Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Are You a Business Owner Just Trying to Figure It All Out?

nathan-dumlao-aZ9X3L1Va2Y-unsplashIf you’re a fellow small business owner, I bet you didn’t start your organization because you wanted to run a business. Sure, maybe you wanted some of the independence and freedom of making your own time-management decisions, but it wasn’t the allure of bookkeeping, IT trouble-shooting, learning to be a fundraiser and/or marketer, or navigating human resources that drew you to this life.

Instead, you wanted to do something you’re passionate about and make a difference. I do, too.

Unfortunately, though, all the other stuff comes with the territory—at least in the beginning as you bootstrap and do it all yourself.

And, if that’s the case, then (like me), you have those days where running a business feels overwhelming. There’s also a lot of self-doubt.

You may even wondered if your side gig will ever become your full-time career, if you’ll ever really make the impact you desire, or frankly, if you’ll even be doing this a year from now.

Been there.

I don’t know about you, but my self-doubt can be crippling. I’ve had many discouraging days where I just didn’t feel like I was cut out to run a business. In fact, “I don’t know how to run a business” was just one of the many lies I told myself. I’m a writer—and that’s the only part of it that came naturally to me.

But as a fellow founder, we also have to, well, run a business, right? Making a difference is the result of many things, including learning the fundamentals that set you up for long-term success. This is part of the foundation that helps determine your future.

It’s also where I felt unprepared and unequipped. And I knew that I wouldn’t make it to Signify’s next anniversary unless I got my proverbial house in order.

That’s where I found myself when I discovered Shanna Skidmore.

As someone who has always had trouble with math and numbers, I honestly just thought I’d never be able to understand it. But I also knew if I didn’t come to terms with that and find a better way forward, my business would continually suffer from my self-doubt. And, one thing’s for sure…that does no one any good.

I’ve read books, taken courses, and listened to other money gurus, but it still just never sunk in. However, with Shanna, I found a coach that could not only break down finances in a way that made it easier to understand, but show me the steps to take for sustainability in my business.

Shanna’s specialty is teaching finances to female creatives, and with her help, I’ve made some big strides this year. Not just in my bank account, but in my confidence as a business owner.

I feel empowered and equipped, and like I have a plan to work from. It’s made a huge difference, and I wish I would’ve met Shanna a couple of years ago.

Because here’s the big truth I’ve learned in the last, few months:

It’s not just about being able to ask for money when you need it, whether it’s from a customer or donor, it’s about understanding WHY that particular number matters, and what it will ultimately mean both for you personally as well as your organization and cause.

For us, this isn’t about retiring to our own private island. It’s about solving problems.

Money is as much a mental game as it is a physical currency. And if you don’t have a good relationship to money, you’ll never handle it well. You’ll never have the impact you could have otherwise.

Whew—that’s just some of what I’ve been learning this year! That is, in part, thanks to Shanna.

If you’d like to hear more of her approach to business finances, I encourage you to check out her FREE masterclass TOMORROW AT 1:30 PM EST, “How I Built A Six-Figure Business.”

I’m planning to be there to soak up the goodness myself. I hope you’ll join me, whether you’re a woman who runs a for-profit or a nonprofit organization.

Shanna’s a smart cookie, and as you can see, has helped me in my business tremendously. So, I hope you’ll give her a chance. And, really, what have you got to lose?

Register for the free “How I Built A Six-Figure Business” masterclass right now, and prepare to become a better business owner.

I want that for you, and you’ll see that Shanna does, too.

Plus, who can’t use some free advice?

 

Quick note for my nonprofit friends: While Shanna’s content is primarily geared to female entrepreneurs of for-profit businesses, nonprofit founders have also found success with Shanna’s methods. In fact, here’s Signify community member, Chantel Adams of Forever We, with her perspective:

“Blueprint Model gave me clarity on not only why I’m doing the work I’m doing, but also how I’m going to move forward to make it successful. I have more energy, ideas, and focus than ever before. If you want a real blueprint for making your business work for you, then this program is the best.”

