3 Main Tips for Collaborating with Those in your Industry

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One of the things I love most about owning a business is the connection I have made with other industry creatives and businesswomen.  Whether I am planning an event, designing floral, or styling a soiree, I have worked with and collaborated with some of the best in the industry!

With more than 1,000 events under my belt, I have three main tips for collaborating with those in your industry to build your portfolio and network.

 We all know that sending a DM, leaving a voicemail, or emailing a company or person to collaborate can be a bit nerve wracking but rewarding if done well.  I receive numerous calls, emails, and text messages on a daily basis with resumes, portfolios, and daily business grind.   

Collaboration has one goal…to build community + business.

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To preface my tips, I want to let you know that I recently took the Enneagram test and I am a type 3 – an Achiever.  So my tips to collaborating with others might be a bit more to the point and less lovey and soft haha! We type 3’s are busy achieving things and have a very business like mindset so we don’t beat around too many bushes.  In fact, we don’t even beat around little tiny shrubs!!

So for all my business boss ladies out there here you go. Also… don’t take anything to heart. But in fact, practice brevity and you will come across more business like. 

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1.    There is a process to collaborating with the people you want to partner with.

In order to gather the person’s attention, make it brief and send a plan.  Businesswomen can be swamped and if you present a quick visual, a date, what you need, and what your plan is, they are more likely to respond. Don’t bombard.  Sending 5 paragraph emails seems daunting to reply to. I when growing up, I was told by my dad that a 5 minute phone call is much easier than a 15 minute email with a 2 day response time. with that thought in mind, if several days pass by and you don’t hear back, call them.  I know telephone calls seem foreign to most these days, but an actual phone call proves that you’re a professional who is willing to take the time to step out and step up in your business.

2.    Have your plan in place and be confident about it, but also know that a true creative businesswomen will want to put “their touch” on it so it benefits them as well.

If you are confident and well assured of what you want and what they can bring to the table, they will most likely hop on board.  Your plan allows the other person to bring their talent to the table. You are only asking for what you need and they won’t feel taken advantage of or exhausted from the submission forms that hit their inbox. It will then feel like team collaboration and not a personal gain.

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3.     Enjoy the collaboration!

When I first started my business, I had some poor collaborations because I reached out to people who didn’t truly want to collaborate and who were actually …well, lazy!

I ended up doing all the work and quickly learned that collaborations were not meant to exhaust and drain, but rather to give joy and be an outlet for creativity with other like-minded individuals. And to be honest, there are some people that you won’t be able to work with and then others you will want to work with time and time again.

Collaborations are meant to bring out the best in each person you choose and to benefit both.

How have collaborations helped your business and expanded your community and reach?

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Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.

– Henry Ford

NOTE: Collaboration photos included in this post are from here, here, here, and here!

 

 

 

 


READ MORE ABOUT  SARAH  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GAL  GUIDES SECTION

READ MORE ABOUT SARAH (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GAL GUIDES SECTION

WRITTEN BY SARAH JOHNS: ENTREPRENEUR, CREATIVE, FLORAL AND EVENT DESIGNER.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know You Could Write Off

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If you’re a small business owner and dread dealing with taxes, know you are not alone!

With it, comes with the worry of audits, fees, and money owed. But while it can be stressful, it does come with benefits for business owners - like writing off all those business expenses to help minimize your tax bill. Let’s go over some of them! 


RENT 

Most businesses have to pay rent of some sort. Usually, businesses are renting buildings out like storefronts, warehouses, office spaces, and more. These all cost money in the way of rent. Luckily, business owners can write off the rent for their business on their taxes! 

UTILITIES

Along with rent, you are going to have to pay the utility costs for where your business is located. Electricity, water, and internet all cost extra money on top of rent. But not to worry, these can be written off too! 

YOUR HOME OFFICE

Maybe you don’t rent a separate building for your business but you do have a home office. There is a tax deduction for that too! How much you can deduct depends on how large your home office is. You can calculate the deduction based off of the proportion of your office space compared to the total square footage and utility bills of your house. Have these numbers ready for your tax preparer when filing!

