbourne, Australia to San Diego, California, it is a pleasure to highlight businesses that make a greater impact in their own unique way.

This week, our team at KHD is proud to highlight Clay & Craft, a popular pottery and ceramics studio located just a few miles up the PCH in the quintessential beach town of Encinitas, California. 

Whether you are interested in taking a class or looking to add some color and uniqueness to your kitchen, be sure to stop by Clay & Craft the next time you are in the neighborhood. There is nothing better than supporting local, especially a business made up of talented, authentic artists.

On the topic of business, I want to highlight the beautiful branding Clay & Craft has created. With the use of natural colors, clean fonts, and a navigable site, it is clear they value the customer experience. 

We sat down for a chat with local ceramist, Emma Storm, to learn what this studio is all about!

Emma Storm (@mudd.hands)

Well, if you are working at Clay & Craft you must be a talented ceramist! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?

I started doing pottery when I moved to San Diego in 2018. I was looking for a new artistic outlet and I had always wanted to try pottery. I never got to meet my maternal grandmother, but she was an artist and a potter and I grew up admiring her art in our home, so ceramics felt right. I completely fell in love with the practice and hope to continue learning and throwing for life!”

How did you hear about Clay & Craft?

I had left my previous job in July 2021 and decided to dive into art full time. Two days later a friend sent me Clay & Craft’s Instagram post advertising that they were hiring, so I jumped at the chance! It felt like the universe had aligned to bring us together!”

Why do you love Clay & Craft?

“I love Clay & Craft for a lot of reasons. Mainly because Nicole (the owner) has provided such an awesome environment for people to come create, learn, and enjoy the craft of ceramics. I love helping people learn how to throw; watching them go from never having thrown on a wheel to them having made 3 or 4 pieces by the end of their lesson is such a privilege. I love the process and seeing clients be proud of themselves and in what they made.”

Do I need to reserve a time to come to Clay & Craft? How does it work?

Yes! You can reserve a time for either a 90 minute private or group wheel lesson. Our website makes it super easy with available appointment times listed, just click and book! We also offer Handbuilding workshops and Wheel Time for seasoned potters. And, in the coming months the studio is expanding and we’ll be offering more classes and workshops.”

I’ve never thrown before, will someone be there to teach me?

“Yes! When you book a wheel lesson, an instructor will be there to teach and guide you every step of the way.”

I am experienced and i'm just looking for a wheel, can I throw in peace?

“Yup! We offer 90 minutes of uninstructed wheel time (by reservation) for those who are confident in their throwing skills to come in and work at their own pace.”

What can I make at Clay & Craft? Do I get to keep it?

You can make whatever you want! One piece is included in your lesson and any other pieces you make are an additional $10 firing fee.”

Are there any community events we should know about?

“We offer group workshops each month. An annual Sample + Seconds sale and plan to host a social event in the coming months once we complete our studio expansion. We encourage people to follow @clayandcraftco to stay in the loop.”

What is your favorite piece to make?

Everything! Everything I make is special to me. Being able to create something useful out of earth is the coolest thing to me. Drinking coffee out of a mug, eating off of a plate or bowl or watching a plant grow in a pot I made is a really special feeling.”

If you could describe the feeling you have when you are on the wheel, what would it be?

“When I’m throwing a piece on the wheel, I feel zoned in. In that moment, nothing else matters but being present with the clay. It’s a peaceful feeling.”

How can we support you? Where do you sell your pottery?

Come book a class at Clay + Craft! Follow us on Instagram @clayandcraftco and you can follow me @mudd.hands.

Nicole has her pottery on the Clay + Craft website as well as in the storefront of the studio.

I sell all of my work through a friend, chef, and author of cookbook “s h i n e.”, Sylvie Coulange. You can find my pieces on her site or through my Instagram @mudd.hands.

The holidays are around the corner and nothing is better than a homemade gift. We cannot wait to see what beautiful pieces come from the talented hands of Clay & Craft!

How to personable without taking it personally

With growth comes more responsibility. This one hit me hard this year.

At every stage in business you run into problems, just at different levels and price points.

I got the opportunity to look over all my contracts, and it wasn’t just for fun, it was because they were being challenged this year.

