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.

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.

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!

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!)

Tools That Simplify Running Your Business

I went full time with my business during the summer of 2014 - almost 7 years ago!

Then, due to life changes, I (sort of) had to start from scratch in 2017. Since then, there’s been a lot of trial and error to get to where I am today – like, creating different processes, utilizing templates of all sorts, adding the wrong team members, adding the right team members, letting go and delegating, etc. Below you will find some of the tools that have improved the efficiency and effectiveness of my business – tools I recommend and can’t live without.

Being a business owner is not easy.

There have been days I’ve wondered why the heck I even picked entrepreneurship (well, it actually picked me but that’s a different story for a different day) and days when I wanted to run down the street and convert everyone! So, having the right tools to help me out is truly essential to making it happen.

Just like anything in life, it has been a roller coaster. As you know, there is quite a bit of pressure to make it all work, but it is also truly exhilarating when things do start to work!

I’m not sure about you, but I’m the type of gal who makes things work in a thrifty way.  I don’t like to spend extra money when it’s not needed, but I certainly will spend it when it is necessary. To be honest, I err on the thrifty side because I don’t need the latest and greatest to move forward. And really, we don’t.

But when it’s time to level up, I do!

So yes, I catch myself sometimes holding on to things a tad bit too long.  And, at times my sweet, fancy program colleagues, who wonder how I survive without using (fill in the blank), will get after me! Yep, I can own that I used spreadsheets for bookkeeping way too long when there are glorious programs like QuickBooks that simplify life so much (facepalm).

What I’m saying is that the programs I use are good ones. If you don’t like to overspend but like to simplify business, check out this week’s video and have a look-see at the list down below:

Asana –

My team and I basically live in this program. As we say, “If it’s not in Asana, it’s not happening.”

So, if you are looking for a program to keep you organized, on top of due dates, in communication with your team or clients, this is it! We use the pro version, but the free version will get you far.

Zoom –

This is not a secret tool nowadays, but if you haven’t for some reason found your way to it, it’s time.  We are virtual and have had all our meetings online since the beginning. This is our go-to platform. The free version works great for one-on-one meetings or for shorter meetings with a group.

Calendly –

Life saver, period.  No need for the please-send-me-a-few-times-and-days-that-work-for-you kind of emails anymore. What’s even better is that you can pick which times you are available. (Nope, doesn’t have to be all day, every day.) I, for example, like to keep my calls on Tuesday and Thursday, so that on the other days, my head can stay in creativity mode.  We have the pro version, because we have other program integration needs, but on most occasions, the free account should do. Also, the design of this program is just more pleasant than a lot of the other scheduling tools, which obviously is important!

Apple Reminders –

Yes, all our to-dos are in Asana, but I still like to have my own day planned out. I put the top three most important tasks in my reminders, and I set a time next to it so I can try to stay on schedule.

LastPass –

We deal with a lot of clients and client access, which means we have a lot of passwords to keep track of. It used to be a headache, because we didn’t have them all in one spot and honestly it wasn’t very secure (shame on me). We now have incorporated LastPass in our work processes, and it’s fabulous! Not only can our clients share their access without worry, but also the whole team has one spot where it is all neatly organized and secure.

MailChimp –

A great and simple tool to get going and grow your email list. It’s free for up to 2,000 contacts, and I can’t wait to pay more to send out more emails. 😉 To grow your list, you might use something like a lead magnet. One thing I really like about MailChimp is that you can build out a popup/modal window to entice users to sign up for your lovely emails.  This program also has a clean and clever design – always a plus to have a visual delight!

SiteGround –

For hosting, this is our go-to for setting up client websites (and our own). They now also buy domains, which I really like, since I have a bit of an organizational addiction and like to keep things neat and consolidated in fewer places. They are also known for their security, which is essential when it comes to hosting. Sadly, nobody escapes the possibility of malware and hackers nowadays. They have great support, and the pricing is good. It might not be the cheapest, but this is one that is worth it! You don’t want to have trouble with hosting as it can get awfully expensive.

DropBox –

We use Dropbox as our filesharing tool. It’s free – I like it 🙂 and it’s easy to use. I like to be able to either share a folder with a client or just a link to a specific place.

OneDrive –

This is our teams cloud storage that we work from. We actually picked this because it came with Microsoft 365 which we use for email. I was going back and forth regarding G Suite but landed on OneDrive because we had already started with it. We do love it, but for big programs like these that encompass a lot, do your research before you pick one. This is also another one where spending a little extra is worth it.

Slack –

This is where my team and I discuss things. We communicate a lot in Asana, but if you need to go back and forth on something, Slack is the place. You can actually integrate it with Asana (which we haven’t) to create to-do’s, etc. It is a delightful tool, and the free version works great for our small team.

QuickBooks –

Cue the angel music.  I mentioned at the top that I used to use spreadsheets…up until not long ago. Oh, but I liked collecting the numbers, adding the numbers, and… (facepalm).

