#LBCWantsToKnow >> November 2018: Small Business Owner Mindset

LuckyBreak-LBCWantsToKnow-Mindset

Small Business Owner Mindset

 

Each month, I ask my Instagram community to join me in a focused, crowd-sourced discussion on a specific subject.  For the month of November, we rolled up our sleeves to chat about small business owner mindset. Nobody understands the stress of the holiday season like a small business owner, and I was thrilled to see so many Lucky Break Clients sharing their thoughts and experiences.

 

Nov18QA

 

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

  • bodysystemsteri: It’s so essential. And I feel as entrepreneurs we don’t take notice till it’s too late.
  • zirafkahanka: For me these three come first: SLEEP, EAT, MOVE. Then anything else. To start to look at my life this way helped me tremendously last year.
  • printtherapy: I have to make the time. I’ve burnt out so many times emotionally and physically that I now really understand the importance of self care. For me it’s good sleep, healthy eating, and working out. It’s also time alone and Netflix binges 🙂 Either I spend time taking care of myself, or I spend the time being tired and anxious and therefore unproductive.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

Overwhelm and burnout are, unfortunately, rampant in the entrepreneurial community.  While everyone’s coo’ing over four-hour work weeks and how sexy it is to be at the helm of your own ship, what they’re not often talking about is how we often work 60-80 hour work weeks and how we sometimes sag under the weight of long to-do lists and massive responsibilities.  I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer, but we’re all about “real life” business here at Lucky Break and that’s the reality for many of us.  But as someone who’s hit her brick wall more than once, I’ve learned the importance of self-care.  A few tips I’ve picked up along the way…

  1. Put your own oxygen mask on first. The LBC Community is made up primarily of women and we often put ourselves last, taking care of ourselves only after everyone else has been tended to. But you can’t pour from am empty cup and I’ve learned to move myself up in line so that I can be a healthy resource for those who depend on me.

 

  1. Business ebbs and flows. There are times in each of my businesses when I’ve needed to let off the gas a bit to tend to my own health o r the wellness of my family.  Keeping the gas pedal pressed all the way to the floor 24/7 is an impossible ask, so flexibility is key. Recognizing that there are seasons for big launches and concerted waves of outreach, and the development of new collaborations has been key, because there are also seasons for pulling back and conserving energy. Yin and yang and all that jazz.

 

  1. When I feel myself breathing up against a brick wall, a change of energy is needed. Think of it as an intervention: work half-time in your business next week. Go to bed an hour earlier every day this week. Find one thing from your to-do list that you can delegate to someone else. Being attuned to yourself and proactive about your own wellness is much easier than picking up the pieces after you’ve slammed into the wall and everything has shattered.

 

 

Nov18QA4

 

THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

  • a_wildflower_gypsy: Meditate and clear my mind out in nature, phone free. Quiets the chaos and allows ideas to flow.
  • zhibathandbody: I clean… something about putting on my sneakers, cleaning house, and burning sage gets my juices flowing. I find myself away from those things that have my mind cluttered.
  • mistybluebotanicals: I like to FB and insta-stalk creative people I admire. Instagram, in particular, is hard for me because I don’t feel particularly talented in the creativity department, so I like to see what other folks are doing visually. Somewhere taking a ride somewhere news helps to unblock creativity for me.
  • pearlglow_bodybutter_and_soap: I like to look at things I love, read, or start at the beginning. I’ll go back to some of the first things I created or wrote, this always helps.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

I second all of these awesome suggestions! One thing I’ve learned in fifteen years  of being a full-time entrepreneur: pushing through roadblocks rarely helps. When I’ve reached my breaking point, the best thing that I can do is redirect my energy.  Whether that’s cooking a good meal, taking the dog for a walk, calling a good friend, or soaking in a hot bath- anything I can do to change my current paradigm and replenish energy levels before diving back in proves beneficial. Throwing good energy after bad is rarely successful. But it’s also very necessary to dive back in. So take heart, walk off the ship for a bit, but don’t abandon the ship entirely.

