Arrow Fat Left Icon Arrow Fat Right Icon Arrow Right Icon Cart Icon Close Circle Icon Expand Arrows Icon Facebook Icon Instagram Icon Pinterest Icon Hamburger Icon Information Icon Down Arrow Icon Mail Icon Mini Cart Icon Person Icon Ruler Icon Search Icon Shirt Icon Triangle Icon Bag Icon Play Video

my journal

"Marketing" Is Not A Dirty Word!

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to talk a little about marketing. If you just started a small business or want to someday, it's important you become comfortable with marketing. Yet so many small business owners think "marketing" is a dirty word! It's something that makes them feel icky and slimy. But how can customers find you if you don't engage in marketing? You might have the solution or item they've been looking for but if they don't know about you, they can't buy from you.   

Let's start with the basics. What is "marketing" anyways? The American Marketing Association defines marketing as "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." Basically, it's your strategy for communicating to people who might benefit from your product or service. News flash: posting to Instagram on a daily basis is not a marketing strategy! It can be one part of your marketing strategy. But, in order to work well and scale up, your marketing strategy needs to include multiple avenues for communication. In other words, it needs to be diversified. And you need to have a marketing budget. There are free communication channels (like posting on Instagram) but a real marketing strategy that has the possibility of long-term success incorporates both free and paid marketing strategies. What type of paid marketing strategies are out there? You can run an advertisement in your local newspaper, run ads on Instagram or Facebook, learn how to use Google Ads, start an email list and communicate with your subscribers regularly (and make sure you're giving them value! No one wants another newsletter in their inbox that has nothing unique, special, different, or valuable about it), run ads on Pinterest, pay for a space at a trade show if that's where you're most likely to meet potential customers, etc.

Let me insert some real talk here. You might feel a little overwhelmed after reading that and thinking about a marketing budget. But if you want a REAL business, you need to engage in REAL marketing. Selling to friends and family is not a real business - it's more of a glorified hobby. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh (and by the way, it's totally ok if you want a little on-the-side sort of business like that!). But I think most people start a small business with the hopes of growing it into something that can really support their family, with extra left over. And if that's you, you need to sell to strangers. Your friends and family can only buy so much. So how do you find strangers to sell to? Marketing!

If you feel icky or slimey about marketing, like you're some sort of used car salesman, I would suggest you work on your ideas and beliefs around marketing. Read the definition of it again - it's the "processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers." If you truly believe you meet a need and your product or service has value, why would you ever feel icky about telling people about it? You have a solution that meets their need! And p.s. you don't need to be solving world hunger! You can be solving the silliest need ever - for example, I would absolutely love if someone came up with a lotion pump that would allow you to use the last amount of lotion at the bottom of the bottle. That would be amazing! Have you ever turned the bottle upside down and used the remaining lotion? It lasts for like 2 weeks! That's a lot of money to dump down the drain over the years. So, ask yourself, what value does your service or product have to the people who'll most enjoy it? Keep your focus on the value, and you'll stop feeling like a used car salesman.

If you're struggling here, let me suggest something else. You might need to work a little bit on your confidence. If you aren't confident in your business idea, how can you expect a stranger to be? This is an issue for women in particular. It's like this - you finally get the courage to start your own business, and now you have to work on having the courage to believe in your products or services. But for some reason, we doubt. We doubt whether people will really like what we have to offer. We think, "Why would someone ever want to buy from me?" It's a mind game! I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Starting a business is a challenging personal journey and it requires you to work more on your mindset than your website. P.S. I have been there! I know what it's like. And if you need someone to talk through this with, I offer mentoring services which you can read about here.   

I hope, after reading this, you're thinking about marketing in a new light. And let me end with this - marketing is going to be a huge part of your duties as a business owner. If you truly don't like it, you might want to reconsider becoming a business owner. I mean it! Of all the tasks I do each week, marketing always takes up the most time. I didn't know this before I started g+h, but I happen to really enjoy marketing. I enjoy learning about it, studying it, and taking courses on it. I enjoy looking at all the data and trends and making new strategies based on that information. I think it's really interesting, especially in this new era where small businesses can afford to advertise on social media platforms and reach ideal customers so easily. It is so inexpensive and effective compared to the days when people had to advertise in magazines and newspapers (and you never really knew how effective the ads were unless someone specifically told you they found you in such-and-such magazine).

One last note. I don't recommend outsourcing marketing, especially in the beginning. I recommend you take a few courses on marketing (I can make some recommendations if you like!) and learn about it yourself. Then, after you've tried some different things and somewhat nailed down your strategy, I think it's ok to hand over the reins to someone who can take your directions and make it happen. Why? In the beginning, marketing is just too important to outsource - it basically forms your business's personality and image, and that stuff is still forming and changing in the early stages. It's just like an infant! And if you outsource it, you're giving a stranger too much power to form your business's personality. 

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

The Small Business World And Something To Be Careful About

The Small Business World And Something To Be Careful About

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to talk a little about the small business world. If you want to start a business someday or already have, there is something to be careful about in the early stages. I wish someone had warned me about this before I started my business.

When you start a small business, you'll naturally begin to meet other small business owners. For example, if you're selling a product, you're going to do a few pop-up shops, fairs, and markets to see if they work well for your business. You'll meet a few business owners there and they'll tell you about a small business conference or meeting next week. You'll go and meet more business owners there, and on and on your networking will go. New start-up owners typically go to these types of events, as opposed to more established small business owners. On the one hand, this is a great thing! Especially if you are like me. I had recently quit my lawyer job and I was feeling really disconnected to my friends still working as attorneys. I couldn't stand how much they complained about work since I was no longer in that world (side note: I no longer keep in touch with most of those people. I have written about this before but expect your friendships to change in some ways). Anyways, it was nice to meet like-minded people who were pursuing a similar path.

