Finding the Courage to Move Business Forward

The motivation and growth I’ve experienced from my Mastermind group has been tremendous.  I’m glad I had the courage to be vulnerable, and that I opened myself up with the group. By sharing my struggles, I was provided with tips and strategies on a path to move forward.  Most importantly, I took a few hours of out my schedule to focus solely on improving my business. I was worried my business was in a bad state, at the beginning. It turns out, because of my Mastermind, I know it’s not as bad as I had thought. Also, I now have a plan to move forward with accountability and support along the way.

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When You're Spread Too Thin. How to Get More Margin in Your Schedule

When You're Spread Too Thin. How to Get More Margin in Your Schedule

Organization. This is the key to keeping yourself from a state of overwhelm. As a work-at-home Mom, I have a lot of balls in the air.  Be it personally or professionally, I’m always juggling kids schedules, anniversaries, work schedules, or social time. If I’m not careful, I can easily fall into a pattern where I am continuously stressed. My solution? I carefully curate my life so that I avoid stress.  Here are some of my go-to routines.

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Simple Ways to Make Valentine's Day Special

by Erica Clark, owner, Chez Bonser Patisserie

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, do you know how you plan to spoil your friends and loved ones this year?  I personally love the classic gifts. Who doesn’t love flowers, candy or a thoughtful card? I have you covered there with some simple solutions. I also have a few other low-key suggestions that will make you look like a rockstar this Valentine's Day with minimal effort.

Simple Bouquets

Flower arranging doesn’t always have to be complicated.  Everyone loves a fresh bouquet, and you can make one special by using this simple technique long beloved by florists.  Mix showy blooms like roses or lilies with evergreens and more delicate flowers like baby’s breath or Peruvian lilies. For maximum impact, chose varying textures and sizes of flowers in the same color.  For instance, for an all white bouquet, white lilies, white roses, and miniature white Chrysanthemums are striking against some evergreens.  These can be assembled from simple grocery store blooms, but given a little panache by adding your own vase.  A little presentation goes a long way.

Meals Made with Love

Breakfast.  Start your holiday with breakfast in bed.  An easy way to make an ordinary breakfast staple - pancakes - romantic or (festive for kids) is to create heart-shaped pancakes. You can do this by either using a ladle to draw the outline of a heart with pancake batter and filling it in or by using a piping bag to create the heart.  Pair your pancakes with a glass of champagne or sparkling wine.  Add strawberries or raspberries to your glass and, not only does it create a pretty presentation, but the wine will be infused with a pinkish hue! These ideas are also great to adapt for a special "Galentines Day" brunch.

Lunch. Whether your special someone brown bags it or buys their lunch, you can pack something special for them as a lunchtime snack, such as festively decorated cake pops. For extra points, wrap that heart shaped sandwich in some adorable bee’s wrap from Grove Collaborative. Don’t forget to drop in an adorable card, like one of these superhero valentines from Paper Source.

Dinner.  If you’re having dinner at home with your sweetheart, then an easy, decadent dessert to make is brownies. Do you have a heart-shaped cookie cutter? Then go ahead and cut your brownies in the shape of a heart! Top off your warm brownie with a scoop of ice cream for a dessert the two of you can share while you binge watch Netflix.  Enjoy!

About the Author

Erica Clark is the owner of Chez Bonser Patisserie, (CBP) a bakery that makes delicious, homemade baked goods and ships cookie packages throughout the country.   Erica was inspired to launch her business 4 years ago at the urging of family members and colleagues that frequently commented that she needed to share her baking skills with a larger audience! You can view her menu, and follow her on Instagram to see the latest treat she’s baking up like heart-shaped sugar cookies, festively decorated cake pops, triple chocolate brownies and more!  

Some links in this post contain affiliate links, which mean that I may make a small commission if you sign up/purchase after clicking on them. I only recommend things I've used, love, and want to share. Affiliate commissions help me be able to create incredible content for you on a regular basis.

Why I Traded Resolutions for Goals in 2018

Why I Traded Resolutions for Goals in 2018

Why is it important to have a plan? As someone that feels the need to have a ‘to do’ list before I get my week or even day started, I feel as though I need to have a plan of attack for the year.  Otherwise, I’ll look back on the year & wonder what I’ve managed to accomplish or feel as though I’ve wasted a huge amount of time not working towards my ultimate goal.

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Structuring Your Day When You Work From Home

Structuring Your Day When You Work From Home

Here are some things I’ve learned about working from home that help me keep life in balance. Working from home requires exceptional time management skills and lots of patience. Strategically planning your routine is paramount, and one of the only ways to be successful when working independently. From my experience working remotely, there are some things that should be in place to help you support your routine.

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Staying Motivated Before and After the Holidays

Staying Motivated Before and After the Holidays

For me personally, it took me a long time to understand the long-term benefits of routine. Once I grasped the concept, it didn’t bother me to take time off for holidays or vacations because when I came back, I felt at ease.  Structure gives me the confidence that I can handle anything when I get back to the office! Finding balance between work and life is key, and everyone must find their own regimen to staying motivated after the holidays. These are a few tips that have worked for me and that I believe are great tools for success.

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Melt Away Stress By Automating Your Life

Melt Away Stress By Automating Your Life

If you're not utilizing technology to automate your life, you're missing out. Big time. Automation provides quick and easy solutions to give you more time and freedom to do the things you want to be doing. Instead of staring at your phone ordering products or organizing calendars, you'll have more quality time to spend with family or friends. Or perhaps you'd like to catch up on some extra zzz's or hit up the gym? You can do anything else your heart desires with all the extra free time you'll have.

