The Case of the Mysterious Entrepreneur

Roughly 3% of what goes though an entrepreneur’s mind every day.

I’ve chosen the uncommon career path and lifestyle of entrepreneurship. You might be thinking “It’s not that rare! I know several entrepreneurs.” Maybe you do, but the stats I have found all say that around only 14% of the population are entrepreneurs, so it’s really not that common. And I’ve made things even more complicated for people around me by not only a being an entrepreneur and small business owner, but a working snowbird. That (currently) means I spend April until late December in Newport, RI, where my business is based, and late December until April in Charleston, SC where my happiness is based (kidding).

I get it when someone who is hearing about my snowbird life for the first time doesn’t get it. It’s weird and usually something only retired people do (although they get the pleasure of not working while they snowbird). But when my close friends or people who have heard it several times don’t get it, I have to say, it drives me a little crazy. And that’s how this blog post was born.

I don’t think the snowbirding confusion is because people don’t understand how that works. No one seems to have an issue comprehending how someone could live in one area of the country for part of the year and another area for the rest of the year. Many retirees do it, as well as boatloads of people in the sailing and yachting industries (excellent pun) and some people who work in the service industry. What, you’ve never met a bartender who works in a Martha’s Vineyard/Cape May/Ocean City bar during the summer then heads to Key West to sling dranks during the winter? Sure you have.

Tweet, tweet.

I think the confusion comes in due to the mystery of the entrepreneur. It’s easy to grasp that someone who works on boats could go from Annapolis in the summer and early fall to the British Virgin Islands in the winter because that’s where the jobs are. Or how a Cape Cod bartender could fly down to Florida to bartend there when the Cape summer season ends, because the Florida summer season never really ends. The guy who works on boats needs to be where the boats are, and the gal who bartends at one beach bar in MA can probably do it at a beach bar in another state too. But what does an entrepreneur do when they go somewhere else? That’s a great question that you didn’t even know you had, and it really depends on the business they own, but there are some general things all big bosses have in common.

When I tell someone I own an onsite hair and makeup company and I go to or am in Charleston for the winter, they often then say “Do you work while you’re in Charleston?” It’s flattering that people think my business is doing well enough that I can just not work for three months, but that is not the case. (Yet.) Of course I have to work during the winter! I own a small business! You think this thing runs itself? (Give me another ten years to get to that point.)

While I may not take makeup clients when I’m in Charleston, doing makeup is only about a max of 35 hours of my week during my busiest months in Newport. The bulk of my time is and has been for several years now spent managing, doing admin tasks, recruiting and hiring, and growing my business. Sure, taking out that client piece for three months and the fact that we don’t have many weddings I have to coordinate during the winter means I only have to work between 30 – 40 hours a week while I snowbird (which feels like a vacation to me), but I still work every single day.

I’m going to share with you some of things I regularly do during my warmer winters, not because I have some strong desire for you to know what my life is like, but because if you have any of those fourteen-percenters around you, they are likely doing a lot of the same or similar tasks but might have trouble articulating that. So while they are probably busting their ass doing all the mysterious work, you might be picturing them sleeping until 11:00am, answering a few emails, going to the gym, making a couple phone calls, posting on Instagram then calling it a day.

Is this how you picture an entrepreneur for the two hours you think they work every day? Be honest.

And now, a short list of some of the many regular things that fill my weeks when I am not doing makeup (both when I am in Charleston and in Newport). The entrepreneur in your life is probably doing a lot of the same or similar things, plus maybe several that I haven’t thought of.  If you’ve made it this far into the post, you might as well keep going.

Booking. A giant part of my job is booking weddings, wedding trials, events, commercials, shoots, makeup lessons, etc. If you think a client emails and says “Can you do the hair and makeup for my June 1st wedding?” and I say “Sure. See you then!,” you are dead wrong. I spend an average of two hours per bridal client checking availability, sending makeup artist and hair stylist portfolios and answering questions about experience, giving rates, answering emails, sometimes having phone calls, sending contracts and answering questions about those, and a lot of things I’m probably forgetting. (And that’s nothing compared to the time I spend once they are booked!) Any entrepreneur who provides services will spend some amount of time (or pays someone to spend some amount of time) on the booking process. Sure, some of them have it automated, but the system they use didn’t create itself. If you are not an entrepreneur but you work in Sales, some of this is probably sounding familiar to you.

Social Media. Some day, I will pay someone to do this for me, but until then, it’s all me (and I know that’s the case for a lot of entrepreneurs). For my company, I manage two Facebook pages and one Instagram account. I post on each three times a week, because consistency is key with social media. That’s a lot of content I have to come up with, and I of course have to be aware of new trends and algorithms. We get clients who have found us on social media, which is how I know it’s an effective form of marketing. I’m not in it for the Likes or followers. I’m in it to share photos of our work, beauty tips that can help people and information about the company, for those who are interested. It’s also an important way of getting our voice/brand out there. I think it’s fair to say that most business owners spend a decent amount of time on social media, or they pay someone to do it for them (and there is still work that needs to be done, even if you outsource it).

Blogging. I spend a few hours each week blogging. I didn’t always do this–check out the Archives from earlier years when I posted maybe once every couple months–but last year I decided I wanted to up my blogging game. I made a goal in 2018 to publish one post once a week, and I achieved that goal. I plan on continuing that once-a-week posting in 2019 and so far, I’m on track. I know blogging (and definitely consistent blogging) isn’t something that all entrepreneurs do, and in some industries, it wouldn’t make sense to. But I have valuable, expert info I want to share for free, and this is the platform for it. If the business owner in your life also has a blog, know that it definitely takes up a bit of their time.

Blogging on a typewriter: charming but ineffective.

Invoicing. We gotta get paid, you know? Invoicing is (or should be!) a part of most service-based industries. Even with invoicing or accounting software, it takes time to create, send, collect payment and follow up as needed (it’s often needed). Sure, the bigger the business, the more likely this task is to get outsourced, but freelancers and owners of smaller business will usually take care of this themselves. I can get most of my invoices done in under 10 minutes each, but I sent out around 300 invoices last year, so you do the math. (Really, please do it. Because I can’t.) If an entrepreneur has a good system in place and the company doesn’t have a complicated pricing structure, this shouldn’t be the most difficult or time consuming of the money tasks, but it is an essential part of the job.

Paying Bills. Money comes in, money goes out. It’s a vicious cycle. All entrepreneurs have some bills to pay, no matter how small their company is. Cell phone, WiFi, office space, advertising, personnel, inventory, etc. Some companies have a lot of overhead, while others don’t. But there are a ton of things that need to be paid for, and unless a business owner has someone doing that task, they are taking care of it themselves. Depending on the business, this can be a time consuming task, but it has to be done.

Taxes. Most of my friends are not entrepreneurs and from what they’ve told me, filing their taxes is usually not too complicated if they just have one non-Independent Contractor job and don’t own multiple properties. For entrepreneurs, taxes can be complicated. I have a great accountant and I meet with a bookkeeper from her office quarterly for Quickbooks reconciliation (think of it like balancing your checkbook, a reference you will understand if you were born in or before the early 80s). Even with that, I still have to send certain information to my accountant each year, as well as check that the 1099s sent to my Independent Contractors are correct and the 1099s I am supposed to receive have made it to me. Like many business owners, I pay quarterly estimated taxes, so taxes aren’t something I only think of once a year. I budget my quarterly payments, and now that my company has grown so much, there is other work I need to prepare every three months. I’m sure I’m not the only boss who does that. If you can spend one hour a year at H&R Block or wrap everything up in five emails with your accountant, I think that is awesome, and I am jealous. But now you know that one of the two certainties in life can take up more time that you might think for an entrepreneur.

An uplifting thought for the day.

Scheduling & Coordinating. I spend several hours every single week coordinating trials, meetings, assessments, trainings, sometimes corporate/commercial jobs and creating wedding and event schedules for hair and makeup. This time consuming task is part of any business that has services that are performed or people that need to show up to sell consumer goods. Things don’t just happen, you know? Someone–be it the business owner, admin assistant or a manager–schedules shifts/appointments/service times. Sure, some companies have scheduling software or set schedules, but that’s not appropriate or possible for all companies. I’m personally used to it and (I think) good at scheduling and coordinating, as I did some version of it at most of my pre-AB Beauty jobs. But a lot of people despise this task and struggle with it, so if you’ve got an entrepreneur in your life, this may be something they hate. But unless they can outsource it or can use scheduling software, it’s likely something they have to do to some extent.

Getting Photos. This is wedding-industry specific, but I’m talking about it anyway. (My blog, my rules.) Couples planning a wedding want to see pictures of venues, flowers, wedding gowns, table set ups, hair and makeup, etc. But since I’m a crap photographer at best, I prefer to use professional photos of the work my team and I have done. That involves getting wedding album links from clients, choosing photos that best highlight our work, getting the bride’s approval for the choices, contacting the photographer for permission to post and then posting them on Facebook and Instagram. Sure, the Facebook and Instagram part comes under my social medial tasks, but getting the photos is a whole different task. If you know a business owner who shares photos they didn’t take (and I really can’t think of an industry outside of the wedding industry that would), or hires someone to take photos for them, this is likely eating up some of their time.

Post-Job Follow-Up. I follow up after all wedding and event jobs we do, as well as after the first time I do or send an AB Beauty makeup artist to cover for me on a corporate or commercial job with a new client. As you may have noticed, many companies will send you a survey or ask for a review (review requests are part of my follow-ups too) after you use a service or buy one of their products. I think it’s so important to do whatever form of follow-up makes the most sense for a company so that clients/customers know someone cares about their experience after it’s all said and done. My guess is that most entrepreneurs do some sort of follow-up work.

It’s definitely part of it.

