A Guide to Starting or Running a Business (+ 2 Giveaway Copies!)

Are you currently a girl boss or maybe you want to be? Perhaps your hobby has turned into a passion and you suddenly want to launch a business but you’re not sure where to start. Or, you currently run a business, but need to refine and get some more tips on effectively running and marketing it, so you keep doing what it is you do. If so, this is the post for you! I have an incredible Q&A with Christy Wright, author of Business Boutique and two of you will get a copy!

Your life gets to come first and you can schedule your business around the things you don’t want to miss.

 I mean does that above quote speak to what I’ve been saying for the past month or what? I found this book incredibly helpful, even being an entrepreneur for over a decade with three businesses (photography, blogging, and graphic design).

Business Boutique (c/o) $16.50 on Amazon

I thought this was right up my alley, and possibly yours –  from business wisdom to personality and heart advice, I love that Christy touches upon it all – this book is THICK and covers everything you need to know to conduct business successfully and with a good conscious.

Just because another woman is winning doesn’t mean you’re failing. And celebrating and supporting someone else doesn’t take away from you; it only helps you.

My dad was an entrepreneur and he used to tell me I’d make more money working for myself. It was hard to conceive it when I worked a really well paying corporate marketing job, but it’s true! He has always encouraged me to go out on my own and start a business and I think you should too!

Q&A With Christy Wright

What is biggest mistake you see first time business owners make in their first year? – Diana

Most new business owners make it up as they go and they don’t have a plan. I’ve found in my experience that it’s not having too many things to do that overwhelms us, it’s not knowing what to do. You need to know what to do and what order to do it in. You need steps. You need a plan. That’s exactly why I wrote Business Boutique. From the first page to the last, it walks you through a complete business plan to cover all of your bases, answer all of your questions, and set you up to win. Whether you use the Business Boutique plan or make up your own, you just need to have one.

A plan will help you start with the end in mind and define your version of success. That way, you don’t end up running really hard toward someone else’s finish line. At a minimum, your plan needs to cover:

  • Market research
  • Vision and goals for the future
  • Money management such as pricing and profit
  • Operations such as shipping, fulfillment, policies and processes
  • Marketing strategies

When you do a little of the planning work on the front end, you not only save yourself headaches and mistakes, but you’re much more likely to be successful.

What steps should a business owner take if she’s feeling overwhelmed, feeling burned out and wants to quit (but she can’t because it pays the bills)? – Diana

If you’re feeling burned out, try to get to the root of why you’re overwhelmed. It’s most likely one of three things:

  1. You’re just tired. I’m amazed at how my entire outlook changes when I just get caught up on sleep, spend some quality time relaxing with my family or even do something recreational like go for a run outside.
  2. You’re doing things you’re not good at. This can drain you in about five minutes. However, when you work in your strengths doing what you love, you can work long, hard hours and keep going because working in your strengths actually gives you energy. Get some help in areas that you are weak so that you can do more of what you love and less of what you don’t.
  3. You just don’t like the business anymore. This is always a possibility and if this is the real issue, then you need to develop an exit strategy. You don’t want to jump ship overnight of course, and you need a plan for how to support yourself through another job or business. But if you truly want out, you can begin to create an off-ramp for yourself to get out of the business gradually.

When you work in your strengths doing what you love, you can work long, hard hours and keep going because working in your strengths actually gives you energy.

If branding and reputation needs a revamp, from bad reputation, no reputation or just been neglected for a personal hiatus for a few years, what actions should be taken to rebrand or restart a business? – Diana

Your brand includes the look, tone and feel of your business, but it also includes your reputation. And with social media as a megaphone for every single customer, people will talk about you – good or bad. If your reputation and branding need an overhaul, you need to ask yourself why. How did your business get to the point of needing an overhaul to begin with? Once you get to the root of the issue – whether that’s poor customer service, low quality products, bad policies or something else entirely, then your problem isn’t branding. Your problem is that thing (or multiple things!) You can change your logo and website all day but if the root of the problem is still there, then no branding makeover will help you.

And with social media as a megaphone for every single customer, people will talk about you – good or bad.

You need to actually be who you say you are. You need to actually do what you say you’re going to do. You can put out great logos and you can have catchy tag lines, but if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, your reputation will precede you. Actions (the actual experience your customer has) speak louder than words (the catchy tag lines or logos you create.) I like what Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, says about this, “A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is—it is what customers tell each other it is.” Fix the problems in your business first. When you do that and begin to take care of people better, word will spread and a better reputation will follow.

Back to Diana over here, these are the tips I jotted down from Christy’s book that I wanted to share –

Christy’s Business Tips

  1. Your WHY affects HOW. If you care about your work, it shows in how you conduct your business, treat your customers and they will feel your passion and purpose when they interact with you. So you need to know your WHY (steps are given in the book) so when it gets tough, you can keep trucking and not quit.
  2. Set specific goals. Write them down, learn how to make a specific goal, not generic. Your goals must be measurable. When you set a goal you want to achieve, you are more likely to actually reach it.
  3. If you want to grow, work on it. I’m just going to say it in my words, hard work beats talent. If you want to grow your business, you have to work on it more. You have to give it time.
  4. Deal with disappointment. It’s inevitable. We can’t do it all, we might not reach that goal due to circumstances outside of our control – learn how to give yourself grace.
  5. Discover your strengths. A way to discover your strengths is to see what comes effortlessly to you, and gives you energy. Remember though, sometime it does take a lot of effort to make things look effortless, so we have to put in the work to get there.
  6. Learn to barter and outsource. Learn how to do what you really are good at, and hire others to do the rest. a HUGE takeaway for me was this – “Say you need a tax professional for your business but you don’t have the $500 or so it would cost to hire one. I want you to find a way to earn $500 more doing your thing in order to pay for the accountant. When you do this, you get to stay in your strengths and do what you love, and you protect your business because you’ve hired a professional to do what they are good at and love.”
  7. Learn to automate and create policies. So you’re not on your phone all the time thinking about your posts. Create policies that don’t scare your customers away but protect you from the ones who ask for a lot.
  8. Staying focused on your products and services. Like me, you want to probably do it all and you can, but maybe you shouldn’t. Figure out what you want to be known for, and concentrate on those related!
  9. Deal with competition, find your customer, and build your brand. Research the competition, figure out your ideal customer to target them effectively and speak to them in a way that will entice them. Building your brand is not what you tell people your brand is, but what the customer decides it is.
  10. Put money aside for taxes and have separate accounts. I’ve always had separate business accounts from personal. I also use Quickbooks – been using it for over a decade when I first started my graphic design business. Christy goes over how much to put away, save and how to spend.