When it was first being challenged, I went into a dark place wondering,

“How the heck did this even happen? How can somebody misunderstand me so much?”.

Sure, I could have handled things better as there is always an opportunity for improvement. I couldn’t help but think, “How can somebody be so incredibly unkind? How do I show this person how to be kind? How do I “raise the tides” in this situation?”

I care deeply about my work, my team, and my clients. I believe this dedication largely contributes to where I am today. When somebody thinks the opposite of my intentions, it is extremely challenging, one I took it personally.

And to add onto that…you know how bad things come in three? Yeah, might as well do it up right 😉

I was in this dark place for a couple of days until one of my mentors hit me over the head and woke me up. It’s not for me to teach somebody who is not asking for advice, rather I need to show up as the person I want to be. This is something I know but somehow, I got side swiped and lost footing.

When out-of-character things happen, often it is not about you but the other person

I reflected on this experience by looking at myself and how could I have done better, focusing on how I can practice on responding in the healthiest way rather than reacting. I believe in treating people with firmness to not let them walk over you yet treating everyone with kindness. Maintaining your confidence and kindness shows others that you can do strong business in a kind way.

Although in this situation I honestly wanted them to “eat glass” most of the time, it was not an easy feat! Kindness and gracefulness is much harder than lashing out at somebody. That is probably why I think kindness is so badass!

Problems are growth opportunities.

How can I do things differently and better next time?

I came out of this with clearer boundaries and guidelines around all we do.

I don’t need to go to their level, a dark place, nor is it on me to teach them unless they ask for advice.

With boundaries and guidelines, I can still be my personable self without taking it personally.

Although I must admit I’m not super excited about having so much legal stuff, I prefer the good ol’ handshake, but as I say when it comes to branding – clarity feels so good, and it really does in legal situations as well. It removes questions and confusion.

We all win.

Having clear boundaries and a lot of personality within that space works like a charm!

The importance of a mentor

I don’t know about you but, I tend to think I can do everything myself.

My logical mind knows that’s not true and now I am way better at looking and asking for help. 

Building my business as an independent graphic designer who didn’t (well, couldn’t really) think further than the next month to now running a team of five has been a life changing and major shift in how I look at almost everything business related.

And nope, I have for sure not done that all by myself. I have mentors to thank.

Mentors that I talk directly to and mentors I “spy” on.

Both types of mentors have been valuable to my growth, personally and professionally.

As you might know, I have always been an athlete which means I have always had a trainer or a coach guiding me. This was an instrumental part of realizing I needed one for business too. Why on earth would I try to figure everything out on my own when there are so many that have so much insight to offer?

Then the big question, how do you find a mentor?

Yes, sure there are lots of coaches out there, but which one should you connect with? I didn’t want a certified business coach, I wanted someone who has done what I want to do. I wanted to be guided by someone who knows my field and the struggles that come along with it but has figured out a way to make it happen.

Here’s what I did:

I took a step back and thought about the type of people I like to be around, those who I could learn from, and made a conscious decision to surround myself with those who are adding value to my life.

But where to begin when finding a mentor at this point in my career?

Look no further than my favorite professional tool, LinkedIn. I looked up a few different people in my field who had extensive experience and reached out to a few individuals asking if I could meet up for a coffee chat. To my surprise, one said yes!

I joined communities with like-minded folks.

I researched podcasts that would be beneficial and started listening as much as I could, when I was walking, training, cleaning the house, anywhere, anytime.

My greatest mentor, my father, has been the biggest bonus in my business journey. He is an entrepreneur enthusiast, has been a businessman his whole life, and worked in a field like mine. Growing up, I thought of him as dad flying around the world for work but didn’t really know the gift I had right in front of me. Then when I was on the hunt for people to learn from it hit me like a ton of bricks, and what an eye-opening experience that was!  

Not only do I get a gold mine of knowledge and objective opinion a call away at any time, but I also got closer to my sweet dad which probably is the best gift I could have ever asked for. I know I’m extremely fortunate but perhaps you have somebody around you that you haven’t seen in that way before.

When you start opening up to the knowledge that is already out there, get ready for some big shifts.

Business Highlight: Tahona

Is there anything better than a delicious mezcal spirit with flavorful Oaxacan eats?

Tahona does it best.

