knowing your 'why' and how it will keep you motivated

At the start of the year, I rediscovered my 'why', and it's helped bring purpose, productivity and calmness to my schedule. Finding your ‘why’ can sound quite woo but it’s so, so important. Knowing exactly why you want to achieve what you want to achieve brings ultimate purpose + clarity to your goals. Chances are, you won’t know your exact ‘why’ right now, as it takes time and some real digging to discover it. It’s important that you get to your ‘why’ because otherwise, it’ll be very tricky to accomplish your goals as you’ll have no real, tangible reason for them.

To get to your ‘why’, write down some goals that you want to achieve this month, this year, and in the next 5 years. Once you've got some down, ask yourself why it is you want that. Keep asking yourself, over and over, peel away those layers and you’ll find your real ‘why’.

My ‘why’ is this; I want to accomplish my goals because I want to empower as many women as I can into enterprise, I want financial freedom, and I want control over my career and life.

What’s your ‘why’? Write it down, big and proud, and put it where you’ll see it every day (perhaps above your desk, or on a post-it attached to your laptop).

That will be your daily reminder as to why you’re doing this, and it will keep you going when things get tough. Nothing can stop you once you’ve found your real, true ‘why’.

finding your perfect customer (+ free worksheet)

When you first starting thinking about setting up your own venture, how did you go about it?

Did you A) have an amazing idea for some beautiful handbags, threw yourself into designing them straight away, worked out costings, got a friend’s friend to draw up a logo, and then started production?

Or did you B) have an amazing idea for some beautiful handbags, worked out who would be buying them, worked out costing, started designing, and then produced?

Which option do you think is better?

It’s B.

Before doing any of your designing, production, branding, marketing strategy, you must know exactly who you are selling to.

If you don’t know who your products are for, how are you going to know how to market to them? Will you take certain things into account during the design process? Will your branding go down a different route to ensure it attracts your ideal customer? Knowing who that person is, and knowing them well, will save you a lot of time, aggro, and money.

What I tend to suggest to clients is get a sheet of paper, and write down anything that is linked to your customer. Here is the worksheet that I give to them (for you to download, print out and keep for whenever you create a new product, offering, advertisement, anything).

Find a quiet place, make it cosy (but not too cosy that you fall asleep- I’ve definitely done it), get your pen and write down the answers. First, use it as a brain-dump. Write down whatever first comes into your mind. Then, when you’ve completed it, go back and sit with your answers. Find the true heart of them, and go deep. Get as specific as you can. You’ll then find yourself discovering who your ideal customer is exactly.

Afterwards, you’ll then be able to:

  • Figure out what social platforms they are spending their time on. Spend your time being active where it matters most.

  • Create and sell better products or services because you are able to anticipate your markets’ concerns, behaviors, and wants.

  • Be more effective in your advertising. Knowing where and who to target is especially important for things like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

  • Write better copy for your website, ads, and emails because you will have a clear understanding of their pain points, needs, desires and wants.

Let me know how you get on, and as always, I’m cheering you on!

If you've missed it, the worksheet is here.

a guide to planning your best year yet + free checklist

The key to your best year yet is to have a plan. Knowing what you want to achieve and when you’re going to do it ensures you are clear on the path you want to go down, and gives purpose to your work week.

Life doesn’t have to be hard, or boring, or unsuccessful. I wholeheartedly believe we all have the capabilities to make 2017 our best year yet, a year we’ll remember forever, for good reasons.

So, let’s get planning! Grab a new, shiny notebook if you can and make it your ‘best year yet’ notebook. Get a lovely pen and write down the steps below. Physically writing them down, rather than just quickly noting them in your head, will give you the push to actually do the steps, as well as give you some accountability.

 

1. Reflect on the last year

The first step to planning your best year yet is to gain some clarity over the past year. Looking back at what you achieved, what you didn’t achieve, what gave you joy and what didn’t give you joy gives you a chance to compare your goals and visions for your life.