But, on the other hand, I found the small business start-up community to be a bit draining. I heard a lot of complaints about "how hard it is to be a new business" and "how difficult small business ownership is", etc. A year or two into my business ownership journey, I separated myself from these types of meetings, organizations, etc. I realized that this environment was actually dragging me down more than it was pulling me up. It seemed like more time was spent griping over the difficulties of small business life rather than building community, sharing strategies, or solving common problems. In its place, I decided to make more of the online groups and resources that were working for me. I found it easier online to weed out these draining "complaining" groups from the helpful ones - maybe because it wasn't as much of a time commitment. I didn't need to get dressed and go to a meeting or networking event. Naturally, this means that I have small business friends all over the country and I can't necessarily grab a coffee with them, but hey that's ok - especially in this day and age. 

I tell you all this because mindset is EVERYTHING in the beginning stages of starting a business. It is so incredibly easy to doubt yourself, your ideas, and even your entire life's trajectory because what you're embarking on is HARD. If it were easy, every person would be doing it. You must, must, must protect your mindset from complainers who whine about the difficulties of small business ownership. If you choose to see small business ownership as difficult, it will be difficult. If you choose to small business ownership as an exciting challenge, it will be just that. You cannot afford to waste time surrounding yourself with people who are going to contribute anxiety, fear, and doubt to your mindset. If this means that you feel a little bit like a "loner" in the beginning, that is ok. It'll keep you mentally on track and that's where you need to be to succeed. 

So, in conclusion, I'm not saying to avoid these groups and meetups and conferences all together. All I'm saying is to keep your guard up. If you sense someone wants an ear to complain to, keep your distance. Humans are funny - misery loves company! But that's company you don't need in your life.

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

Just Starting Your Business? How To Deal With the Overwhelm and 3 Things To Prioritize

Just Starting Your Business? How To Deal With the Overwhelm and 3 Things To Prioritize

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week's journal entry is a practical post that newbie (and aspiring!) business owners will find helpful. I know a lot of people used their extra downtime over the past year to build a website and work on their business dreams. If that's you, bravo! That's so exciting! But once you have the wheels moving, it can start to feel even more overwhelming than it did at the start. Am I right? That's because you're really in the thick of it now. Your business went from this idea in your head to a real thing, and you're really starting to understand how a small business works and how many moving parts you need to juggle. From building your social media following, to managing inventory, to setting up an email system, to hiring help, to creating a logo, to deciding how to price your products or services, oh the tasks are endless! Take a breather for a second and read on because I want to share a little strategy, as well as my top 3 things to prioritize. I've avoided the obvious things (like design a logo) and instead focus on 3 things you might not realize the importance of yet (but you'll thank me later!).

If you are feeling overwhelmed and in over-your-head, I want you to first embrace the idea that you cannot possibly get everything done now or even this year. Building a new business is a longer journey - a marathon, not a sprint. For example, I purchased a Pinterest for Business online course in 2018 and I am just now, in 2021, really focusing on that course and building my Pinterest presence. I should have done this already since I sell wedding jewelry and many brides plan their weddings on Pinterest. But it just hasn't happened yet. And that is okay. This will happen to you too (not necessarily with Pinterest but with other things) because there are only so many hours in a day. So accept that fact at the get-go, rather than beating yourself up for all the things you aren't getting done every single day.

Second, make a list of all that needs to be done. Do a complete and total brain dump. Keep your list handy over the next few days so you can add to it (you'll think of more and more and more things...). This exercise will help you feel a little less frazzled. It always feels good when you get those frantic, random thoughts out of your head and onto a page.

Third, after a few days have passed and you're relatively certain that you've captured all the "to do's" running around your brain, begin to prioritize the items on your list. This step will give you a clearer vision of the big picture and allow you to see how the puzzle pieces fit together. Regardless of the type of business you've started, there are 3 major things that ALL business owners should prioritize at the very start. I'm going to skip the obvious things (like designing a logo) and instead list 3 things that you may not realize the importance of yet, but you will shortly. Here they are:

1) If you've set up your shop on a platform like Etsy or if you're just selling items through your Instagram account, prioritize setting up your own website

I cannot stress this enough. That is why it's number one on my list here. Platforms like Etsy, Instagram, etc can disappear tomorrow. And you know who owns all the data pertaining to your sales and customers? NOT YOU! That is a huge area of risk. Let me explain. Let's say you've set up an Etsy page and items are flying off the shelf. You've made 5,000 sales in your first month. Well, if Etsy disappeared tomorrow (or - in the more likely scenario - changed its terms of service in a way that negatively impacts you) you can go from 5,000 sales per month to zero real fast. And it would be completely out of your control. Etsy owns all the data about those sales and those customers and you own none of it. Where would you go from there? You wouldn't even be able to contact these 5,000 people and tell them where they can find you next. You'll have to build your own website at that point and start over from scratch. So just do this from the get-go. It's okay to run a website and an Etsy page at the same time, but make sure the people you sell to know about your website. For example, when you ship their Etsy order, include a little notecard about your website and perhaps offer them 10% off their next purchase from your website. This will encourage them to interact with you directly, and not through Etsy (that'll also mean higher profit margins for you because Etsy won't take a cut!).

It is so easy and inexpensive to set up a professional website these days. Try Squarespace or Shopify. There are beautiful website templates on these sites with easy drag and drop technology so you don't have to worry about coding or designing. In my opinion, avoid Wordpress in the beginning. It's more difficult to navigate which means you're going to put it off longer and this is not something that can wait. You can always upgrade your website down the road. Don't forget that! So just get going as quickly as possible with a website platform that's user-friendly. I use Shopify and highly recommend them! 