 

(more…)

LBC CLIENTS CELEBRATE A PROFITABLE + PRODUCTIVE 2018

LBC_Client_Wins_2018_Cover

My clients made *big* money moves in 2018 and I’m so stinkin’ proud of their courage, tenacity, and smarts!  I’ve noticed that many of us are “head down” and eyeball-deep in the hustle, and we rarely surface to celebrate the wins. Celebrate client wins is one of my most favorite things to do, and as one of my final blogs of 2018, I wanted to pop a cork and celebrate the tremendous strides we’ve made both individually and collectively.

 

Celebrating Big Client Wins of 2018

 

I could be here all day tooting the horns of the Lucky Break community, but I’ve pulled together a handful of my favorite client wins from the year to share. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do!

 

Christy Rose of KBShimmer in  Terre Haute, IN also rocked a major rebrand this year, seriously up-leveling her collection of nail polishes. In the process, she expanded her team to include 3 full-time staff (in addition to Christy and her husband, who both work at KBShimmer). Even better? She hit her dream sales mark as of October 30, secured three international wholesale stockists to expand the brand reach, and grew her FB fan group by a respectable 28%.  Woooohooo!

How have we worked with Christy? LBU Graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, Brick House Branding graduate, my GMP class, Wholesale Matchmaker member, VIP Line Sheet Design.

 

LBC_Client_Wins_2018_1

 

Kara Brook of Waxing Kara in Owing Mills, MD enjoyed a phenomenal year in the press. Among the highlights: She scored an 8-page (!) spread in the autumn issue of Danny Seo’s magazine, Naturally Danny Seo. Her artisan honey was also in the NYTimes, resulting in hundreds of orders and scads of new fans.  And her Haute Cocoa gift set took top honors in the IBN Artisan Awards for the “Bath + Body” product category, too.

How have we worked with Kara? LBU Graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, VIP Line Sheet Design, both my GMP + Spa Market classes, and private strategy sessions.

 

Sara Runser of LILY DE MAI in NY launched her brand and enjoyed a delicious round of press, including NY Magazine, Shape, Coastal Living, US Weekly and Style Caster.

How have we worked with Sara? LBU graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, member of Wholesale Matchmaker, VIP Line Sheet Design, and private strategy sessions.

 

LBC_Client_Wins_2018_4

 

Michelle Smith of MamaSuds in recently underwent a major rebrand and all of that hard work has reaped some rich rewards this year.  Sales are up 40% versus 2017 figures.  She took home an accolade from the IBN Artisan Awards, too, in the form of top honors for the “Lifestyle + Home” category for her Laundry Soap.

How have we worked with Michelle? LBU Graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, Brick House Branding graduate, Wholesale Matchmaker member, and private strategy sessions.

 

Renan Kennedy of Sans Skincare has doubled her revenue in 2018, in addition to being honored several times throughout the year. She was named one of SCORE’s American Small Business Championship winners of 2018. As part of that competition, Renan was flown to Reno, NV for a celebration and intensive business workshops with industry professionals. She also pitched and was accepted by Home Shopping Network to participate in their intensive business incubator program. That meant another trip to Tampa, FL to attend an amazing week of business workshops put on by HSN.

How have we worked with Renan? LBU Graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, my GMP class + spa market classes, Wholesale Matchmaker member, and private strategy sessions.

 

LBC_Client_Wins_2018_3

 

Angie Chua of bobo design studio in San Jose, CA  won the Indie Source competition at the MAGIC tradeshow in Las Vegas after a live pitch event. That accolade was accompanied by a $5,000 prize to help bring a new product to fruition. Angie’s also been recognized by local community officials, who awarded her a pop-up shop in downtown San Jose for six solid months! And that storefront is paying big dividends… Angie recently enjoyed the biggest sales day in the history of her company on Small Business Saturday this year.

How have we worked with Angie? Brick House Branding graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, and private strategy sessions.

