2 Game Changers I Learned in Entrepreneurship Class

Game Changers

Last week, I completed a two-part entrepreneurship workshop, So You’re The Owner of a Million Dollar Company and You Don’t Even Know It! While the whole class was jaw-droppingly good from beginning to end (really, it takes a lot to keep business chit-chat interesting and Stephanie Lynn sure delivered), I thought I’d share my top two takeaways. While it’s never a walk in the park running a small business, these two points were huge eye openers for me:

1. To overcome your fears, put them on a shelf. Literally.

Hear me out: we all have fears when it comes to running a business / blog / etc. and I have a lot of them. If you’ve met me, you’ll know that I’m confident, a hard worker and I’m never afraid to seize new opportunities but at the same time, I also value stability. There’s a really fine line between craving a stable life and playing it too safe.

In class, we were asked to write a list of everything we were afraid of. I quickly scribbled down half a page of notes without a second thought. Easy enough, I figured. Fear flows out freely if you let it and glancing down at that paper, I was holding onto much more of it than I realized.

Next, we were each handed a Ziploc bag and told to place that list inside, zip it closed, take it home and place it on a very high shelf. It was time to put away those fears, once and for all.

I know this exercise sounds simple but sometimes the act of physically doing something is such a powerful thing. Just writing that list wasn’t enough — how many times have we each written those same lists when we’re scared? But the symbolism of physically putting those fears on a shelf really inspired me to finally let go and move on.

2. For your business to flourish, you MUST understand the difference between price and value.

No matter how fabulous your business is, there will always be people who come along and ask for a discount. There will always be people who want something for nothing. But if you’re not benefitting, don’t be afraid to say no. It’s hard but most of the time, these are not your ideal customers anyway.

Your ideal customers do value your offerings enough to pay you what you’re worth. They respect your talent and your experience. These customers aren’t the easiest to find at first but I promise you that they’re out there.

One of the keys to convincing your ideal customers that your product or service is worth the price you’ve set is to back that value up with a story. For instance, Stephanie used the example of her business, Sweet Spot Skirts — her story is that all of her products are manufactured in the U.S. and she provides jobs for unemployed women. She clearly outlines her commitments here.

Any time someone balks at your prices, reaffirm the value they are receiving from doing business with you. Do not lower your pricing unless you have very specific reasoning for doing so (such as a holiday sale, anniversary and so on).

If you have sales all the time and offer up a discount to anyone who comes along, you’re diluting your offerings and once you’ve gone down, it’s a tough climb back up.

Thinking back, I had come across these two concepts at earlier points in my life but sometimes it takes a certain teacher outlining specific experiences to bring them to life. And when they finally click, they’re lessons you’ll never forget.

In The Mood #7: Lemon Zest

In The Mood

This week’s In The Mood is all about yellow. Go bright or go home! I’ve been having a serious love affair with the hue lately — first, it was the mix of yellow Poppin accessories that made their way into my office and then it was the blazingly bright espresso machine setup. Yellow feels so full of optimism and I can’t get enough.

In The Mood

In The Mood

In The Mood

These very Big Bird-like Matikos are definitely one of the more eccentric pairs of shoes I own but I tend to balance them out with all black ensembles. I always joke that shoes like this are the equivalent of an explanation point at the end of an outfit!

View more of the In The Mood series here.

The Week In Pictures: 5.24.13

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

All I can say is that: 1. I’m so glad it’s Friday and 2. I’m so glad it’s Memorial Day weekend! Woohoo!

On Wednesday night, I wrapped up the second session of an entrepreneurship class and absorbed so much helpful content in the process — I love those moments when your mind feels blown open with new possibilities and you can’t wait to start digging in. Since then, I’ve been crunching numbers and working on budgets (not my strong point at all!) and working on assets for my new business. It’s all a big mix of fear and excitement, which I’m finally learning to embrace.

In less than a month, I’ll be in New York gearing up for the sixth installment of The Blogcademy so we’re in pre-game prep mode getting everything sent off to print (there’s always updates to tote bags, workbooks and sponsor cards). It’s like special homecoming to me because New York was the first city we ever did a workshop in…and I remember how nervous I was! So, so nervous. It was just last October but so much has changed since then.