2) Get an email system and build your email list from the very start. This is somewhat connected to task number one. The contact information of the people who are interested in your products or services is very valuable. It is perhaps the biggest asset you have. Why? Because you can communicate with these people! And they are likely to buy! They are already at least somewhat interested in what you have to offer so you want to be able to explain your products or services to them in greater detail, advise them of upcoming sales, etc. Once you have a decent sized list, you can also use this information to do other things in your business, like run ads on social media platforms (that's a topic for another day). And trust me, once you get to those more advanced tasks, you are going to be WISHING you had set up an email system on day one. Once you set it up, it runs automatically in the background and you never have to worry about it.

Listen, you don't even have to email these people right away, ok? Just promise me you'll collect their emails. You can come up with on-brand emails and sale announcements down the road if you don't have time now. Even if it takes you a year to come up with emails that you think will be of service to your potential customers, you will be so grateful that you started collecting their email addresses from the start. 

Think about it in relation to point number one above. If Etsy disappeared tomorrow, with a few key strokes on your computer you'd be able to email the 5,000 people who bought from you to tell them about your website. Your business wouldn't die on the day that Etsy pulled the plug. That's a really easy risk-management step to take, don't you think? I think so! Here's another thing to think about. There are a lot of issues with Instagram and Facebook right now - everything from censorship to privacy concerns (there is a big privacy change that Apple is making to iPhones this year that is going to impact the way Instagram/Facebook operates). And I have a strong gut feeling that big changes are coming to social media platforms in the next year or two. So don't bank on them being around in their current form forever. Start now. Build an email list so that you don't have to rely exclusively on these platforms to communicate with your customers and potential customers.

So how do you collect emails? You know those pop ups you see when you go to a website? You know, where they offer you a discount in exchange for your email address? They're not just being generous there. They're offering you something substantial so that you'll want to give up your email address. A discount is usually the best offer (who doesn't love a discount!?) but you can also offer a free guide or something else creative. Just make sure it's good enough, or you are going to have a hard time getting people to give up their email address. Then set up a pop up on your website, just like the ones you've seen on other sites. How do you do that? Read on - I'll tell you at the end of the next paragraph.

The email platform I would recommend is Flodesk. I've used Mailchimp in the past and researched other email platform services but, in my opinion, they are not user-friendly. Unless you know how to code, it's hard to make on-brand, pretty emails. And when you think your business emails look like crap, you don't want to send them. And therefore you completely lose the opportunity to communicate with the people who most want to hear from you! Flodesk finally fixed that problem. You don't need to know how to code and can simply choose from their templates and customize them with drag and drop technology. Flodesk is also incredibly affordable. I was paying way over $100/month on Mailchimp and now I'm paying $19/month on Flodesk. You can also set up a pop up through Flodesk to collect emails very easily. Just go to the Flodesk help section and they'll walk you through it. If the instructions don't make sense to you, go to YouTube and search for a video that walks you through the exact steps. Sometimes you just need a person to show you each step!

3) Last but not least, my third recommendation is to set up your Facebook Pixel on your website. Just like collecting emails - you don't even have to do anything with the pixel right away, ok? Just promise me you'll set it up.

What is the pixel? The pixel collects data related to your website. It allows you to see who's visited your website and whether they "added to cart" and much more. When you have this data, you can use it to run highly effective ads. The pixel, in other words, is the basis for starting ad campaigns on social media. I don't really know anyone who's wasting money on magazine or newspaper ads these days - any savvy small business is running social media ads because they are WAY less expensive and WAY more effective. I would highly recommend you take a course on social media advertising early on in your business or - if you're not ready for that - regularly listen to some podcasts on this topic so you can begin to learn about it.

If you have a platform like Shopify, it is so easy to set up the pixel. It's literally a matter of cutting and pasting. Go to your website platform's help center and search "how to set up the Facebook Pixel" or head on over to YouTube and search "how to set up the Facebook Pixel on {insert the name of your website platform whether that's Shopify, Squarespace, etc}." Then, when you're ready to run some ads - even if that's two years from now - you will have built up two years' worth of data that you can then use to run effective ad campaigns.

Two side notes: (1) you need to have a Facebook Business Page in order to get a pixel (it takes a matter of minutes to set up a page so just head to Facebook or YouTube for instructions if you can't figure it out yourself) and (2) you cannot set up a Facebook Pixel on an Etsy page or another similar platform. You have to own the website in order to place a Facebook Pixel on it. That's another reason you want your own website and don't want to rely on Etsy!

Let me make another little note since it seems appropriate here: in the beginning, you might just be selling to friends and family. That's great for now. And maybe that's why you don't understand quite yet why it's so important to collect emails, design your own website, and set up a pixel. But selling to friends and family is not a long-term business strategy. At some point, you need to start selling your products or services to strangers. How do you do that? How do you sell to strangers? Word-of-mouth (but that tends to work pretty slowly), attending conferences or pop up shops or craft shows where you can sell your products or services, and running advertising campaigns that target people who are most likely to enjoy what you have to offer. Marketing and advertising might seem overwhelming at the moment but you'll get to it soon enough. For now, just set up the systems (an email list and a pixel) you will need to set up effective advertising campaigns later on.

I'll end on a positive note! Of this list, 2 out of 3 items should only take an afternoon. It doesn't take long to sign up for Flodesk, set up a pop up form to collect emails, and set up your Facebook Pixel. And if you don't have your own website yet, that really doesn't take a long time either if you are somewhat tech savvy. If you're not, consider hiring someone to build a basic site for you (you can always upgrade it later) or set a goal to spend 2 hours per week working on it yourself. Even if it takes you 12 months to complete it, at least you'll be well on your way to having your own website. 