The best way to do this is to look back at your calendar, and take inventory. Evaluate how you spent each day and each month over the past year, and write down events that got you closer to your goal, or perhaps weren’t in line with them. Of course, if you haven’t detailed everything you’ve done over the year, then don’t worry. Just try to remember what you’ve done, and use this as an opportunity to start tracking your day-to-day routine. Write down everything; from the activities you do, the appointments you have, to the days you have off sick. If you note everything you do down, you’ll be able to track meticulously.

Once you’ve taken a look back at your year, write down answers to these questions in your BYY notebook (actually write them down!):

  • How did you do in each of the seven life categories last year? Your seven life categories could be: health, relationships, finance, career, personal / spiritual development, recreation / play, and service / contribution.

  • What are your overall feelings for the last year?

  • What did you like about last year? What did you accomplish?

  • What did you dislike about last year? What disappointed you?

  • If you could change anything about the last year, what would it be?

 

2. Write down your big life visions

Next, think about your life from a higher level. How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to be perceived?

Write down the big visions you have for your life (again- actually write them down!) and think of what you want to do, what you want to achieve with your time on earth. Your list can include absolutely anything you want, just make sure it reflects your deepest wants and desires.

Here some example visions (but do think of your own):

  1. Work for yourself doing something you love

  2. Become financially independent

  3. Be a leading figure in your field

  4. Be joyful and purposeful in everything you do

Writing down what you want to do in your life gives you purpose and direction, and makes sure that everything you do and set out to do will bring you closer to your vision, rather than you ending up somewhere that is completely out of line with your values.

 

3. Set goals

The third step is to get writing down your goals. Step two consists you of thinking of the bigger things you want to accomplish, whereas step three involves you thinking of the smaller things. Goals are boundaries; they are not necessarily values or intentions, or even visions; goals are the things that you are working for. Goals help you create boundaries that help you stay on the path for what you’re working for. When you have very specific goals, you’re able to make decisions a lot faster as you know where you’re going! They help you really focus and get to where you want to be.

To set goals, use the SMART method. Under this method, goals should be:

S — Specific

M — Measurable

A — Achievable

R — Realistic

T — Timely

This means when you create goals, they should be narrow, in writing, achievable, and have a deadline. Write your goals down. Give them a deadline. Hold yourself accountable, and make sure they’re realistic.

An example of a ‘bad’ goal would be:

1. Be more careful with money

Or

2. Be mindful every day.

These aren’t specific enough, and you can’t measure/track them, nor can you put a deadline on them.

A good goal that follows the SMART method would be:

1. Save £500 by April putting £125 a month into savings.

2. Write in your ‘5 Minute Journal’ every morning for 2 weeks/a month/ two months to start the day in a mindful way.

These are specific, measurable, reasonable, actionable and timely.
 

 

4. Get to your ‘Why’.

Finding your ‘why’ sounds very hippy dippy but it’s so, so important. Knowing exactly why you want to achieve what you want to achieve brings ultimate purpose to your goals. Chances are, you won’t know your exact ‘why’ at the beginning of this exercise, as it takes time and some real digging to discover it. It’s important that you get to your ‘why’ because otherwise, it’ll be very tricky to accomplish your goals as you’ll have no real, tangible reason for them.

To get to your ‘why’, go back to steps two and three and ask yourself why it is you want that. Keep asking yourself, over and over, peel away those layers and you’ll find your real ‘why’.

My ‘why’ is this; I want to accomplish my goals because I want to empower as many women as I can into enterprise, I want financial freedom, and I want control over my career and life. I can’t function in a ‘normal’ job, so this is my only option. What’s your ‘why’? Write it down, big and proud, and put it where you’ll see it every day. That will be your daily reminder as to why you’re doing this, and it will keep you going when things get tough. Nothing can stop you once you’ve found your real, true ‘why’.

 

5. Use systems and processes to implement your goals.

If you’re a systems geek like me, this is the fun part! It’s all good writing down and planning your year, but you need to make sure you’re using systems that will help you implement your goals. Otherwise, what’s the point?! If you have systems in place already that you know will help you track your tasks + goals, then perfect. If not, here are some examples:

  1. Use a digital calendar (Google Calendar is my go-to). It’s important it’s digital as you can then move tasks and appointments round easily. Flexibility is key when implementing your goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  2. Use your calendar to put down real deadlines. Think of when you want that goal to be accomplished by and mark it down, to the day. This makes it a non-negotiable, and gives you some accountability.