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

I love the silhouettes of these planters in our front window! I’m always snapping photos of them in different light, just because. I always forget how eccentric my house is until we have new visitors. Speaking of visitors, my friend Mary Bee from LA will be staying with us in a few short weeks! The last time she was in Portland, it went something like this (and yes, I already told her to pack the gnome).

Nubby Twiglet The Week In Pictures

Have a great extended weekend, everyone! We’re going to be staying home and in a way I’m glad to just chill out, have some quiet time and avoid vacation traffic and crowds. See you back here Tuesday!

What about you? And big travel plans you can’t wait to kick off?

Link Love: 5.23.13

link love

link love

Source: Emily Shur for Paper Magazine

• Are you charging enough for your services?

• Curious about how notable places and streets in San Francisco got their names? You’ll love this site.

• I keep hearing about the Fascination Advantage Test and Breanna Rose piqued my interest further to take it.

• Hitting the road this summer? Kate Spade has a fantastic series of city guides.

• I love reading about people’s perceptions of wealth and money. This interview with a man who made 570K last year and is still worried about income (!!!) was fascinating.

• Here’s the difference between price and value.

• 10 things you don’t want your yoga instructor to say to you!

• I love this aerial photography of scenes from around the world by Katrin Korfmann.

• How to piss off every New Yorker in 36 seconds.

• The top 10 questions that millennials ask the internet.

• 8 successful entrepreneurs give themselves lessons they wish they would have known.

• I like Jasmine Star’s advice on how to get interaction on a Facebook fan page.

• Have you ever received a ludicrously large tip? Did these thoughts run through your head? 

• 100 abandoned houses.

Brushing Up On The Basics: The Ultimate Small Business Guide

The Ultimate Small Business Guide

As any small business owner knows, running a company isn’t always pretty. Yet blogs and social media tend to gloss over a lot of the most unflattering aspects.

Back in December, I picked up The Ultimate Small Business Guide, hellbent on brushing up on the basics before the new year hit. I had good intentions but as projects began to pile up, I pushed it off to the side…until this week.

In truth, this was partly because I tend to gravitate towards more light-hearted, philosophical quick reads when it comes to business and productivity (my favorites are Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite and It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be, both by Paul Arden). But I kicked myself into gear because I realized that I was lacking a solid book of business basics in my personal library. I wanted a source I could depend on outside of endless googling (and questionable results).

I’m not gonna lie, this book is a heavy read; it’s solidly informational and not something you can just fly right through. But if you’re wondering if you have what it really takes to run a business, if you already have a business but need to create brand awareness, if you are curious about the basics when it comes to staff planning and employment law and if you’re interested in brushing up on trademarks and intellectual property, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s covered in fine detail in this book.

Too often, we get excited and jump too quickly into a new business without really stepping back and doing the proper research so I particularly loved that this book starts out with a chapter quizzing you on if you really have the drive to be an entrepreneur. Instead of building you up, The Ultimate Small Business Guide makes sure you’re faced with the cold, hard truth and then takes you through the process of understanding everything you’ll be responsible for. It’s all this un-fun stuff that often gets overlooked in the pursuit of the perceived glamour of being your own boss.

At the end of each section, there’s a column dedicated to what to avoid. Once again, it digs into the sticky situations we can find ourselves in if we’re uninformed. It’s important to keep it real, even when the real can be scary.

The book ends with something we’d rather not think about: how to properly wind down a business and put it to bed. Once again, this is a topic that’s not on a lot of small business owners’ minds when they’re full of passion in the beginning.

The Ultimate Small Business Guide won’t be for everyone but it is an enlightening look into what it takes to be a responsible business owner. I’m so glad this book covers the good, the bad and the ugly because it’s good to know what you’re in for and how to handle those really difficult decisions. The more informed you are moving forward, the easier the whole process will feel.

I’m on the hunt for some more solidly informative business books. Any favorites you’d recommend?

The Typofiles #125: Crazy for Neenah Paper Books!

Typofiles Neenah Paper Books

The more time we spend camped out in front of computers, the more obsessed we get with the tangible. Or, at least I do. I’ve confessed my undying love for magazine subscriptions (even when they pile up in the corner of my office), I love piecing together a real life mood board and I also have a little obsession with paper sample books.

