Business, Goals, Entrepreneur

25 Tips to Take Your Business Seriously

When you begin to treat your business like a business, things start to shift. It’s really simple. If you’re still treating your business like a “hobby” or “side hustle” it will only ever be one of those things. Even if your business isn’t exactly where you want or need it to be today you can still treat it like it’s on its way to getting there. Just because your business hasn’t reached the figure you want it to (yet!) doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like it’s the next best thing since the dollar section at Target! Here are the ways we treat our jobs like the big biz they are.

When you begin to treat your business like a business, things start to shift. It’s really simple. If you’re still treating your business like a “hobby” or “side hustle” it will only ever be one of those things. Even if your business isn’t exactly where you want or need it to be today you can still treat it like it’s on its way to getting there. Just because your business hasn’t reached the figure you want it to (yet!) doesn’t mean you can’t treat it like it’s the next best thing since the dollar section at Target! Here are the ways we treat our jobs like the big biz they are. | Think Creative Collective
  1. Write a business plan: it may seem pretentious, or as if you are trying to be something you aren’t ready to be, but it helps you get in the right mindset, create a clear guide for what you are going to sell and a system to make it happen – need help getting started, try the easiest business plan ever.
  2. Create SMART goals: these allow you to hold yourself to something that is actually achievable! Plus who doesn’t love checking all these things off as DONE? If you’re not sure what a SMART goal is or how to make one, start with this exercise.

  3. Have a designated workspace: it doesn’t matter if it’s a table in your living room corner or you take over the extra bedroom. You need a place to stay organized, spread out, and get to work.

  4. Set office hours: this is a tremendous help for all those people in your life who think you can just chat all day. Set your hours and stick to them! Tell friends and family, add them to your email footer, and put them on your website. It’ll help you stay focused during work hours and “turn off” from work afterwards.

  5. Have a separate bank account: how can you know what’s your business’ money if it’s mixed in with grocery trips? Plus, this helps the tax man and other legal stuff be legit and easy to organize.

  6. Keep track of your expenses: do you know if you made more money last quarter than this quarter? What about comparing holiday seasons? You won’t be able to track this if you aren’t keeping track of your income + expenses. Whether you use the old fashioned pen and paper, digital spreadsheet, or a software application, you need to get it organized.

  7. Utilize contracts: it is all too easy to get yourself in a pickle. If you are selling services, contracts can really save you time, headaches and money. It lays out the scope and protects you from client retaliation if something were to go south.

  8. Send out invoices: this not only keeps billable clients organized but helps act as a receipt for both of your records.

  9. Know your one sentence: I love Nikki Elledge Brown’s tips for this one. Know your sentence that describes what you do in a way that leads conversations.

  10. Quit working for free: it’s time you get out of the “portfolio building” phase and put dollars in your bank for what you do.

  11. Invest in yourself: need some mindset shifts, an accountability partner, or cheerleader? Consider hiring a business coach to help you stay on track.

  12. Invest in your business: maybe there’s a book out there that can teach you selling strategies or an e-course that can teach you how to master MailChimp. Learning from the experts may costs money, but can save you loads of time and patience.

  13. Talk about what you do: there’s no reason to hide what you do! Talk about it, shout it out, tell everyone, and be proud.

  14. Have a beautiful (and functioning) digital storefront: there’s no magic level or certain amount you need to be selling or bringing in before you worry about your digital storefront (i.e. your website). The time is now.

  15. Plan out your content: whether you write a blog or just have social media accounts, tailoring a plan not only will save you time, but give you a more holistic take on your messaging, focus and calls to action. Start tracking with this handy worksheet.

  16. Measure your success: It’s hard to know where to spend your time if you don’t know what is working. Make sure to check your analytics to see what posts are most popular, where your traffic is coming from and what just isn’t working. You might be surprised about what you find.

  17. Order business cards: you never know where or when you’ll run into a future client or customer, so be prepared!

  18. Ask for help: we don’t expect you to be a pro at everything. Recognizing where you might need some extra help is key to moving forward. Consider hiring out things you don’t have time for or haven’t mastered.

  19. Join a mastermind or networking group or creative club: having a support system can make all the difference! Find a group in your area to start connecting.

  20. Change what isn’t working: is there a certain marketing strategy that costs big bucks but just doesn’t work for you? Cut it out. Being in business is all about learning from trial and error.

