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Build a Business That is True to You From the Very Start

There is a balance between “just doing it” and “taking time to get clear on what you really want” that isn’t discussed enough in business conversations.

In many business books and at business events the author or speaker on stage always recommends starting before you are ready because fears in your head will hold you back. And as an entrepreneur with eight years of experience and lessons behind me, I can honestly say that I agree with that recommendation, but only to a certain degree.

When I started my first business, I took the advice of “starting before I was ready” and on one hand, I am glad that I did because if I never got started I never would have had the experiences and the chance to learn what I now know.

But on the other hand, I wish I hadn’t spent as many years as I did focused on building a business that honestly didn’t excite me or align with the goals I had for my life.
When I started my first business, I started with a business idea that was based on my professional skills and corporate background as that seemed to be the most “logical” business step. My degree and corporate background was in public relations, so I started a public relations business that targeted corporate clients because I thought this client base would be the easiest to secure given my background and I also knew corporations had accounting departments which meant they could make on-time payments.
At no point when starting my business did I ask myself “what do I really like to do?”

So what ended up happening was that I built a business where I started to focus only on the money and getting bigger and bigger level clients. I eventually became a slave to my business and had no enjoyment.And what I WISH someone had told me when I was starting that business is …

If you are going to build a business you have to make sure that it is the RIGHT business for you and not just one that you think sounds right or that you think will make you the most money — because you will have a really hard time and it will not serve you!

For most women, after the point of meeting your base expenses, money loses its motivating power; which means if your heart is not truly in the business you build, everything you do after the point of base survival, will feel really hard and unfulfilling.

With experience and a changed outlook, I am now on a mission to help other women build businesses that are right for them from the very start, so they don’t have to lose years focusing on the wrong idea.

Here three steps that I think every woman in the beginning stages of entrepreneurship should consider:

1: Reopen yourself to the idea of actually doing what you love

If you’ve been working in corporate or in a very structured and logical environment for a while, the thought of actually doing what you love and getting paid from it may be hard for you to wrap your head around. If you are going to build a business, you have to make sure it’s the right business for you and the answer to what that is, is not in your head — it is in your heart.

2: Create a Vision For your Life
Your business should fuel the life you want. At the heart of everything we do — whether that’s being in a job and doing our best on that job, or being an entrepreneur and trying to make our business work — locking into a vision you have for yourself and your life is what will give you the fuel to keep going. So take some time to really think about what you want for your life and then work backwards from there by asking yourself “will opening this specific business help me move towards what I want?”

3: Then Start your Business
Once you have an idea of what you want your life to look like and you know how you want that business to contribute to your bigger life vision — this is when you should JUST START DOING IT. Ask yourself what needs to happen to make this business idea a business and start working on that business.
Even though it took me a few years to learn and realize the importance of the above, I don’t regret my entrepreneurial journey because it has put me in the position where I can now help other women start out on the right track for them.

So the question now is, what business do you really want to build?

You are welcome to grab a copy of my free Start The Right Business workbook if you need help on gaining clarity on how to get started, you can access it here www.samanthawhittaker.com/freeguide

Your Business Will Only Get as Big as Your Life: Three things that helped me Pack my Bags and Leave Everything Behind

What does it really mean to be brave?

In 2016 I closed down my thriving corporate public relations agency and I put almost everything in storage and my dog and I, moved to London England.

And as a result of that move a lot of people have been coming up to me saying that I’m brave for packing up my bags and moving across the Atlantic Ocean over to England, where I knew no-one.

I’ve heard it from my friends, I’ve heard it from my family, I’ve even heard it from people that I’ve met for the first time.

So this got me thinking about what it means to be brave and how I got to the point where others looked at me as being a “brave woman.”

Experience in my opinion is one of the best teachers. I started my first company Fresh Image Public Relations in 2010 and I had absolutely no real clue about operating a business, but I dove in and figured it out as I went along.

Over the past few years that I have been on the entrepreneurial journey, one of the biggest takeaways that I’ve learned is that your business will only get as big as your life.