Recruiting. I’m pretty much constantly hiring at AB Beauty. I post ads for new hair stylists and/or makeup artists, but I also recruit them from Cosmetology schools. That means I go in and speak to classrooms full of “future professionals,” as the Paul Mitchell schools call them, about AB Beauty job and training opportunities. This involves scheduling classes, preparing and updating talking points, answering emails after, etc. It’s an important part of my job and probably a part of the job for any entrepreneur who has a growing company that requires personnel. Depending on the industry, I can see this being anything from a minimally time consuming task that happens once in a while to something that is a top focus and can take up huge chunks of time.

Hiring. For any entrepreneur who has people working for them, hiring is on their task list (or something they pay someone else they have hired to do for them). Like with anything else, this differs by company and industry, but for me, it’s definitely one of the more time consuming tasks. Formal job offers, Independent Contractor Agreements, requesting professional license information and proof of liability insurance and about 35 other tasks are part of the process for me. From what I know, it’s a pretty time-intensive part of the job for most solopreneurs who have Independent Contractors or employees working for them.

Training. For business owners who have employees, training is (hopefully) part of the process. At AB Beauty, there are no employees but we do offer training programs for those Independent Contractors who are interested. These sessions take up several hours a week while the actual training is happening, but also several hours before it even starts to relay certain information and arrange sessions. If you’ve got an entrepreneur in your life who handles training, know that this can take up a lot of their time.

“And this is how we waste paper and lose important information at this company.”

Accounting. I luckily have an accountant and a bookkeeper who I meet with quarterly, but there is still a lot of work I do that falls under what I consider the “Accounting” umbrella. This mostly involves entering information into Quickbooks, but anything that has to do with banking goes here in my mind. The entrepreneurs who hire people to take care of this can cross this task of their list, but a lot of us handle it (to varying degrees) on our own.

IT Stuff. One of my least favorite hats to wear as an entrepreneur is “IT Gal.” It’s not my strength but since, you know, everything is done on a computer, it’s something I can’t ignore. I have a company that handles my website design, domain and any website issues, which is awesome. And I have a freelance IT hero, Dan, I hire when there is something wrong with my computer. But before I go around throwing money at people, I research and try to fix some problems myself (and those are usually the times when you can find me drinking tequila to quell the frustration). Even if there is something I can’t fix myself, it’s still part of my job to reach out to the person who can fix it for me and follow through to make sure the issue is resolved. Sometimes Dan will walk me through fixes remotely, and I’m glad he is able to do that, but what seems like a simple problem can sometimes take an afternoon to fix. If you ever hear the non-tech entrepreneur in your life swearing at their computer, it might be because of this.

Taking Classes. If I ran my business like I did even five years ago, I’d be in trouble. Not that I was doing anything bad or wrong, but platforms change and businesses grow, so adjustments need to be made. For me, part of being a good business owner is learning about new ways to do things and approach the big picture and strategic parts of the job. I take a lot of online classes, workshops and webinars to help me better my business, and I know several entrepreneurs who do the same. These generally take up 60 – 90 minutes per class/workshop/webinar for online offerings, but in person classes can take an entire day or more. There is sometimes work that needs to be done before and/or after a class, so this can take up some time too.

I prefer online classes that I can take from my windowsill.

Personnel Communication. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t email or text at least one person on my team. (They’re like “Yeah, we know, Allison.”) Part of this has to do with the fact that they are all Independent Contractors so I can’t just schedule appointments without asking them. But there is a shit ton of other stuff that I need to check with them about (and that they need to check with me about), and I think all business owners who have people working for them handle this to some degree. So if your entrepreneur friend/spouse/relative has to step out of the room for five minutes to answer a time sensitive call from someone who works for them, give ’em a break! It’s part of the job.

Attorney Communication. If you know an entrepreneur who doesn’t have an attorney, be worried for them. If you own a business, you damn well better make sure your practices and your documents are legally sound. I don’t need legal services every month, but when I do, I have emails and phone calls with my attorney that have to happen. Sometimes it’s a ten minute back and forth email conversation, and other times it’s 45 minutes on the phone to straighten something out. Depending on the industry and what stage of the business someone is, this could be a more time-intensive part of the job. But it is definitely part of the job to some degree.

Constantly Evaluating Everything. A huge part of being an entrepreneur in my book (which, as you can imagine, is a very long book) is regularly assessing how things are working. Pricing, systems, client communication templates, hiring, training programs, etc. I consider this to fall under my Big Picture Duties, as what I’m really asking is “Is this part of the business working?” I feel pretty confident saying every entrepreneur does some version of this. So if you look at the business owner in your life and they seem to be mindlessly scrolling through something on their screen, sure, they might be. But they might also be looking numbers, feedback or reviews and deciding if they need to adjust some part of their company to make it better.

Should I change our studio space? Does this payment schedule still make sense? Should I get a chrome silver manicure?

Revising Everything. Okay, so hopefully not all at once. But that constant evaluation often means something (or many things) need to change. And changes don’t happen on their own! There are simple changes like changing over from a personal to a business Instagram account. And there are bigger changes, like website makeovers, switching to a new client management system or setting up new accounting software, that can take hours and hours and hours. The bigger the company, the less likely it is that the business owner will have to personally execute the changes, but solo owners with no admin staff are likely taking it all on.

So if you ask your entrepreneur friend what they are doing this weekend and they say “Working,” but you know they have no clients or their store/restaurants/studio isn’t open, keep in mind that they might be doing some (or all) of the things I mentioned, plus some I forgot or never thought of. And if you’re my friend or relative and you’ve secretly been thinking “What does she do when she says she is working in Charleston? I know she didn’t even bring her pro kit there this year!,” now you know.

If you have any misconceptions about your job or industry that you want to clear up, leave ’em in the comments. I love hearing about other people’s jobs because it helps me understand what their life is like. And understanding is key in any type of personal or business relationship, right? (Next up, my post about my life as an Amateur Psychologist.)

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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The Sweet Taste of Freedom

Yes! That feeling! Minus the havoc that mist would wreak on my hair.

I’ve often said that one of the best things about entrepreneurship is the freedom. I’ve been a ladyboss since 2008, but it was really 2011–the year I was able to stop working other jobs to get by–that I really felt the freedom. For me, the ability to make my own schedule is invaluable. You could offer me a job making three times what I make now, but if I had to work off a schedule and answer to someone else, forget it. Keep your own (restricting) money, I’d say.

I want to get into the nitty gritty of what types of freedom I have, thanks to my boss (me). If you are considering opening a business or going freelance and the idea of schedule freedom is part of why you want to do that, read on.

Sleeping In. I know, I know–I’ve talked about this before. A lot. But as someone who is a shitty, unproductive person when she is sleep deprived, I really value the opportunities I get to sleep in. And I don’t mean until 11:00am. To me, sleeping in is waking up when my body wants to. Sometimes that’s 7:00am. Sometimes it’s 8:30am. I usually don’t make it past the 9:00am mark but hey, if my body wanted to do that one day and I didn’t have morning clients or a meeting, I’d do it. After having to wake up earlier than my body wanted to for all of elementary school, middle school, high school, some of college, esthetics school and every job I worked before I opened my business, I’m over it. Sleeping in feels like luxury, but it’s really just a job perk.

Booking Flights. For the most part, I am able to book flights on the cheapest days. For example, say I wanted to go to Nashville next fall (which I do, because I always want to go to Nashville). As long as it’s far enough out and my calendar hasn’t been filled in too much, I can choose my dates based off the cheapest flights. 11:00am on a Thursday $100 cheaper than 5:20pm on a Friday? Late morning on Thirsty Thursday it is.  I’ve probably saved a couple thousand dollars in flights thanks to my business owning ways.

Saving that $.

Sick Days. I don’t get paid sick time and there are times when I have do jobs even when I am sick because I am under contract or have no one to cover me. But when I am sick for a longgggg time–like I have been this fall–being my own boss has allowed me to take time to rest for weeks at a time without using up all of my sick time or going on medical leave and taking a pay cut. I mean, yes, I’ve still had to work running my business, but I can answer emails and phone calls from bed, and I can keep those to a minimum outside of wedding season. With my recent illness, I didn’t have to ask anyone for permission to leave work for the many doctors appointments I’ve had. When I’m sick, I just take care of what I need to take care of, do only the urgent or time sensitive business things I need to do, and rest as much as I can, without worrying about using up all of my paid time off.

Workout Schedule. There are some workouts I do at home, and I do those whenever. I can get off a phone call then do crunches on the middle of my office floor without anyone reporting me to my supervisor, which is nice. But what  I really love is that as a half-ass runner (usually only a couple miles per run), I can go out on my runs depending on the weather. Rainstorms rolling in at 4:00pm? No problem. I’ll head out at 2:00pm. When I worked at 9-5 jobs, I could only run at night (6:00am workouts made me want to vomit, so evenings were the only option). On the evenings that were rainy, snowy or brutally cold after the sun went down, I’d have to skip my run. Now I just check weather app radars and hourly forecasts so I have no excuse.

Running Errands. Ah, the other kind of running I do. I like to be very efficient with my errands, because, I mean, I’ve got work to do. Creating my own schedule means I can run those errands when places aren’t busy. Grocery shopping at 12:00pm on a Tuesday takes half the time as it would the same time on a Saturday. In fact, I do most of my errands mid-day during the week. I don’t have to scramble to get out of work and through rush hour traffic to make it to the dry cleaner’s by 5:30pm. I just stroll on over at 1:00pm, enjoy no line and take that white sweater right on home. It’s glorious.

The freedom that entrepreneurship is huge to me. It means I can build my days–and therefore my lifestyle–the way I want. I can’t think of a better job perk.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Habits, Schnabits: Part 2

On it. Part 5 of my routine is happening now!

You’ve read Part 1 and loved it, so let’s move on to Part 2. This is where I tell you about the habits/routines I do have and keep because they work for me. There are some you might have tried and hated, or others you inherently know wouldn’t work for you. And that’s cool! I’m not saying this is a Must Do list. But maybe you’ll see something here that you want to try, or it gives you an idea to do something similar. Which is also cool!

Let me preface this by saying this is my routine on my ideal day. If I have an early job, a lot of it has to get thrown out the window. But when I don’t, this is what I like to do.

