Refresh Your Business Mojo for the New Year

049P0304LLSometimes, business can be tougher than usual. And it gets us down in the dumps.

Crickets chirp. We lose our creative mojo. And sometimes, we have loads of exciting stuff planned, lots of great ideas, but can’t seem to scrape up the motivation to follow through and get it done. (That’s the boat I’m in at the moment. Not fun.)

On the one hand, I hate to admit that I’ve had plenty of these kinds of downer moments…but then, who hasn’t?

The point here, is that I’m not about to let that stuff keep me from moving forward, especially not on the verge of a new year with new plans to implement, new people to serve, and fun to be had! As I must remember: God put me here for a reason, and I’ll be darned if I let myself make excuses for not fulfilling that purpose.

So I figured now would be a great time to remind myself, that there are plenty of “tools” in my box that I can use to get back on track. Hopefully these will prove helpful for you as well, in all your ambitious new adventures for 2015! ;)

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Time vs. Money: The age-old dilemma…

dollars versus hoursDeciding whether to apply your time, or your money, to solve a problem is never easy…

…especially when you’re a small business owner and you know how valuable both of those resources are!

Believe me, I’ve been there: That state of pushing things back, because I lack the time and/or the funds, and yet knowing that it’s only going to hurt me & my business the longer it remains undone.

So I know, that when someone puts off getting their website done, or waits forever to finally commission a cover for their book, it’s likely due to a conflict of time vs. money. As in, there’s not enough funds or hours in the day, or even if there’s plenty, it’s not always easy to decide which is best resource to use.

If you find yourself stuck between those two opposing forces, but know you need to get that website/logo/magazine DONE, here are the 3 steps you can take to get out of indecision, and on to taking action…

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{The Sweet Brand! series appears on the 1st Monday of each month, and features awesome niche brands, small companies, solo businesswomen, and even celebrity brand personalities. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to businesses that are kickin’ it in their brand, and to point out what they’re doing right—principles that you can apply to your own brand.}

girl with question mark symbols around her headI think this is one of the hardest aspects of branding to figure out: Your personality.

It’s quite a dilemma, isn’t it?

Deciding things like “How much of my personality should I share?”, “Should I be totally candid and relaxed, or more reserved?”, and “What about the balance between showing my true self vs. crafting a brand personality that my peeps will love? Are they one and the same, or no?” can all be overwhelming at times.

Rest assured, we all struggle with this. And while I can’t hand you a tried-and-true formula (your brand has to be yours & YOURS alone), I CAN show you a fabulous example of a very well-known female entrepreneur who has totally mastered her brand’s personality.

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timersWhen it comes to technology, slow is definitely NOT good. There’s nothing like a sluggish computer, slow internet, or a smartphone that freezes up on you, to get on your nerves—right?

Think about your website visitors…you can imagine how frustrating it might be for them to sit and wait for your web pages to load! Cue the finger-tapping and sighing…followed by lost patience and a desire to give up and find what they’re looking for elsewhere.

So how do you make your website speedy and efficient, to avoid losing people?

Here are just a few simple steps you can take to make your pages load fast like Speedy Gonzales ;) …and of course, give your site visitors a seamless experience…

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home-sweet-homeYesterday, I was spending time with friends in their adorable (shared) rental house/cottage.

Inevitably, we started talking about their décor, and how cute they’ve made the inside of the house look… But they lamented that the exterior color scheme of the house leaves much to be desired (and being only tenants, they have little say in it).

That surprised me because, prior to her mentioning that, I hadn’t even paid any conscious attention to the exterior of the house! Because all our fellowship time was being spent indoors, it was the interior of the house that I really soaked up and appreciated—while I completely overlooked the outside.

So this morning, as I was thinking about what to write for this post, it occurred to me that websites are a lot like that. I mean, if you look at which pages your peeps spend the most time on, chances are your Home page is very low on that list—maybe even at the very bottom.