You’ll have to do some creative thinking with some of the principles in how they relate to your nonprofit, but it can be done. I guarantee you’ll still find a lot of value in Shanna’s teaching.

 


UPDATE 8/8/19:

Shanna’s entire suite of business programs is on sale through 8/15/19!

As a reminder, this is the LAST TIME she’ll be offering her programs! I wish I’d known about Shanna three years ago when I started my business, but I’m glad I took her course when I did.

If numbers and finances confuse you, but you want to start or scale a profitable, life-giving business, now’s the time!

 

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
– C.S. Lewis

 


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Can I ask a favor?

Signify holiday 2017 promoCan I ask you a favor?

Since it’s my first full year in business, I’m celebrating by giving away a Communications Strategy Session to one lucky nonprofit or social enterprise.

I love supporting small cause-focused organizations that are trying to do good things in the world. There are so many of them out there, working hard, and making a difference in their own little corner of the world. They are the kinds of businesses that I support personally, and through Signify, I’m also able to support them professionally.

However, many of them can’t afford to have someone like me on their staff full-time. That’s why I mostly work on projects for small organizations. They can afford some help now and then, and I’m happy to provide it.

But with everything on their plates, they often get behind in their marketing and communications. I totally get it, and it’s a common problem. As a solopreneur, I definitely feel their pain, but I have a different set of skills and expertise to lend.

That’s why I wanted to give a Communications Strategy Session away for the holidays. It will help them get on track, or back on track, with their marketing in 2018. It’s a resolution that I can easily help them keep.

So . . . the favor . . .

If you know of a nonprofit, social enterprise, or other for-profit organization doing good, would you mind sending them to the page that outlines this giveaway? I’d love them to throw their hat into the ring for the opportunity to win this prize, valued at over $500.

I really appreciate your help.

You can also learn more about Signify here, or read the interview I recently did for Ideamensch. Or if you prefer to hear me talk about my company, you can listen to this episode of Business RadioX, starting at 36:40.

Thank you, again!

 


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7 Lessons From the First Year of Business

7 Lessons From the First Year of BusinessI still have a hard time believing it, but I launched my business, Signify, on July 1st of last year! Some days it really does seem like yesterday, and others feel more like a seasoned pro. Regardless, it’s been an intense learning experience.

I created Signify out of a desire to help my friends. I knew people with small nonprofits and purpose-driven for-profits and social enterprises that needed someone like me who could lend another set of hands and breakdown marketing and communications for them. They cared deeply about their mission, since it was the driving force of their organization, but marketing and communications weren’t their strong suite. They knew they needed to look and sound more professional in order to get noticed and grow, but they didn’t have time, or maybe even the know-how.

So, I stepped in. I’d already been freelancing, giving them advice, volunteering, and helping them as best I could along the way, but with this as my full-time business, I was going to be able to help them even more.

Many of these relationships became my first clients, and they’ve even stuck around for multiple projects, or referred their friends to me. It’s been a wonderful way to sustain and grow my business. Whether they need writing, consulting, or strategy help—and most often a combination of all three—these organizations have been a privilege to serve. I wanted to assist cause-focused organizations who were doing great things in the world. They were already making a difference, and I knew I could help them create a bigger impact.

It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m eager to start year two.

But first, here are seven lessons I learned from these first twelve months.


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5 More Strange Things About Working From Home

5 More Strange Things About Working From HomeAfter I started working from home full-time last year, I wrote a post about five strange things that came with the territory. And it’s hard to believe, but it’s been just over a year since I started my own business. It doesn’t seem like 12 months could possibly have passed, but if I counted the cups of coffee, I know they’d confirm it.

Working from home 24/7 has been a really interesting adjustment that I honestly didn’t expect. Since I’d previously worked from home two days per week, I assumed it would be a fairly easy transition, but in some ways it has taken me by surprise.