Located in the Old Town neighborhood of San Diego, the one-of-a-kind agave bar brings the spirit of Oaxaca to Southern California.

Tahona’s mission is “to educate and give reverence to the complexity and beauty of the Mexican culture through its most iconic beverage, mezcal and to become an epicenter of mezcal culture in San Diego.”

Inside their space, you get to experience unique, amazing cocktails, fill up on delicious Oaxacan inspired food, and can taste some of the best mezcals in the world. The team at Tahona has a colorful selection of over 120 mezcals, creating a tasting experience that is fun, educational, and memorable.

Right when you step foot into the restaurant you immediately feel and see the Oaxacan influence. Located next to the Campo Santo Cemetery in Old Town, there is a historic energy throughout the restaurant. With hand painted tiles and handmade rope seats which were sourced from Oaxaca, visitors get the feeling of being transported to a modern Mexican hacienda.

The authenticity of Tahona is prevalent on all levels, from their furniture choices to the mezcal selection, which was one of the reasons I chose to work with them.

Here at KHD we work with a wide variety of businesses that make a greater impact, those who use their skills for good through authenticity, education, and inspiration.

When creating their logo, I did a lot of research on the history and process of mezcal, which is fascinating. Learning the story and production of mezcal, I decided to incorporate the heart of the agave plant into the design, bringing Tahona’s spirit of agave to life. I wanted to make sure it felt rustic yet modern to fit with their vision.
As a designer, it is extremely fulfilling to see my work bringing others’ visions to life. As someone who loves interior design, it was extra special to see it in a restaurant. Another part that made this project memorable is how focused this group is on using their skills to make a greater impact while staying true to their values of authenticity, education, and inspiration.

Tahona proudly shares the purpose of taking their greater impact home to Mexico:

As a socially responsible business, we support the work that Corazon de Vida is doing with 10 orphanages and over 550 disenfranchised children in Baja California. Our first project is to open the first art center at Rancho de los Ninos, an orphanage located in Valle de Guadalupe. Just as mezcal is a powerful force to learn about geo-political and environment issues, art is a powerful medium for healing and creating a deeper connection with the soul and we are excited to be part of this project.”

Next time you are in San Diego, I highly recommend visiting Tahona and enjoying their Oaxacan influences and rustic designs! This is a project am really proud to be a part of and I think you will see why when you experience the beauty of Tahona.

Take a seat at the bar, enjoy a Corn & Chile Poblano Croqueta with a signature mezcal drink and you will be well on your way to an unforgettable evening!

How failure leads to success

Were you taught that failing was a bad thing?

For me, as an elite athlete, it was all about winning. I was very competitive (and still am! Any kind of challenge or race, I can’t contain myself 😉 )

Keeping winning or succeeding in the forefront of your mind is certainly important but failing is never a bad thing.

Failing or messing up, first off means that you have the courage to try something you are not so good at, yet…something you may be able to win/succeed at one point. Having that courage to try, and possibly fail, is a pertinent ingredient for success.

I wish I could remember where I read this, but I don’t… so unfortunately, I can’t give the author credit.

The author wrote about making a point to ask his kids at dinner if they had tried something new, rather than just asking how their day was. If they had and it hadn’t gone so well, he still congratulated them!

I love that mindset, to train your kids that it’s okay to fail and keep trying.

Adults need to remember to do that too, especially if we are going to win in this entrepreneurship rollercoaster ride. This experience is all about being uncomfortable, trying new things, messing up, and trying again.

Talking about challenges or racing… do you want to do a 30-day challenge with me?

30 days of trying something that you might (in your opinion) not be good at. Do something bold or outside your comfort zone every day.

Your challenge can be anything from making that nervous phone call, letting a stranger know about your services, following your workout schedule to a tee, or dancing in public ;).

Whatever it is that you tend to procrastinate on will push you a bit more than normal!

I did this with a friend a couple of years ago, it was one of my favorite 30-day challenges I have done.

Do you want to do it with me?!

Hit reply if you are in and we’ll keep each other accountable.

Ready to be bold, try something new, be okay with failing so you can get to where you want to go? 

Well, if you are in for the challenge, you know I am.

Do yourself a favor and hit reply. It will be fun!

(Yeah, maybe a little uncomfortable but when done you are going to feel great!)