Phone Check. Before I even get out of my bed, I look at my phone. I know some people say this is bad, but I need to make sure my personal and professional worlds haven’t crumbled over the last seven hours. If there is anything truly urgent, I respond. Otherwise, I leave it until I’m ready for the responding-to-things part of my day.

Social Media Scroll. Another one a lot of people advise against, but this is part of how I ease into the day. It’s usually more of a Facebook scroll than Instagram, and I do it because I like to see what the people in my life who I don’t talk to regularly are up to (or what they choose to share). I leave birthday comments, I send condolences messages, I congratulate friends on professional accomplishments, engagements, pregnancy announcements, etc. I don’t spend a ton of time on Facebook during the day, but most days, I do this scroll for about 10 minutes in the morning.

Supplements: Round 1. One of the first things I do after get out of bed is take my probiotics and a supplement that needs to be taken on an empty stomach. It’s five total pills, and I like taking them because they have corrected health issues I’ve had in the past, so starting off my day staying on top of my health feels great. As a business owner, I need my energy and focus to be high every day. If I consistently don’t feel well, I can’t do my job, so taking care of my health is just as important as booking jobs and paying bills.

Now that’s a choking hazard if I ever saw one.

Mini Workout. Next up, I brew my coffee and hit the floor for some hamstring stretches prescribed by my chiropractor and 150 crunches (75 for upper abs, 75 for lower). Next up is my favorite arm workout, followed by 20 lunges and 20 squats. By the time my coffee is ready, I’ve done something else good for my health and crossed it off my list before the day gets to me.

Blogging. In January, I set the goal of posting at least one blog post a week for all of 2018. We are now in Week 43 of 2018 and I only missed one week (I was away on a semi-vacation), but I made up for that by posting twice the next week. I was able to get about 20 posts done and stockpiled in the early part of this year, but then wedding season buried me so I had to write new ones most weeks. And my mind is freshest in the morning, so that is when it makes the most sense for me to write. I give myself a certain amount of time, then I do my best to stay focused and write during that time. I love writing and would love to have three hours a day to do it, but I usually have to settle for 30 – 60 minutes.

Supplements: Round 2. I have more supplements that need to be taken with food/a protein shake, so I do that while watching a comedy special, comedy video podcast or a business webinar/class. That way I’m either laughing or learning while my body gets some nutrients it needs. I’ll take that Smart Multitasking Award now, please.

A Scheduled Going With the Flow Day. After breakfast, I really get into my emails and tasks for the day. I have certain tasks I do on certain days, and the reminders for those tasks are purposely set to pop up at times I know my brain will be most receptive to them. So blogging, typing up notes for classes I am teaching, creating content–anything that requires my communication to be clear and interesting–has to be done in the earlier part of the day while my mind is fresh. And any tasks that require me to do even the slightest bit of math need to happen early on in the day if I want the numbers to come out right. I save autopilot tasks–scheduled emails I already have templates for, printing documents, filing–for later in the day when my brain is slowing down but is still working. And of course, a ton of emails and calls come in during the day. I do my best to prioritize what needs to be responded to right away (i.e. new leads and time sensitive questions) and what can wait (i.e. creating wedding schedules for a year from now, reading a newsletter that I think will have valuable info, responding to a blog post comment, etc.) So I have to go with the flow and prioritize the new stuff while also taking care of as many of the scheduled tasks as possible. I’m better at this some days than others.

Sums up my business philosophy.

Mid-Day Break. As long as it’s nice out and I’m not booked with clients all afternoon, I take a break around 1:00pm to walk to do errands. Sometimes they are work errands, sometimes personal, but getting myself out of my house or studio and away from my computer gives me an energy boost. I have loved going for walks since I was a kid, so even though my walks now have a purpose, they are still one of my favorite things to do. Being able to walk to do my errands–and to bars and restaurants, if I’m being honest!–is an important part of my life and the reason why I will always choose a small apartment in (or very slightly outside of) the middle of things over a bigger and probably cheaper place in an area where you have to drive everywhere.

Daily Wrap Up. I’ve found that as long as I start my day off right with my morning routines and getting out for a walk mid-day, I am generally very productive. The rest of the day is dependent on what is going on that week, but I try to plan it out the best I can the night before. I always did this to some extent, but I really honed in on this after taking a productivity workshop in the Hatch Tribe Members Circle. Every night at 8:00pm (the time I try to end my workday but usually don’t), a reminder comes up to do my Daily Wrap Up. I scan my inbox for anything that absolutely needs to responded to that night, then I look at my calendar for the next day. I delete any non-applicable reminders for the next day (i.e. sending out wedding schedules for one month out when we don’t have any exactly one month from that reminder, following up with someone who has already gotten back to me, placing makeup orders when I’m not out of any products, etc.). I then look at my main To Do list. If it’s a hot mess with crossouts everywhere and tasks written in every available space, I write a fresh one for the next day. Then I look at my new To Do list and what’s left on my calendar for the next day and choose no more than four tasks that I absolutely want to get done the next day. I write “Tuesday” or whatever the next day is on the top of the list and put that next to my computer. Doing Daily Wrap Ups is a newer thing for me but I can tell it’s already been working.

Do what works for you. If that means making an impossibly neat written plan, go for it.

I like structure, but I also like to do what I want when I want, so figure that one out. I have my routines and I stick to them most of the time, but I also create them and can change them up whenever I want, which is where the freedom comes in. All of my routines aren’t fully possible on days when I’m with clients or on set for most of the day, but I still try to grab onto a couple of them when I can. As an entrepreneur, you have so much on your plate. Without a plan or structure, it can feel like complete chaos. And it’s 112% harder (fact that I made up) to run a business when things are more hectic than they need to be.

When you own a business, things are always going to come up. Some days go pretty smoothly, while other days will consist of putting out fire after fire (after fire…after fire). But routines give you that safety net of structure so you don’t feel like you are free falling through your day. Or at least, not falling as far or as fast.

This is my take, but I know I’m not alone. Us small biz owners all have our ways of doing things. If you are successful, happy, and not feeling completely overwhelmed 24/7, I think it’s safe to say you are doing it right. But if you don’t have any routines and you are feeling like things are out of control, maybe it’s time to throw some routines in there. You might already have an inkling of what would work for you, or maybe you’ve read about another entrepreneur’s routines and thought “I like how they start their day off with meditation/a cold shower/running around the neighborhood yelling ‘I did it!‘”

Morning routines for entrepreneurs
She put TWO inspirational quotes in one post? Yes, I did, and I don’t regret it.

So go on, do your thing mama, do your thing. (Anyone get that reference?) If you want to create some routines, there are plenty out there to inspire you, but you’ve got the freedom to choose or create ones that will work for you.

And now my blogging routine is over, so I’m on to the next.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Habits, Schnabits: Part 1

Let that one sink in.

Habits. Rituals. Schedules. Routines. We all have them, whether we realize it or not. I wouldn’t call myself a creature of habit, but I enjoy a good ritual or routine. I have personal routines and rituals I enjoy–the getting-ready process before a date or meeting friends, taking my supplements while watching a comedy special or video podcast, calling my father to catch up while I’m walking home from doing errands, etc.–but it’s the business ones I want to talk about today.

I read a lot about the habits and routines of successful entrepreneurs. Not only do I find the insights into their lives interesting, but sometimes I pick up tips based off their habits and routines that I can incorporate into Allison’s World. I know who I am and what kinds of habits I’d be likely to stick to, so when I read about something that I think would improve my professional life and make sense for me, I give it a try.

But there are other things that don’t work for me. Some I’ve tried, others I just know. I see several of the same habits and routines come up repeatedly in interviews with successful entrepreneurs. It’s great that they’ve worked for so many people, but they do not have a place in my life. I think there is a small voice in many of us entrepreneurs always telling us to improve (which is good) but also sometimes telling us we need to do certain things that have worked for others (which is bad). Maybe I’m reading too much into it–wouldn’t be the first time I did that–but it seems that some of the articles I read imply that if you don’t have the same habits as some of the mega-successful entrepreneurs in the world, you’re not doing it right.

Hundreds of pages of habits and routines that have worked for successful people from various industries. A great read AND a good doorstop if you’re in a pinch.

So I want to smash the idea that we must do some of these habits and routines that circulate so widely. I’m by no means the most successful business owner in the world, but I’ve been in business for over 10 years and we are having our best year yet on many levels, so I’m not totally screwing up. I’m not saying these routines are wrong or bad, but I want to point out that they may not work for everyone, and that’s okay.

Here’s what I’m not into:

Getting Up Early. “Early” to me is between 6:00am – 7:00am. “Gross Early” is between 4:00am – 6:00am. Anything earlier than than is “Film Crew Early,” which is part of why I don’t work on movies anymore. When I have morning clients or appointments, I set my alarm for 1.5 – 2 hours before I need to leave. That gives me time to have my coffee, work on a blog post, answer any urgent emails, shower and get ready. But when I don’t have to be anywhere in the morning, I wake up whenever my body says, “We’re good on sleep now, ma’am.” (My body is polite, and maybe Southern.) I like the idea of getting up Early or even Gross Early, but I regularly work until 10:00pm or 11:00pm, which means I fall asleep around midnight. Forcing myself to wake up 4 – 6 hours after that would not only be cruel, but it would make for a very unproductive day. I am not a good business owner when I’m tired. Every task takes twice as long when my brain is in an exhaustion fog, and even the simplest things feel difficult. So while I have had days when I’ve naturally woken up Gross Early and have loved the amount of work I’ve gotten through before it was even 10:00am, those days are rare and my sleep is precious. I’m not going to voluntarily move to Struggle City so I can seem like a more disciplined or productive business owner. (Besides, can you imagine living there? Every day would be 57 degrees so you wouldn’t know what to wear, stores would never be open during the hours you could get there and you would only have a strong WiFi connection on Wednesdays.) So y’all can wake up when it’s still dark out if that works for you, but I’m sticking with my slumber schedule (or lack thereof).

