Let’s Talk Business: Get Local

LTB_Local

Happy Tuesday! I’ve been living in central Florida for over five years now and getting connected to the community around me has helped my business and my blog. When I started designing, everything was online strictly for me. I didn’t have a license as a 15 year-old so I made connections with people online and ran my business that way. My business is totally different today. Most of our clients are local and I prefer it that way. So today, I’m going to chat about getting local as a designer and branding consultant and how it’s really helped me.

Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Earlier this year, I talked about creating challenges for creatives and for those who started our businesses online, networking locally falls under that category. I’m not an introvert but I started working in design as a teenager. It was intimidating to be a 19 year-old, living in a new city, newly married, and having to jump into networking for myself. To be fair, I did attend networking events when I worked with mom for her business so I had an idea of how things went. No two industries are the same when it comes to networking and that was challenging!

One of the things that helped me was starting small. I connected with a few entrepreneurs at the church we chose to attend, who would later become some of my closest friends and clients! We just talked about things and over the months, I was asked to do some work for them. I’ve been working with them on design and brand management ever since. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to networking, here are some things that can help you out.

  • Talk to your friends and family! Getting to work with local clients usually starts within your social circle. Talk to your friends and family about their businesses or work place. It’s no harm to ask if they need any work done when you’re being genuine.
  • Be visible. Don’t be afraid to talk about your business when meeting new people. If you’re at a party and the topic of careers come up, share some insight on what you do. You’d be surprised at who would be interested.
  • It’s ok to start small. It is easy to get overwhelmed seeing all of the networking events happening in creative industries online. You don’t have to start your own event to connect with others. Carry business cards and that is more than enough to get started.

Attending Industry Events

I didn’t attend my first industry events until I’d been a creative entrepreneur for over seven years. You definitely don’t have to wait that long to get connected! I’ve met so many students and graduates and local events and it’s so fun to get to know other designers. My business relationships have gotten so much better since going to local events. Even though I don’t live near downtown Orlando, making the time to drive out there has helped me so much. In fact, this week, we have four events on the calendar.

Going to your first event can be terrifying! Don’t worry, I have some tips on what you can do to get out there and make the most of each event.

  • Take a friend! I usually attend events with my business partner/husband so it’s easy for me to feel comfortable. I always have someone to rely on if I feel overwhelmed and we reach twice as many people separately. Having a friend also helps you out if you attend something that might have been a bad choice. We’ve definitely done that once or twice and having each other got us through the night!
  • Connect with the speaker/organizer. I know speakers and organizers seem unreachable during events but they are usually some of your most important contacts. They usually know the most people in the room and they love getting feedback from how events are going.
  • Be genuine. One of the biggest issues at events is being overly-networky. In our industry, it’s a bit more about genuine relationships other than just connecting to get business. I really enjoy knowing other designers and developers in the city. We always help each other out when it comes to work. I often recommend others for jobs that I can’t do. We’re not very competitive in my area and it makes it so much easier to connect.
  • Be prepared. There are often potential clients at industry events. I’ve met a couple of our clients just for chatting over coffee or sitting next to each other. You should always be “on” without being too over the top. Be prepared to answer questions about your business process, have business cards, and be sure to follow up on leads the very next day. Sometimes clients are shopping around and that’s ok! You still want to make an effort to reach out and keep your connections active.

Be Visible

Once you start connecting with clients and industry partners locally, you want to be sure to keep it up! If I’d known I would have so much fun at conferences and events, I would have started attending them years ago. Since we consistently make an effort to show up, we often get introduced to new people and it allows us to deepen our relationships with other. I also try to connect with people I meet via social media often just to support them or to see how they’re doing. You never know what kind of relationships you may make by being visible. They aren’t always good but you learn quickly! Often the bad seeds have interacted with several people and it’s easy to spot them out. The more you put yourself out there is the more you become comfortable with it! Here are some ideas to help you stay visible locally.

  • Try new events! If you have been to the same meetup or event a few times, try something new. Try taking someone out for coffee just to chat or see something in a different area. You never want to do too much of the same thing or it gets boring quickly.
  • Use social media. Connect with people all of the time via social media. I love it when people reach out to me via Twitter after meeting them. It just makes me feel like they are interested in what I said or they felt we connected. It’s almost like dating lol!
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself. You should definitely know your limits and stay within them. The moment you commit to too much is the moment you find yourself burned out.

How has connecting locally affected your business? What’s stopping you?

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Studio 404 Shop $10 Print Sale!

Studio 404 Shop

Happy Thursday! After such great response from the Merci Print giveaway, I’ve decided to add 10 of these to the shop through the end of September. To celebrate, all prints are $10 through the September 22nd with the coupon code MERCI!

10dollarprints
 
Giveaway_Winner

I’m also excited to announce the winner of the Merci Print Giveaway, Julie of Julie Does Her Nails! So congratulations to Julie and I hope you all enjoy the sale while it lasts! Here are some of my favorite prints in the shop that you may want on your wall.

