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Self belief is the first step to business success

Self belief is the first step to business success

Self belief is the first step to business success

We’re almost at the end of another week and I’ve been thinking about what factors determine business success.

Is your business where you want it to be?

Do you feel like you’re not getting any traction and you just work, work, work without ever reaching your goals?

Before you go looking for a business coach or a magic bullet to solve all your problems, look inwards.

For the last seven years I’ve worked with creative business owners to help them grow their businesses. Some have gone on to build what they set out to, others haven’t.

The main difference between the two groups?


The group that believe they can do it have gone on to achieve what they wanted. They followed the strategies I created for them and it worked.

The other group, didn’t follow the strategies, at least not for very long and I think this was partly out of fear. Fear that the strategies are not going to work because they’re different to what other people are doing. Fear they they might work and then they have no excuse for being unhappy. Fear that it will be too much work or that they are somehow not cut out to be a business owner. Fear manifests in so many different ways but ultimately it holds people back no matter how irrational the fear is.

If you want a successful business, it starts with you.

The first step?

Believing you can do it.

Even though I believe in you, I can’t make you believe in yourself. Even though you may get the help of a business strategist or coach, it won’t make an impact on your business if you don’t follow through and do the work. You need to believe the strategies are going to work but more than that, believe that YOU are the right person to implement them.

No-one can solve your business woes except you.

Here are a few things that might work for you if you feel like you are lacking in self-belief:

Stop thinking about what other people think when you make a business decision. Your business needs to work for you, not your peers. Be proud and confident to do things your way.

Get rid of the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. If you start to say “I can’t do that” or “I’m not the type of person who…” reframe that in a positive way with “I can do it!”

Focus on your strengths. You are an amazing human being. You can do things no-one else can do. You have ideas, unique to you. Celebrate this. When you feel like you can’t do something, remember all the things you can do instead. Then use this as motivation to go out and learn what you need to move forwards.

See yourself doing it. Develop the vision of you doing whatever it is that you need to believe you can do or be. If you can see yourself doing it you are more likely to believe in it. If you feel like your business will never make a profit, imagine that it is. How would you act differently? How would your life be different? Would you make different choices?

What impact could believing in yourself have on your business?

Creating a lookbook

Creating a lookbook

Lookbooks are just that, books that show off your brand’s ‘look’. They are mainly used for fashion labels to visually conceptualise the idea or ‘look’ of the latest collection but more frequently they are being used by independent brands as a form of promotion.

Lookbooks are made up of styled images often using models and look as good as anything you would see in a fashion magazine. Traditionally, lookbooks were printed and sent to retailers and press to help showcase the work whilst giving a feel for the new line but many are now online or sent out with a CD press kit.

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Images copyright of Lynda Lye of littleoddforest and found here

Lookbooks can often be confused with catalogues. The main difference is that a catalogue will most likely have direct product shots, prices and product information for people to order from. A lookbook is about creating an atmosphere or showing a ‘look’ of the item in its natural setting. The aim is to create aspirational lifestyle images that your target market can relate to.

Lookbooks are all about the photos! For most small businesses however, professional photoshoots using models, locations and photo stylists are not an option so we need to be a bit creative about how we do things!

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In Honor of Design Spring Accessories Guide 2011 :: Etsy shop

  • Consider your target market. Who do you want to buy your products? What do they look like, what images do they respond to? If using a model, make it someone that your target market can relate whilst still being aspirational. When deciding on location options consider places that your target market might visit or an apartment/home/garden they can see themselves living in.


Blooming Leopold Summer 2011 lookbook :: Etsy shop

  • Minimising costs. The majority of us need to limit our business costs especially if we are just starting out. When creating a lookbook start by asking friends and family to get involved. If you need props, look around your home, ask your friends or local businesses to borrow something. Offer them a credit and the use of the photos for their own promotion. Lauren at Blooming Leopold used her friend Maria to model her vintage and handmade clothes!

  • Design. Once you have the images, the lookbook can be put together in a design program like Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator or a free program like Gimp. You need to be able to save the pages as a pdf booklet which you can then turn into an online book for visitors to your website to browse through. Issuu is great for this. Remember a lookbook is like a supporting document. You will still need clear product photos in your online shop to work in tandem.

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In Honor of Design Lookbook Images

  • To print or not to print? Depending on your needs and budget you can either keep your lookbook as a pdf or e-book or print it out. Printing them does not have to be costly if you do it yourself. Think of creative ways to make your images into a booklet.