Making The Bed. Now why would I want to do that? As a business owner with a brutal schedule (which yes, I created), I sometimes feel like I could collapse under the sheer volume of never-ending work. Sometimes I need a power nap to replenish. If my bed is un-made, boom!, I can jump right in. If it’s already made, I have to peel back the layers–more work–and then get in. I’m mostly kidding with this one. I don’t consistently make my bed because I’ve never been a bed maker. I’ve been sleeping like a maniac lately, sheets all twisted and pillows thrown on the floor (what is happening in my dream world?!?!), so tidying up that disaster zone takes a couple minutes. I figure I could use that time to do something more productive, like work on this blog! I know the idea behind this Successful Entrepreneur Habit is that it starts your day off on a productive note and immediately puts you into Routine Mode, but I don’t need help with productivity or routines. So for now, my bed remains unmade most days and ready for me to easily get back into it whenever I need to.

Unmade bed
What my bed looks like most days. And look at me, still running a successful business!

Meditation. During my freshman year in college, I was part of a mandatory new student group that met once a week, I think with the goal of helping freshmen acclimate to college life. (If acclimating meant “finding new places to hide bottles of Bacardi in my dorm room”, I acclimated very quickly.) For one of our meetings, our teacher/guide/shaman/whatever she was, brought us to a meditation class. We all laid on mats on the floor–which I didn’t care for–and were guided through a meditation exercise. Afterwards, everyone in my group said they felt so calm and relaxed during it. Me? My body cramped up and I could not wait to GTFO. That was my first experience with meditation. I have tried meditating multiple times since that forced meditation ambush and have always been met with lackluster results. My thoughts do not turn off, and I always feel frustrated after attempting to meditate. I think I used to get in a meditative state when I was lying out by the pool or at the beach, which was my favorite way to relax until Esthetics school ruined sunbathing for me. I can see how meditation would be helpful for entrepreneurs, but it’s just not my thing.

Morning Workouts. I get the appeal of working out early. You get that necessary evil out of the way early, enjoy a sense of accomplishment first thing and get an energy boost to help you start the day off right. Fabulous! My problem is that if I try to work out soon after I wake up, I feel like I’m going to throw up. Feeling nauseous isn’t my favorite way to start the day, so I push my workouts to afternoons or evenings. I can do my favorite arm workout, stretches and crunches first thing, but my body needs to wake up a bit more before I do cardio (which is always running for me). If you can do workout out first thing, more power to you. But my body has deemed this cruel and unusual punishment, so it’s got no part in my morning routine.

Waking Up With A Cold Shower. This is the quickest way to get me in a foul mood for the entire day. Will I use cool water to rinse my conditioner out so my blue balyage fades less? You know it. But immersing the body of a snowbird in cold water can cause fainting spells, and I don’t have any time scheduled in for those. I am sticking to my warm showers, and I will not budge on that.

TORTURE.

Daily Affirmations. I can not bring myself to do this. The closest I get is frequently watching the final battle scene from 8 Mile. I find that very motivating and empowering, which I think is the point of affirmations. I don’t have any problems with professional confidence at this point in my career and I’m self motivated by nature, but maybe my brain is doing secret subconscious affirmations all the time. I will kill it like B-Rabbit, I will kill it like B-Rabbit. Eminem is never far from my thoughts. He’s like a living guardian angel from Detroit for me, and we can all use one of those.

Going To Bed Early. I’ll be honest–I’m jealous of people who fall asleep at 9:00pm. I know if I did that, I would naturally wake up Gross Early, and as I said, I like those days when I do wake up before the rest of the world (or so it seems) and get a ton of work done by 10:00am. However, that’s not the schedule my body is on. I work late, and part of why I do that is to make my mornings better. Hear me out.  When I reply or send emails at 10:00pm or 11:00pm, I usually don’t get a response right away. That means I can cross a lot off my list before I go to bed. And then I wake up with less in my inbox, which makes the day feel easier. Starting off the day right is very important to me, and working late at night feels like it gives me a head start on the next day.

When it comes to habits and routines, I think it’s all about what works for you. I have routines I’ve created to make my days productive and organized, but I change them when they stop working for me. I’m open to incorporating new habits or routines, but if something doesn’t make my life easier or make me a better entrepreneur, why would I hold onto it? Surely not because it worked for someone else!

Who would have thought Audrey Hepburn and DMX had anything in common?

I’ll still read articles and listen to talks about other entrepreneur’s routines and habits, because there will be things that speak to me. And even if they don’t, I like learning about what other people do and what’s worked for them. I find it inspiring to hear any entrepreneur’s story, and if their path to success includes waking up at sunrise, drinking hot water with lemon then loudly chanting for 12 minutes, that’s cool. It’s not for me, with my late nights, sensitive teeth and downstairs neighbors who I would scare, but like DMX says, do you.

If you’ve got a habit or routine that you think helps with your professional life, I am all ears. I’ll be sharing some of mine in Part 2, because you know I can’t resist a two part blog series.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

To All The Jobs I’ve Had Before

Took me several past lives to figure out what I should be doing.
Photo: Trevor Holden Photography

“That was a lifetime ago!” I hear myself saying that when a friend says “Remember when I came down to visit you when you lived in West Palm Beach?” or “Remember all of us walking in our white scrubs from Esthetics school to Dunkin’ Donuts during our breaks?” I call different chunks of my life–like childhood, college, my Florida Years, etc.–my “past lives.”

Within those past lives, I have career past lives. I had seven different jobs before I opened my company and four more during the early years at AB Beauty. Other than a job at my family business–which was there whenever I wanted it for part-time work–I never stayed much longer than one year anywhere I worked. I wasn’t happy at any of my jobs, which is exactly why I started my own business.

My first job interview was at a beauty supply store (obviously). I think it was for a sales/cashier position, or it might have been for office help. I can’t remember, but I was crushed when they didn’t hire me. I was 14, and I wanted to work (and I especially wanted to work around makeup). Luckily, my father opened a real estate company soon after that, and he brought me on as his Administrative Assistant. I had zero work experience–unless you consider my smashing success playing my make believe game, “Small Business Owner,” work experience–but my boss was willing to overlook that.

 

I friggin’ LOVED these things as a little kid. I kept some in my desk and would leave my parents phone messages on them. “Nana called. She wants me to come over for dinner,” then I’d check off “Urgent.”

I learned a lot at my first job, as well as the 10 other jobs I had before I was 28. There are systems, ways of doing things, and often ways of not doing things that I still use. Those past jobs all helped me become the business owner I am today.

It’s in my nature to look back, review and see what I learned from different situations. And guess what? Today, you’re along for the ride. Buckle up, girlfriend.

 

Job: Administrative Assistant at a real estate company (that my father owned).

Length of Stint: Three years part-time during high school, and during breaks and three of the summers I was in college. So, you do the math. (Seriously, I can’t.)

What I Learned: That I absolutely did not want to be an entrepreneur. I saw how hard it was, and how you don’t get health insurance, sick time, vacation days, etc. I was there since Day One, so I witnessed what went into starting a company. Good thing I changed my mind about that…

What I Loved: Having my own desk; office supplies; organizing the office; creating tracking systems; finding listings clients might like.

What I Hated: Realtors and clients who would call and be rude or mean to me. There’s a special place in hell for people who take their anger out on the person who answers the phone (especially when she is 16, but still more professional than a 52 year old cranky sales agent.)

 

Job: Real Estate Agent.

Length of Stint: Four years, very part-time (during college breaks and three of the summers I was home from college).

What I Learned: The importance of connections and making sure everyone around me knew what I did for a career. This was in the pre-social media days so I did a lot of mailings. I also learned to do things I still do today, like always having my business cards with me and giving small gifts to those who refer people who book with my company.

What I Loved: Seeing inside people’s houses! HGTV was my favorite channel before it was popular. (Whatchu know about the original “Trading Spaces?”) I also loved being able to help make peoples’ lives better by finding them a place to live that suited their needs better than their current home, or helping them sell a property that no longer met their needs.

What I Hated: Working on commission. At that point in my life, I craved the stability of a regular paycheck. Luckily I was able to do this job in combination with part-time office work at the same company (and l didn’t have many expenses at the time anyway), but I knew that I was not cut out for a sales job.

Funny because it’s true.

Job: Weird Sales Job. (Yup, exactly what I had already learned I hated. I wasn’t what you might call “smart” in my early 20s.)

Length of Stint: One week.

What I Learned: Some jobs are legit scams. For this one, I had to stand outside grocery stores and coffee shops and try to sell people crappy kids’ toys, luring the parents over by saying we were doing free fingerprinting for missing children identification kits. I think we said the kits would be sent somewhere to be put in a database–which I doubt they were–and then we would try to sell them toys that we had out on our tables. The job I applied for sounded much different than what it actually was, and I didn’t know what I was getting into until I started. One day I made $20 total after 10 hours of work, said “Fuck this,” and quit.

What I Loved: I made friends with a coworker, Shannon, who I am still good friends with now.

What I Hated: The overall scam; being tricked into it (the owner apologized when I bumped into him a year later); making zero money. But I mean, how Early 2000s Florida was this type of job? Some of you know exactly what I mean.

 

Job: Office Manager at an environmental consulting firm.

Length of Stint: Nine months.

What I Learned: How to use Quickbooks; project management; the importance of using Outlook reminders to make sure everything got done; how to schedule appointments; how not to treat the people who work for you.

What I Loved: My coworkers. We had a really awesome group at this company (I even got Shannon a job there!).

What I Hated: That my boss was extremely hot or cold. His temper was scary, and after he punched a file cabinet next to my desk so hard it dented, I–along with 90% of the company–made my exit plan. Within three months of that terrifying incident, we had all left the company.

 

Job: Office Manager at a real estate appraisal company.

Length of Stint: Nine months.

What I Learned: How to use appraisal software; what goes into appraisals and what they are used for; how to deal with a boss who clearly did not want to own the company.

