Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Me

May 2007 marked the official beginning of my life as a self-employed copywriter and an entrepreneur.

As I look back on the year, I’m struck by how much I’ve done, how far I’ve come and how truly exciting this new life is.

Referrals and repeat clients are now keeping me solidly booked as a writer. My Craigslist advertisements are refined to such a point that I pick up new clients each week. At networking events and in the community, I’ve learned not to introduce myself as a copywriter (a title which means absolutely nothing to the average person), but as the person who “translates business owners’ passion and vision into marketing messages that sell.” Today, instead of leaving networking events with nothing but pockets full of business cards, I leave with new clients.

As spring arrived, Maternitique blossomed as well. Persistence in marketing paid off. And so has my commitment to constantly improving it and seeking excellence. Through seeking feedback, studying page view trends, analyzing conversion rates and identifying my most effective lead sources, I’ve discovered ways to make the store more appealing, more effective at converting browsers to buying and, most importantly, to make it speak to the consumers I’m trying to serve. While there is still not enough business to make the store a raging success yet, the “trends are in the right direction,” as my boyfriend reminds me.

What amazes me the most about all of the lessons I’ve learned and exciting achievements I’ve accomplished in just one year, is just how far a distance it is from where I started. What began as a hope and a dream—to be self-employed as a writer—has become reality. The company that began as a fantasy—a place where modern, professional women can go to feel beautiful and nurtured as mothers—now exists and is growing exponentially.

Wow.

Creating these entities was, and is, a process. It came step by step, moment by moment. First, I had to exit the “rat race”—to be willing to leave the most traveled road. I found signs posted by others on this independent pilgrimage and followed them, putting my faith in their advice. Then came the hard part: staying the course and trusting my own sense of direction when things didn’t seem to be looking like I’d expected them to.

This week, I had dinner with a colleague and shared the snapshot of my endeavors with him. When I was done, he asked: “What are you going to do in the near future? What’s next?”

“Continue.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekly Affirmations for the Self-Employed

Success is a journey, not a destination. I am living my success.

Where's Blogger?

I now understand what is meant by "blogger burnout."

Bear with me, dear readers. I will be back. My apologies for the thin updates over the last few weeks. I've been quite happily busy working with the world's most fantastic copywriting clients and shipping tons of orders to the world's most beautiful pregnant moms.

Does that mean there is no food for business thought? Au contraire. There's lots. But I just haven't had a moment to share.

Coming soon, I promise.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shared to me, shared to you

My friend sent me this bit of inspiration today and I thought it was a great way to start the week.
'Slow and steady wins the race.' It's not glamorous, but it's true. The tragedy is that most people never even get in the race, and many of those who do hope that success comes easily and swiftly. When it doesn't, they're out of the race, before it really begins. What they don't realize is that the decision to be unstoppable is never made just once. It is made moment by moment, again and again.

– Cynthia Kersey

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Moms' Business Contest Launches Today

Whirlpool's fourth annual Mother of Invention Grant Program launches today, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day.

From now until July 31, moms with business, service or product ideas can enter to win support for their entrepreneurial visions. The contest provides seed money and consultation to moms to turn their invention, business or service ideas into full-fledged businesses. Contest winners receive:

* A $20,000 grant for the grand prize winner
* $24,000 in grant money for the four runners-up
* Home appliance prizes
* Invitation to business boot camp where winners will receive guidance from Whirlpool and industry experts

New this year is a category focused on moms who create an environmentally friendly product/service or use natural/recycled materials to create their invention.

Mamapreneurs are innovative, hard-working, creative, resourceful women. If you're one of them and think you have a great idea to share with the world--go for it!

And happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Benefits of Networking: Increase Your Odds

As a small business owner, there are many reasons to network; one of them is that you just never know who you’re going to meet. To be in the right place at the right time to meet the right people takes more than sheer luck—you have to get out and try to make it happen.

When asked in an interview how aspiring screenwriters should keep going after their “big break,” Diablo Cody, the writer of “Juno,” recommended networking and staying visible. Talking with everyone about your work wherever you go, she said, is the start. Being part of the industry network even if nothing seems to happen is the key. Eventually, something will. Being “discovered” isn’t an accident, she insists. Yes, the real break happens with luck, she acknowledged, but you improve your chances of being that lucky if you stay out in front of people.

Getting to know people, whether through your church, children’s school, neighborhood, trade associations, volunteer or sports activities, can lead you to exciting opportunities.

Weekly Affirmations for the Self-Employed

I can change course if my business goes in a direction I no longer like.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Start-Up Leader in Corporate Social Responsibility Shuts Down

Oh, I'm so sad at this news. Just yesterday morning our local news source quoted the President and CEO of Nau, Inc. saying that the company was closing in on its capital raising goals and was poised to take off.

Then later that afternoon, the company announced instead that it is closing its doors. I just read the news in my morning's paper, but apparently it was put up online yesterday at World Changing.

For those of you who haven't heard of Nau, they were a Portland start-up that manufactured eco-friendly clothing and deployed a radical business model of sustainability. From their corporate charter to their employment practices to the low carbon-footprint of their retail locations, the company was committed to living and breathing environmental leadership.

The bold founders of the company dreamed big, acted big and enacted big goals, successfully garnering international attention for their efforts and more than $35 million in venture capital investments.

But it wasn't enough.

And the news is a heavy dose of reality to those of us starting businesses of our own. It's a humbling reminder that included in the reality of starting up a small business is the looming possibility of not making it. And if a heavily financed company led by top-level executives from companies such as Patagonia and Nike can crash and burn...what about the rest of us?

Chills.

In March, I met Nau CEO Chris Van Dyke after he delivered an inspiring keynote address to kick off the Shop 08 Conference for retailers. His belief in the utter rightness of companies to protect the community, employees and the Earth was practically tangible. His belief that it is possible for companies to be committed to profitability as well as to a social bottom line was sincere.

I believe in those things, too, and I know that with the closure with Nau, the passion, beliefs, goals and visions of the founders and employees don't disappear. They will find their way back into the market soon.