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

Things Happen Quickly When You're On The Right Path

Things Happen Quickly When You're On The Right Path

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I'm writing about how things can happen so quickly when you're on the right path. I think a lot of people who want to start their own business or change careers like I did get so caught up in the fears of what can go wrong. Naturally! We humans usually don't love the idea of change. But we get so consumed with those thoughts that we forget or overlook just how quickly things can fall into place when they're right and when they're meant to be. I'm sure you can look back and point to something you decided to do, big or small, and say, "Wow, I'm so glad I did that! Things just seemed to fall into place!" Why do we forget those experiences and instead focus so much attention on what can go wrong? I don't have the answer to that but I can tell you that you can (and you must!) choose differently if you want to make that big change. Otherwise, you might find yourself in the same spot 5 years from now, still hemming and hawing over whether you should make the leap.

Let me share a little of my own experience to help illustrate the point. I quit my lawyer job in February 2017. I was living in Chicago at the time with no intention to move or to ever expand my e-commerce business into a brick and mortar storefront. But just 3 years later, in 2020, I opened a storefront in downtown Charleston. What?! If someone would have told me that in 2017 I would have told them they're out of their mind. But you see, when you're in alignment with your purpose, your talents, your gifts, your God-given dreams, things just have a way of falling into place. And they often fall into place FAST.

Have you ever heard of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho? It is a very famous book and a quick read, so I highly recommend it if you're on your journey to finding your purpose. Anyways, there's a famous quote from that book that goes something like this: "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." It is so true. That power is always available to us. The problem is we often block the power with our own thoughts, our own plans, our own self-limiting ideas (and that's a whole other topic for another journal entry!).

So, anyways, I'm living in Chicago and right around September 2018 (so about 18 months after I originally quit my job) I get this huge overwhelming urge to move out of Chicago. I did enjoy living in Chicago at the time, so it was a bit of a surprise to feel this so deeply. But I paid attention to my gut and after thinking it through for a couple weeks, I decided to sublet my apartment for a couple months and explore the idea without committing to it. Fast forward just a few months later and in May 2019, I moved to Charleston. And then three weeks later I met my now boyfriend of almost two years. And then not even one year later, I signed a lease to open my first storefront. Wow! It blows my mind that I haven't even lived in Charleston for two years yet (in about 7 weeks I'll hit my anniversary mark!). But that just goes to show you - when it's right, it's right. When it's meant to be, it all lines up. And it can line up quickly. Sometimes I have to remind myself, I haven't even been out of the legal profession for a full five years. Yet it feels so far away. It feels like I've lived another lifetime since then. So much has happened.

Anyways, I share this journal entry this week because I want to give you a little encouragement to think about how quickly things can line up when they are meant to be. When you're on the right path. When you are lining up with your purpose. Trust your gut. Go for it. You can always go back to your "old" life. Trust me. It's so easy to just go back and get another job in the same field you're currently in. Will it be comfortable and fun? No, but you could figure it out. I prefer to adopt the phrase "you have nothing to lose" rather than get so tied up in the fears that I stay stuck for years. Life is far, far, far too short for that. 

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

Why It's Important To Establish A Brand, Not Just "Sell" Products or Services

Why It's Important To Establish A Brand, Not Just

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to talk about branding. If you want to start your own business someday, it's so important that you develop a brand and not just "sell" products or services. A lot of people miss this. They think if they start a website and upload pictures of their products, people will buy. That couldn't be further from the truth, especially these days.

In this day and age, people have the ability to buy things from people all over the globe. This wasn't the case in, say, 1990 when the Internet didn't exist. Before the Internet, we were limited to the stores in our geographic area. But now, we can purchase a plain white t-shirt from someone in Florida as easily as we can purchase a plain white t-shirt from someone in Australia. What makes one person buy from the seller in Florida, and another buy from the seller in Australia? If the products are exactly the same, the differences can be found in the branding. And one mistake I see a lot of new entrepreneurs make is failing to think about branding. 

If you aren't sure what branding is, let me explain. Businesses need a brand - or an identity - to grow and succeed. When you file paperwork to form your limited liability company ("LLC") or corporation, the state actually gives you a piece of paper that says your business is its own entity, distinct and separate from you. This entity can open bank accounts, get a credit card, and enter into contracts. Some would go so far to call their LLC or corporation a living, breathing thing, and when you start the business ownership journey you'll quickly understand why! It sometimes feels like a newborn who needs all your attention and care. And just like a growing newborn, the things you do (or don't do) help shape the personality of your business. If you don't give any attention to branding, the personality is going to be dry, boring, and fail to connect with the people you hope will buy from you. On the other hand, if you develop an engaging personality for your brand that resonates and connects with the people you hope to sell to, those people will most likely become customers. Do you get the distinction I'm trying to make here? There are businesses and then there are brands. A business merely tries to sell things. A brand, on the other hand, connects with you and tries to serve you and fulfill one of your needs. It is a relationship, not just a one-way street for selling. 

How do you go about creating a brand? Generally, a brand is based on the things that make your business different. Let's walk through an example. Say there's a company that makes scarves and hires former victims of domestic violence to sew them. That company's branding will probably center around the empowerment of women. Their marketing messages will be inspirational and perhaps focus on a woman's resilience. You get the point? The company isn't just selling scarves. It's a company that's selling scarves with the much larger mission of empowering women through whatever circumstance they might face. And that concept resonates with a lot of people out there.

So if you plan on starting your own business, one of the first things you should think about is how you are different from all other sellers selling the same things. Then use those differences as a starting point to craft your brand's personality.

What makes up a brand personality? So much! The logo design, the colors of your packaging, the font on your website, the tone of the language on your Instagram posts - basically everything that comprises the look and tone of your business. For example, a jewelry company selling dainty, feminine jewelry like mine is probably going to use soft colors like pink and lavender, as opposed to red and orange. It'll use soft, flowery language on Instagram, not a sarcastic tone.