What I Loved: My commute kept me off of 95 in South Florida, so my life was no longer in jeopardy every weekday rush hour as it had been at my last job.

What I Hated: Working out of someone else’s home (oh, did I mention their home office was inside their garage?); that the owners would jet off to Miami for a couple days, leaving me to deal with phone calls from angry people who rightfully wanted their overdue appraisals; that they illegally hired me as an Independent Contractor so I wasn’t able to collect unemployment when they laid me off out of nowhere because the wife’s sister got in a car accident. (You’re right–that doesn’t make any sense!)

 

LET ME IN YOUR REAL HOUSE.

 

Job: School Secretary.

Length of Stint: 13 months.

What I Learned: Some advanced Excel skills (took a class while I was there); the importance of confidentiality (I filed student behavior reports and was privy to staffing issues); that I have impressive willpower (there was a basket of candy on my desk and I did not touch it once during a three month cleanse I did).

What I Loved: The people (both the students and the staff)! I became friends with Dan, one of the teacher’s assistants, and we are still good friends 11 years later.

What I Hated: Waking up early; how I couldn’t go to the bathroom without getting someone to sit at my desk to buzz people in and answer the phones; being bored due to lack of work.

 

Job: Office Manager at my father’s real estate company.

Length of Stint: 13 months. I did this part-time most days after leaving my School Secretary job.

What I Learned: I actually learned this early on working for my father, but I’ll put it here: I learned how to treat the people who work for you. My father has always been incredibly kind, understanding and accommodating with everyone in any company he has owned. He taught me that you have to let your team know that you recognize and appreciate their work, and you have to make sure that you are paying them fairly and not expecting them to do work outside of their job description without being compensated for it.

What I Loved: The two minute commute; being able to make my own hours; working with fun people.

What I Hated: That it was in Worcester. I really wanted to go back to Newport after my Florida Years, but I had to live at home and save up first (my parents very nicely let me live with them rent-free).

 

Job: Waitress at a small BYOB restaurant.

Length of Stint: 10 months. A good chunk of this time was during my seven months in Esthetics school. I would go to school during the day and waitress on nights and weekends.

What I Learned: The restaurant scene is too dramatic for me. Lots of coworker hookups, gossip and accusations of stealing money. And yes, hothead chefs are a very real thing. Calm down, you know? It’s just food.

What I Loved: My regulars. Because this restaurant was a small, neighborhood spot, I saw a lot of the same people every few days. They liked me, I liked them, and towards the end of my time there, when most of the rest of the servers were shitty at their jobs, my regulars used to ask me which days I was there and would only come in during my shifts.

What I Hated: For starters, I was trained for one shift, then they fired the waitress who was training me so I was left to figure things out on my own.  One of the owners called it “trial by fire,” but it was more “poor staff training.” When I started, there were three owners, and one of them was awesome (we are still friendly today). One was a complete asshole–I’ll at least give him props for showing his true colors from the start–and the other was nice at first, then really had it out for me for no reason. He eventually fired me because the waitress after me did not pass on a phone message I left for him (exactly, makes no sense) then apologized for doing that a year or two later when we bumped into each other. In the end though, my business is thriving and their’s closed down soon after I left. So, I feel good about that.

 

I bet her hair never smelled like fryolater.

 

Job: Restaurant hostess at established restaurant.

Length of Stint: Three months.

What I Learned: That I could pick up on things quickly. This was late 2008, when the job market was real bad, and even with my Bachelor’s degree and years of office experience, I couldn’t find anything for several months. I took this part-time hostessing job while I was searching for a full-time job (and getting my business up and running). I realized that even though it was a different restaurant than the first one and was run completely differently (better), I was able to catch on quickly.

What I Loved: I made friends with coworkers Gretchen and Mimi, both of whom I stayed in touch with for a few years after I left.

What I Hated: I wasn’t there long enough to hate anything!

 

Job: School Secretary. (Ding ding, Round Two! Different school, different state, a lot of similarities.)

Length of Stint: One year. I did this job while doing weddings and trials on nights and weekends.

What I Learned: I was at a Head Start and it gave me a glimpse into the lives of parents who had financial hardships, behavioral or health issues with their children and some overall tough situations. I think any job that allows you to see life through a different lens gives you the opportunity to be a more empathetic and understanding person. Those qualities have helped me a better business owner and boss, and hopefully a better person.

What I Loved: It was easy and stress-free. I became good friends with two coworkers named Jill, and later ended up sharing an office for AB Beauty with one of those Jills once we both had our own companies. I’m still friends with the other Jill too, and even got to do her wedding makeup.

What I Hated: The low pay (I qualified for many of the assistance programs offered by the community program Head Start was part of); being chained to my desk (another case of “can’t leave my desk to use the bathroom if I don’t have coverage); the hours (I’ll never love waking up at 6:00am) and the boredom. I was overqualified and consequently bored to tears at this job. It was there that I created “tapefoliation,” which what I called using pieces of Scotch tape to exfoliate my arms and hands. Another tactic I used to combat my boredom was to take huge piles of documents I had put in order to file away, then accidentally-on-purpose drop them so I would have to pick them up and re-file to kill ten minutes of time.

 

Job: Office Manager at a construction company.

Length of Stint: Ten months.

What I Learned: More Quickbooks; how to use Google calendar to run shit (I still do this); how to create order tracking systems; how to process information needed for payroll; the importance of W9s for Independent Contractors.

What I Loved: The freedom. I could leave my desk to use the bathroom, check the mail, run out to my car, etc. without first finding coverage. My boss was also great about letting me take time off to do weddings and commercials. My company really started taking off right around the time this company started closing, so the timing worked out perfectly. My boss was really great to me though and I learned a lot from him, so that meant as much to me as the freedom.

What I Hated: It was really hard to be two plus years into my career and not yet be ready to do it full time, but to watch my boss (who is a little younger than me) and my friend (who ran a salon and wedding beauty company from the second floor of the building I worked in) do it was extra hard for me. I REALLY wanted the freedom that full time entrepreneurship brings and I knew I was close, so I wouldn’t say I was jealous, but I would see them with that freedom and think “I want that! And soon!”

 

Google Calendar still rules my world. Thanks, Ralph!

My 11 career past lives taught me a lot about systems, protocols, policies, inventory, organization and basic accounting. And each boss I had ran their company or department in a different way. I took the things I thought they did well and later incorporated those things into my business. I also took note of the things they did that I didn’t think were smart, kind, fair or in some cases, legal, and stayed away from doing those things in my business. I may have dreaded Mondays, hated my boss or struggled financially when I was working some of my past jobs, but I’m glad I didn’t like them enough to stay. None of those positions were in fields I was passionate about, so although I may have had a chance to have a stress-free job that was financially comfortable enough, I know I wouldn’t have been happy.

If I had to go back and change anything about my pre-AB Beauty jobs…I wouldn’t. They taught me a ton, and they gave me the bad experiences that help me appreciate how good I have it now. If I’m annoyed with something at my company, I try to think “At least I’m not dealing with disappearing home-buying clients, asshole chefs and having to get coverage to leave my desk.”

My career path has been bumpy, painful and aggravating at times, but my past lives brought me to my current career life, and it’s the bomb. I hope you’ve got a good one too. And remember–tapefoliation is for hands and arms during times of extreme boredom only.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

 

2018 Game Plan: Checking In

Remember when you said that?

Accountability. You have to have it as an entrepreneur, since you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck. But it’s also a valuable thing to have in your personal life as a motivator to get things done. My 2018 Game Plan post consisted of both personal and business goals, and now six months later–when most New Year’s Resolutions have long since gone to shit–I think it’s time to see how I’m doing. You, my dear, dear reader, are my virtual accountability coach and this is my progress report.

BEAUTY GOALS

Mask Appeal. My goal was to regularly use face masks. I did really well with this in January, then trailed off a bit in February when I ran low on masks. I got a bunch of mask samples from Sephora in March, but didn’t love any of them. I’ve been using the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm as a mask once a week or so since April, so I’m getting better.

Lotioned Up. My goal was to be more consistent with applying body lotion, and I failed miserably in January and February. I think that was because my bathroom in Charleston was cold, so I wanted the shower-to-towel-to-clothing process to be as quick as possible. Now that I’m back in RI and have two lotions I love, I’m doing better with this. Savannah Bee Company Royal Jelly Body Butter Tupelo Honey and Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter in Vanilla Apricot make this easier.

Massage Envy. I’ve been killin’ it with this goal. I do my own facial massage once or twice each week, and my skin has been looking glowy. Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil is my go to for this. If you want to know more about facial massage, check out this tutorial from Lisa Eldridge.

Brush It Off. I’ve also done well with dry brushing, which is good since I slacked off with the body lotion for a while. Dry brushing is quick and easy, but skip it if you’ve got a spray tan or self tanner on, as it will exfoliate off some of your fake tan.

Tame Those Claws. I would give myself a B+ with nail maintenance. I had been filing and buffing almost as much as I should until I got back to RI in April. I even painted them myself one time, which I never do! (By the way, Revlon Nail Polish lasts a good four days without chipping, which I found impressive.) Once wedding season started in April, I slacked off, but writing this post might kick me back into gear…

BUSINESS GOALS

Get Blogged Down. Knocked this out of the park. I love writing and I love sharing tips, tricks and product reviews (as well as the self indulgent posts like this–no shame). I’ve been stockpiling posts and publishing 1 – 2 times a week for all of 2018. This definitely got more challenging once wedding season started, but I’m making a serious effort to keep it going.

Template Time. I reviewed and revised all of my business templates in January and February, which allows me to efficiently provide clear, updated information to my clients and my team. Score.

Socialize. I’ve taken some social media classes and have learned a lot, much of which I have already put into practice. I do Instagram stories a few times a month so I need to get better with those, but I don’t love them. I’ve also updated all of my social media profiles as well as this here blog. I’m far from a digital marketing maven, but I am improving.

Be a Teacher. In Charleston, I did one full makeup lesson and one mini-lesson (lipstick only), plus had one scheduled that the client had to cancel. I did better than winter of 2017, but I’d like to do more lessons this year.