Yeah, that can be done in QuickBooks too, and so much more easily.  I had a bit of a learning curve when I started, but now – holy smokes! I might hand this task over to a team member in the near future, but I do believe it’s important to have a grasp and basic knowledge before handing it over. Never again spreadsheets! In addition to keeping our accounting in order, it keeps our products/services list, sends out invoices, sends out automatic reminders, etc. They do charge too much for clients who pay with credit card, I have to say, but at this point it’s worth it.

I hope this sparked some ideas on how you can simplify your business life!

Gaining Momentum in Business

I was recently asked the question: how do you get clients, testimonials and experience under your belt when you don’t have any?

That’s the holy grail of business!

So, some of you on here have had your business for a while and work is going well, but either way, I still think these tips will be helpful and maybe even spark some ideas, wherever you are along your journey.

The other day I was listening to a podcast that was interviewing one of my clients. [Woot! Shout-out to Flow FP for kicking butt].  I bring this up because the topic was very similar to the question I have here, and her answer was raw and really great.

For example, she mentioned she had a big meltdown a bit into starting her business. She described how she had her business and niche set up nicely (of course ;). But, then came the question, how do you actually get clients?

As her brand designer, I was glad to hear her mention this top suggestion:

01.

Know exactly who you are talking to (or if you don’t know, pick somebody specific to start with). Reach out to them in every place where you think they are hanging out, like Facebook groups, Meetup groups, specific events, etc. Provide helpful advice so that they start recognizing you as the go-to person in that specific niche.

But don’t take my word for it. Take a listen to her interview here and she will tell you the same.

02.

Content marketing. If you like to write, create articles. If you like to do videos, make videos. If you like to talk, create a podcast. There is something for everyone 🙂 ! Get out there and share your knowledge. Meg did this phenomenally well. If you haven’t read her blog, I recommend it. Her realness, wit and cleverness can make even financial topics delightful.

03.

Do great work. This will build your audience slowly, but it’s a solid way of building your business. Even if you only have a few clients, give them your all. It will come back tenfold.

04.

Ask for a review. When you’re finished with that great work, I suggest you send a wrap-up email for a few different reasons:

 

a) Ask if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review, so other people can easily find out about your great work too! Link directly to the sites you want them to use, so you make it easy for them.

 

b) Ask your client to let you know how you did. This will be helpful so you can grow and do better next time.

 

c) List other ways you can help them. Generate more work opportunities for your business while providing them with the additional help they might need! Win-win! It’s always easier to take care of current clients vs. trying to find new ones.

05.

Ask for an introduction. You can do this in your wrap-up email or you can write a separate note to your client. Thank them and ask if they happen to know somebody else who could benefit from your help and request an introduction. I like to use the word introduce versus referral; it just has a nicer, more gracious ring to it.

06.

Create a small workshop at your local café, coworking space or on Zoom (if being in person isn’t an option). It’s a great way to practice your presentational skills and of course spread the word on how you can specifically help.

07.

I know that there is so much out there about people making it overnight, but the truth is, it takes time to build up momentum in your business. In the podcast interview, Meg said it took her 10 months – that is absolutely amazing! She did a lot of the right things for that to happen. But don’t fret if you are 1-2 years in and don’t see the movement you wished for. It does take a lot of work and consistency.

If you keep up with these different suggestions, you will gain momentum. You will get over the hump and start seeing consistent work coming in. It’s like the motto…whatever you water will grow!

I hope this inspires you to take some action!

If you have any questions, I’m a click (or two) away.

What is a Lead Magnet?

Why have a lead magnet? What should your lead magnet include?

Remember the days when you let your reader/follower know they could sign up to receive emails with tips and inside information – for FREE! The idea of free information was enough to build a decent-sized list of engaged readers.

 

Now we get bombarded with emails and getting tips for free is no longer that appealing, at all.

 

If you are like me, you even do your best to not be on any email list.

 

So, what do you do when you are the one sending out those emails and you know you have great information that people actually need and really would want? Because, yes there are plenty of those!

 

I, for example, have a few select emails that I look forward to getting (and yes, actually reading), because I know it brings goodness every time it shows up in my inbox.

 

These are the folks you want on your list, but how do we reach and draw them in?

 

Well, your list might include people who’ve been recommended to you and enjoy receiving your emails or maybe they “stumbled” on your articles, videos or podcasts because of some Internet search that led them to you. Both are great, indeed. Another great way to reach an audience who needs your services is with a lead magnet.

 

Check out this weeks video and keep reading below to better understand what a lead magnet is, why you should have one and how to choose yours. 

Now, what is a lead magnet and why should you have one?

It is a document, audio or video clip that provides helpful information for your audience, so that they know what you can offer them and what that experience might be working with you.

 

You know, kind of like how they give you tasters at Starbucks of the latest flavor…something delicious…in those way too small cups…and it’s clear…you need more. (Just me?!) Well honestly, they get me in the door with just a poster of a new flavor.

 

That’s what a lead magnet does as well. It gets your potential customers in the door.

Alright, so you know you should have one, but what should yours be?

Something irresistible of course 😉

 

Here are some ideas to get your mind spinning:

 

What do you know the most about?