  21. Give yourself a title: want to be called Boss Lady, Creative Director, CEO? Whatever makes you feel most legit, go for it.

  22. Order merchandise: there’s nothing like seeing your logo on your notepad every day or on the mug you drink from. Once you see a part of your business in real life like that it changes things.

  23. Pop up at must-attend events: be in your community. Snap amazing pictures and share your experience. People love connecting with people, so be a person and stop hiding behind what you sell.

  24. Know when to turn away business: it seems goofy that you would ever turn away a paying client, but if they aren’t the right fit, going to cause too much of a headache, or it isn’t the work you love doing, it is ok to turn people away. We give you permission to say no.

  25. Grow a tribe: There is strength in numbers and people love being a part of something bigger than themselves. See how you can start connecting with your clients or customers on and off line. Grow a community. Want in on ours? Join our secret society here.

We realize that these steps are just tiny pieces of the gigantic puzzle that makes a small business successful. Sometimes before we can even begin to learn or implement things like contracts and business cards we’ve got to take it a few steps back a lay the foundation. We’ve created the best FREE tool for you to do this! We’d love to have you map it all out with the Easiest Business Plan Ever!!

Stop wasting time and turn your dream into a reality. Let’s turn your side hustle into a soul fulfilling, goal-crushing, freaking profitable creative business. We get it. You work all day and then you come home and you hustle even harder. Balancing essentially two full time jobs is not for everyone. Let’s make a plan, simplify and start earning what you are worth.

 


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Entrepreneur, Business

The Secret to Success is Smaller Than You Think

Success itself is arbitrary. It doesn’t mean you make a certain amount of money or have reached a level of fame. It is self defined. Success to me may not mean what success is to you at all. The thing about success, however, is that regardless of what you are seeking, there are always people seeking answers. “How do I get there?” There being the magical location where it all seems to fall into place.

People tend to ask those they view as successful, “How did you do it?” They assume that if they take the same steps, or follow the same path, they too will get there. Well, I am about to tell you that there is no answer, and there is no magic pill or pre-charted course. Success is made up of all the minute decisions that begin to add up. The small choices that make a radical change.

Success itself is arbitrary. It doesn’t mean you make a certain amount of money or have reached a level of fame. It is self defined. Success to me may not mean what success is to you at all. The thing about success, however, is that regardless of what you are seeking, there are always people seeking answers. “How do I get there?” There being the magical location where it all seems to fall into place. |  Think Creative Collective

The Secret is At Your Fingertips

Tabloids tend to taint our viewpoint, touting that all of these people we read about are overnight success stories. They hit headlines for that one final choice that they made that suddenly put the wheels in motion. I don’t care if they are 5 or 105, there were a series of things that led to that success. It could have been any number of things:

  • They tried something else first and it failed;
  • They grew up with entrepreneurial parents;
  • They worked towards their goals while still juggling a typical 9-5;
  • They dreamed about it for years before they took any action;
  • They landed some funding;
  • They bootstrapped it for years;
  • They know all the right people;
  • They introduced themselves to all the right people;
  • They had a stroke of luck, or
  • They worked their butt off. 

But just because one of those things might be true, doesn’t mean that hundreds, if not thousands of small decisions came before it. It is a series of small choices that lead to radical results. It’s a conscious effort to battle the noise, look past the negativity and continue to push yourself forward. It means getting out of your own damn way. It means believing you are capable of more than you thought possible. 

Take Action

We’ve heard one too many times of businesses falling apart because they don’t see the success they thought was possible. Their sales are poor. They are frustrated and feel defeated. It is not because they aren’t capable. It isn’t because they have a crappy product or are bad at their craft. Often that is not even remotely the issue. They assume that by putting up a shop or sales page, starting an Instagram account and posting once a week that things are just going to fall in place.

We’re about to ask you some tough questions. Are you ready?

  • When is the last time you specifically asked someone to buy your product? Like told them it was for sale, showed them how to get their hands on it and walked them through the process?
  • Have you properly educated your audience on why they NEED your product or service? Have you showed them how it could save them time, money, frustration, etc?
  • When you hear crickets, are you actively looking for opportunities to put yourself in front of people people, new audiences, new selling opportunities?
  • When is the last time you made a blind phone call, email or straight up walked into someone’s home, store, boutique, etc. and explained to them why you want to work together?
  • Have you had coffee with influencers in your network? Have you asked for referrals?
  • Have you told all your friends and family what you do and why you need their support?