Here are two "big picture" questions you can consider when developing your brand:

1) Who is my ideal customer and what would appeal to him or her?

For example, if your main customer is a 20-year-old college student, the colors you'll select and the language you'll use will be very different from the colors and language that would resonate with a 50-year-old father.

2) How do I want to make my customers feel when they interact with me and my business?

For me and grace + hudson, I want people to feel a sense of lightness and feminine beauty when they interact with my brand. This is very different from a jewelry brand that wants to come across as trendy and edgy. 

If you are setting up a business (or already have!), I hope this is good food for thought. Definitely devote lots of time and attention to building your brand. It truly will make the difference between getting zero sales and getting tons of sales.

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

Why A Sense Of Faith & Trust Is So Crucial When Starting Your Own Business Or Making A Big Career Change

Why A Sense Of Faith & Trust Is So Crucial When Starting Your Own Business Or Making A Big Career Change

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I'm chatting a little about trust and faith. If you desire to change careers or start your own business like I did (or maybe you're wishing to make some other big life change), there's never, ever going to be a 100% guarantee that it's going to work out. At some point, you are going to have to make the jump and trust that either (a) it'll work out the way you want or (b) it won't work out the way you want but it'll get you to the next right place you're supposed to be. It's hard to have this level of trust without some sort of faith. I talk about faith generally here and I encourage you to refer to a faith of your own understanding, whether that be in God, in the "Universe," or in some other source. And if you don't have a faith or a divine source, even more reason to read on and give it some consideration because it might be what's missing in the whole equation.

Let's back up a second. I wanted to write about this topic of trust and faith because I recently realized just how crucial it was to my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. Brief recap: I was a miserable lawyer for 11 years. I lost my father to cancer in 2017 and that experience made me realize that life is short and no amount of time is guaranteed (yeah, yeah, everyone knows this, but in my experience you don't truly understand this until you lose a parent or someone close to you before their time should really be up). You start living life differently when you truly understand that life is not guaranteed and you might not be here this time next year. So, as you might guess, this experience caused me to reevaluate my career choice and propelled me to make a huge change in the aim of finding more happiness and peace. Fast forward to 2021 and, boy, have things really changed! My jewelry business will turn 4 years old this June and is growing by leaps and bounds. When I think about my father's death now, I can't help but think how proud he would be that I used it for good. That I used that experience in a positive way. I allowed it to change me and to change my life. And I know my dad would be so proud to see me living out my dreams and living life with a deeper sense of purpose. It's as if his death gave me new life. And what better gift can a parent give his child? 

So that brings me to my main point: the absolute worst thing that I've ever experienced in my life (watching my father die from cancer in hospice care) led me to the greatest thing I've ever experienced in my life (my new career and business, and all the happiness, peace, and new people it's brought into my life).  

After that experience, it's actually hard for me to NOT trust that everything works out exactly the way it's supposed to. Phrases like "everything happens for a reason" have a deeper, more profound sense of meaning. I'm 40 years old now and, looking back, I can see why some things worked out the way I wanted and why some things didn't. The dots seem to connect in ways I couldn't see at the time. In small ways and in big ways. In all ways. And so my trust and faith in a higher power has grown tremendously. It's pretty difficult to rattle me these days because I look at even the negative experiences as divinely orchestrated. How can I not? The most negative thing that's ever happened to me led me to the most positive!

If you find yourself rolling your eyes at phrases like "everything happens for a reason" and "it'll all fall into place" and "if it's meant to be, it'll be", I don't blame you. Those words seem pretty empty and meaningless until you have a strong sense of faith and trust. And then you understand just how deep and rich with meaning these phrases are from your own first-hand experiences.

Ok, so let's get back to making a big change, whether that's changing careers, starting a business, or something else. Many people who want to make a big life change are nervous and anxious to make the leap and so they procrastinate, put it off, find excuses, and sometimes years and years go by. The fear that it might not "work out" is overpowering and they just can't seem to get past it. And justifiably so - there's fear because there is no 100% guarantee that it'll work out.

So what pushes some people across the finish line - from wishing and dreaming about a big life change to actually making it happen? To me, there's only one thing that can do that, and that's faith and trust. Faith and trust that you've been given the desire in your heart for a reason and that it won't lead you astray. Faith and trust that even if it doesn't "work out" the way you are dreaming about, the experience will ultimately teach you things, connect you to new people, and lead you to the next right opportunity. Faith and trust that the experience won't kill you (said figuratively of course, but I feel like so many people think about changing careers or starting a new business as if it's a life or death decision and it's just not! I promise you will not die if you decide to do either of those things). Faith and trust that you will figure out a way to pay your bills. Faith and trust that you will be able to figure everything out. And on and on the list goes...

If you are deeply desiring to make a big change but you just can't move from the dreaming and planning stage to the action stage, I encourage you to examine your faith and your trust in a higher power of your choosing and your own understanding. Whether that looks like meditating, praying to God, asking for guidance from a guardian angel (maybe that's a close relative in heaven you feel divinely connected to), reading the bible, returning to church, some other form of worship, or something else. Making a big change is hard and we're given no guarantees, but when we have a faith and a trust that all will be well no matter what, we find the deep courage to move forward. 

I hope this journal entry was helpful to you and made you think about life from a different perspective. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe.

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

A Little Chat About Criticism & Judgment

A Little Chat About Criticism & Judgment

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to talk a little about criticism and judgment. This conversation will be geared towards those who want to quit an unfulfilling job to start their own business like I did, but it's equally applicable in other areas of life too so I encourage you to read it even if you're not on the career change journey.

Here's the deal: if you want to quit a traditional career to start your own business, the judgment never stops. The criticism is everywhere. People talk behind your back, your family included. And you have to be centered and confident enough so that those comments don't weigh you down and ultimately sink your dream of being a business owner.