  3. Put monthly/weekly appointments in your calendar for ‘Goal Check-ins’. This time is for reflecting and revising your plan based on your progress. These check-ins should be treated as importantly as you would treat a business meeting.

  4. If you’re more of a pen-and-paper gal, then get an A1 sheet of paper and write your goals with their deadlines dates next to them. Put it near your desk, along with your daily affirmations, and visualise them coming true. Then, do the work.

 

Planning your best year yet is a lot of fun. It’s all about living intentionally and with purpose to get you to where you need to be.

Here is a PDF checklist for this guide so you can download it, print it out and have it next to you when you’re planning the next 365 days.


You’re going to smash it!

5 daily affirmations for 2017

So, 2017 is here!

Over the last few days of 2016, I spent a lot of time crafting affirmations and mantras to get me through the new year, as well as meticulously planning and setting out the first quarter of 2017. As you may know, I'm a huge believer in visualisation/manifesting and I find affirmations help me manifest for my career and life in a very specific, clear way. 

Below are the mantras I'll be using to help me get what I want out of 2017, and you're welcome to use them for your business too. Just right click and 'save as' to download! Try coming up with your own, as well, to really gain some clarity and purpose on your goals. 

The legalities of running your own business with Natasha Minchella // Expertise Session Recap

This is a quick recap of our last Expertise Session with Lawyer Natasha Minchella. It was an incredibly informative and fun night, so I thought I would note down Natasha’s talk whilst it was going on so I could upload to here in case you couldn’t make it. Excuse the manner of language here, I've tried to make it vaguely readable but some sentences may still be in noteform!

You can also download Natasha's Legal Checklist here, and a Customer Contract Help Sheet here.


The legalities of running your own business can be an overwhelming, scary thing. I know that before this Expertise Session, I avoided the topic like the plague (apart from contracts and terms + conditions) because I knew I wasn’t doing certain things and I thought if I ignored it, it would go away.

But, the thing you need to work on before your contracts, IP etc is your mindset; changing your mindset against your legal foundations. They’re not scary, they’re just necessary, and once they’re in place, you’re going to feel a whole weight lifted from your shoulders.

Mindset

As creative people, we don’t naturally embrace those masculine factors in business. We avoid them until we have one nightmare situation and then we eventually learn, but those niggles in the background taint all the wonderful stuff you want to do. It’s liberating to get your legal bits in place. You can sleep soundly at night.

Place a proper value on your work. Don’t be too generous. Have structures in place to enable you to be more robust with piss-taking clients.

We focus on getting out products/services out there, but not our legal structures. Getting all your correct legal documents in place it gives the right impression to people. It gives you a lot less hassle in the future.

Contracts

A contract is an offer, a consideration. Once signed and agreed to, it’s an agreement. If you’re selling products or services, you need to have a contract in writing or verbal agreement. Natasha highly recommends that you make sure the contract says exactly what you want it to say so everything is clear and nothing is assumed. We have a natural resistance to getting this place, just because we feel that most people are thinking the same as us, but it’s something we need. It’s like someone puts off the music and puts the lights on full when someone mentions a contract. A well-written contract is a great resource for everyone, for you and for your client.

Things go wrong and the likelihood is this will happen more as you grow. Getting your contract in place is great discipline as it makes you think through everything. It protects you and your client, tells each party exactly what you’re going to do and what they’re going to do.

Have contracts even if working with family and friends. It takes the emotion out of things if they go wrong.

Difference between 1-2-1 contracts and terms and conditions

1-2-1 contracts are best for bespoke work and complex projects. There’s more of an opportunity to negotiate. Your clients will more likely read it. In a court of law, judges are easier on suppliers with a 1-2-1.

If you are selling in bulk, it might be more appropriate to have terms and conditions on a website. If you’re selling online, you need T&Cs on your site. They need to see them at the right stage, before they buy (a pop-up where they have to tick to say they agree to the T&C’s is best). They have to confirm that they’ve seen and agree to your T&C’s. You don’t negotiate online terms and conditions. Judges are harder on suppliers with T&C’s.