Being in business is no joke. But success doesn’t come to those who wait. It comes to those who get off their butt and are willing to do ANYTHING to make this thing successful. ANYTHING to make their dreams possible. ANYTHING to support their family. ANYTHING to move their business forward.

We want to challenge you to make small strides. Even just 30 super dedicated minutes a day can make a WORLD of difference. Show the world how much you want this to work. Don’t take no for an answer. You got this.


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Profitability, Entrepreneur

July 2017: Income Report $18,496

Ready, set, wait! Yep, July as much as it was prepping our signature course content and launching an affiliate program, it was really about working really hard to wait for results later. Not that over $18k is anything to cough at, it was just residual income off our previous launch and evergreen course sales. The BIG surprise doesn’t come until September, in the meantime check out all the details that made July the success that it was.

Ready, set, wait! Yep, July as much as it was prepping our signature course content and launching an affiliate program, it was really about working really hard to wait for results later. Not that over $18k is anything to cough at, it was just residual income off our previous launch and evergreen course sales. The BIG surprise doesn’t come until September, in the meantime check out all the details that made July the success that it was.  |  Think Creative Collective

Why do we do income reports?

In an effort to be as transparent as possible in our own business, we have chosen to make 2017 the year in which we showcase the good, the bad and the ugly. That means we talk about money on months when we bring home the bacon and on months when we’d rather not discuss finances. We hope you learn a LOT from these reports. We want you to be able to replicate and tweak our strategies to use in your own business. Get inspired, learn from our mistakes and grow your own online business.

Please note: Links marked below with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. By clicking and purchasing we may earn a commission on this sale. This comes at no cost to you and is only for products and companies we truly believe in!

July Income

Affiliate Income: $1,199
Podcast Sponsor: $174
Course Sales: $17,123

TOTAL INCOME: $18,496

July Expenses

Stripe/Paypal Fees: $527
Camera Equipment: $290
GoDaddy: $88
Libsyn: $30
Proof: $79 (Canceled)
SmarterQueue*: $46
MotionMail: $10
ConvertKit*: $149
Wavve: $7
Linktree: $6
ManyChat: $10
Fomo: $49
Independent Contractors: $2,108
Facebook Ads: $5,079
Office Supplies: $43

TOTAL EXPENSES: $8,521

NET PROFIT: $9,975

Payroll to Abagail & Emylee: $6,548
IRA Contributions: $1,035

Taking a Breather

Having just wrapped up our first nearly 6-figure launch, we knew we needed to start the month with a break. Perhaps not the most conventional, we turned the 4th of July (a US holiday) into a week long vacation kicking off July. It was definitely a blur of sleeping in, scrolling social and, of course, plenty of fireworks.

Dripping Our Signature Program

With Strategy Academy behind us, you’d think this was the perfect time to just chill, soaking in all the goodness that had walked in our door the month before. Well…

Instead of prepping every last bit of content prior to our launch we decided there was no way we could complete a multitude of free programs and everything else necessary for this 8-week course. Instead we dripped out the content one module a week and focused on creating two weeks of content at a time, with the hopes of wrapping up the majority of the course creation in July.

For the most part this was easy peasy. I think we complained more about the showers and makeup than the actually putting the course together. Who wears pants anyways?

Waiting on a ROI

The final week or so of July and rolling into August we started promoting an affiliate partnership we had with Courtney Foster-Donahue. As per most affiliate programs, this would not pay out until after the 30-day money back guarantee had expired, ensuring she took into account any returns that happened.

So in essence we hustled super hard in July to get paid out sometime in September. Was it a little weird shelling out thousands of dollars on a Facebook ad we wouldn’t see a return on for months? Perhaps. But it was definitely worth it when we sold well over $100k and knew on the other side of that was a 50% commission on every sale.

Now….let’s take a Vacation!

In our August Income report we’re going to cover the details behind how we prepped for an entire promotion to go out while Emylee was in Mexico. We’ve got some strategies on getting ahead, systems we put in place, autopilot features and more.