It stinks, I know. I didn't really have the firm support of anyone in my life when I first decided to quit my lawyer job and start my jewelry business. And I certainly didn't have any cheerleaders, rooting for me to succeed. Here are just some of the comments I received:

  • You're just going to throw your law degree away like that? Didn't you spend a lot of money and time studying to be a lawyer?
  • You really think you can earn a living making jewelry?
  • Do you think it's smart to leave a stable job to do something so risky?
  • What business experience do you have to run your own business? (Said in a very derogatory tone)
  • You're going to leave behind your nice salary to make jewelry? (This was a pet peeve of mine - instead of saying "to start a jewelry business" people would say "to make jewelry" as if it were some sort of hobby and not a real business concept)
  • How are you going to pay your bills making jewelry?

And then, once you ARE successful, the comments don't stop there, let me tell you! Then you start to hear things like this, but they're said more behind your back than to your face:

  • Oh she's just lucky that it worked out (completely negating how much work and effort you put into making your business a success)
  • If I was as [insert whatever adjective] as her, I'd have my own business too (again attributing your success to some sort of trait or circumstance that they're not "lucky enough" to have too)
  • Generic criticism about little details (since the big plan has now worked out in your favor) - you know, criticism of your website, something you posted on social media, a photo you shared, etc

So why do I mention all of this? Well, first, so that you know you're not alone in hearing these things and feeling the negative emotions that follow. Second, so that you know what to expect and can mentally prepare yourself for all the criticism and judgment that may come your way. Third, to let you know that experiencing this allowed me to build my own confidence. Let me put it this way - you can't get used to being in the cold if you live in a warm climate, right? Similarly, you can't really work on your self-confidence unless you face something that forces you to strengthen it. I firmly believe we are given the right circumstances at the right time in order to grow and evolve as a person. And part of growing into a mature, grounded, happy adult is having a healthy amount of self-confidence in yourself and the decisions you make. 

And fourth and finally, going through all of this allowed me to weed out the "friends" I don't really want in my life anymore. Yes, some of the friend "losses" were surprising - the people you think won't judge you, will, and vice versa. Your friends WILL change during all of this, so expect that. Let me put it this way. A lot of my friends before this journey were lawyers or corporate types in the same boat as me. Now, a lot of my friends are entrepreneurs like me. Not hard to understand, right? We gravitate towards others who are doing, feeling, and being similar things. Let me put it a different way. It's really hard to stay around those corporate types once you've left. It really is. You start to realize that most of your conversations revolve around work (and it's usually in the form of complaining). You start to realize that you have different priorities and goals in life (they're usually still striving for external things like a higher salary, a promotion, and a big house). You start to realize that, basically, you just don't look at the world in the same way anymore, and that can be very difficult for a friendship to endure. In short, did I want to continue hanging around lawyers? No. It felt like it was weighing me down. And so the relationships died shortly thereafter. Spoiler alert: those "friends" are often the people who criticize you after you've found success, saying all those negative things behind your back. "Oh she's just lucky" or "Oh she was able to succeed because [insert some factor of "luck" that you didn't have to work for]." Can you count these friendships as a real loss in the end? Probably not. And moving on from them makes space for new people to enter your life.

Let me end on this note. And this might be the most important point of this entire journal entry. The judgment and criticism you will receive says more about the person it's coming from than it does about you. Read that one again! I forget if I read that in a book or heard someone talk about this, but it is so incredibly true. When someone judges or criticizes you, she's revealing her own beliefs. For example, the person who says "you really think it's smart to leave a stable job to do something so risky?" is revealing HER beliefs that a stable, corporate job is the only route to financial stability and HER belief that risk-taking isn't smart. Your bold move to decide to believe something different will force her to examine her own beliefs on this subject. Does that make sense? And then, AFTER you succeed, she's really going to be forced to examine her own beliefs then. She can no longer call you foolish for quitting and trying to start your own business.

Let's break this down further, because it's applicable to other areas of life too. She might hate her corporate job, but in her mind it's the only option to financial stability so that's why she stays. If you come along and show her that another option is available, she'll be forced to examine that deeply held belief and decide why she's choosing to remain in a job she hates. And I hate to say it, but most people are going to shut you out at that point. It's too much internal conflict. They don't want to see you, talk to you, hear about your new business because every time they see the joy on your face, it's going to cause internal conflict against that deeply held belief that a corporate job is the only route to financial stability. And people just hate conflict. It's easier to shut it out than to open up and say, hey, maybe this firm belief that I've built my career and my life around isn't really true. It's a lot easier to judge, be mean, and say hurtful things behind your back. Let's talk about this principle in another area of life. Perhaps you recently got engaged and you have a friend who can't seem to find anyone to date for longer than a month or two. This friend expresses congratulations to your face, but talks negatively behind your back. Think about it: her negativity says more about her than it does about you, right? Your engagement is bringing up all the negativity in her mind and in her heart that says, "I'm not lovable enough for a long-term relationship, let alone engagement and marriage." When you understand this dynamic, you can't get all that upset with them. They're speaking from a place of deep hurt. So send them a quiet blessing under your breath, put some distance between you, and move on for now. You can't afford to have that kind of energy in your life weighing you down.

I hope this journal entry was helpful to you and made you think about life from a different perspective. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe.