Grow, Girl. I had a plan for expansion that I had been working on for a while, but after three months of trying different potential options, I discovered it’s not going to happen this year. I was super bummed out but I have some other plans in the works. I can’t shake this ambition thing…

No need to tattoo this on my body. It’s ingrained in me with no ink.

PERSONAL GOALS

Give Thanks. I hit a real rough patch in late January–three big shitty things happened at once–but got through it. (Nothing devastating, thankfully.) I haven’t forgotten how great my life is though, and if you played a drinking game where you took a shot every time I silently said “Thank you!” for something in my life during the day, you would be tore up by noon.

Love It or List It. I’m still planning on giving my bedroom in my Newport apartment a makeover. I inherited a plain white comforter from a friend who stayed with me in Charleston the first week of January (she bought it because my apartment was cold due to the unexpected low temps, and I hadn’t brought enough extra blankets with me), and since I want to my updated bedroom to be mostly white, I’m considering this a start.

My dream bedroom.

Overreact Much? As mentioned, I got hit with three shitty things in a row in January. I actually did pretty well reacting to the first one, but lost it when the second, most pervasive issue came up. Then I got sick of myself being so worried and bummed out, so one day I woke up and thought, I’m done being like this. And no lie, about two hours later, things related to that second problem started improving. Then a few days later, I got a big boost with something else related to the second and third problems. Now, I know I’m being cryptic here, but I have to be. The moral of the story though is that either it’s a coincidence that things started improving when I decided to change my mindset–which could be the case–or my mindset somehow helped. It certainly didn’t hurt, so I will try to remember that next time a shitstorm or two makes an appearance in my world.

Listen Up. Uh oh. Not sure I’ve made a lot progress here. I have been trying, but as an entrepreneur who communicates with her clients and team mostly via email and text, sometimes five or six hours go by where I don’t speak a word to anyone. Then when I see someone…I can’t stop! But I am really trying to shut up and be a better listener. I’m more likely to be a listener with clients, but when I see a friend and they ask me about something I feel strongly about (so most things), I tell them everything I’ve been thinking. But, I do ask questions and check in with my friends often, because I want to know what’s going on with them. Still, I could definitely improve here.

Zip it, Allison.

Win Big. I made sure to enter the HGTV Dream Home Giveway two times a day (the max amount you can enter) while it was happening. I didn’t win, but I’m okay with that.

I think I’ve done pretty well overall! I’m on a constant quest for self improvement because although there are a lot of things I can’t control (much to my chagrin), there are some things in my life that I can make better. And those seemingly small changes can make a big difference. I’ll keep working on this stuff for the second half of 2018.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Find Your Tribe

 

Hatch Tribe, women entrepreneurs

I love owning a business. It’s one of my favorite things about my life. It’s given me the freedom I crave, the confidence boost I needed when I started it in my mid 20s, and the opportunity to both give work to others and support myself. I can’t imagine ever working for someone else again! Being an entrepreneur is perfect for me and I have no doubt it’s what I should be doing.

But it can be mad lonely. I’m the sole owner of my company, so it’s been just me from Day One. Before I get too woe-is-me, let me first say that I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of the friends and family who matter to me, and I realize that’s not the case for every entrepreneur. I consider myself especially lucky that my father is a serial entrepreneur (he’s opened six businesses that I can remember), and my brother now runs a business my father opened. They are great resources for me because even though the beauty industry is seemingly very different from the real estate and property management industries they work in, there are similarities with the operational and expansion sides to these businesses. I also have a close friend who works in the beauty industry and owns her own business. It’s been great to have someone who completely understands almost the exact problems I encounter because of our industry and the similarities in our business models.

Even so, until recently, I never felt like I had a community of entrepreneur friends and contacts. I’m grateful for those three people I have, but three people is not the majority of the people in my life. (Like come on, I’m more popular than that.) And that’s where the loneliness comes in. I haven’t been sitting in a room crying for the past ten years, but I’ve felt it. It’s not loneliness in the sense of “I have no one to hang out with,” but more “I don’t have a lot of people I can relate to.”

So damn true.

Being an entrepreneur is career choice, but also a lifestyle choice. If you own a business, chances are your personal life and career life are interwoven. It’s unlikely that as an entrepreneur, you work eight hours, turn it off and go home to your personal life. (I know not all employee jobs are like that, but let me generalize for a minute.) If you broke my typical day into chunks, it would be Work, Personal, Work, Personal, Work, Personal (with the Work times being the longest) and repeat. And that’s seven days a week for me. It’s not the traditional work schedule, and I can tell that some of my friends and relatives (understandably) don’t get it.

It can also be hard to relate to non-entrepreneurs for a lot of other reasons, but you can read my Prep School series for more on that. What I want to talk about now is Hatch Tribe, an amazing group that I joined last year. You know me–I either love something or I hate it–and I love Hatch Tribe.

Let’s start at the beginning, because this isn’t Memento. (I love a good early 2000s movie reference that only 20% of my readers will get.) I moved to Charleston for my first snowbird winter in January of 2017. I became friends with a tall and witty attorney named Mairin, who I’m convinced is my long lost sister. She got me immediately, right down to the way I approach situations due to my entrepreneur status. (Like she gets mad for me when she thinks someone is wasting my time because she knows I’m already running at a time deficit.) At one point last winter, Mairin told me about the Hatch Tribe Speed Meet and Greet event she had seen on their Facebook page. I went to that event, and I was hooked.  I went to a few other events while I was there, and attended some virtual events (or watched replays) after I moved back to Rhode Island last spring. Everything was helpful, inspiring and valuable, so I continued to follow Hatch Tribe on Facebook, and joined their Facebook group

This year, Hatch Tribe created the Members Circle. It covers the four big areas that I think are essential for a community of entrepreneurs. You ready for this list format?

Advice. Got a question about social media? Accounting software? Hiring practices? If you can think up a question, someone in the Members Circle can answer you or direct you to someone who can. Every single question gets answered, so no one is left hanging. Do you have any idea how amazing that is? In many other parts of my life, I’ve found that people struggle answering direct questions. (So much so that I once wondered if a new punctuation mark replaced the question mark and I missed the press release.) A lot of the issues we come across as business owners are common issues, so even if someone doesn’t work in the same industry as you, they very well may have encountered the issue you’re facing. Or maybe, using my earlier example, an accountant in the Circle can recommend the best accounting software. I’ve been asking long winded questions in the Members Circle since I joined in February, and I’ve gotten tons of valuable advice. There are even topics that you can follow–like Growth, Marketing and Money, to name a few–so you can see what other people post about those topics. The level of organization in this group makes my soul happy.

Question mark
Is this thing on?

Education. You like to learn things to help improve your business, right? OF COURSE YOU DO. Maybe you have access to a ton of classes and the time to attend them in person, but if you don’t, you are going to love this. (And if you do, you’d get more of them in the Members Circle!) Each month in the Members Circle, there’s a new theme and mentor who works in an industry related to that theme. The Mentor of the Month and Hatch Tribe founder, Hilary Johnson, put out helpful 15 minute videos related to the theme, and also do an online masterclass that both connects the previous videos and delves more into the theme. So far I’ve learned a lot about Instagram stories and algorithms, social media content, SEO, perfecting the way we talk about our business to others, the fears that can hold us back in business, the importance of balance and more. If I wasn’t in the Members Circle, these are all things I would have had to research or take classes on myself, if I even thought to do so. But now, it’s offered to me in a way that is always clear and easy to follow, and I can ask followup questions. You find me a better situation than that. You can’t!

Women entrepreneur groups
That’s not me, but I am that happy when I’m learning stuff in the Members Circle.

Support. I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of support from most of my friends and family in the ten years that I’ve had my business. My immediate family and closest friends have been unwavering in that aspect, and I appreciate that more than they will ever know. But now, with the Members Circle, I also have a group of girlbosses who are truly rooting for me (and I’m rooting for them). Need some examples? Every Friday, Hilary posts something encouraging us to share our wins from the past week. As entrepreneurs, we might not be used to stepping back and saying “I accomplished this” or “My company reached this goal” and taking time to appreciate that. We can do that in the Friday thread, plus give our support to everyone else who posts about their wins. (There’s also a whole “Celebrate” topic, so it’s not just a Friday thing.) Still not convinced? There’s no “Like” button in the Members Circle–because there’s a “Cheer” button. Try to not feel supported when people are cheering you! It’s impossible, like saying “Oh, no thank you” to chips and guacamole. There’s no cattiness in the Tribe–Hilary would shut that shit right down–and no feeling that you are being judged or doing something the wrong way. It’s 100% support, and not because people are trying to sell to you or recruit you. (In fact, there is only one area of the Members Circle where you are even allowed to promote.) If you’re craving support of your entrepreneur life, it don’t get no better. (If I have to get this song in my head, you do too.)

 

Just like that “Ocean’s 8” cast support, except some of us work from home in our pajamas several days a week…

Understanding. It’s real easy to feel misunderstood as an entrepreneur. If some of the people in your life don’t get or don’t like your entrepreneur lifestyle, can you really blame them? It’s not the norm. Only about 7% (depending on your source) of the US population owns their own business. I mean, damn. That’s some kind of rare disease statistic. You might have some people you are close to who aren’t entrepreneurs and get your lifestyle, although you’ve probably had to clue them in along the way. But in the Members Circle, everyone gets it because they are in it too.  This one is huge to me, because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain to my family and friends why I have to or can’t do something, or why I have to approach certain situations the way I do. And honestly, being in this group of only girlbosses adds another level of understanding. I know some male entrepreneurs and while I’ve gotten great advice from some of them, the level of empathy and the extent to which some truly listen is lacking. I’ve also found some male entrepreneurs to be condescending, and dismissive of my success because it’s in a female dominated industry. (Fuck those guys, though. If you don’t think the beauty industry is gigantic and growing like crazy, put down your golf clubs for a minute and do some research.) In Hatch Tribe, and particularly in the Members Circle, you don’t have to explain yourself. Everyone there is on the same page.