Studio 404 - Bloom Where You Are Planted Print
 

MantraPrint3
 

Studio 404 - Make Beautiful Things Brush Lettering Print

 

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Let’s Talk Business: Knowing Your Limits

Knowing Your Limits - Studio 404

So it’s been a crazy few months which is why I haven’t written a Let’s Talk Business article in a while. As I’m nearing the end of my second trimester (YIKES), I’m really putting in long hours with clients and getting planning going for 2015. However, with all of these commitments and projects, I have to put into perspective what I can and cannot do. I’m really learning my limits of being a full-time self-employed lady and how this effects my health. I’m going to share some things that I’ve learned about the importance of knowing limits in your business and some ways that might help you!

The Schedule Doesn’t Lie

I’m often in denial about what I can and cannot do. In my mind, I’m superwoman and I think I can do everything. Often times, it’s that drive and ambition that makes us entrepreneurs in the first place. However, halfway through this summer, I realized that my “rest days” were becoming filled with things and I was on seven days a week. If you want to often over-commit and find your hustle mentality is burning you out, let your schedule be your guide.

Studio 404 Shop

 

Put Everything on the Calendar

My husband has access to my calendars so he can see what is going on. While I love the idea of keeping a physical planner and I often do, I have to keep everything digitally available so he can have an idea while planning meetings. Since we’ve been putting everything digitally on the calendar, I often check my phone to see what’s coming up. If I look at my week, and there are hardly any free spaces, I know I’m overdoing it. The schedule just doesn’t lie. Here are some things to help you get organized with your calendar!

  • Schedule work times and free times.
  • Multiple calendars can work!
    • I have six different calendars but they’re all visible on my phone. Thanks Google Calendar! I color-code my calendars so it’s easy for me to understand what is where. Managing Sevenality tasks, this blog, and an Etsy shop are my three main focuses and it’s important they stay separate.
    • If the thought of having one calendar, makes you break out into hives, try to color-code your events within the one calendar. You don’t have to operate six calendars to be a #GIRLBOSS.
  • Don’t forget travel time.
    • I learned this as while I worked at the House of Mouse. Scheduling travel time is pretty important when you live in a city as expansive as Orlando. Try to arrive 10 minutes early to your destination. Google Now has really helped me with travel times and directions on my phone to keep my on time.

Listen to Your Body

I’ve kept the baby and pregnancy talk to a minimum here but being pregnant has really made me evaluate my limits. Before I worked full-time at home, I’d spend anywhere from 10-15 hours in the gym a week. Developing an active lifestyle and practicing clean pescetarian eating for a few years, allowed me to become in sync with my body. Now my limits are a little different but I still get away with a lot of long hours and I often push my limits. One thing that lets me know when I’ve overdone it is my health.

Pool Day - Studio 404

 

Breaks are Necessary

Right now, I’ve been battling a draining cold which has me working shorter hours during the day. If I’d listened to my body three weeks ago when I started to feel a bit stuffy, I probably wouldn’t be coughing all over the place today. Sometimes, you have to stop and take a break. I haven’t taken a vacation this year and I can tell. Here are some ways to work breaks into your schedule.

  • Days off are awesome and allowed!
    • During my first trimester, I was battling insane morning sickness which brought the fatigue on completely. I was still keeping everything under-wraps so I scheduled meetings as I would before. During the week, I would take one day to just explore the city.  I would put in three hours downtown at Starbucks working and the rest of the day would be my own.
  • Take a vacation.
    • I need to take my own advice and get in a vacation before my due date. When my friends are beyond stressed, I am the first to tell them to take a trip and it usually helps them rest their minds. I need a vacation and I need to put it on the calendar!

Quit While You’re Ahead

We’re often told that quitting is a no-go. When you quit, you may be giving up an opportunity. Quitting is always seen as a negative which is why we often avoid it like the plague. When you’re running a business, you wear a lot of different hats which is time consuming. Often you’re presented with opportunities that seem like they will only come around once. It’s important to know when to stop, say no, or decline an offer for your sanity. There’s nothing worse than being overwhelmed by work.

Studio 404 Lettering

 

Saying No

Just today, I had to quit with an opportunity I was sure I had time for. Unfortunately, what was presented to me was definitely a little bit different than what was actually needed. I didn’t have the time that I thought I originally had. While I’ve been debating letting this project go, I should have quit when it first became overbearing. Don’t be afraid to say no or to walk away from something when you can’t do it.

  • Firing clients happens sometimes.
    • After nine years, David and I have a pretty good understanding of when a client is taking a turn for the worst. We have a pretty high tolerance for project mishaps because things happen sometimes. However, when things aren’t working out and both parties are miserable, sometimes it’s best to terminate a project. If the client just needs a different direction and they aren’t awful, I always try to refer them to someone else to make the process a little less painful.
  • Not every opportunity is for you.
    • I really need to take this into consideration because I sometimes accept things that aren’t worth my time at all. With my experience and schedule, smaller tasks aren’t always best for me to be working on. In fact, I need to start delegating my small tasks just to get them done. Make sure you know where your time is best spent and work towards filling your day with those tasks.
  • Move along!
    • Don’t spend too much time thinking about missed opportunities. Always be working on what you’re doing and making it the best it can be. Quality always works over quantity. I’d rather be working with three great client projects than ten where I’m putting in less.

How do you know your limits? What helps you keep yourself grounded?

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