  • Promotion. Now you have your lookbook you need to distribute it! Put a link to your online lookbook on your website and blog. Send to influential bloggers along with a few low res images and a bit about your collection. You can also send a printed version to potential stockists or send it along with your press kit to your media contacts.

Stop competing, start winning

Stop competing, start winning

Business is not a race.

It’s not a competition to see who sells the most, who makes the most money or has the most followers on Twitter. Business is about providing something that other people need and want. It’s about fulfilling that need to the best of your ability and creating the best product or service that you can.

We need to stop competing in order to start winning.

The internet and social media have made it so easy for us to keep track of what our competitors are doing. We can follow them, like them, Google them and bookmark them. We can follow their every move, read every blog post about future collections, their inspiration and their customers.  But sometimes too much information can be harmful and it’s easy to waste valuable time focusing on competing with others. Whilst it is important to keep up to date with what other people are doing in your industry, if your main strategy is to beat the competition you will never be a winner. There will always be someone, somewhere doing what you want to do and doing it better. Maybe they have more money to invest, better connections, more time, more knowledge. Whatever the reason, it’s clear we can’t compete with everyone and really do you want to?

It’s time to be leaders, not followers.

Focus your energy on your products and services and making them the best you can. Instead of looking at products that are selling for other people and trying to create something similar, seek out inspiration in unlikely places, work on your products from the perspective of your customers. Put your customers first and not your competitors.

It is essential that consumers have a choice, so competition in that sense is needed. Create a product that no-one wants and you won’t have a business. Create a product for the sole reason of outdoing your competitors regardless of whether anyone wants it is a costly waste of time.  If you are spending more time on watching what your competitors are doing and trying to follow their path rather than actually working on your business, you won’t ever grow and move forward.

At school there were two types of students. Those that kept their heads down and worked hard to achieve their personal best and those that were so focused on how well everyone else was doing they ended up forgetting what they were there for. The ones that followed their own path of achievement were happier and more successful. The ones who were focused on what everyone else were doing were unhappy and never felt good enough. I know which group I would rather be in.

Competition is not an ugly word. It’s ok to want to be the best at what you do but to ensure happiness and continued success you need to carve out your own path.

It’s only when we let go of competing that we have the time, energy and focus to start winning.

Become your own publicist

Become your own publicist

PR for small businesses generally involves getting the word out about what you do. You don’t need to spend money on PR as it is all about providing a story for people to write about. Hopefully your story will inspire them to write about you, and then before you know it you’ll be featured in all the best blogs, magazines and newspapers resulting in more sales.

What’s your story?

In order to entice the media to write about you, they will expect a great story that their readers will resonate with. Think about why these people should write about you. What is it that makes your business different?

Cultivate your media list

Once you know your story you can start to cultivate your own personal media list. Your media list will contain contact details of all the blogs, newspapers, magazines and radio stations that you wish to contact about your business.

Submit- the right way

Depending on who you are pitching to you will have to follow their submission guidelines. Most blogs now have submission information on their site and newspapers and magazines will also have the relevant information available so you need to follow their directions.

Monitor response and evaluate

Keep track of who you submit to, replies and outcome. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back immediately. Editors are busy people and won’t always be able to reply straight away. Instead focus on cultivating that list. You should always be adding to it and thinking of new places that may be interested in featuring your story.

It can take time to see results from your PR efforts and it is something that needs to be sustained over a period of time to get the best results.

Good Luck!

Why you need to buy your domain name now

Why you need to buy your domain name now

Picture the scenario. You have found the perfect vintage dress to wear to the party of the year. It’s one of a kind. You will not find another one like it. It’s in impeccable condition, you try it on and it fits like it was made for you. You place it back on the hanger because you are not quite sure if you should buy it today.


  • I can buy it later

  • I can’t justify the cost right now

  • I’m not ready to commit yet

  • No-one else will want it

  • I’ll come back after pay day

You walk away with that nagging feeling but essentially you know you shouldn’t buy it until you are sure.

Pay day comes and off you skip to the shop. The party is tomorrow and you’ve had time to think. You know the dress is the one and you can’t wait to wear it. You have even bought accessories to go with it, the perfect bag, shoes and necklace.

Then disaster strikes.


What do you do? You can either try and track down the buyer and offer them lots more money, you can try and find another dress that fits with the accessories you have already bought to go with it or you can just start again from scratch despite losing money and put the experience behind you.

Now imagine instead of the perfect dress, it the perfect domain name. It’s the name of your Etsy shop and it fits your business perfectly. You already have business cards printed with your shop name, a blog, facebook page and twitter all under the same name.

Can you really take the risk of waiting to buy your