Entrepreneur meme
#entrepreneurjokes

I had a bit of a rough winter in Charleston this past year and Hatch Tribe–both due to the Members Circle and the friends I met through the Tribe that I spent time with–was one of the big things that got me through it. I’ve made some awesome, badass girlboss friends, and even thought I miss my weekly meetups with some of my them now that I’m back in RI, I still feel as connected as I did while I was in Charleston.

I really think if the Members Circle had been around when I first started my business, things would have gone a lot more smoothly for me. There were so many things I had questions about and needed input on in my early years, and I could have used the support and expertise of the Tribe. It’s still immeasurably valuable even as an owner of a ten year old business though, and there are people in the Tribe who have been in business longer than that. So no matter how long you’ve been paying those self employment taxes, the Members Circle can be beneficial to you.

This isn’t a sponsored post and no one asked me or even implied that I should write it. I wanted to because I appreciate Hatch Tribe, particularly the Members Circle, so much. To be fully transparent, there is an incentive for members who refer other people who join, but duh, every good business has some kind of incentive program. It’s not pushed on anyone in the Tribe (I actually had to look it up to remember what the rewards were). So yeah, I have an invite I can send people who are interested, but I’d be just as happy if you joined on your own. I wouldn’t write this post if I didn’t truly love Hatch Tribe. If you are a regular reader, you know I love promoting the things I’m into, and I’m not shy about saying what I don’t like. (Go ahead–try asking me about beauty influencers.)

As far as cost, joining the Members Circle is, I think, affordable for most entrepreneurs. It’s $34.99 (that’s what, a pair of pants from Express?) for a monthly membership, or $349.99 for an annual membership. One business-related class a month alone would likely cost you more than $34.99, plus you can get lots of free advice from people in the Members Circle who want to share what they’ve learned. And you can’t put a price on understanding and support. Plus, the membership fee is a write-off! (I checked with my accountant to confirm that.) Business owners love write-offs, don’t we?

If you’re a girlboss and you’re feeling unsupported or unsure about this whole entrepreneur thing, there’s a big group of us who want to help. So at least check out Hatch Tribe. Hope to see you in the Members Circle!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Thoughts On Social Media For Business Owners

Is this a closeup of brain cells in 2018?

If you’re a business owner or freelancer and you’re ignoring all social media platforms, it’s going to be hard to survive. (Not impossible, but very difficult.) Like it or not, a strong online presence is necessary for your company. 89% of consumers do online research before buying a product or booking a service. You can’t ignore that number.

My company website has great SEO and I keep the site updated, but one of my goals for this year has been to improve the Allison Barbera Beauty Instagram, our two Facebook pages and this here blog. I’ve been taking classes and consulted with some great companies who specialize in digital marketing, because there is only so much this tech-challenged boss can figure out on her own.

I understand why there is an emphasis on digital marketing and specifically on social media because it can be a great way to reach a lot of people, but if I’m being real with you, I don’t love it.

Let me explain. I’m approaching this all from a small business owner standpoint, so some of this doesn’t apply to some people/companies you may follow (and this post has nothing to do with people’s personal accounts). I’m all for social media as a marketing tool used to promote books, shows, podcasts, tours, etc. My issue is with our society’s focus on social media and the deception of some people’s professional online presence.

I’ve got two main issues with social media, and I am ready to vent.

What About The Business? I am not negating the importance of social media, but I think some people forget that you also have to be good at running your business. A ton of Facebook likes or a beautifully curated Instagram feed doesn’t mean a business provides great services and/or products. A person or company could have 21 million followers but if they can’t answer an email and make it to client appointments on time, are they worth hiring? (By the way, you know a lot of people buy followers, comments and likes, right? Keep that in mind before you get impressed by what you see.) I would love to see some of the focus shifted back to how good a company is at the work they do instead of how pretty their feed is or how much they tweet.

The cool thing about online presence for a business is that you can make it as good as you have time (or money) for. But that’s not the entirety of a business. How is everything inside the business? Is it organized? Are there systems? Are employees being paid on time? Are taxes being done? Are client calls and emails responded to promptly? Are followups sent? How are those invoices coming along? Has an attorney reviewed all legal documents? What are they doing to improve the business? Are there plans for growth? I don’t care if a Facebook post has 1.3 million likes–if a business is not doing what people hire them to do, they are not a good business. Put that in your feed and Like it.

Are you spending hours putting filters on your photos instead of taking care of essential business tasks? If so, you, it’s time to rethink your priorities. #youcantonlydothefunstuff

Show Me Your Credentials. There are social media influencers in all industries. If someone is true working professional and expert in their field, then more power to them! My problem is with those–and we see this a ton in the beauty industry–who pass themselves off as professionals when they are not. Speaking again about the beauty industry, I’ve seen influencers who do hair/makeup on themselves that I know would look horrible in person. But through the magic of filters and retouching, they make it look good (or what many of their followers consider to be good). They often have no training, no professional license and no experience doing hair or makeup on anyone else. But they can Facetune the hell out of their photos and videos, then buy some followers to get their fan base going. New followers see these people with a huge amount of followers, so they assume the influencer knows what they are doing/talking about. But so often, they don’t and people think that what they are seeing/watching/reading is expert advice. Nope! They’ve been duped.

In the beauty industry, it’s easy to find out if someone is a real professional, like Lisa Eldridge, or what my father would call a “phoney baloney.” Check their website portfolio and/or IMDB page and you’ll figure it out.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not jealous or hating on anyone. Even with a team of 17 people, my company still turns down work weekly. We get that work from a decade of providing excellent service that has lead to five star reviews and a pipeline of client referrals that #cantstopwontstop. We have fantastic SEO, thanks in part to my website creators but also because people click on our site after putting in certain search terms and find what they need, which is key for high rankings in a Google search. So I’m not sitting over here, upset that my company isn’t getting business but my competitors with better social media are. We are doing very well, and I do consistently post on Instagram, Facebook and right here, dawg.

The thing is, it really doesn’t matter that I think too much emphasis is put on social media. I would never hurt my company by being a dinosaur and refusing to utilize social media. I’ll continue to post consistently and try to stay on top of things. I’m aware of what I could be doing better, which I will continue to try to improve. But if I have one hour to work on something, I am answering current and potential clients before I post a story on Instagram. Because if I don’t answer that new potential client then, but I post a story then answer the client hours later when I have time again, they very well may have booked with another company. (This could be specific to my industry, as a bride is 8x more likely to book wedding services with a vendor who responds within 15 minutes than one who responds four hours later, but I’ve found it to be the case with corporate and commercial inquiries too.)

You get this, or you’re under 35.

I don’t care what anyone says–I’m not willing to give up decent chunks of revenue and hurt our reputation as the most responsive beauty services company in RI because there might be 300 people out there who want to view a behind the scenes story. I will get them their story later, after actual real time clients have been responded to. My clients come first, but I don’t ignore social media. I prioritize clients and time sensitive issues, but it would be ridiculous to use that as a reason to ignore the social media platforms my client base uses.

Likes, follows, re-tweets, etc. are great, because they give you exposure. They certainly may evolve into clients/customers, and my company has benefited from that. All I’m saying is please don’t equate pretty pictures, likes or follows with expertise, excellent service or high quality products. Anyone with the knowledge or budget to pay a good social media company can make it look like they do well or know what they are talking about. But a true pro will sniff them out, and an annoyed pro will write a blog post about it…

There are companies who do a fantastic job running their company and their social media and to them, I give mad props. That’s an impressive accomplishment and one day in the near future I hope I’ll have the budget for a social media coordinator so that AB Beauty can knock it out of the park there too. But we will continue to provide excellent service not only the day of a job but before and after the services have been performed. Maybe we won’t have 100,000 followers, but if my team is happy, the business is growing and clients are still taking the time to leave us 5 star reviews, what does it matter?

I had to write about this because I have both heard about and experienced lackluster service from businesses who have beautiful and consistent social media. (I’m talking within and outside of the beauty industry.) As an entrepreneur and as a consumer, I’m not impressed by a person or company’s social media game if they can’t answer an email, return a call or provide great service. You can filter the hell out of that Instagram post, but if you dropped the ball on a time sensitive the project I hired you for but I saw two Facebook posts and an Instagram story while you seemingly ignored my question, you’re dead to me. (I know posts can be scheduled so it doesn’t mean someone is actively ignoring me, but it can feel that way.)

I’ve always felt I had a lot in common with Don Vito.

I want to be clear that I’m not knocking companies who provide social media services. I know a few who are awesome at what they do, and I recognize that social media has an important place in a small business’s marketing plan. I’m just saying, let’s not forget that a beautiful feed doesn’t mean a business is good, and a lot of followers doesn’t mean an influencer is an expert.

And with that, my vent is over…for now.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Work It, Girl: A 15 Minute Makeup How To For Bosses Like You

Here’s the cold, hard truth: part of your professional image is based on your appearance. I don’t like it either–sometimes even makeup artists want a break!–but studies say that people who look put together are typically taken more seriously and believed to be more competent, even before they say anything, than people who appear to have put in no effort. As an entrepreneur, I know I need to use every tool at my disposal to ensure that I’m doing the best I can in every part of my business, so if I can do something that will mean someone might take me seriously before I even speak, I’m on it.

This post is for my fellow entrepreneurs and business owners who also want to put their best face forward. I’m going to teach you how to do a basic, polished and semi-quick makeup look. Once you practice a few times and get used to how to do it, you can bang out this routine in 15 minutes. Along with whatever wardrobe and hair styling make sense for your profession, this makeup look will help with your professional image.

Ready?

