Episode: 029: Riding the Work Load Roller Coaster -Balancing Work and Life Tips

March 31, 2017

Episode 29:  Riding the Work Load Roller Coaster - Balancing Work and Life Tips

hosted by Kelly Heck of Kelly Heck Photography (see links and more detailed info on our website, www.bizmindedmuses.com )

Grab your tickets, it's time for the rollercoaster.  

Joking aside, being a sole entrepreneur can be a bit tricky, especially if your arena of skill is seasonal.  The biggest challenge to nail down is your full weekly/monthly budget, and to plan with it.  

Here's some recommnedations for the Slow and Busy Seasons...

When the season is SLOW... (here's 5 of the 17 mentioned on the podcast, the full list is on www.bizmindedmuses.com)  

1.  Re-strategize yuour marketing efforts

2. Re-evaluate your budget

3.  Decide what the next investments are (new tools, new computer, software, etc.)

4. Update your out reach effors such as your website.

5. Touch base with clients (and vendors) for feedback.  

When the season is BUSY... (Here's 4 of 7 tips mentioned on the podcast)

1. Learn to say NO and know your limitations

2. Hire additional help.

3. Find aps that save you time in communication, project management, invoicing, etc. (recommended aps are stated on the biz minded muses website. )

4. Chunk your work to maintain focus

 

Other ideas...  Ask for feedback from clients through email, surveys or questionaires, online forms, etc. and follow up with good habbits like Thank you notes!

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Episode 28: How to Deal with P.I.T.A. clients

February 15, 2017

How to Deal with P.I.T.A. (Pain in the A** ) Clients 

P.I.T.A stands for Pain In The Ass
1.  Identifying what are the differnet types of PITA's

-  Asking for extras for free
-  Over communicate (such as those that may tell you their life story because they have nothing to do)
-  Don't communicate/vague
-  Nit pick
-  Kill you with kindness
-  Last minute Larry
2.  Best ways to deal with PITA's
-  Have an explicit contract to sign with every client
-  Write out your policies and send them with the contract
-  Keep detailed records and even phone calls should have some kind of email or notes in writing

-  Make sure your staff and managers are on the same page with policies and make sure they are visible to clients/customers albeit on a receipt, sign behind the checkout counter or on a "policy" page of your website

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Episode 27 - Muses Musings - Tips on Starting a Business that other lists are missing

January 19, 2017

 In this episode we discuss all the tips and suggestions necessary to start a business.  However we find there's a lot these lists.   

 

One of the lists we refer to is via the SBA - 

https://www.sba.gov/starting-business/how-start-business/10-steps-starting-business 

 

Do you agree with our add on's?  Have a suggestion to share?  Go to our website, www.bizmindedmuses.com and comment on our blog!

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Episode 26: Michelle’s 5 Tips on How to Get your Business Idea to Market

December 2, 2016

Michelle's 5 Tips on How to Get your Business Idea to Market

1.  Uniqueness.

2.  Are people looking for your service?

3.  Have you tested your idea?

4.  Do people like your idea or love the idea (enough to buy it)?

5.  How commited are you to your business idea (money, time, and knowledge)?

 

Side Note:  Be willing to invest in yourself first!  If you don't put in the leg work and your own money what makes you think others would trust your business idea and buy into your brand?

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Episode 025 - Guest, Valerie Heck talks about Pricing your Products/Work

November 10, 2016

***CONTENT WARNING: Light Language***

Pricing your creative products take a lot of diligence to track time and materials. Valerie talks through 3 worksheets that she uses to account for her product costs.

*The Overhead Worksheet
Work Space / Studio Space expenses (electric, water/waste, etc.)

*The Hourly Labor Rate Worksheet
How many hours you plan to work in one year, broken down around holidays, vacation, and sick days. And account for business / administrative operation time vs. "CREATION" time vs. show / sale days vs. correspondence / communication. And track your time, as well as what area of your business you are spending that time on, to get a better idea if you are on track with your goals, over, or under.

*The Pricing Equation Worksheet
Using the overhead and hourly labor worksheet to calculate individual product prices. It's important to time how long it takes to make your products, so time however long it takes to make multiple and find an average time. And consider your material cost fluctuation and other expenses (like shipping & handling materials IN, and shipping final products to the customer) - note the date you purchase, where you purchased them, the item numbers/IDs, and other relevant information.

On another topic, plan out answers to a variety of questions you may receive and feel "on the spot". Plan for "can I have a discount". Plan for "quantity discounts". Plan for industry demand, increasing your prices, and justifying "why does it cost more now". Plan your guidelines for donations and other community support requests. And stick to your rules!