 

Stacia Guzzo of SmartyPits in Tehachapi, CA had a banner year all the way round! She raised over $18,000 for City of Hope’s breast cancer research program through the sales of her priobiotic deodorant collection , and the SmartyPits team participated in their annual Walk for Hope. The brand expanded its retail reach from 150 to 900+ (1) stores while adding four teammates and a forklift to their lineup.

How have we worked with Stacia? LBU graduate, Brick House Branding graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, my GMP class, line sheet design, and private strategy sessions.

 

LBC_Client_Wins_2018_6

 

Sarah Villafranco of Osmia Organics in Carbondale, CO launched a new initiative on Earth Day in 2018, vowing to plant one tree for every order they receive. In just over six months, she and her team have planted 12,609 trees! She hosted one hell of a Cyber Monday sale, planting 1,584 trees on that day alone. She also launched her limited edition “Craft Series” products as a way to indulge her creative side and play with some deliciously exotic ingredients. Each of those runs of products has sold out, sometimes in as little as a few hours. The icing on the cake? Sarah’s gorgeous soaps made the NYTimes Gift Guide!

How have we worked with Sarah? My GMP class and private strategy sessions.

 

Tamiko Blake of Sweet & True Sugaring in Walnut Creek, CA has seen a huge surge in revenue in 2018.  In fact, it’s up 250% (!!!) versus 2017 and she’s on the verge of launching an exciting new facial collection under a separate brand umbrella.

How have we worked with Tammy? LBU graduate, Brick House Branding gradate, Member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, both my GMP + spa market classes, and private strategy sessions.

 

LBC_Client_Wins_2018_2

 

Zandra Cunningham of Zandra Beauty in Buffalo, NY had a banner year in terms of both exposure and support. She graced the pages of magazines and the airwaves of major television networks, from The Today Show to Entrepreneur Magazine. She pitched Shark Tank and the executives at Sephora offered to support the line, too. Zandra graduated high school in 2018 and bought her first car in cash. Huzzah!

How have we worked with Zandra? LBU graduate, Brick House Branding graduate, Member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, my GMP class, and private strategy sessions.

 

Aubrey Miller of REDBUDSUDS in Canton, OH landed an interesting deal with NuCamp, makers of teardrop trailers. She’s been supplying them her multipurpose soap bars for several years now, as NuCamp gifts a bar to each new trailer owner. But in keeping with Audrey’s mission to live simply and get outside, NuCamp offered her a custom trailer for a year and sponsored a nationwide pop-up tour for REDBUDSUDS. Pretty amazing, eh? And just wait until you see the custom trailer!  She was also accepted into the Skip Yowell Future Leadership Academy, a business training put on by the Outdoor Industry Association. It’s a 6-month training program in manufacturing, sustainability, and environmental advocacy as well as personal growth and development and Aubrey is honored to be one of only 35 people selected to participate.

How have we worked with Aubrey? LBU graduate, Brick House Branding graduate, Member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, and private strategy sessions.

 

Holly Marshmueller of Marshmeuller in Astoria, OR hit the trifecta of launches: relaunching her brand, launching a new website theme for her retail site, and revamping her wholesale website (including some Google-Fu level coding)! She was also accepted into Crafty Wonderland for the fifth consecutive year and the popular “Scary Mommy” blog opened an official shop which carries Holly’s line.

How have we worked with Holly? LBU graduate, member of the Alumni Coaching Community, Price-O-Matic software, member of Wholesale Matchmaker.

 

BRINGING HOME THE ACCOLADES

Several members of the Lucky Break community scooped some handsome awards, including…

  • Becky Bluh of Bluh Alchemy netted a record-breaking FOUR nominations in the Indie Beauty Expo Awards. She’s a BHB graduated who’s launching her rebrand in January pf 2019, alongside the announcement that she’s landed her dream stockists, though we can’t spill the beans just yet!
  • Ebru Karuzoglu of AveSeena was also nominated in the Indie Beauty Expo Awards.
  • Molly Beane and her From Molly with Love brand received a nomination in the Indie Beauty Expo Awards.
  • Stacia Guzzo of SmartyPits garnered a nod, too, via the Indie Beauty Expo Awards.
  • Heather Lux of True North captured an honorable mention title in the IBN Awards.
  • Lisa Kennally of Wild Air Skincare received an honorable mention in the IBN Awards as well.