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

A Meaningful Interview About Career Change (Podcast Link Included)

A Meaningful Interview About Career Change (Podcast Link Included)

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I'm sharing a podcast interview I recorded two weeks ago with a career change coach named Vilma Usaite. We spoke about my career change journey from start to finish and it turned out to be such a deep and meaningful conversation. She previously worked in finance and quit her corporate job, too! Here are some of the points we covered in the conversation:

  • how one pivotal life event woke me up and made me realize that life is short and that I had no reason not to pursue my dreams
  • how my trip to the Virgin Islands in 2008 completely changed the course of my life
  • how my health issues disappeared in a matter of weeks after I left the law
  • the pleasant by-products of a career change (like better health and a great romantic relationship)
  • how working on your mindset is more important than working on your website when you start a new business
  • how I learned first-hand that abundance is an internal game and does not depend on your outside circumstances 
  • about the new paradigm of running a business by embracing the feminine flow (as opposed to the masculine "hustle" mentality)
  • about pursuing an individual version of success 

To listen to the full podcast on Spotify, click here. To listen through Apple iTunes, click here.

If a career change is in your future, you can follow Vilma Usaite on Instagram by clicking here. You can also visit her website by clicking here. I urge you to listen to her podcasts, read her blog, and get in touch with her if you need help making a transition from one career to another. She looks at career change from a holistic perspective and, in my opinion, a career change made from this aligned, centered place is much more likely to work out in the end.  

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

How Did I "Learn" How To Start My Own Business?

How Did I

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to answer a question I get a lot. It goes something like this, "How did you learn how to start your own business? You know, how did you learn how to be a business owner?" I'm so far into the business ownership journey that sometimes I forget to back up, way up, to the very beginning. If you've spent years working as a teacher or lawyer or nurse, how do you learn how to do something else? It can sound a little daunting, right? Personally, I started by heading to...where else...the Internet! I did online research, took online courses, and found a whole bunch of podcasts on the topic of starting your own business. Before I get into more detail about these, allow me to make a quick aside. I want to mention that I do have an undergraduate degree in business but it didn't help much...ok, like, at all. Similarly, I've heard business school graduates with MBA degrees say the same thing. High level business school education at universities prepares you to work high-level corporate jobs - it doesn't really prepare you to be a small business owner. Why is that important? If you don't have a business degree, please do not let that deter you! You can do this!

Ok, let's get into it. Be so very thankful that the Internet exists right now at this moment in time! I'm sure it was a lot harder to start a business 30 or 40 years ago when the Internet wasn't the wealth of free information it is today. Just search "how to start an online business" in Google and you'll be bombarded with ads for days to come from teachers offering webinars on the topic. And honestly, that's how I initially found all the helpful courses, podcasts, articles, etc that guided me on my business journey. I'm not joking! Go Google it and you'll see exactly what I mean. At the beginning stages, you won't need to spend a dime on educating yourself about business ownership (seriously!). Many of the teachers in this area offer free webinars to woo you to take their paid online courses, and you could probably spend 12 months straight taking free webinars and studying free guides if you wanted to. There literally is that much information available out there. Don't believe me? One of my favorite teachers offers a guide of 322+ free business tools and resources (click here for it)!

Once you get sufficiently overwhelmed with all the information and teachers out there (and you will), find the teachers and teaching styles that resonate with you. We all learn differently and we all have different goals. Some teachers focus on service-based businesses (like career coaching) and some focus on product businesses (like jewelry) and some are in between. Once you find a couple teachers who resonate with you, just dive in! Go to their websites, read their guides, watch their videos, go down the rabbit hole! Get lost in it all. Youtube videos, podcasts, blogs, books, webinars, Instagram Lives, articles... digest and learn as much as you can.

Here's an important tip: if you start to go down these rabbit holes and you don't enjoy it, that's a red flag. For me, personally, I could listen to podcasts about starting a business, growing a business, and general entrepreneurship all day long. It truly does interest me. It's nerdy of me to admit, but I'd rather watch an interesting one-hour webinar on digital advertising than a show on Netflix. And this should be you during the start-up stage in particular... you should be craving knowledge and soaking it all up. If you aren't - if you're finding it boring, draining, and uninteresting - business ownership might not be for you. Why? Because owning a business primarily revolves around growth strategy, marketing strategy, website data and analytics, etc. If you don't like this part, it's going to be an up-hill battle. Let me put it a little differently - the "fun" part of my business, you know, the jewelry-marking part, takes up maybe 20% of my time. That means 80% of my time is filled with other business-related things. I think some people go into business ownership with false ideas of their day-to-day schedule. For example, if you want to open an online art business, don't expect to spend most of your days creating gorgeous paintings. Most of your time, especially in the beginning, will be spent on the "business side" of things. So, if that doesn't sound fun, save yourself a lot of heartache (and money!) and admit to yourself that business ownership is probably not the best fit for you. That's totally ok! 

I'm sure you're waiting for me to list my favorite resources, so here they are:

  • Marie Forleo
    • Her videos are gold! It's probably easiest to start with her video series on YouTube. She has a podcast too (which I think is the video content turned into audio). I enjoy her perspective so much that I enrolled in her B-School Course which wasn't cheap, but was honestly the best investment I ever made in my business. Her website is https://www.marieforleo.com/
  • Jenna Kutcher
    • She offers a ton of great content online, in both video and blog format. She also offers paid courses. I took her Pinterest for Business course recently and I thought it was well done. She has a podcast too! Her website is https://jennakutcher.com/
  • Amy Porterfield
    • Amy has been teaching for a long, long time. I've never taken any of her paid courses, but I've listened to some of her free webinars. For me personally, I found her later in my journey when I was too advanced for her most popular courses. She also has a podcast! Her website is https://www.amyporterfield.com/ 
  • Beth Anne of Brilliant Business Moms
    • Ok, I'm not a mom and you might not be either, but don't let it bother you. I really find her to be a great teacher - she is far more practical than anyone else I've come across. I took her Facebook Ads Intensive course and I am a Facebook Ads ninja because of her! You have to apply to the program to be accepted and she only does it a few times a year. Worth it's weight in gold. Here's her website: https://brilliantbusinessmoms.com/
  • Kaity Griffin
    • Kaity is a Google Ads teacher and she knows what she's talking about. She presents information in a quick and easy way. She can boil down hard topics into digestable bites. Here is her website: https://kaitygriffin.com/
  • Podcasts:
    • Marie Forleo's podcast
    • Jenna Kutcher's podcast called Goal Digger
    • Amy Porterfield's podcast called Online Marketing Made Easy
    • Rick Mulready's podcast called The Art of Online Business (don't start here first - this is more advanced)
    • How I Built This with Guy Raz (unlike the above, you won't learn practical advice here, but you'll learn how other businesses started and grew which is very helpful and inspirational too)