Get really clear on your policies, your refunds, your exchanges etc.

If you’re selling to consumers (not stockists), you need to be aware of the Consumer Legislation Act.

All T&C’s must include a cooling off period. If you’re selling goods and services, and someone pays upfront, there’s a 14 day period to change their mind. You have to refund them if they change their mind. If they start your services, they lose the right. They may be entitled to a proportionate refund. You need to find out what your obligations are.

If people pay via paypal and ask for refund, paypal freeze that money. But if you have a contract in place, you will have more of a chance of getting that money.

What you need on your website


Terms of use- You need these on every website. They let people know what they can and can’t do; if they can comment on your blog, what they can and can’t post. Terms of use protects your intellectual property and it’s also a chance to put in a disclaimer for your services- medical etc.

Privacy policy- These are for when you’re getting people’s emails for your mailing lists etc. It’s what you will and won’t do with people’s data.

Cookie policy- If you use analytical cookies. Most cookie policies are the same, but don’t nick other information, get your own drafted up.

Terms of supply- These are for you if you sell things. It is the customer contract that they need to agree to before they buy. Get one drafted up by a lawyer. It’s fully worth investing in something that is on brand and in line with your business values.

Don’t copy what you find on the internet. Copyright belongs to whoever created it, but it’s also rubbish a lot of the time. Just because it’s on the internet and someone is using it, doesn’t mean it’s correct, may be out of date, and it may be illegal.

Important things to include in your contract are what everyone is doing, payment, what you going to paid, how, what happens if it’s late, intellectual property, what people can and can’t do to materials being sent to them.

Liability- you need to be limiting your liability to what is reasonable to your services and your products. Say you created a website and it was late, you accept you messed up, you might be happy to give a refund but you don’t want to open up other compensations.

Intellectual property

Patents- these are to do with inventions. If you invent something technical or a gadget, that would need to be patented. These are expensive, lengthy and not really relevant to online shop owners, makers etc.

Trademarks- A trademark is any sign that can be represented graphically and is capable of undertaking goods and services from. This could be a name, a logo, a strapline, a name of a programme or product or service. You will want to protect that and stop other people from using it. Even if you don’t register a trademark but you spend time on that venture, you have an unregistered trademark and you might be able to stop people, but it’s a lot more difficult compared to registered. Register your great name or logo or strapline as soon as possible! When registering online, you register for different classes. It is a bit approximate and may be more than one thing, but it’s more money for each class. There is a service called The Right Start service where you pay £100 upfront and then submit the form, and they tell you if there’s anything wrong.

With both ™ and Copyright, make it clear to people what they can and can’t do in an obvious way.

Copyright- Copyright comes into being naturally, you don’t really have to do anything in the UK. There is no IP in an idea, but you can protect a visual representation of an idea; anything you’ve written, drawn etc. Natasha would recommend that if you produce anything, add the C symbol, name of the entity, the year it was created. With goods, design rights, you have unregistered, registered and community design rights. CD rights are trying to make it easier for people to get protection on their designs. They can’t be surface things, however, it has to be specific design. Community design rights are better than English Design rights as that is all about function rather than being wider.

Prevention is better than cure. Having a trademark and a contract will put you in a great position.

Other things you might want to think of as you’re upleveling

If you expand your team, e.g start using a VA, make sure you have a contract with anyone you work with, any independent contractors. You need make sure an agreement is in place over anything you ask them to do and pay for. They sign the IP over to you. Indemnity for tax clause, they’re not an employee.

Three key things from this Expertise Session-

  • Feel positive about legal foundations.
  • Consider assets regularly: what's of value of me, what do I want to protect.
  • Above anything else, you need a customer contract and terms of use etc on your website.

who you should really be competing with

onegirlband-whoyoushouldbecompetingwith

Have you ever had that drop-of-the-stomach feeling when you spot someone in your field/market has launched a product that looks just like one of yours? Or have you ever felt defeat, disappointment, discouragement, when you notice a once-loyal customer now shops with them? Have you ever felt like quitting because it looks like they’re so much better than you? If you’re like many small business owners, looking at your competitor’s work and approach can breed feelings of self-doubt, jealousy, and a whole of stress. But here’s the truth;

You are your competition, and that’s the only person you should be competing with.  Comparing your own successes to the perceived success of others is a waste of your time. Don't waste your day by focussing on other people’s efforts rather than looking and working on yours.