For me, the biggest take away was #6 – outsourcing!

“Say you need a tax professional for your business but you don’t have the $500 or so it would cost to hire one. I want you to find a way to earn $500 more doing your thing in order to pay for the accountant.

At the end of each chapter there is a “Let’s Apply What We’ve Learned” page. You jot down answers to the questions, fill out the worksheets and before you know it, you have new ideas, people to hire, ways to make money, goals to achieve, and concepts you didn’t even think of!

Instead of chasing every brilliant idea that pops into your head, figure out what you want to be known for and focus your business on that.

You can follow Wright on Twitter and Instagram @ChristyBWright and online at christywright.com or facebook.com/OfficialChristyWright. Diana’s opening photo by Scout + Briar at Arizona Vacation Company.

ENTER TO WIN 1 of 2 GIVEAWAY COPIES!

Ramsey Press is giving one of my readers a copy of Christy’s book, Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide for Making money Doing What She Loves available on preorder now. Just leave a comment, tell me what your business idea is, or if you currently run one and feel free to add a link to your site! I’d love to check it out.

Two random winners – must be US or Canada residents will be selected by May 8, and contacted by email.

I was given an advanced copy to review and all opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

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A little travel and thanks

Minted.com (c/o) Use promo code SHINE for  20% off sale foil-pressed products including grad cards, and 15% off grad cards and gifts.

Hi guys! Coming up for air. I wanted to connect with you before I jump on a plane to Switzerland in a few days. Just wanted to chat about how I’ve been – balancing work with life. While I’ve been busy with projects, I have been feeling energized – I believe it’s the power of saying no to things that don’t fit, so it hardly feels like work.

Been seeing friends, talking on the phone more, oh and got my eyebrows touched up with microblading again – it’s been a year can you believe it? I went thicker but it always thins out around the edges. See pic here.

Anyway – over the weekend one of my gfs was in town and we had to have a little dinner downtown. This spot is an empty elevator shaft that now has a glass bottom – it’s kinda our spot to take pics because of the light bouncing – hello white box! :) Also the other spot is a little creepy downstairs with dolls playing with pennies looking like they’re gambling, so we’ll just stick with this, even though the floor looks dirty (as my dad likes to point out)!

Jeans: Levi’s 721 (and here, my favorite fit) / Fish Nets: Amazon / Mesh bodysuit: Forever 21
Bra camisole: Hanro (a staple) / Clutch: SHASHI / Pumps: Charles David (similar, love these)

Tomorrow’s business post is a good one – if you’re a business owner or considering starting one. It also touches upon allowing a business to fit within your lifestyle. There will be 2 winners and I’m always advocating giveaways – even if I’m not getting paid for the post. Consider it my public service duty, haha.

With work, comes thankfulness. Minted sent me a few cards I could personalize so I could send a few love notes and thankfulness to friends, clients, referrals. I’m writing a few out before I depart.

I picked up the rose gold organizer at Home Goods. I love stopping in after church to see what new goodies they have. More often than not I don’t need a thing but when I see it, it sure completes a photo. Props are so important to have as a blogger and photographer yet tedious to look for and find space! The key is to make sure everything you use is beautiful so your props have purpose and you aren’t just buying it for a photo. (This is a blatant reminder to myself!)

I also ordered a few journals and personalized them for gifts, they are only $16! I’m always sneaking in ways to give gifts to people! Sorry Meagan just gave you a sneaky of a gift.

I also believe regularly supporting each other shows thankfulness. Sometimes we don’t have to expect anything in return but feel satisfaction that we are helping one another in the community – artistically or financially. Being a resource for information is what I love, I just want to help – connect people, create businesses! That’s probably why this blog started.

I also believe regularly supporting each other shows thankfulness. Sometimes we don’t have to expect anything in return but feel satisfaction that we are helping one another in the community – artistically or financially.

If we can cultivate a way to always send work to our friends if we aren’t able to help, we should. The reward is always paid back in so many other ways – friendship, support, ways we can’t imagine yet, or a favor later down the line. I’m convened sometime of the good stuff I’m doing now is in return for great things given to me even years ago!

If you need to send some thank you’s or give a graduation gift, check out Minted.com and use promo code SHINE for 20% off sale foil-pressed products including grad cards, and 15% off grad cards and gifts.

Also summer is coming up – just want to encourage you to book some vacation. Maybe one a month, even a weekend getaway or something to look forward to is helpful before you immerse yourself in work – and if you live in Phoenix, heck we need as many excuses as we can to escape the heat :)

If we can cultivate a way to always send work to our friends if we aren’t able to help, we should.

Thank YOU for being here. Gold star for you if you’ve made it this far. I couldn’t do what I love without your support – whether you are new here or been with me from the birth of this blog. I have regularly scheduled posts, even a pretty awesome guest post (by a home flipper) you won’t want to miss while I’m gone, so check back per usual. xx

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