Here are five additional observations:

  1. I don’t see other people regularly. As an introvert (though most people find that surprising), this doesn’t bother me most of the time. In fact, I thought it would be an asset. But I’ve realized that I am more creative and energized by making a little time each week to see or talk to people, whether that is through client meetings, phone calls, or get-togethers with friends. Sometimes I’m ready to see people, and sometimes I have to force myself if I don’t already have something on the calendar, but it always proves to be beneficial in some way.
  2. I occasionally crave leaving my apartment. If the week ahead calls for a lot of writing, or a bunch of similar tasks, I’ve found that I’ll accomplish them faster if I change up my environment. This usually means going to a coffee shop or cafe at least one day a week. I didn’t foresee getting tired of seeing my apartment every day, but it does happen sometimes, especially when my To Do list involves repetitive functions. So, the best option is to switch up my surroundings. And if I don’t plan for it ahead of time, I know it needs to happen when I start feeling the need to unload my dishwasher or vacuum during the middle of the day. I think I’d like to eventually belong to a co-working space, but at about $100+ per month, that’s an expense I don’t need right now.
  3. I’ve taken binge-watching to a whole new level. With no commute, five o’clock can easily mean that the computer gets turned off and the TV gets turned on. And I don’t feel as bad about being a night owl since I don’t have to get up early, get ready, and drive to work. So, that means bonus hours of binge time! Last summer I made it through all 16 seasons of CSI, and watched endless hours of Olympics coverage! 😉
  4. I do less laundry. Yep, I basically don yoga pants and a t-shirt everyday . . . and they’re likely the same ones for an entire week. I will take a moment to note that I do not stink, though! Come on, I still have some standards. And if I have to get out of the house for meetings, to see friends, or to work from a cafe, I’m probably wearing the same outfit to all of those that week as well. #classy But I prefer to position it as further doing my part for the environment.
  5. I’m only dressed and made-up from the waist up for video calls. While part of me gets annoyed that I have to get properly dressed and put on makeup to not leave my apartment, at least I have the satisfaction of only doing it halfway. I look decent from the waist up, but I’m still wearing yoga pants and fuzzy socks. And in talking to others who work from home, this is pretty common. So, there’s a peek behind the curtain!

And that’s more about the glamours life of working from home! This is how the magic happens, people.

If you work from home, do you agree, or have additional items to add?


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Answering the Question: What Do I Do?

hands-typingSince leaving my old job in May, I now frequently get asked what kind of work I do. So, I figured I’d take the time to spell it out here.

The gist is that I am a writer and consultant (mostly marketing and communications) for nonprofits, social justice organizations and social enterprises. I also do a little magazine writing, and hope to expand that soon. Now and again, I do other odds and ends upon request or for friends, but writing and consulting is really the core.

I particularly love partnering with small organizations. I’ve found that many of the people who run and are employed at those organizations do so because they have a heart for the work, but may not be strongly suited for the strategy when it comes to communications and marketing. This is where I come in. I have always loved helping small businesses grow, and being in on the ground floor to build them up. So, when I apply my skills to their needs, I can help them get their message out in a bigger and better way. And in working with those three types of businesses (nonprofits, social justice organizations and social enterprises), I am ensuring a greater success for the types of companies that I want to support personally and see thrive.

Here are a few examples of the work I’ve done so far, and an introduction to some of my fantastic clients:

  • Atlanta Dream Center: They protect and support the area’s most vulnerable populations, including the homeless, at-risk children and women who have been trafficked or prostituted. Among other things, I wrote many of the communications pieces for their annual benefit dinner, such as the website, save the date, invitation, newsletter announcement, press release and sponsor package. I also created a marketing plan that they can use to more effectively organize the event moving forward, and provides a comprehensive strategy for the who’s, why’s and how’s of the annual dinner. Additionally, I consulted on all aspects of the dinner, and was able to give marketing and communications insight they didn’t have before. All of this resulted in their most profitable fundraiser to date—by far! I have been a volunteer with them for the past three years, so I was beyond excited to see them surpass their goals, and for a new audience to become aware of their amazing work.
  • Habitat for Humanity: Ok, so you’ve probably heard their name before. They provide safe, affordable homes to individuals and families around the world. Habitat is a solution to the global housing crisis, and while I’ve always had great respect for the organization, it’s in overdrive now that I’ve learned so much more about them. We both celebrate the big 4-0 this year, so I’ve been rewriting some of their web pages as they prepare for a new digital online presence. And I’ve been able to work with a friend from college, so that’s been fun too.
  • Connect Faith: I started writing for this magazine several years ago when I was at Orange because the focus is Christian event planners, and I fit that mold at the time. So, it’s been a place where I could use the knowledge from that job to help educate and inspire others in that field. I also attend a lot of Christian conferences, as you already know if you’ve read this blog much at all, so I could share the things I was learning with a larger audience. They are a great publication, and it’s been fun working with them. I hope to also be able to write for some of their other magazines soon. And, as I mentioned above, I hope to write for other publications as well before too long, particularly in the areas of social justice and travel.
  • Be the Bridge: This budding organization utilizes resources and conversations to further racial reconciliation. They believe that the Church must become a bigger answer to this issue, and are equipping people to host racially diverse small groups that create open lines of communication.  We should not be having the “race conversation” as only white people or only black people, but as friends and Christians. My friend, Latasha, started this organization because she was willing to have the awkward, but necessary conversations, and build bridges that foster healing. It’s important and timely work. They just held their launch parties here in Atlanta a few weeks ago, so I assisted in strategy and communications, and also did live Tweeting, Instagram and Facebook during the two inaugural events.
  • Dr. Bombay’s and The Learning Tea: This darling little tea shop in Atlanta’s Candler Park neighborhood funds “life scholarships” for girls in India. With these funds, girls can go to college, have a safe place to live, and have all their basic needs provided for. And her chai tea is my absolute favorite! I was introduced to Katrell, the owner, in 2012, and we’ve been friends ever since. I even traveled with her to India in July 2015 to meet the girls! I provide ongoing communications and marketing consulting services for both organizations, as well as for her book, Tiger Heart.
  • Naeem Fazal: My friend, Kitti, collaborated with Naeem on his first book, Ex-Muslim. It’s really fascinating and funny and heart-warming, so check it out. She was unable to collaborate on his second book, so she recommended me. We’re just getting started on the book proposal, so we have a long way to go. But it’s been fun getting to know him. This project falls into more of the odds and ends category, but my friends who know I’m working on this ask me about it a lot. I guess books are just more interesting. 🙂
  • TrueNorth: I just started working with them, and I’m really excited about the work that they do! My friend, Anne, started this organization just a couple of years ago after working with women who had been trafficked and prostituted. She decided that she wanted to work more “upstream” to focus on more of the source and start of the issues, rather than toward the end when women had already been abused. I think that is a terrific strategy. So, she is creating resources and providing information to combat our sex-saturated culture. Porn is a huge issue now, which probably isn’t hard for you to understand. But did you know that kids as young as eight are now seeing pornographic images, and most porn is consumed while individuals are at work? Anne wants to get to the root of that issue, and also help remove some of the shame associated with these behaviors so that individuals, children and families can get the help and freedom they so desperately need, and can only be found in Jesus. She currently speaks about the issues, and is working on a book and Bible study, and will also soon be expanding into events. So, I’m assisting in the writing, strategy and execution of their year-end giving campaign. I can’t wait to see her work and presence in the community grow!

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what I’m doing now that I’m a full-time entrepreneur. It’s been so fun to partner with these causes that I believe in, and to do different kinds of work that furthers good things in the world.

If you know of anyone that I can help in these ways, please reach out! (Website coming soon!)

PS: Don’t I have some amazing friends? I’m so proud of them, and blessed to be a part of their work.