 

NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION DEALS

I was particularly excited to see several members of our community land national distribution deals. An especially robust high-five goes out to…

  • Gwen Jimmere of Naturalicious launched into Sally Beauty Supply stores nationwide.
  • Iyanla Vanzant of MasterPeace Body Therapy landed a multi-appearance deal with HSN.
  • Pamela Jenkins of Koils by Nature shimmied onto the shelves of Target.

 

Sharing that news with you makes me grin from ear-to-ear! I salute the hard work of each you and I’m privileged to have a front row seat to much of this growth. Did you enjoy a win in 2018? I hope you’ll leave a comment below to shout it out.  I’d love to celebrate with you!

 

Things That Keep Us Up At Night (Part 3): The Battle Between Business and Creative Tasks + Small Business Finances

BusinessAndCreative

Each year, I invite my clients to participate in the Lucky Break client survey. I ask you all sorts of things: about your business, small business finances, where you turn for advice, how confident you feel in various aspects of your business, and what’s keeping you awake at night.

 

Several hundred people rose to the occasion this year (thank you!) and I’ve been sharing some of the most common responses. I sifted through hundreds of survey answers to discover that the vast majority of replies fell under one of five main umbrellas. In part one of this blog series, I talked about entrepreneur anxiety and the deep-seated fears of failure that many of us harbor. In part two, I dug deep into the daily entrepreneur overwhelm and our difficulty connecting with ideal customers.

 

Small Business Finances | Balancing Creative and Business Tasks

 

But those aren’t the only things rumbling across our brain waves at 1am. We have a few other things that lay heavy on our minds… the information that appears as bulleted items below represents verbatim responses from the Lucky Break community. In the final installment of this blog series, I’m talking about the worries around small business finances and the constant battle between the left + ride sides of our brains.

 

THE CONSTANT BATTLE BETWEEN OUR BUSINESS + CREATIVE TO DO LISTS

  • Keeping on top of the minutia of running a business while also focusing on the tree top-level creativity and visioning of being a CEO.
  • Balancing production work and creativity.
  • Finding a way to step away from production so that I can grow the business side of things, and design more.
  • Wondering how to pull myself into a more hands-off role as designer so I can do more of what I truly love, which has nothing to do with my business.

 

I think it’s fair to say that 95% of my clients are more drawn to the “creative” side of their business. Things like new product development, production, and packaging design light them up.  But the bookkeeping, taxes, marketing, HR side of the business? Most don’t feel even the tiniest spark of inspiration when servicing those aspects of their company.  Sound familiar?  But the creative brands that have staying power pay as much (if not more) attention to the “business” side of the business. Those that don’t either struggle silently for years- working more than they ever imagined for far less profit than they imagined- or they close up shop in years 2-4 after giving the business a good romp.

 

BusinessAndCreative2

 

The less “sexy” side of the business? The one you’re less excited by and less comfortable with? That’s the area where we need to throw most of our muscle. That’s what self-development is all about… challenging yourself. Getting to the root of what makes you uncomfortable. Learning new skill sets. Reframing your perspective. That’s not just some self-help “woo woo”… that’s the heart of entrepreneurship.

 

By year four of my product-based brand, I had transitioned out of all day-to-day tasks: production, scheduling, material ordering, bookkeeping, customer service. My very first hire was a very part-time assistant to package products. My second? A full-time production manager who I taught to make all of our products.  My third? A full-time office manager to answer emails, man the phone, and package shipments while I focused on new product development, marketing, wholesale outreach, and cultivating key relationships.