VEHICLE EXPENSES

If you are driving for work, you can too deduct this off your expenses. If your vehicle is both for business and personal life, just make sure to log your vehicle costs (gas, repairs, maintenance) and the mileage for both categories. 


TRAVEL

For some businesses, work requires the owner or employees to travel. If you or your employees are traveling out of town, you can deduct both your transportation and lodging expenses. As long as the trip truly is for business purposes of course!

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MEALS & FOOD

Meals and food that are related to your business are a few of those partially detectable expenses. Most of your meal expenses are deductible to up to 50%. This includes travel meals.


INSURANCE

Insurance is a must have in business and luckily it is also something you can deduct on your taxes. Items like your business insurance, liability coverage, and your employees’ insurance can be a great deductible for you and help save on taxes. 

ADVERTISING SPENDING

Didn’t think you could write off the money you use to advertise your business?  Well, you can! Types of advertising you can write off include social media, newspapers, digital ads, email marketing, and more. 


EDUCATION

Continuing education and personal development can be definitely expensive. Which makes it daunting and scary to invest in. Even though it is needed to advance your business. Thankfully, you can write off education that is related to your business - like conference tickets and online courses.


CHARITABLE DONATIONS

Just like on your personal taxes, you can deduct charitable donations from your business taxes as well. Just make sure you have the receipts to prove it!

It Doesn’t Have to Be Scary 

Taxes don’t have to be scary. Keep track of your deductions and don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional if you need some assistance.

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READ MORE ABOUT ADRIENNE (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GALS SECTION

WRITTEN BY ADRIENNE ZIMBRO: ACCOUNTANT, CONTENT CREATOR, & ENCOURAGER

Writing Content for Your Business, Part 2: Website Content

Welcome to the second installation of our Writing Content for Your Business series. Last time, I talked about why blogging is still a viable and important piece of your business’s content strategy. This time however, I’m tackling your website content, which I dare say is one of the single most important pieces of marketing copy you can write.

Here’s why.

Your website is where your business lives online. It tells people what, why, and how you do what you do. It’s where you introduce yourself to your audience and give them a sense of who you are as a person and a business owner.

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And—this is super important—it’s where you clearly direct prospective customers or clients to take action to further interact with or buy from you.

For these reasons, you should write your website content to accomplish these goals. Looked at through this lens, the process is quite strategic.

There are many really good marketing writers who teach this in detail (and I suggest you do yourself a favor and read what they have to say, specifically Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand and Ray Edwards’ How to Write Copy that Sells), but for brevity’s sake, I’ll pull the main points they espouse and break them down for you here.

How to write killer website content in a (abnormally large) nutshell:


YOUR HOME PAGE

This is literally the first place most people land on your website, so it’s imperative you provide clarity about what you do so they’ll keep reading. Various reports say the average reader will stay 15 seconds on your site before navigating away if you haven’t given them a good enough reason to stay. I’ve actually heard that time reported as few as 3 seconds. The point is, you have very little time to capture a reader’s attention. So…

1. BE RIDICULOUSLY CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU OFFER.

To grab and keep someone’s attention, you must be crystal-clear about what you offer so they know immediately if the answer they are looking for is on your website.

To do this, you must first become crystal-clear about what you offer.

This may seem obvious, but honestly, how simply can you describe what you do? And would the average person understand what you mean?

Trying to be cute on your home page is basically marketing suicide.

Just don’t.

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We don’t know what “Upleveling Your Spiritual Vibration” means. Truly, think of all the possible ways to interpret that… I mean, the mind reels.

However, we do know what it means when you say, “I teach regular people how to incorporate meditation into their everyday lives”. OK! Now we’re getting somewhere.

You want people to understand right away what you offer so they can decide if that’s what they’re looking for or not. And there’s a good chance they do want your product or service or information so long as you don’t disguise it under weird language that doesn’t actually say anything.

2. HAVE A CLEAR CALL TO ACTION PROMINENTLY POSITIONED.

People need (and want) to be told what to do when it comes to taking action to get your product/service/information. They do not have the time or desire to interpret vague messages and follow a meandering path toward actually getting what they want. The sooner you can connect them with their desired outcome (buy the product, set up the consultation, learn about the subject), the more likely they’ll be to actually do those things.