Keep Up-To-Date with #Allthethings

Business, Entrepreneur

Working Less and Making More: A Practice in Patience, Systems and Trust

You’ve heard it a million times. “I want to work less and make more.” But do you actually know what it takes to make this happen? The entrepreneurs who are making bank are NOT lazy. They are strategic, methodical, and extremely patient. 

  • Do you think Pat Flynn went from being laid off to earning over $100k per month revenue overnight?! Are you kidding?
  • Do you think Oprah went right from waitress to world-recognized thought leader?! Heck no.
  • Do you think Marie Forleo rolled out B-School her first year in business?! Absolutely not. 

Their careers didn’t fall out of thin air. They spent years perfecting their craft, tweaking their processes and making shifts towards their big dreams.

We’re no different. We absolutely want world domination (for all female creative business owners). But we know the tide won’t shift overnight.

We want to retire our husbands and support our families in ways our parents never could for us.

We know that this won’t just fall out of thin air. We know we have to put in the work, but we also know overworking ourselves doesn’t serve us any better.

Working_less_and_making_more_-_postgraphic.jpg

The Raw Truth
Emylee and I never work 40 hours a week. We start late on Tuesdays and Thursdays so we have time to workout and catch up on our favorite podcasts. We have half days on Friday’s because… LIFE. This doesn’t mean we aren’t working our booties off. Instead we are focused on the tasks at hand. When they are done, we shut it down. 

Burning the midnight oil may have helped us grow an extensive blog archive, but it wasn’t sustainable, and it made us very crabby people. 

Systems Matter
We spent a TON of time figuring out the necessary pieces in our business. We rely on a ton of systems to make this whole thing work like a well-oiled machine! Ready? Want to know what is absolutely necessary to make our business function? Here we go:

  • Trello - The ONLY way this all WORKS together!
  • Teachable - Where we host all our educational opportunities for our tribe. P.S. Want to try it for a month for free? Click here 
  • WebinarJam - We teach multiple trainings online every month & WebinarJam makes this possible
  • Leadpages - How we capture all your pretty faces
  • ConvertKit - How we send you all the awesome emails. Hello, marketing
  • Squarespace - You are reading the blog here
  • Later - Pre-scheduling content for Instagram is a total lifesaver
  • Tailwind - Pinterest drives nearly half of our traffic. This is why
  • PostPlanner - Our newest addition to the scheduling family
  • An Editor - Sarah keeps us in line
  • Two VAs - AllieDanae runs the entire blog and manages all our guest contributors! She also handles the show notes for The Strategy Hour podcast and helps with some social media. Katie is our email genius and her role is to make sure you have email responses back quicker than we could on our own.
  • Graphics and More - most of the graphics you see on our site and social media are created by Nicholette. She also manages a few other behind the scenes tasks like TCCtv and social media.
  • Finances - Parker helps us with the money side of things here at TCC and we love him for it!
  • INCREDIBLE TCC Ambassadors - Meet Sam, Molly, and Kit.

What works for us may not work for you. But this recipe of people, software and systems did not just pop out of thin air. We spent weeks testing, trying, failing. We fell in love and we fell out of love. This is our magic sauce, but it didn’t happen overnight. 

A Sprinkle of Woo-Woo
As much as I would like to say doing #AllTheThings will make this thing a success, I totally believe a dash of woo-woo magic and a heck of a lot of faith and gumption plays a big ‘ol role. 

If you are constantly a Negative Nelly and are telling everyone you are “kinda sorta doing something” you are always just gonna kinda sorta make money. If you tell the universe, what you want and you take the steps necessary to make it happen, things tend to fall in line.

Now, no one said it would be easy. Or there wouldn’t be obstacles or roadblocks. But first and foremost you have to believe whole heartedly you are cut out for this. AND you have to make everyone else believe you are too. 

No easy feat, but we know you can do it! 


Do you fill up post it notes, notebooks and that dreaded iPhone Notes app (blergh!) with “things to remember”, but then somehow you never, um, know where they actually are? Do you have a metric shit ton of biz tasks to accomplish, but constantly feel like you don’t know what to work on next? Then you need this. Check out Trello for Business today.