We recommend finding a colleague or two to connect with and discuss your pricing and business structures, as we can grow stronger together. If you are a creative professional, take the time to do this process, whether you follow Valerie's format or create one of your own.

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Episode 24: 1 Year Anniversary Show

October 26, 2016

We made it to the 1 year mark!  

In this episode we celebrate and reflect on how the show got started, favorite episodes, updates to past episodes and much more.

Be sure to leave a comment/feed back below!  And rate us on iTunes, Stitcher or where ever else you are able to get our podcast!  
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Episode 023 - Value of Professional Photography

September 15, 2016

The value of professional photography begins with the believe that your investment in a photographer will produce returns on your investment. If first impressions are based on visual appearance, then your advertising & marketing visuals should be priority number one, whether they are graphics, photographs, or video.

A professional photographer has (hopefully) the ultimate combination... a creative eye and technical lighting abilities. Photography is a medium of light, and a photographer typically knows how to use light best to highlight their subject. Professional photographers also make a point of harnessing high quality equipment. From the camera to the lenses, to studio lights and light modifiers, to the post processing programs that enhance your photos, we have the tools necessary to compliment and control our light sources and create images that explode with color and detail and WOW factor!

How many people buy your product or service when you have cell phone photos on your DIY website? Then imagine how many people would buy the same product or service on a professionally built website with professional photos? It's all about who looks more serious, because when a business takes my money, I expect to get what I paid for back. We are all looking to establish trust with our ideal customers, and a professional look does just that.

Follow the link below to learn more about tips and tricks and other advice to prepare for your photo shoot. All the advice is directed at those booking a portrait session, but applies to the team in your business office, as well as your family, children, and high school senior portrait sessions.

INSPIRATION REFERENCE:
Refer to Kelly Heck Photography's "What to Wear" Guide and other helpful details to look your best for Photo Day! 
www.kellyheckphotography.com/what-to-wear
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Episode 022 - 5 Challenges No One Warns You When Starting a Business

August 29, 2016

Based on Entrepreneur.com article, of the same name ( https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/270852), Michelle expands on what is shared in the article using her experience from running her own retail establishment and e-commerce website.

1. Unforseen Expenses - from unusual city taxes to machinery that breaks down unexpectedly, it is definitely wise to over estimate how much it will cost to start a business.  Anticipating things like a rise in raw material costs, slow months, and so on will give you an advantage over your competition that does not forsee these expenses.

2.  Logistic Consistency - When starting out you just wing it.  Most start ups only have 1-2 founders doing it all - working on prototypes, designing websites, working on advertising strategies and so on.  This is where the "fake it to you make it" rule comes into play but you can only do that so long.  As the business picks up and money starts to flow in, you need to start working towards creating guides and rules and expectations of standards for new employees to follow.  In other words you will need to transition from improving how things could go to formalizing processes to make things work smoothly.  Defining employee roles to improve work flow, for example, before it is needed will prevent headaches and confusion down the road.  When Michelle moved from a retail location to a warehouse location - there was a lot of changes that needed to be made yet simplifying tasks such as how orders can be filled made a big difference in making the company run more efficiently than winging it.

3.  Fraud - From using return policies against you to computer scams - fraud is everywhere especially for newly formed businesses.  From buying workplace posters that are most likely free or do not even apply to sole proprietorship companies to bounced checks from habitat criminals that seems innocent at the time, are all people who are eager to part you with your money and make a quick buck.  Be vigilant and never assume all the people who come out of the wood work saying you owe money for one thing or another are legit.  Always fact check sources that say they are with with a big name company to make sure they are a legit company is one of many tips to help you keep your money in your business and out of the pockets of fraudulent criminals.  

4.  Motivation - Long work hours, set backs, stress of being alone and not being able to bounce ideas off of others will suck your motivation.  There isn't a quick solution to help you stay motivated but Michelle finds doing things like taking a break from the computer every hour to take a walk and get some fresh air or going out to lunch is a start.  Going to networking events to find others who share in your frustrations and more importantly can offer solutions to tasks you may be stuck on can be very uplifting.  Starting or joining a mastermind group with other entrepreneurs or even others in your field of business can be very motivating too.  When you do find yourself with low energy, dreading to start work on time, or creative juices are running dry, these are signs that you need a jump-start in the motivation department.  

5.  Loneliness - Between seeing debt rack up, dealing with customer issues, and stressing over whether you made the right businesses decision on a marketing strategy will all give into fear and stress that will make you retreat into yourself.  Most business owners rarely will share these frustrations with others as it most often shows signs of weakness and no business leader ever wants to show that card.  Now add sacrificing personal time with family or other things that bring you joy such as working on favorite hobbies, will lead you down the path of isolation.  This is where you have to recognize when work stressors lead you down this path and find ways to break it.  Sometimes just walking away from an issue can present a clearer solution later in the day verses pushing through and trying to force a decision to appear miraculously.   Also finding and using a mentor to bounce ideas off of can also prevent loneliness because just the shear act of talking to someone is the step in the right direction.  