That may seem obnoxiously obvious but think about how easy (or difficult) you make it for people who come to your site to quickly get what they came there for. Go to your website with the eyes of someone who knows nothing about you or what you do and see how easy it is to figure it out and navigate to the end result.

It is possible you may be too entrenched in your business to be able to do this objectively, so you may be better served to have a trusted friend or family member do it for you. Either way, do that exercise, be willing to be completely honest with yourself, and then make the changes to convert browsers into buyers.

Here’s one quick and easy way to do that: Place a clear call to action button in the top righthand corner of your home page. Use words like “get” and “click here” and “download”—basically any directional word that clearly tells your reader what to do to get what they want. Make sure there’s no ambivalence about what they’re doing or what they’re getting when they click that button. And if you don’t have a call to action button, for the love of all that’s holy, add one right now!

3. HELP READERS NAVIGATE TO THE RIGHT INFORMATION.

It’s possible you offer more than one service or product. Your home page is where you clearly lay out each one and guide readers to the right information for each one. This is easily achieved through boxes like these ones from online marketing guru Amy Porterfield’s website:

She clearly lays out three paths you can take, depending on what you need most. When you click on the button, you are taken to the cheat sheet she promised (and you add yourself to her mailing list, which is another super important facet of your overall marketing content strategy…but that’s for another article).

Clear. Simple. Effective.

Your boxes don’t have to go to freebies that you use to build your email list (though, if they do, bonus points for you), but they should lead to the most appropriate page on your website that answers your visitor’s question or meets their need.
Which leads us to…


YOUR SERVICES PAGE

If your home page is the first stop on your customer’s journey, then the next step is your services page (and, ideally, your home page should lead them there several times). Because this is where you get down to brass tacks about what you offer. From artwork to consulting services, present the options to your visitors as (wait for it…) CLEARLY as possible.

LAY OUT YOUR OFFERINGS CLEARLY AND MAKE THEM EASY TO BUY.

If you offer several services, you may choose to present them individually or in packages, but be sure you convey all the value people receive with each one.

Bullet points are a nice way for readers to quickly scan the benefits of each offer. They also force you to be more concise about communicating them.

The goal here is to say what you offer, what the person can expect to gain from it, and how to receive it. Donald Miller does this really well using boxes (of sorts) on his page for the online marketing workshop he offers:

Don’t overcomplicate this part but do put careful thought into the strategy of what you’re doing and on how best to execute it.


YOUR ABOUT PAGE

This is the page where you introduce yourself more personally to people, so it’s a great place to let your personality shine. However, it’s not the place to go on and on about yourself.

*Record scratch*

What?!? Isn’t that the whole purpose of an About page?

Well, kinda. But not really. Here’s what I mean.

In Building a Story Brand, Donald Miller explains that the most compelling stories are those where we follow a hero’s journey through hardship to reach a desired goal. Very often, the hero has a guide who gets them there. Gandalf guides Frodo in the Lord of the Rings,  Dumbledore guides Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series… they are essential characters in the story, but they are not the main characters.

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This, Miller argues, is how to effectively position yourself in relation to your customer because every person sees themselves as the hero in their own journey. Trying to place yourself in that role upsets that order and doesn’t serve them best.

So your About page is where you lay out what you know to be their hero’s journey as it relates to what you offer.

For example, if you sell toxin-free makeup and skincare products, your customer’s hero’s journey is to learn about the toxins she currently uses on herself and her family, discover why they’re harming them, and replace them with safer products. She remains the hero of her story, her life, her family, and you simply serve as the guide who shows her what she needs to know to make the best choice when it comes to the beauty and skincare products she buys.

Language you might use in your About page could be, “You might have heard that traditional skincare products and makeup actually contain harmful chemicals and toxins. You definitely want to make the safest choice for your family, but with all the information out there, you’re not sure where to start. Don’t worry: You’re in exactly the right place.”

This way, your readers see themselves in the journey you’ve described, and they feel reassured that they have found the place to get their questions answered. You will guide them to the right solution.