Think back to when you last doubted your abilities because of what you saw in someone else. The reality is, you probably weren’t seeing the whole picture of their situation. A good chunk of my clients will come to me feeling down and ready to quit because they’ve been focussing on someone else in their field, and have come to the conclusion they are never going to reach that level of success. I can tell you that that someone else is probably feeling exactly the same about another ‘successful’ person, and that's the truth of it. We all feel defeated by the green-eyed monster at some point.

If you’re basing this perception off of someone’s social media, remember that all you are seeing is literally a square of someone’s life. You’re seeing their highlight reel, not the full picture. You’re seeing the tidy workspace, but you're not seeing the stock overflowing on shelves behind, or the stress and tiredness in their eyes. You're seeing how many followers they have compared to you, but interaction is all that matters, not numbers. They could be booking some serious commissions, but they might not even be getting paid for their work. It might seem like they have their life together, but chances are they don’t. Do anyone of us really?!

I’m not going to say it’s ridiculous to feel this way, because they are your feelings and they’re valid, but these feelings of self-doubt can be so detrimental to you and your business’ wellbeing + growth. It’s time to starting focussing on you, and bringing your best work to the table, so keep these tips in mind when the green-eyed monster says hello:

BE 100% YOU

It can be tempting to adjust your brand to how you think people want it to be, because you’ve seen them respond to how your competition does it. But, oh my word, please please don’t. Why are you in business if you want to be just like everyone else? You obviously set up your business for a reason, and I’m going to take a guess that the reason was you. So why change it to something someone else has already done? Just do you, and remember why you started.

GET REAL

Sometimes when we get upset because we see other people slaying it, it’s because of our own insecurities. To stop comparing yourself to others, it’s time to get real and be honest with yourself. Are you happy with your efficiency, your skill level, your approach? Are you happy with where your business is going? When you start feeling defeated after looking at what someone else is doing, ask yourself why. What specifically is making you feel outdone, rather than ready to out-do?

USE YOUR HEAD

If you are someone who feels overwhelmed when their competitor comes up on their feed, unfollow them! Simple. In fact, this is something I insist on. If you are constantly looking at their social media and how well they are doing, and you’re met with that beaten-down feeling, don’t look. It’s not fun for you, and it’s just a waste of time. How about making a note of people you’d like to check in from time to time, and scheduling in some time every month for a bit of research? It could be just to see what they’re getting up to; how they interact with their ideal audience. You might even learn a thing or two, and you could see what they are lacking in order to come up with a way to stand out against them.

THERE IS A SEAT FOR EVERYONE

You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is ok. Your competitor is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, as well. If you have done your market and customer research well, you will know exactly who your ideal audience is and that is who you should be aiming for when it comes to drawing people in. Even if you have a direct competitor, chances are they may going after someone with a different income status, or a different age group. There is room for everyone.

COMMUNITY OVER COMPETITION

Coming back to ‘there is room for everyone’. There really is. This is such a big part of One Girl Band, and there's a reason why. We are all doing our own thing our own way, and that is what matters. Let’s quit with the drama, and just accept we are all here to work and be the best versions of ourselves. It's proven that we work better and smarter when we join forces, rather than icing each other out. I remember my mum was worried when I started offering brushlettering workshops because she thought people might take my tips and start their own paper goods company. And if they do, good on them. As long as they do things their way and are 100% authentic in their approach, it won't be like LH design, and that's fine. It gets messy and complicated when people unfortunately take it the other way and imitate/rip off their teachers, but that's a topic for another day!