I will repeat that so it sinks in – your business will only get as big as your life. So if you are afraid to take risks and are always playing it safe it will be harder for both your life and your business to grow.

I didn’t start out being this “brave” woman, that everyone points out, it was a step by step evolution. And here are the top three things that I believe have helped to shape who I have become and how I run my life as well as my business:

1. I invest heavily in personal development whether that be by attending seminars/workshops, enrolling in online courses or working one on one with a coach or an advisor. You don’t know what you don’t know and we can’t see our own blind spots, so everyone of us needs outside guidance to help us fill the gaps that we can’t see for ourselves.

2. I guard the people I keep around me and I only spend time with and work with people who inspire me. This was probably the hardest step to work through because it meant leaving some friends and acquaintances behind, not because they were bad people but because their vision and my vision for myself were vastly different and the people you surround yourself with can either raise you up, keep you at the same level or bring you down. So it is really important to align yourself with people who inspire you If you want to move past where you are right now. When I started working on this step I would start small by following someone that inspired me on social media and I got on their email mailing list so that I could make note of what they were doing and how they were doing it. I would also decide who I wanted to meet in person and then figure out a way to get in the same room as them, whether that was volunteering my time for specific charity events so that I can get in the proximity or attending events that those persons hosted.

3. I work on my mindset daily. This one is a constant process because our minds are constantly influenced by so much. I hired a mindset coach and worked with her for a year to help me learn how to let go of my many “I can’t do that because __________ (fill in the blank with every excuse we use -I don’t have money/ I don’t have the time/ I don’t have the strength etc. etc.) working on your mindset will take time because you are working against years of mental conditioning – so be ready to put in time for this step to really be effective. An easy way that eased me into this step was by starting my mornings off by meditating for 10 minutes so I could silence noises in my head and see what it is that I really need to focus on. I also made it a point to listen to motivational speakers (many inspiring speakers have podcasts that you can download or channels on You Tube that you can subscribe to).

If you would like help getting out there and making that bravery work for your business, please feel free to connect with me and others like me in my “Blah to Inspired” Facebook Group. This is an open community with the goal of supporting professional women who are between the ages of 30-45 years old, who are looking to start their own businesses and want to connect and be inspired.

Four Tips to Help You Get Higher Paying Clients/Jobs

Attracting higher paying clients or jobs is one of those issues that is taboo to openly discuss, but pricing is an area that I think should be discussed more openly – especially among women.

When a lot of women start working with me a common theme is that they aren’t making the amount of money that they would like to. At some point I always have to ask this question – How much are you charging for your time?

Eight times out of ten, women are charging relatively modest prices or are bartering their time in exchange for something else and they see the solution to their problem as being that they either need to find more clients or work longer hours to get promoted to make more money.

But here’s the thing most women don’t pay attention to – your time is an investment and time really is money!

Here are 4 tips to help you change your thinking and start drawing in higher paying clients.

1) Figure out How Much You Want to Sell Your Time for

One of the secrets to enjoying your work and earning a higher income is to get clear about how much you are willing to sell your time for. You have to get very clear on how much you want to make – break it down by the hour so you have a concrete understanding of what you are selling each hour in your day for.

If you work for an organization your salary is considered your price tag and if you are self-employed your fee is your price tag. Divide your monthly salary/fee by the number of hours you work and that gives you the hourly rate you sell your time for. Then ask yourself do I feel good with that number? If you don’t, decide on a number that you feel good about and hold to that number.

2) Figure out who can pay you that fee

Once you’ve got your number then ask yourself what type of client/job environment would be best suited to pay that rate.

A lot of times people will start off by saying I want to work with _______ (insert general target group here – i.e. children, women, entrepreneurs, tech companies, Hispanics, African Americans etc. etc) and that’s a great starting point – but it’s not where you end.

Once you have a general target group ask yourself who within that ideal target group/client base can afford the hourly price you want to make. That’s the missing question that needs to be answered. Once you know who within your ideal target group can pay the price you want to charge, that group is your true target group and that’s who you cater your marketing towards.

