In case you didn't have a chance to attend, or you did attend but had to leave early, here are my notes from the Your Own Way Conference, hosted by Kayla Hollatz.
Panel 1: Find Your Own Way
- Ask yourself 'what do I want to be known for?'. Ditch the comparison game and be you. Niche down by using pricing, which will inherently guide the experience. If you charge more than your competitors, then you will likely give a more luxurious, hands-on, higher touch experience.
- Comparison trap. Force yourself to congratulate instead of hate. Give out woo hoos to the people in your industry who are making the strides that you want to make.
- Stop obsessing on social media. Use what you see as inspiration instead of competition. Ask yourself, 'How can I use this to learn and to grow?'
- Do the market research. Look at your competition and ask yourself, 1) What are they missing? 2) What can I borrow from them? 3) What inspires me? 4) What can I improve upon and make my own?
- Trust yourself. Do the work and know you'll lead yourself down the right path. Reflect to ensure you are staying on track, but have confidence.
- Have a process which will set the tone. Communicate this to help set you apart. It will take time for your to figure out what works, what doesn't work, what should be dumped, fixed or enhanced. Don't hesitate to start, because you'll never know how to perfect it if you don't do it.
- Break your differentiator down into buzzwords. Consistently use those buzzwords to really drive home your branding.
- Look at other industries (lateral application) and borrow what is successful for them that fits your aesthetic.
- Gain outside perspectives about your business by surveying your clients. Bring in a copywriter to help implement their feedback.
- Don'y copy! Make it you and make it comfortable. Have a voice and write the way that you talk, perhaps more professionally.
- Think about the big picture. Why are you doing this business? What is the big picture? What's your driver (family, children, fiscal freedom)
PANEL 2: TRANSITION YOUR OWN WAY
- Rely on your support group and the people who are your peers to stay motivated, hash out doubts and urge you to move forward.
- Focus on the big picture. Failures are building blocks so use them to reach higher. Be grateful for the opportunities you have, instead of dwelling on the obstacles.
- Let business become a part of your life, instead of it being your whole life.
- Prioritize your health. Schedule in your day 'you time' like exercise, time to read a book or decompress or be with your family.
- Have 'Human time". When you're working from home it's easy to get sucked into the screen. Schedule breaks to stretch and have meals. Reach out to other small business owners and break with them
- REFERRALS: Ask for them. Ask your clients, 'how can I improve?' and 'what did you enjoy?'. Refer other people and ask for referrals, 'I'm new and need more people like you to work with.'
- Be fearless. Let go of ALL of the control.
- Find excitement in change and variety.
- Face the unknown head on
- Plan in chunks of 90 days, so you allow yourself to tweak your goals without feeling despair if your behind.
PANEL 3: EXPAND YOUR OWN WAY
Because I was a part of this panel, I only have my answers to the questions.
- The stages of my business: I started with a business plan that ended up getting tweaked often. Every negative experience I went back and reworked to protect myself, and the positive experiences I beefed up the things that allowed for it to happen. Example: increasing my pricing when I wasn't making above $20 per hour. Investing in systems to give me more time and being organized so I could see what my expenses were.
- How do you know when it's time to expand? Ashley Ebert talked about having her calendar 75% booked being a signal to open up shop in a new city. For me, I am always looking at the big picture. What are my goals and how can I get there, learning form other businesses and always wanting to fill a need. Next year I have a lofty profit goal. In order to reach that goal, and maintain my 30 weddings a year self-imposed cap (gotta have vacation time!), I'll need to either raise my rates of supplement with passive income. I've chosen the latter, and voila! Expansion.
- Systems. I'm not great at having a set schedule. In fact, the idea of a 9-5 M-F or even volunteering once a week sounds like death to me. So I need systems to allow for batching and to ensure I am still completing the tasks that make my business run. Check out my tools:
TRELLO web-based project management, compare to Asana. I like how you can sync it to your calendar. I use it to keep track of my bi-weekly blogging content, client story, and with projects with other persons.
HONEYBOOK client management and booking software, compare to 17 Hats. I like how I've integrated the contact form on my website. I use it to book clients, send contracts, and receive payment.
CONVERTKIT automations and email marketing tool. I like how easy it is to set up and how you can tag users. I use it for optins and I can't even get enough of Convertkit. I've used Mail Chimp and the Wix email marketing and I still like Convertkit better.
CALENDLY scheduling appointments. I like how I can include the link in emails and clients (and vendors) can schedule their own appointments. I use it integrated with my google calendar, so there's never a scheduling conflict.
AISLE PLANNER wedding planning, design, and collaboration tools for planners and their clients. I like how pretty it is, how comprehensive it is, and how I can create templates. I use it to keep my clients on track and to have all of the information in one place. referral code: oijn.
BOOMERANG adds scheduled sending and reminders to your email. I like it because I can respond to client emails at night but schedule them to be sent in the morning. I use it to protect my business hours.
ZOOM video and web conferencing. I like how you can record the video + audio, to be used again. I use it for client feedback calls and for webinars (future hopes and dreams lol).
GOOGLE DOCS file storage and creation. I like it because I don't have Word on my computer. I use it for all documents, for tracking my business ideas + scripts + register + ROI and everything. I can easily save documents as PDFs to add to my website or to Aisle Planner. AND I can integrate with Trello. Woot.
- When you are planning for expansion I think it' best to start by doing a brain dump. What do you want to do and what do you want it to look like. Think Creative Collective is a great resource, and they can help you use Trello to get it all organized. I've also created a client story to help determine points of expansion. Part of expanding for me is being able to reach more brides and more grooms, not just the ones whose weddings I am going to be at.
- Abundance. Truly, there is enough to go around. Because I believe this, I have been able to niche down my business, more and more every quarter, knowing what I provide and how I provide it will be right for my ideal client. The other clients in the world, the country, in Minnesota, they should get whomever best fits them. If that's not me, then that's great - I would much rather a client be happy with who they hire, then hire me and not be happy. Besides, clients who like me, trust me and are satisfied to work with me make it more enjoyable to do my job. #WIN
There's a little buzz about Kayla hosting another conference, so be sure to follow her to get the news as soon as it breaks!
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Prosperity, Love & Happiness,
*Did you see a typo or do you want me to expand on anything? Leave it below in the comment section!