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Then it becomes natural to tell them a little bit of your own journey to using non-toxic products and the benefits you’ve experienced as a result. You can sprinkle in details about your professional experience, as it’s relevant: “I always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and used to do it as a teacher, but now I’ve discovered a new avenue where I can both educate people and tangibly improve their lives—and even advocate for better laws that make our skincare safe!” You can also share bits about your personal life here, as it pertains to your business.

Your About page is also a way to sneak in details about who you most love working with—your ideal customer. You can achieve this by describing how you like to work with your customers and what you most enjoy about the process. This way, those who are drawn to your approach will be naturally drawn to you too, and you’re more likely to attract your people who are always so much more fun to work with!

In addition to these three pages, you should also have a Contact page that includes a field where people can email you with questions and that should also be linked to your email marketing provider, like Mail Chimp or ConvertKit. If you’d like people to be able to call you, make sure you include your phone number there too.

If you implement all of these principles into your website, you will have a fully functional, incredibly effective website that will help you reach the people you most want to help and keep crushing it like the #momboss you are!


READ MORE ABOUT  MEREDITH  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GALS  SECTION.

READ MORE ABOUT MEREDITH (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GALS SECTION.

WRITTEN BY MEREDITH WATKINS: ENTREPRENEUR, EDITOR, WRITER.

If you liked this and would like to learn more about creating crazy-effective marketing content, visit me at www.meredithwatkins.com. I’d love to help your business grow through smart, intentional strategies.

No one talks about what happens when the pursuit of happiness doesn’t work out the way you thought it would

It’s been said that the test of a true man’s character is the way he behaves when no one is watching. The last few years of my life have lead me to believe that a better testament of personal character is how we respond to life’s blows, and how we treat others when we lose everything.

This past year my family has lost every single asset that has come to define modern day success.

Whether filling out school, home, or job applications, our entry to security and opportunity are all qualified upon this value of financial success…of winning.

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The world tells us to boldly chase after what sets our soul on fire. To be fearless and to #riseandgrind. We put entrepreneurs and risk-takers on pedestals, and we are led to believe that if we want something bad enough, and are also willing to put in the time and sacrifice that it takes, we can achieve all of our hearts greatest desires (these photos are an example of a dream come true…that was suddenly gone).

Sometimes that happens. My husband was lucky enough to achieve enormous success in business at a very early age. He brought significant impact to companies by doing things he was remarkably talented at, and those impacts made companies a great deal of money. His personal financial gains from those wins made taking more bold leaps possible, and seven years ago when we embarked on building our life together, we set off to do just that.

At that time, I believed that my husband and I were both destined and entitled to even more “success” because we were two of the most intelligent, honest, and hard-working people I know.

We do the right thing, even when that meant we took the biggest hits, because we value integrity above all else. We are not afraid of hard things.

We have collectively sacrificed so much to try and get ahead, and we did it all because success meant we had the opportunity to change other people’s lives.

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But even in the face of all of those realities, we managed to lose the two things that we thought we needed the most - my longing for security - and my husband’s desire for freedom.

Let’s be honest, those two losses were horribly difficult to swallow.

Some of our losses were due to the inevitable missteps that one takes when pioneering and disrupting into new territories, some were the byproducts of personal growth, and many of our losses (and the hardest to recover from) were the consequences of being taken advantage of by people who did not share our core values.

No one talks about what happens when the pursuit of happiness doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.

How do you stomach disappointment? How do you modify your lens of success when you try your best and you don’t succeed?

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And this is what I have learned as I stand here today in the reckoning of letting go of the security that I once believed defined me…

Most leaders believe that the biggest indicator of success is money, because money equals power, power equals freedom, and without freedom we have no control. I have learned however, that the things that give you the most fulfillment in life (for us, there is no greater meaning in life than the kind you experience as a parent) are often the things you lose sight of on the journey towards building your safety net.

While research has proven that money only increases happiness up to the point of about 70K a year, I still held on to this notion that ambition, if altruistic in nature, could bring purpose to your life.