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DIY: Organize Your Evening Routine

Between catching up on housework, cooking dinner, and preparing for tomorrow, evenings can be chaotic. But with a clear plan in place, you'll find time to do all of the above, and even have a few minutes left over to renew yourself! Keep reading for some tips on how to organize your before-bed routine to maximize your productivity and prepare for the coming day.

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DIY: Organize Your Morning Routine

A good morning can make or break your whole day. Do you often feel like you're rushing through mornings, and are never organized enough to make the most of them? Maybe you're always late to work, or are constantly forgetting things like your lunch, phone, or keys. The key to making things run smoothly is to be more effective in everything you do, and never pass up an opportunity to be productive. Read on for some great tips on how to get yourself organized, start a routine, and have a calm and productive morning.

Make Actions into Habits

Before you get started, though, remember, it takes time to make actions into habits. If you only feel capable of taking on a few of these tips at a time, it's best to start small. You'll be surprised how things will fall into place better with even a few small changes.

  • Get out on the right side of the bed - and make it as soon as you get out! Clutter and messes can only serve as distractions, so it's important to tidy up as you move through your morning. You can do the same in the bathroom. As you shower and wash up, you can take just a few minutes to give the toilet a quick brush or wipe down the shower. As you're throwing your pajamas in the clothes hamper, see if it's full. If so, throw a load of laundry into the washer. It's one less thing to worry about as you progress through your day.

  • Fuel your morning - everyone knows how much difference a cup of coffee can make! When you head into the kitchen, start your coffee or tea, and fuel yourself and your family with a healthy and quick breakfast. There are tons of breakfast ideas to make ahead of time, so you don't have to spend more than a few minutes whipping up something delicious.

  • Map out the day - nothing makes a day easier than having a clear plan of what needs to get done. Now is the time to make your to-do list for yourself and your assistant, or check into your assistant's task manager to see how things are going. Tools like Asana - a team management platform - can be really helpful to lay out what needs to get done, and assign tasks to people on your team. In addition to mapping out your work day, plan your evening as well. Think about tasks that need to get done around the house, and make a plan for dinner that night.

  • Take a minute - do something for yourself. Maybe now is the time to grab that second cup of coffee or tea, throw the laundry into the dryer, or listen to your favorite energizing song. You've had a productive morning so far, so take a minute to relax. Now is a great time to meditate, do stretches, catch up on the news, and answer some emails. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it's something that calms you and prepares you to have a fantastic rest of the day. Now that you've had a successful morning, you can move into the rest of your day with confidence and clarity!

The main takeaway from a routine like this is to use your time wisely. Never pass up an opportunity to do a quick once-over with cleaning, or take care of small tasks that only take a minute. There are no excuses, and think of how much easier your day will be if you get those tasks done now. And never skip a chance to re-energize when you need it. A few minutes of relaxation in the morning can prevent you from burning out later. Remember that small changes can have a big impact, so organize your morning routine now!

Myth Busting #5: A Good Product is All You Need

If a good product was all you needed then there would be a lot more entrepreneurial success stories to tell. But the truth is only a few rise to the top while wonderfully inventive products and outstanding ideas lie at the bottom of the waste heap. Why? Because you need more than a good product or a good idea to be successful.

Good Ideas are Good. This is Better.

Imagine a publisher producing a book with best-seller quality without promoting it. Imagine a team of developers creating the next best app but never marketing it. Imagine a solopreneur offering incredibly inventive services to a clientele that is desperate for it but not telling anyone (or the right people) about it. Sounds crazy right? But this is what some dreamers do every day and then wonder why no one is buying and why their phone isn’t ringing.

It takes more than a good idea or a good product; it takes a massive amount of work. To have success you should be wearing your shoes out from walking into the office of every possible client. You should talk yourself hoarse from telling everyone you meet. You should type your fingers numb from online promotion.

Three Things Every Good Product Needs

A product is only as good as the marketing behind it. Educating yourself on sales principles, online marketing tools, and best practices is never a waste of time. And advertising in the right places is never a waste of money. The great thing is there is tons of research out there for dreamers like you; people with a big idea have resources literally at their fingertips to find and execute a good marketing campaign.

Then you need a good narrative. The narrative is the story you tell about yourself and why what you have to offer is so important. The narrative is the story of you; it’s the heart and soul of your business.

And, finally, you need to understand that at the other end of your product are the individuals who will or will not buy in. You need relationships so be kind, be thoughtful, see a need and then fill it with your awesomeness.

Know What You Have to Offer

A good product is a key ingredient to success, perhaps the biggest one, but you can’t build a house without a foundation. If people are going to love what you have to offer they must first know what you are offering. So, in the process of setting out on your adventure, don’t forget to share with people where you are going and then enjoy the ride!

Myth Busting #4: You Will Always Be in Complete Control

So you’re a solopreneur, a lone-wolf small business owner, an entrepreneurial virtual assistant (or at least dreaming about being one) because you are tired of working for someone else. Perhaps you feel the itch of doing your own thing and playing by your own rules and running your own schedule. Of course you do! Most of us in the solo, freelance, or small business world have such aspirations – making our own schedule landing at the top of the list. But what if the control is all a lie.

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