Archive for 'at the office'
Posted on 12. Feb, 2014 by Princess Lasertron.
I’ve always said that the reason I work for myself is for freedom, not for money. In the last ten years I founded three businesses, each of them allowing me the flexibility to work on the projects that meant most to me as well as have a fulfilling personal life. When I flounder, the motivation and inspiration comes from my mentors and peers in my industry and business community. One gentleman in particular, author/explorer/schemer/dreamer Chris Guillebeau, makes it his mission to spread the inspiration around with his Unconventional Guides series that offers support to people who are looking to do things they are most passionate about. His latest in the series, Designed to Sell, was compiled over the last six months to inspire creators, crafters, artists, designers, and makers of all kinds to build a lifestyle and career around their creative pursuits.
When you sign up for Designed to Sell, you get what Chris calls “a complete toolkit for creative freedom,” meaning hundreds of pages of insightful and eye-opening content, dozens of interviews with makers who share what they’ve learned, follow-up support for your venture and work to help ensure your success, and guides to pricing, social media, and other how-tos you’ll need to get a leg up in the creative business community. The crazy thing is, Designed to Sell also comes with a $5000 earning guarantee, meaning you’ll make money after using the guide or you get your money back.
I know this guy and he knows his stuff. Chris’s passion for helping people realize their potential is the motivation behind the Unconventional Guides series, and if your dream is to make a living with What You Make, Designed to Sell will be an ideal resource for you.
There’s a lot to learn in there no matter how far along you are on your path to creative freedom! I think you’ll like it.
Posted on 30. Dec, 2013 by Princess Lasertron.
1. Always start as you mean to go on.
You can pull a lot of meanings out of this classic -ism, but what I tell myself when I think about it is that we set people’s expectations about how to treat us from the outset of our relationships. In work, this could be with a vendor or contractor who wants to agree to begin a project with different terms or policies than you will follow in the future. With customers, it could be being too flexible with your rates. With business partners and co-founders, it could be dividing the work or profits differently than you mean to later. Before you make concessions early on, consider what it will say about you. “Start as you mean to go on” means beginning with the expectation of success. It’s doing yourself the service of taking your work seriously and respecting your value. I always see more potentially positive outcomes if I simply start in the beginning how I mean to go on. It puts you in the habit of working with more self-awareness (of your personal self, and the “self” of your company), professionalism, and integrity.
2. The world was fine when I stopped blogging for a while.
As scary as it was, that was all my ego. It was ego detox. Then it became fun again.
3. Maybe don’t use a password on your personal laptop.
…If you don’t have to. When I left my computer at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas after a work trip in August, someone from the TSA staff opened it up and left a comment on my Facebook wall for my friends to tell me I had forgotten it. By the time I landed back in Omaha, I had a hundred missed calls and text messages telling me my laptop was safe and sound! McCarran shipped it back to me within three days. Some people are just truly good, and that experience was unforgettable.
4. Months of hard work goes farther than months of courting investors.
It takes a LOT of money and a LOT of time to build stuff. If you have both, congratulations, you’ve got more runway. If not, you get to do it right, not rushed. And if you have rent to pay and food to get and gas to buy, I respect and understand the need to grow slower.
5. “Build a good name. Keep your name clean.”
“Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful — be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.” — Patti Smith, on the best advice she ever got.
6. Your network will not do your work for you.
I realized that although I have all this capital and value in my network of friends and mentors, I couldn’t withdraw any of that value when I needed it unless I knew what action I wanted my company to take.
7. Keep your hands on the things that matter most to you.
In our first investor pitch for Hello Holiday, my partner Sarah and I were told (with much exasperation!) that we should be drop-shipping all of our product, meaning fulfillment centers or the product manufacturers should be sending out orders as opposed to us holding inventory in our office for shipment. That was the moment I was prepared to stand up and leave the meeting, because this venture capitalist was so obviously clueless about the branding value and integrity of being fully involved in our customers’ experiences. Perhaps he forgot that this is not something a company can simply buy–it has to be built organically with trust and communication as a business. In addition to our high customer satisfaction rate with the quality of clothing from Hello Holiday designers, every day people tweet and Instagram about their Hello Holiday packages–the box, the ribbon, the paper, the notes, the occasional extras we stick inside. (Right now you could get a little lanyard keychain I made! Whatever!) I am thrilled that Sarah and I follow our guts on this stuff, because there’s no way a fulfillment center could give as much as a shit about our customers as the Hello Holiday team does.
8. So yeah, men have no idea what you should do.
Don’t look for validation under that rock.
10. Mental health and self-preservation should always win over hustle.
Taking care of yourself is not “coasting.” When I quit blogging for a little while, I felt just so awful about it. I couldn’t write anything public. But taking that little break healed me so much and reconnected me with my relationships in the real world. Having physical contact with people instead of just retweets and likes feels so good. Check in with people, ask them how they are. Sometimes I don’t know that I need to slow down until someone points it out.
11. Become a regular at a restaurant.
And hold all of your meetings there. I really think it’s fun to take people to places I love, and impress them with the good service we get because the servers and chefs know me. I love my routines and comfort zones and I want to meet you in them. Um, yeah, this is a totally selfish thing. And totally effective.
12. Budget to give customers free stuff.
Free product or services go in the marketing budget. You help people out who need it or use the allowance to reward and thank your best customers, cheerleaders, and supporters. I’ve always done this as a businessowner, but this year with Hello Holiday we started deliberately tracking the practice and measuring the outcomes. We concluded that these expenditures have paid off in exposure (from customers sharing their experiences) comparable to buying ad space.
13. When things don’t sell, it’s because the value isn’t obvious enough.
Some people just aren’t going to find certain things valuable enough to buy–and those people aren’t your customer. So don’t worry about them and don’t try to sell to them. Instead, focus on the people who DO want what you’re selling and go with the assumption that the reason they ain’t buyin’ is because you haven’t sufficiently made them fall in love with it yet. At Hello Holiday, we often rephotograph things. We’ll put a dress on a different model and see it start selling. Or we’ll gamify the shopping a bit by offloading our only-one-lefts in “mystery packages,” where customers pay less money (so less risk), select their size, and receive something unexpected.
I’m proud of the fight and focus I put into 2013 and I will gratefully close out the year in a Hello Holiday party dress with a room full of friends and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. One of us will drink two glasses and fall asleep, the other, because she is eight months pregnant, will drive that person home, and the Hello Holiday team will go forth into 2014 working together, creatively, at our best!
photo by matt miller
Posted on 01. Nov, 2013 by Princess Lasertron.
Here’s my second home. Truly. As in, I live, shower, and sleep here half the time. That’s one of the most wonderful things about having a second-story office–the lack of foot traffic lets us work in privacy, focus without distraction, and adapt the space to our needs.