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I surmised that business could act as a vehicle to create impact and to give back - and I have since come to understand that the biggest gifts I have given to others didn’t lie in the money I donated to charitable causes, or within the opportunities I provided, but in the ways I loved just a handful of people with my whole heart.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou

For a long time, I held onto this system of belief that my need for safety and freedom had to be met in order for me to be happy.

I have transformed that ideology in recent months to uncover quite the opposite. When you are the most stripped down and sitting in the absence of the things you think you need the most, is when you truly awaken to the magic of the world around you.

When you are forced to stop all the doing, grinding, charging, achieving, driving, hustling, and fighting is when you get still enough to focus on the being of human existence.

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I should admit that I am still in the process of forcing myself to stop the cycle. Accepting disappointment is certainly not my biggest strength.

When you don’t feel secure - you feel afraid - and its human nature to want to charge to fix it, control it, and solve it. When you feel stuck, and you don’t have answers to your problems, it is ever so difficult to let yourself be still and to focus on the sound of your child’s laugh, the wind at your back, the blessings you have in just being alive.

But this is the new measure of success I have set for myself and these are the goals I am striving towards: embracing disappointment and finding joy in the absence of getting what I thought I needed, being fully present to the simple joys of life, and expressing gratitude for what I have instead of mourning all that has been lost. 

The silver lining of my story is that when you lose everything, you get to wipe the slate clean and start over…and as it turns out the security, freedom, and success I have always wanted, was always right here for the taking. It just looks different than I expected. The world is still our oyster, and I wouldn’t bet against us.

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That’s all about doing, not being – and while doing will bring you moments of joy, it won’t necessarily reward you with lasting happiness. Stop and breathe. Be healthy.

Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.

If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow.  Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way.

We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species. Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.
— Richard Branson

READ MORE ABOUT  CHRISTINA  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GAL  GUIDES SECTION.

READ MORE ABOUT CHRISTINA (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GAL GUIDES SECTION.

WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA CERANNA: ENTREPRENEUR, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PHOTOGRAPHER, SOCIAL MEDIA & CONTENT STRATEGIST

4 Tips for Selling with Confidence

Many of us in sale-driven industries have heard of the acronym ABC. In other words, “Always Be Closing.”  In my world of sales and business however, I like to think of it as “Always Be Confident.” 

Why?

Because confidence is key to making a sale. 

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1. INSPIRE ALL FOUR SENSES

Create an environment in which you thrive and the potential client feels comfortable.  I work in the floral design and event planning industry so I work out of a studio. My team and I make it a point to surround a client with warmth each time they come in through our doors.

For example, we make sure the music is on and at the right level, a candle is lit, the studio is picked up, and their name is on our welcome board to remind them that they’re not only expected but they’re known. Most importantly, we want to be seen as well-prepared and have the right paperwork out and ready. When the client steps into an environment that is well kept and tidy they will feel more confident in you. 

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2.  FIRST IMPRESSIONS

First impressions are everything! Wear your favorite pumps, that one red lipstick you love, curl your hair, and button that blazer, all while maintaining great eye contact and a smile. Make them feel as if they are the most important part of your day, in the most genuine way possible.

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3. LISTEN MORE THAN SPEAK

Selling with confidence doesn’t mean talking about you the entire time.  Let them have air space 90% of the time.  You should never go into a meeting without a blank consultation form and knowing the order of questions that makes sense for the meeting.  Let them do most of the talking, yet guide them through the conversation with questions that have been thought about (and written down!) prior to them coming through your doors.

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4.  ASK!

Create the relationship and ask for the sale! For example, if you have talked for a good hour and know that you can bring value to this person with what you offer then say “I’ve enjoyed talking with you today! I love your vision and I know that we can bring value to what you need.  Does it make sense to save your date today?”


READ MORE ABOUT  SARAH  (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO  THE & GAL  GUIDES SECTION

READ MORE ABOUT SARAH (AND ALL OUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTORS) BY HEADING TO THE & GAL GUIDES SECTION

WRITTEN BY SARAH JOHNS: ENTREPRENEUR, CREATIVE, FLORAL AND EVENT DESIGNER.