There you have it! Start with this smaller list and you'll naturally stumble upon so many other teachers and resources. If I can leave you with one last tip it would be this: you have got to learn and come to understand marketing, especially digital marketing (such as advertising on social media platforms). If no one knows about your business, it doesn't matter how great it is. People can't buy from businesses they don't know about. And in today's saturated online marketplace, you have got to learn how to navigate marketing. On a positive note, digital advertising has never been cheaper. It is so affordable to advertise online. I think there's no wiser way to spend your money than by investing in at least 2 or 3 online courses that deal with marketing once you've surpassed the stage of reviewing all the "free" information out there. For example, take Amy Porterfield's email list-building course and the Facebook Ads Intensive. 

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading

Your Start-Up Business Is An Investment - Treat It As Such!

Your Start-Up Business Is An Investment - Treat It As Such!

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to talk to the aspiring business owners out there. The new year brings a fresh start and new goals, and maybe you've decided that 2021 is your year to pursue the start-up business you've been dreaming about. If that's you, have you thought about your business as an investment? It is! Unlike a salaried job, a start-up business holds much more potential for exponential growth. While a salaried position commonly comes with yearly increases of 3% to 5%, a start-up business is more akin to buying a home in an up and coming area. If all goes well, you can turn a $100,000 initial investment into $1 million in just a matter of five or six years for example. I love this analogy in particular because when I quit my lawyer job I was at a juncture in my life where I could've put a nice down payment on a condo, but I decided to use that money to start grace + hudson instead.

So, now that we're thinking about a start-up business as an investment, let's talk about a phrase that aspiring business owners should keep in mind: if you aren't willing to invest in yourself and your business, don't expect anyone else to. When I first heard this, it cut like a knife but oh did it resonate. I was at the beginning of my business journey and cutting corners to save money was of course top of mind. I continually, though, came back to this phrase. I keenly understood that if I don't treat my business as an investment and invest money where it is reasonably needed, how can I expect people to invest in me and my idea by purchasing my products? This phrase saved me a lot of time and wasted effort trying to find ways to constantly cut corners. It also turned my start-up idea into a real brand and not just some DIY-looking hobby that I was trying to pass off as a legitimate business worthy of customer dollars.

Now, in my 4 years as a business owner, I have encountered a lot of start-up small business owners. And a lot of them harbor this negative attitude towards investing in their business. For example, they aren't getting any sales on their website but they don't want to spend money on a professional photographer to improve their product photos. They aren't familiar with basic marketing concepts, but they don't want to spend money on a $200 online course. It might sound cliche but you get what you give. And when you send a message out into the world that your business isn't worth appropriately investing in, then you're going to attract people who think your business isn't worth investing in. Do you feel me?

If you find you're harboring this attitude, what can you do? Two things come to mind - one is practical and one is mental. First, let's talk practical. There are ways to do things in a cost effective manner if money is an issue - you'll just need to get a little creative and think outside the box. For example, during the first few years of your business, work with the best photographer your budget will allow. Perhaps you can find a newbie who's just starting out with her business or maybe you can find a student at your local college who's pursuing photography and trying to build her portfolio. She'll often do it for free or for very little money, but she'll have a lot more photography skills than you do with your iPhone camera! As another example, if you don't have the money to take that online marketing class, email the instructor to inquire about payment plans. Often these instructors will allow you to pay for the class in installments. And, it goes without saying, instead of buying those new shoes you've had your eye on, put that money towards an item you need for your business. Some sacrifice is usually necessary when you're first starting out, but it'll be worth it in the end.

Second, let's address the mental side of this. Your reasons for not investing appropriate funds in your business may be 100% practical. For example, you have high expenses right now and there's nothing you can do about it, in which case perhaps you put off starting your business until you can get your finances in order. But I often find that money is not the sole explanation. Usually there's something else lurking in the background. If you aren't willing to invest in your business it might mean:

  • You don't think your business is worth investing in
  • You don't truly believe in your business idea
  • You don't have confidence that your business can be successful
  • You don't think you deserve a better life than the 9-to-5 most people pursue
  • The idea of business success actually kind of scares you (this is more common than you think! Google articles on "imposter syndrome")

Subconscious beliefs like these might be holding you back and manifesting as your unwillingness to invest in your business. Does that make sense? If one of these beliefs has a really big hold on you, you might even need the help of a coach or therapist to process it, pick it apart, dispose of it, and replace it with a more productive belief. If that's not the direction you'd like to go, try finding articles, books, and podcasts that talk about the mental and emotional issues that female entrepreneurs often encounter, self-confidence, imposter syndrome, etc. These might provide some "lightbulb moments" that snap you out of your current train of thought.

I'd like to end on this note. When you invest wholeheartedly in your business and really believe you have a service or product that can really serve others or solve a problem, people will take notice. People love to engage with businesses that radiate this energy. It feels good. It feels joyful. And conversely, people can also feel when something is off - they might not be able to pinpoint exactly what it is, but they'll be less likely to engage with your business.

If you'd like to subscribe to my Weekly Journal, click here to enter your name and email address. My Weekly Journal will be sent straight to your inbox each Monday night!

xoxo,
Stacy

Continue reading