 

What do people ask you the most about?

 

How can you help your ideal audience the most?

 

What insider tricks in your industry would your audience die to know about?

 

Give a snippet of it, or even better give a lot of it. Giving and sharing your knowledge builds trust and builds a more committed, connected relationship with your audience. And that is what you are really after. It shows them that you are here to serve them, and with a lead magnet, you are doing just that.

 

Pro tip:  Your lead magnet should preferably be the top of the funnel to your main offering, which means you are basically guiding your customers step-by-step to exactly what they need. Because again, this is not about you just trying to sell something. This is about offering something your audience needs and has been looking for.

 

Which is a great segue to my lead magnet! If you are not signed up for my lovely bi-weekly notes yet or if you have been for a while, but maybe missed it, head to khaggarddesign.com/find-your-niche and download the “Find Your Niche” workbook! It’s a really helpful document to get clarity on who your audience is and how to best talk to them.

Clarity feels good!
 
If you have any questions, I’m happy to help!

How to Play the Long Game

5 Key Qualities of Playing the Long Game: and Why it Really Matters.

Lately, on the interweb it’s been a lot of “just follow these steps and you will become an overnight success.” First of all, I don’t believe that is such a thing. But, if someone found themselves with such fortune, well then, lucky them…or is it really?

 

Plain and simple: the good stuff takes effort. Think of anything you have done that really gave you joy deep down. It took some work to make that happen, didn’t it?

Well, I know for me it certainly did.

 

Things that are not done with a deeper intention and purpose just don’t give you the same feeling of reward.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to having good fortune. Nor am I opposed to having guidance that shortens the learning curve. But, building something from the ground up and committing for the long run is where the yumminess happens — and it’s where you have the opportunity to find your bigger why.

 

Your why will help get you excited and give you the motivation you need to get up in the morning. It will also give you the drive to turn challenges into opportunities. Ultimately, you will more fully experience the joys of your work and set yourself up for greater success.

 

For me, important aspects of the long game means taking care of my clients and my team like they are friends and family. It means doing what’s right even when it’s difficult. It means planning ahead to make the right decisions in the short and long-term. Then, because of the planning, you are better positioned to respond to unprecedented situations.  Doing all of these things creates a foundation for a solid future. It builds community. It establishes trust. It defines your character and your brand.

 

So, when all this effort is made in playing the long game, something magical can happen like it did for me. A few years ago, somebody suggested I surround myself with other entrepreneurs, so I took a class to further my knowledge in marketing and gain more inspiration. While I did attain what I expected from this class, the more important reward was what I had not expected to receive.

 

In this experience, I learned that even I can “give back” to my community through my work. I know this might sounds pretty straight forward, but I never considered it possible, as I was a younger company with fewer resources. I thought only bigger, more established companies could do those things. I was wrong.

 

With a flip of a switch, I found my bigger purpose (my why), and figured out how I could make it happen! I no longer work “only” to help our clients knock it out of the park, or “only” to provide for myself and my team. I also get to impact someone else’s life who might not have been as fortunate as I have.

Today, we proudly support BoshBosh.org, an organization who educates girls through learning business and fashion design, which gives them important skill sets to ensure a brighter future. To give, with no expectations, small or big, is one of the most beautiful things I think one can do.

 

Before, it was only a distant dream that I didn’t know how I would accomplish. Now, with every client project, we are able to sponsor one child’s education. Even a small investment can go a long way when done consistently over a long period of time (my financial clients would be proud).

 

So how did I do that and how do I play the long game? Watch this video and check out the 5 cornerstones outlined below.

Here are 5 essential qualities that I consider important in playing the long game (yes, I’m still working on all of them too):

Number 01. have grit

As Angela Lee Duckworth speaks about in her Ted Talk, it’s having passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit means having stamina. Grit means sticking with your future plans and aspirations. Grit means living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Number 02. enjoy the process

When I was playing golf at a high level, I could stand and hit the same shot over and over and over again until I got it. And I loved every minute of it.

Number 03. create habits

Create those beneficial habits that fuel you…that keep your body fit and your mind strong. Or, entrepreneurship will get you very quickly.

Number 04. CURIOSITY

Try new things and have a deep desire to learn more.

Number 05. TAKE OWNERSHIP

Do things you say you are going to do. This is not an easy one and I constantly struggle with things that are a bit outside my comfort zone.  And this is precisely where it’s good to remind yourself why you are doing it. And when it’s something that really resonates with you, it’s much easier to do the things that might not always be the most fun.

 
Are you in for the long game?

What Salsa has Taught Me

What salsa has taught me

About 3 years ago I started to learn how to salsa dance. But— like learning any new skill, it came with challenges that took some time to overcome. In fact, for me there have been 3 key takeaways that I have learned from overcoming some of those challenges, and of course they are relevant in […]

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How to Increase Your Sales

Everyone wants to know the answer to the magical question: How do I get more sales?  Because I am in the business of helping others start and grow their businesses, this question about increasing sales comes up a LOT. And I get it! (I have asked myself that question plenty of times too.) If you […]

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