3) Never EVER Compete on price

Understand one thing – Money is simply an exchange of value and if you are charging what everyone else charges or accepting what you think the going rate is for your service, you are putting yourself at a HUGE disadvantage.

When you diminish your value to one of purely a monetary exchange, you miss out on the opportunity to sell yourself on other qualities.

Yes, price is a factor that is considered but purchasing/hiring decisions relay on several other qualities as well. Reliability, trust and good service are often valued higher than something that is merely cheap and if you get a reputation for being cheap, even if you are also reliable and trustworthy, your other attributes may go unnoticed and undervalued.

Rather than competing on price, a better approach to take is to show value for your knowledge or services.

Even if you are priced higher than your competitors, if you can demonstrate to your customers/boss that you’ll give them better value you stand a better chance of getting the amount you want.

Competing on price alone is never a good idea, even when you’re getting started.

4) Showcase your value and Package Yourself Accordingly

As a general rule, your work won’t speak for itself -you must speak for you. And this is the piece that many people, women in particular, would like to avoid doing because they think it may appear as arrogant or boastful and could turn people off.

But as uncomfortable as it may feel to put yourself out there you have to let people hear and see you if you want to raise your value in their eyes.

Promote what you are doing and what you can do to help others and this will go a long way in helping others to grasp the value working with you brings.

If you miss this piece, you will be giving others permission to define your value and determine your price tag.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post, so do leave me a comment below!

How to position yourself as an expert when you are just starting out

So you are just starting out and you don’t know where to begin to build up your credibility and attract clients who are 100% confident that you can deliver on what you say you can.

One of the secrets to gaining that trust and proficiency is simply by starting to promote yourself.

 

Below are five ways that you can immediately position yourself and your business as a competent and trusted resource no matter where you may be in your journey.

 

#1 – Define and Claim Your Expertise
Be bold and clear about what you do and what you offer. Think about it, when you are deciding whether to work with someone would you rather trust the person that says “Yeah ….um…. I guess I can help you make some money” or the person who says “I’m an Investment Expert.”

State what you do boldly it makes you appear credible.

 

# 2 – Press Relations
It is one thing if I tell you that I’m an expert at what I do, it is quite another if someone else does – especially the press! When you are just starting out and you can’t figure out what could be newsworthy about your business right away, a great first step is to become a resource for reporters – find out who your local reporters are, build relationships with them and let them know that if they ever need background information or comments for a story relating to your area of expertise, that you would be happy to help them out.

 

#3 – Articles
Drafting articles is an easy way to position yourself. You can start out by writing a simple ‘How To’ article on your subject matter and leverage it everywhere – post it on your blog site, post it on Facebook, post it on Linkedin, post the link in the comments section on conversation threads you’re engaged in. You can even submit your article to dozens of targeted article directories on the internet as well as send to prospective clients as a means to keep in touch and add value.

This is a very powerful strategy for driving traffic both off and online.

 

# 4 – Get Testimonials/Endorsements
One of the best ways to raise others confidence in your skill set is to use testimonials or endorsements from existing clients or people who have worked with you. If you are just starting out in your business and you don’t have a client roster as yet, start by looking closer to home. Look at what your old boss or perhaps someone you worked alongside in the past has said about you, or look through your social media pages and look for comments where someone posted about your performance in this particular area and post these testimonials on your website/blog/profile page.

 

#5 – When you do Begin to Get Results Talk about Them in Percentages
People like statistics and the great thing about statistics is that they also give you results that you can claim and use to give your business more credibility. A great way to do this is to express your results in percentages. What sounds better “I had 3 people turn up for my opening event” or “This year’s event attracted a great crowd and we had a 50% increase in attendance numbers indicating a growing interest in the company.”

 

You can also create percentages using numbers from your website’s analytics site like Google Analytics or Social Media following on pages like Twitter and Instagram.
Presenting percentages gives your business perceived credibility and this builds trust within your audience.