Typofiles Neenah Paper Books

Books of paper samples used to be lurking everywhere. And, they still are if you look hard enough but not in the same quantity they once were. So when I see a really well designed one, I want to absorb every little detail and Neenah Paper has taken it to a whole new level with their latest batch.

Typofiles Neenah Paper Books

Handed out as a “brick” that then snapped into four smaller sample books (!!!), each page is meticulously designed over their different paper offerings. A lot of the designs have a throwback 90s feel (the best of the 90s, not the garish, pixelated stuff) and it’s really inspiring. I didn’t want to keep this goodness only to myself so I sat on my floor, scanning tiny page after page to give you a glimpse of the awesomeness covering these pages.

Typofiles Neenah Paper Books

Inspiration is everywhere. Even in paper sample books. Bravo to Neenah Paper for taking it to a whole new level.

View even more Typofiles columns here.

Coffee at Home? Yes! My New Routine

Coffee at Home: Delonghi KMix

Coffee at home. What a novel idea! Not. Sadly, for me it was. I knew how expensive espresso machines were and I kept using that as an excuse to not own one. Yet, when I looked at my bank statement every month and realized how much I was forking over at local coffee shops, I knew that in a few short months, the machine and accessories would come close to the same cost. It was time to take the leap, once and for all.

Growing up, my parents were early adopters of at-home espresso machines. In the late 80s, at least in Portland, they weren’t common at all but my mom just happened to be a gourmet food buyer and had some connections (I think their original Gaggia is still buried in my dad’s shed somewhere!) but their at-home routine never rubbed off on me.

Coffee at Home: Delonghi KMix

I never liked espresso, or coffee at all for that matter. Maybe that’s because the first time I had the chance to drink coffee as a legit adult was at my suburban office job where I’d spend my summer breaks from college in the accounting department, catching up their very lax filing (the worst!). The coffee maker was in the warehouse and I’d watch my coworkers, 30 years my senior, chain-smoking and guzzling their black coffee every morning. It had that terrible burnt smell and as you can imagine, was so unappealing.

Coffee at Home: Delonghi KMix

Things slowly shifted for me at my first agency job. When you have a delivery of fresh Stumptown beans every week and often work late into the night, coffee quickly becomes your new best friend, whether you really like it or not. Over time, I got used to the taste. And walking to coffee shops with friends became a nice social activity and an excuse to take a break from the computer. Still, I was aware that I was racking up a small fortune with every swipe of my debit card. It’s only mildly funny when you log into your checking account and realize that half of the expenses can be attributed to coffee shops.

Coffee at Home: Delonghi KMix

Over the holidays, I started researching espresso machines and landed on the DeLonghi KMix ones. I’ve been around cheaply made, mostly plastic machines and they never held up for more than a year of regular use. I am a fan of saving up and buying what you want in the first place and being really satisfied versus buying something cheaper and then pining away, wishing you’d bought your first choice…and then getting it down the road anyway.

Coffee at Home: Delonghi KMix

The Delonghi model I settled on had solid reviews overall (realistically, I don’t think any espresso machine under a grand has perfect reviews — crazy but true) and came in a selection of appealingly bold colors. Joey loves making espresso (I got really lucky in the dude department!) so I put him in charge and surprisingly, I actually like his coffee better than almost all the shops around town.

We keep Torani vanilla syrup on hand and usually pick up a bag of pre-ground beans at Trader Joe’s that easily lasts us two weeks. I like either skim or vanilla soy milk in my coffee and really, the whole process couldn’t be simpler.

Coffee at Home: Delonghi KMix

These are a few of my favorite things in our little setup: 1. Avril Paint Chip Table Runner in blue or green (mine is sold out), 2. Torani Vanilla Syrup, 3. Saturday Morning Mug in Windowpane, 4. Saturday Morning Mug in Yellow, 5. DeLonghi Espresso Maker, 6. KRUPS Frothing Pitcher, 7. Stainless Steel Coffee Mug Holder and 8. Crate & Barrel Espresso Cups (sadly out of stock!).

I still love the social aspect of going out for coffee but overall, I’ve cut those trips down to less than half. That’s not only a huge savings but it’s good for the environment (coffee cups mugs versus to-go cups). I’d like to continue to make a conscious effort to cut back on going out for coffee and two months in, we’re still using the machine nearly every day. So far, so good!

I want to know, do you make coffee at home?