 

By year six, I had eight employees, including a wholesale account specialist, production assistants, a shipping helper, and someone who worked full-time washing dishes, mopping floors, breaking down boxes, and checking in incoming materials. I started that company as a single mom on food stamps with less a $500 investment. And by year four, we were grinding out more than a million in revenue.  But I knew early on that I’d never get there if I was primarily focused on product creation. No way, no how. Getting yourself out of the daily grind is a must! Eventually, the role I assumed was creative director with some strategic vision thrown in for good measure… it was everything that I’d wanted, but it took a hell of a lot of hustle to get there.

 

My advice? Outsource first, delegate second, hire third. You have three solid options when it comes to nudging things off your plate…

1. Explore the possibility of hiring service-based businesses who are experts in their field. Think: attorneys to register and police your intellectual property. Graphic designers to create your packaging and marketing materials. Professional photographers to help your up-level your product presentation. Bookkeepers to keep your finances in order.  True experts are mind-blowingly efficient and you have no ongoing commitment to these pros.

 

(more…)

The 2018 Holiday Gift Guide: Artisan Gifts from Makers + Product Designers

LuckyBreak2018HolidayGiftGuide-Cover (1)

We were coming off the heels of a big election cycle in America as I sat down to design our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. After a year that saw an tremendous divide come to light in this country, many months of side-eye as increasingly acrimonious political ads blared across our screens, and wave after wave of hurricanes and wildfires seemed to wash over us… I was ready to submerge myself in a happy bubble by curating some of my favorite products from among the Lucky Break client community.

 

GiftGuide

 

This project became cathartic in some sense, and as I started pulling together beautiful collections of design-centric products made with heart by some of the best small businesses I know, I was once again reminded of how incredibly grateful I am for artisans. For small businesses. For communities. And for courage. The Lucky Break roster of clients has all of that in spades. It drips from our pores and its’s what drives us when we’re on our eleventh work hour of the day.

 

As I dug deeper, this project evolved from the Holiday Gift Guide to the Holiday Gift Encyclopedia Britannica. What began as an idea to recommend 48 gifts ballooned into 55 page catalog featuring 230+ suggestions. Forgive me… for I have a hard time editing myself when it comes to singing my clients’ praises.  I was again reminded of the magic we make together and I’m incredibly inspired by how many of these brands have moved the ball forward this year in big, big ways. You peeps have been busy!

 

Open the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide to discover hundreds of unique offerings from some of the amazing small businesses I have the privilege of working alongside. Whether I’ve helped them nail down their pricing strategy, or get their work into more shops, or dig deeper into their brand to better communicate the value they deliver, I’m honored to help amplify their voices.

 

The Holiday Gift Guide for Makers + Product Designers

 

(more…)

Why Shopping Small is so Important

ShopSmall

Shop small is more than merely a catch phrase.

 

When you choose to spend your holiday dollars with a small business, you empower people, families, and communities in ways that Amazon or Target can’t touch. Here’s how…

 

ShopSmall

 

SIX REASONS TO SHOP SMALL THIS HOLIDAY

 

 

ShopSmall2

 

  • You foster a more sustainable economy. According to the SBA, big businesses have eliminated 4 million jobs since 1990, while small businesses added 8 million jobs within that same time period. Small businesses are more likely to be people-oriented, more likely to be community-oriented, and more likely to support local causes.

 

  • You support the creation of greater diversity. When you spend money with local, independent businesses, those businesses tend to hire people who represent the demographics of the surrounding community, including historically underserved populations. And it’s not just diversity of people, but a diversity of product, too. Local shops are more likely to carry a varied selection, and local artisans create goods that represent their culture.

 

ShopSmall22

 

  • You build a stronger community. A series of studies by the research firm Civic Economics found that 48 percent of purchases at local independent businesses go right back into the community, compared to less than 14 percent of sales made at chain stores. Supporting small businesses means that the community you call home receives the tax benefits, providing a deeper well of funds for spending on public services like education, libraries, fire protection, road and park improvements.

 

  • You enjoy better customer service. Small businesses deliver more personable, hands-on, and memorable customer service. They take pride in serving their people and deeply desire to connect with you.

 

ShopSmall23

(more…)