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June 2017: Income Report $73,710

Holy moly guacamole. Are you ready for this? Now, some of you might have already heard the breakdown of our Strategy Academy launch, but this gives you a good picture of what else happened in the month of June. Also, it’s nice to see what we actually made, even though we had a $97k launch. #Perspective

Holy moly guacamole. Are you ready for this? Now, some of you might have already heard the breakdown of our Strategy Academy launch, but this gives you a good picture of what else happened in the month of June. Also, it’s nice to see what we actually made, even though we had a $97k launch. #Perspective  |  Think Creative Collective

If you wanted to listen to how the launch itself went, be sure to check out Episode 082 on The Strategy Hour Podcast. bit.ly/TSH-082

Why do we do income reports?

In an effort to be as transparent as possible in our own business, we have chosen to make 2017 the year in which we showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly. That means we talk about money on months when we bring home the bacon and on months when we’d rather not discuss finances. We hope you learn a LOT from these reports. We want you to be able to replicate and tweak our strategies to use in your own business. Get inspired, learn from our mistakes, and grow your own online business.

Please note: Links marked below with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. By clicking and purchasing we may earn a commission on this sale. This comes at no cost to you and is only for products and companies we truly believe in!

 

June Income

Affiliate Income: $4,901
Podcast Sponsors: $1,800
Course Sales: $67,009

 

TOTAL INCOME: $73,710

June Expenses

Stripe/Paypal Fees: $2095
Donations: $100
GoDaddy: $24
Libsyn: $30
SmarterQueue*: $46
MotionMail: $10
Squarespace: $173
Leadpages: $477
ConvertKit*: $149
Wavve: $7
Linktree: $6
ManyChat: $10
Fomo: $49
Gifts: $70
Independent Contractors: $6,440
Facebook Ads: $3658

TOTAL EXPENSES: $13,344

NET PROFIT: $60,366

Payroll to Abagail & Emylee: $6,506

 

IRA Contributions: $1,035

Challenges Convert

For the first time ever, Think Creative Collective held a 5 day challenge. This challenge was used to not only build the list, but increase engagement and hype right before our large launch. Without many expectations going into it, we still set our hopes high and shot for 2,500 participants. By the end of the challenge we were just shy of our goal, but the engagement was unlike anything we had ever seen before. Of those who bought our program, 73% directly participated in the challenge the week prior, and the remainder engaged by signing up for at least one webinar.

Want more info on how to make your next challenge a total converting machine? Get a copy of our Mega Challenge Swipe Files here.

Launch It Like It’s Hot

After having $3k, $5k, and $10k launches and the occasional $20k month, we decided to ditch every expectation we ever had based on old results and shoot for the moon. We were dead set on our first 6-figure launch. That’s right, $100,000 dollars in 7 days.

We knew what we would need to do to get there and it was possible with our new price points of nearly $1k and $2k buy-ins. Nonetheless, we went in with what we knew worked well and focused on webinars. Over the course of a 7-day launch, we did 3 webinars which resulted in 47% of total launch sales. And by the end of it all, we were just shy of our launch goal — count up our other sales during the same time period and we had WELL surpassed $100k in 7 days.

Based on our previous launches we had decided to test 2 payment plan options instead of just one, but having both options didn’t seem to affect sales at all. In fact, only 1 person took us up on the new alternative. Our payment plan sales actually went down drastically, perhaps in part due to our new focus on showcasing the savings of our pay-in-full plans.

By paying in one lump sum, students could save upwards of 20%. Many students not only took us up on this, but they were still paying for other programs when they did so.

Ready for more? Well we got more. Listen to a few of our favorite podcasts on launching:

14 Launching Mistakes That You're Definitely Making in Your Business

Behind the Scenes: Our Strategy Academy Launch and the Lessons We Learned

Facebook Ads

I’d be lying if I said we were able to do it all organically, or just with the help of our list. A HUGE part of our launch success had to do with our Facebook Ad plans. After investing in a Facebook course just 9 weeks earlier, we implemented everything we had learned into a strategy we knew would convert.

The biggest part of the strategy was to get the as many people as possible excited for the challenge. In fact, 57% of our total ads budget was spent on just our challenge FB ads. And only a little over $300 was spent promoting our main program.

Time to Breathe

Whew. So that was a massive month. It was exhausting and invigorating at the same time. And hell, we are just super proud of ourselves for doing it! Since we were able to have such a bomb-tastic June, we knew we could go into July a little more breezy. We have some plans on restructuring things in July and being an affiliate for another course for the first time. Can’t wait to update you on all that.