Just remember; constantly look at opportunities for your growth and progress, be 100% you, and you’ll reap the benefits. I'm cheering you on.

what to do when it gets hard

As small business owners, freelancers and generally creative humans, we go through times of pure joy and excitement, but we also go through struggles. Things may not be working the way we wanted them to; money may be non-existent or we just might be having a down week, where everything feels like it’s going wrong. When you’re going through times like these (which we all do!) it’s important to remember that you can change it around. You have the power, the passion and capabilities to get through the shite, and to come out of the other side stronger, clearer and ready for action. Here are a few tips on what to do when it gets hard.
 

Visualise the life that you want
 

If you follow my instagram, you might’ve seen that I did two talks this weekend; one at Google Campus in London with Young Gold Teeth, and another with Brighton Etsy Team at The Old Market in Hove. Both talks were different, but I spoke about this topic at both, and I’ll tell you the anecdote I told the others.

I was watching an interview with Jim Carrey and Oprah from 1997 the other day, and it was all about how Jim Carrey is a massive believer in the law of attraction and visualisation. Before he hit the big time, he would drive up and down Mulholland Drive in Hollywood every night, visualising these huge directors telling him they wanted to him in their films and what huge fans they were of his work. He also wrote himself a check for $10 million for ‘acting services rendered’ and dated it Thanksgiving 1995. Keeping it in his pocket for at least 3 years, it deteriorated and deteriorated until 6 months before thanksgiving ‘95, he earned $10 million from Dumb and Dumber. Whaaaaaat?!

This is just one example showing that visualisation really works, if you put in the hard work. Of course, you can’t visualise the life you want and then just watch Netflix. You need to put in your best work each day to see results.
 

Stay positive

 

Mindset is just as important in business as is completing tasks like invoicing, accounts, emails etc. If you go into your studio/office each day with a smile on your face and at least one positive thought, you have the power to have a brilliant day and get through it.

I know that sometimes I can feel awful even if nothing bad has happened. It’s just a natural human feeling, which can be all the more frustrating as you don’t know how to solve it! But the key is to understand and accept that not every day is going to be brilliant, and that’s fine. You just need to bring your best work to the table and use your day with intention.
 

Connect

 

This is the one of the main reasons as to why One Girl Band exists! If you don’t get a whole lot of support from family, friends or your home environment, talk to the people who understand exactly what you’re going through. OGB is about bringing creative women together who are going through the same trials and tribulations of self-employment so that they can see we are all in the same boat. We’re all doing our own thing, and that means that we can feel lonely and isolated from time to time (or, let's be honest, most days!). We all feel the struggle when it comes to money and income, or workflow and scheduling. It helps me immensely when I talk to one of my pals who is also self-employed about any challenges I have because I know that she gets it. There’s the spark in the air when I realise she knows exactly what I’m on about. Post on the facebook group whenever you're feeling low and I promise we'll be there for you.
 

Re-focus


If things are disastrously shitty, and you don't know if you want to do this anymore, take a break. Go on holiday, a retreat, a staycation; anything that will get you away from work. I had a mini break just last week when I went to stay at my OH's parent's house because I just needed a change of scenery. If you're getting frustrated and feel like you're going round in circles, then let your clients/customers know that you're taking your break, and actually take one. Avoid emails, avoid socials. Just focus on looking after you. It's perfectly ok to do this, so try not to let that guilt crop up. They say that absence makes the heart fonder, anyway. Then, when you get back, answer these questions. Sit with your answers, take time but try not to over think. This will hopefully help you gain some clarity on what the hell you're doing.
 

  • What do you want to make happen in your business, at this time?
  • What are the current career goals you are working towards?
  • For the next 6-14 months, what do you want to focus on in your work?
  • 5 years from now, where would you love to be in your career?

 

Being a small business owner, or a freelancer or an artist isn’t all of the fun and games you see portrayed on social media. We’re not all sipping cocktails at Soho House in meetings, or sitting by a poolside in Thailand replying to emails (no bad vibes to those who do!). It’s hard. Some days it can feel like the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and those feelings of self-doubt, discouragement and struggle can make you want to quit. But if you show up every day with your truest intentions and the most commitment and dedication you’ve ever given to anything ever, you will see results.

I promise you it’s worth it.

I’m cheering you on.