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Sweet-Brand-graphic{The Sweet Brand! series appears on the 1st Monday of each month, and features awesome niche brands, small companies, solo businesswomen, and even celebrity brand personalities. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to businesses that are kickin’ it in their brand, and to point out what they’re doing right—principles that you can apply to your own brand.}

You know how much I love to celebrate design…beautiful colors, bold type, gorgeous branding…*breathes contented sigh*

But Sweet Dreamer, you know what’s even more beautiful and magnificent than design itself?

When someone brings their full truth & authenticity to the (business) table, and shows it in a big way through their visual brand.

And that’s exactly what copywriter and “Communication Stylist” Nikki Elledge Brown has done.

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Cobwebs Are NOT Attractive

tangled-web-siteFACT: Your website is a complex animal. (It kinda has to be, with everything you’re asking of it, right? Lead gen, conversion tool, marketing hub, sales maker/transaction processor…)

ALSO FACT: When you update or change anything in your business, there are bound to be lots of places on your website that must be changed in process. And unless you have a team of people who are all over it, you and/or your assistant might miss some of these.

Which is NOT good, because outdated pages, broken links, and conflicting info are no more attractive to your tribe than, say, cobwebs are to a prospective home buyer. Not to mention, they’re confusing and very unhelpful.

Now, I know it’s not easy to keep on top of every nook and cranny of your website 100% of the time. Inevitably, things slip through the cracks, and you may miss a spot.

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The Secret to a Totally *Sweet* Brand

MEBe yourself already!

No, seriously…that’s IT.

And it seems so easy…so simple…so OBVIOUS.

But it’s not. It’s actually kind of hard, especially if you get caught up in the whirlwind of trying to appear overly professional…or trying to put up a front… And then there’s the fear of vulnerability, and putting oneself out there in such a BIG way.

But let me tell you, it’s actually pretty freeing and awesome and all that jazz, once you actually get the hang of it! (I know, because I spent the last four years trying to “figure it out”, and finally came full circle and realized “OH, duh! I had it all along. Just me, like God made me—sweet.” (If somebody could explain to me why I’m “sweet” though, that would be awesome…because I do wonder sometimes what it is about me that I get called that. It’s kind of a mystery LOL).

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My #1 Tip for Putting Your Ideas Into ACTION

Today, I’m trying something new!

I’ve decided to experiment with doing occasional “visually-rich” posts: sort of like a video-blog, except it’s not a video—it’s a 2D image with a simple tip baked in. And little-to-no extra words.

Fun for me to create, and easier for you to “digest” quickly and then get on with your day. Comment if you like!

implement your ideas

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Sweet-Brand-graphic{The Sweet Brand! series appears on the 1st Monday of each month, and features awesome niche brands, small companies, solo businesswomen, and even celebrity brand personalities. The purpose of this series is to introduce you to businesses that are kickin’ it in their brand, and to point out what they’re doing right—principles that you can apply to your own brand.}

If New York City has Tiffany & Co, Texas has…James Avery!

James-AveryAs a Texas gal, I grew up with my mom and grandma wearing James Avery jewelry, and as a little girl I was always admiring (and sometimes begging to wear) those beautiful necklaces, rings, and other pieces. Here in Texas, JA is a widely admired, respected, and sought-after brand, and I’ve been wanting to profile them for a very long time now. So I’m finally doing just that, simultaneously kicking off what I hope will become a regular series of featured brand profiles.

As I’ve grown up to become an entrepreneur, it has become even more apparent to me how much James Avery has done right, both from a business perspective and a branding one. Inside, they’re a family-owned company, started by Mr. Avery himself out of his garage in 1954. But to fans like me, they’re quite simply the epitome of quality—a true gem in the midst of today’s abundance of made-in-China, cheap plastic, lead-containing, throwaway products—James Avery makes timeless, high-quality jewelry that celebrates life, and that thus will still be just as beautiful and relevant when today’s customers bequeath their JA pieces to their grandchildren decades from now.

So from a brand standpoint, what can we learn from them? Here are three things I’ve identified…

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