The take away - be adaptable!  When you are faced with any of these challenges one of the best things one can do is pick up on ways you can anticipate issues.  It is impossible to prepare for everything, but taking a step back to see things through the eyes of clients, employees and so on can often prevent or send a red flag that something bad may happen if nothing is done soon and act may make a huge difference in surviving in the world of entrepreneurship.  

Do you agree with these tips?  Have one to add? Use the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Episode 021 - Cutting Weak Words from everyday conversation

August 11, 2016

NOTE!  There is some mild language that some may find offensive!  

We often say "I'm sorry" too much... we use the phrase as a filler, a description, and an excuse. The phrase, however, means an apologetic approach, implying that one has done wrong. The Biz Minded Muses share their thoughts on how weakening phrases and weakening words can dampen your statements, your meaning, your presence to others, and your personal confidence. We share other weak words, alternatives, and we challenge YOU to cut these weak words from your day to day conversations and writings. Discover the positive outcomes of stating your needs clearly with defined purpose, and become empowered!
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Podcast 120 - Advantages of Free Media vs. Paid Media with guest Brian DeLeonardo

July 22, 2016

Free Media Vs. Paid Media

In this episode we welcome back Brian DeLeonardo, Carroll County States Attorney who dispenses some great wisdom on the advantages of free media over paid media.

What do we mean by media?  Anything that is a public platform to use to help you deliver your message to the general public.  Specifically we are looking at newspapers, podcasts, blogs, radio, etc.

Specifically we get into earned media, where you package an informative story that is newsworthy and can easily spread via tv, newspapers, radio, etc.  Brian shares his story of a story about Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  He took that event and partnered with an alarm company to help donate their services that would help domestic violence victims.  After the event he was able to get a testimony from one of the people who benefited from the service at a domestic violence shelter.  

Things to keep in mind when seeking earned media...

  1. Ask yourself, why should the public care?  This isn't about you you you, but about the audience and needs to be good enough to impress the press.
  2. There is a benefit to finding a group or non-profit that you support as it gives you credibility making you look more like a celebrity verses a paid ad that can easily get overlooked.
  3. Your story could be picked up from various social media outlets as well as the associated press.  Brian's story was picked up by several newspapers and a reporter came out to do the story which gained even more traction as the story was shared on Facebook.  After linking up to the social media shares, it makes for the beginnings of something to go viral.
  4. Don't forget about podcasts and bloggers - many are followed by a lot of people and if you can reach out to bloggers and podcasters in your medium with your press release it can get you some extra reach.


If you don't have much going on that is newsworthy, follow the news in your community, city, and/or county whether it is a community Facebook page or following reporters on social media in your area as opportunities can arise to jump on the bandwagon of a breaking story.  For example, entering a community contest that benefits store fronts and you happen to have a store front shop.  The press usually comes out to said events and takes photos of many of the places that participate where even Muse Michelle was lucky enough to have a photo of her store front and address printed in the newspaper alongside the photo.  Sharing the photo on social media outlets and even commenting on the reporter's/newspaper's feed is also a great way to introduce yourself to their followers and get the ball rolling for additional links, shares, and other earned media links or possible future articles.  

What are some effective press release facts to know to get a piece of earned media?

  1. Have a good unedited photo to include in the article, and attach / submit separately as well (or however the particular press request submissions).
  2. Good and current contact information with at least one URL, media contact name (many reporters work on deadlines and one go to name means the difference between getting an article printed or missing the deadline), and email address.
  3. The bulk of the story needs to be short and to the point no more than 1 page, 2-3 paragraphs.  If they have questions or want more info they will call you!  Remember reporters and editors are hit up for stories what seems like a thousand times a day, short and sweet helps cut through clutter.
  4. Have a great press release title and make sure you follow the correct press release format.  An article may not get printed because of a simple incorrect press release format. 
  5. You may want to call the reporter/editor first before sending an email with your press release to make sure it goes to the right person. 
  6. Don't wait for people to come to you, go to them and often!


Last bit of advice to get noticed...  If you find incorrect information in an article bring it up to the editor and offer the correct info instead as well as mention you are available for further questions.  Many people in the press can use experts in all fields for quotes for future articles and then some.  You could be that person!  

We hope you liked this episode, if so rate us on iTunes and Stitcher!  Doing so really helps other people find our podcast and we thank you in advance for doing so.  

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