 

Remember, just because you are starting out it doesn’t mean that you are at a disadvantage. Everything is attainable when you take steps in the right direction.

Please take a moment to share this blog post and leave me a comment.

Or if you have a burning desire to become the “Go-To-Person” in your industry – click here to set a time to have a Free 20 minute Discovery Call With me.

Talking Entreprenuership and Growing A Business

If you’ve ever wondered how I started Fresh Image PR or how I approach business and keep things moving, listen to this radio interview that I did with UR Business Network out of Boston, MA.

Fun Tidbit: I came up with the name of Fresh Image PR Growing A Business with help from my dog – Inspiration is EVERYWHERE!

Listen in to hear how I approach idea generation, how I am growing a sustainable business and why I believe appreciation is key!

>>>>>> Click Here to Listen To The Interview <<<<<<<

Why Your Personal Life Impacts Your Professional Brand

We can’t help it. Whether we hear Apple, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, or Target, we habitually create very specific images in our head about each of those brands and what they signify to us. Likewise, very specific images come up when we hear names like Beyonce or Oprah or Michael Jackson. You see where I’m going with this?

Brands pertain to people as well. So it’s important to understand that whether you are trying to or not, you represent your brand. And whether you want to accept it or not, there is absolutely no way to separate your personal from your professional brand. (So if you’re tweeting things you don’t want a potential customer or partner to see, you may want to stop.)

Just think of the late Whitney Houston. What she may have considered “personal business” still managed to impede her professional brand.

So if we know this is true, let’s tackle the three areas where your personal life impacts your professional brand.

1. Your Appearance. What does your appearance say about you? Remember that getting up and getting dressed is not just reserved for the days you go into the office. In today’s society, any place you set foot in has the potential to produce an ideal client, business partnership, or new contract. The question is, “Do you enter each day expecting opportunities to come your way?” If so, there’s no such thing as just “running out.” You never know who you might run into. In my book, Real Money Answers for Every Woman, I say, “Someone with the power to bless you is always watching you,” even though you may not physically see them. I speak at conferences frequently, and it’s impossible for me to remember every face in a room of 80 people. But in just the past few weeks, I’ve run into attendees at Target, the mall, and Ikea. And not one can say that I had to apologize or make an excuse for my appearance. One woman even asked to take a “selfie” with me and I was ready!

2. Your Social Media Profiles (all of them). What do your tweets, pictures, and status updates say about you? If you’re a business owner but every picture of you on social media portrays you as a drunken party animal, how seriously do you expect potential clients or customers to take you? People who may want to do business with you are searching far beyond your LinkedIn profile and website. Yes, we see your crisp collared shirt and blazer on LinkedIn and yes, you’ve managed to scrape together a pretty impressive paragraph or two about your experience, but consumers are smarter these days. And we know that the truth about you lies within your late night tweets and Instagram posts. As far as we’re concerned, that’s the real you. Potential clients and employers alike want to do business with you – not your LinkedIn representation!

3. Your Associates and Extracurricular Activities. What do your friends say about you? We’ve all heard the saying “Your network determines your net worth” and the famous Jim Rohn quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” When you’re out and about, whom do people see you hanging out with? Remember, whatever perception others have of them, they may begin to have of you. As Grandma always said, “Birds of a feather flock together!” If you’re investing a lot of time with folks that aren’t going where you desire to go, you’re really wasting a lot of time and setting yourself back. Make sure you’re seen at networking events or associations that have to do with your industry. Invest your time in people and activities that support your dreams and goals, as well as put you in front of and around people who have brands that can lend credibility to the brand you’re developing.

Building your personal and professional brand will take time, a little maintenance, and even resisting the urge to show off some of your best midriff shots on Facebook. But regardless of the sacrifice, it should also be a part of the process that prepares you for your destiny and a few extra dollars. Now that doesn’t sound too hard, does it?

Article is by Patrice C. Washington and appeared on www.BlackEnterprise.com on October 10, 2014