  1. Eye Primer. If you want your eye makeup to stay on and last all day, you have to use this. And isn’t it your lucky day? I have a post all about how to prime those peepers, and which primer you should use to do it.
  2. Face Primer. You’ve already moisturized your face after your shower, right? Good job. Applying foundation primer while your eye primer drying is your next step then. A quarter-sized amount is plenty, and you can apply it with your hands, like you would with a moisturizer. Primer makes your foundation go on smoother and stay on longer. It doesn’t have to be an every day product, but if you are going to be at events, conferences or speaking to clients or investors all day, that’s a good time to use it. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer is my favorite. If you are going to be on camera or photographed for anything related to your business, I recommend a mattifyer like MAC Oil Control Lotion if you have oily or combination skin. You can use that instead of a primer. Shiny skin is distracting in photos and on camera, but you can help eliminate it with a mattifyer.
  3. Lip Balm. Dry, cracked lips are not a good look on anyone. And if you put lipstick over those lips? Hot mess. Applying a clear lip balm like Glossier Balm Dotcom will make your lips look and feel their best, just like you do when you book a big client/gig or have a killer sales month. Applying lip balm at the beginning of your makeup routine gives it time to fully absorb before applying lipstick, should you choose to do that step.

    Glossier Balm Dotcom, lip balm, Glossier
    The bombest balm.
  4. Eye Makeup. When we are having a conversation with someone, they are (hopefully) looking at our eyes. They are subconsciously scanning our faces to see if we are honest and genuine, and that part of their impression of us comes from our body language and our expressions. Eyes play a big part in our expressions, so I say, frame them up. Depending on how far you go want to go with this, it can either take you one minute or five minutes. Here’s an easy how to for a polished eyeshadow look.
  5. Foundation. I’m calling it foundation because that’s what I prefer, but you can use a tinted moisturizer, BB cream or CC cream if that’s your jam. What’s important about what you choose is thatit matches your skin and evens out your skintone. I prefer a sheer foundation like MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation for dry and normal to dry skin, and Armani Luminous Silk Foundation for normal to oily skin (with a mattifyer under it for oily skin). Apply that with your hands or a foundation brush and blend it with a buffing brush. Start with a quarter sized amount and add more if needed. The idea is not to layer on the product and create a makeup mask. Foundation and its associates, when applied correctly, are meant to even out the skintone so anything that goes over it has a good base to blend into.
  6. Brows. I strongly recommend getting your eyebrows professionally shaped, even if you only do so once a year then maintain on your own with tweezers. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are trim for those windows. Why ruin pretty windows with jacked up trim? A pro shaping followed by some light brow fill in can work wonders. Eyebrows can make a huge difference in your poloshed versus disheveled factor. You don’t need to go crazy with brow fill-in–please don’t go all Instaglam on me–but a little brow powder, pencil or gel applied correctly can make a world of difference. The tutorials below will be a bigger help than my words here.

    Benefit, natural brow fill in
    From Benefit Cosmetics. They know how to do a natural brow.
  7. Concealer. Foundation may minimize some of your areas of concern, if you have any. Concealer is there for what foundation doesn’t cover as well on its own. I’m talking blemishes, redness and dark undereye circles. (For severe redness and dark circles, a color corrector may be needed first.) A pigmented concealer with a thin consistency, like MAC Pro Longwear Concealer, allows you to cover areas of concern without causing product build up. Nothing gives away “I stayed up working until 2:00am” like dark circles, so let concealer keep that a secret.
  8. Cheek Color. If you are tired and overworked (and you probably are if you are a business owner), your skin might look dull and washed out. A good cheek color will make you look much more awake and put together than you might feel some days. I like a good cream blush, like Make Up For Ever HD Cream Blush  because cream blushes blend well and often look more natural. Use your finger to apply a small amount to the apples of your cheeks and blend slightly upwards with another finger, a buffing brush or a makeup sponge. It’s like caffeine for your face!
  9. Top Lash Mascara. Mascara, like the way you take your coffee, is a personal preference. For the top lashes, I personally like Dior Diorshow Mascara and Too Faced Better Than Sex MascaraL’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara is, I think the, the best one at the drugstore level. If the eyes are the windows the to the soul and the eyebrows are the trim, eyelashes are the window treatments. (I can not take this analogy any further.) Wiggle your mascara wand at the roots of your lashes for volume, and hold at mid-lash level and lightly blink into it for length. Mascara makes everyone’s eyes look more open, awake and alert. It helps us fool people into thinking we always sleep well and never have nightmares about our companies closing…
  10. Powder. A good powder does two things 1) Sets the foundation so it stays in place and 2) Minimizes shine. You want to set your foundation so it stays on as long as possible because really, who has time to re-do their makeup? And shine, you see, can look like sweat, and never let ’em see you sweat. You can apply your powder with a sponge or a brush, but either way, press it onto the skin–don’t buff it in. Under the eyes, I recommend using a clean fluffy eyeshadow brush to lightly press it over your concealer, as that powder layer will act as a barrier to keep your bottom lash mascara from melting when it hits your concealer. This whole powder step for both your face and under your eyes is super important and won’t take more than one minute. Rimmel Stay Matte Powder is a solid choice in this department.

    Rimmel Stay Matte, best drugstore powder
    Rimmel Stay Matte pressed powder. This has been in my personal makeup bag for years.
  11. Bottom Lash Mascara. You can either use your regular mascara or get a beauty tubes mascara like Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara. Beauty tubes do not smudge, so if your mascara smudges even with powder over your undereye concealer, consider the tubes. You may want to skip this step on regular days, but I do recommend it if you are going to be filmed or photographed, as it really helps define the eyes.
  12. Lip Color. If you’re shy about lip color, you can knock out two steps at once by using a tinted lip balm. If you’re going to go full on lipstick, make sure the color you choose looks right with the top you are wearing. (The watermelon pink lipstick you love may look great when you have a white shirt on but will clash with a red sweater.) Using a lip brush to apply your lipstick will help keep it looking more polished, since that allows you to control the shape of the color at your liplines.
  13. Cheek Color Revisited. I like to use more cheek color–either cream or powder–at the end of my application to make it a little brighter, and because an extra layer will help it stay on longer. This is a completely skippable step, but if you’re a blush gal, I think you’ll like it. If you are being photographed and are doing your own makeup, definitely add some extra blush, as photography requires makeup to be a little more intense to show up in pictures.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but none of them on their own will take you more than five minutes. And I’m really breaking it down here, so that makes this post look long and maybe intimidating. But the actual process is not!

Other than helping you look more polished, a basic look like this will help take away from what I call “face distractions.” Whether they realize it or not, people experience split seconds of distraction when they see something that is “off” on a face. Shiny skin, uncovered blemishes, unruly eyebrows–you know what I’m talking about. If you surveyed a group of people, most would probably say that stuff would never distract them. That’s because they are not even realizing it. Trust me, I get hired on corporate shoots and commercials to take away physical distractions so the viewer/client/customer is focused on the message of the person they are watching, not a red nose, smudged mascara or a super shiny forehead.

I’ve linked to some tutorials below because sometimes you just need to see a makeup step in action. These tutorials were all done by true pros, so you can trust them. There are a ton of tutorials out there done by beauty influencers who don’t really know what they are doing, but I would never lead you astray like that.

You don’t have to do all or any of these steps every day, but it might be a good tool to use for when you are in the public eye, meeting with clients or promoting your company. This may seem like a lot, especially if you never wear makeup, but you can definitely do this. I mean, you run a business! This might be the easiest thing you do all day. But if you have questions, I have answers, so comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Recommended Makeup Tutorials

Some of the steps are different in these, but that’s okay! They know what they are doing.

If you’re a gel liner girl.

A different type of basic eyeshadow look.

Lisa makes some really good points about work makeup. And this one is eyeliner-free, for those of you who aren’t liner fans.

Lisa’s take on eyebrows.

A great eyebrow tutorial. You don’t have to do the last two steps, but Charlotte gives some great tips to create a more stylized brow.

A solid foundation and concealer tutorial.

A quick bit on how to apply cream blush.

 

Boss Life Gratitude

Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby praying
Dear 8 pound, 6 ounce newborn infant Jesus: Thank you for my Boss Life.

During my first two years in business, I worked full-time at other jobs (school secretary at a Head Start for a bit, office manager at a construction company after that). I ran my business and met with clients on evenings after work, weekends and holidays. When I was first able to go full-time with my business, I was straight out giddy for months. I have a vivid memory of driving down a street in a neighborhood I lived in, smiling and giggling for no reason other than that I was finally out on my own. (And if an old school hip hop song came on during my giddy moments? Fuggetaboudit. Damn near lost my shit in a happy way.)

But as the years went by, I lost some of that excitement. The further away I got from working for someone else, the more I forgot how miserable that made me. (Nothing against anyone in particular–in fact, my construction company boss, Ralph, was incredibly good to me and I learned some business tips from him that I still use today.) You know when you get a new car/new apartment/new boyfriend and it’s so awesome at first three months later you have a ready-to-share list of annoying things about it? That happened to me, the excitement phase lasted a solid year or two.

I have always been grateful that I have my company and have maintained that I could never work for someone else again. The thought of someone else being in charge makes my skin feel clammy. But I think I sometimes get bogged down by the sheer amount of work to be done or the frustrations of running a business and that makes me temporarily forget how friggin’ good I have it.

But I haven’t totally forgotten how dope it is to be my own boss. Being a business owner has become a huge part of my identity. I feel lucky that I am able to be where I am today without some of the roadblocks other people have had to encounter. I don’t take this opportunity to be an entrepreneur lightly, and I work hard to make sure it keeps happening.

Everyday I'm hustlin
Can’t slack off if I want to stay writing my own paychecks.

The written word is extremely powerful to me, so I want to do this post as a reminder to myself–and maybe other business owners who’ve been at it a while–that there are a lot of things to be grateful for in boss life. And if you’re in the Early Struggle Years of running a business–where money is tight and you don’t know if your business will even stay afloat–maybe you’ll find this helpful too. If you are not already at some of these points, they very well may be there for you, possibly even sooner than you expect.

You know I love a good list, so here goes.

Schedule Freedom. When it comes to my schedule, there are some commitments (weddings, commercials, events, classes I attend) that require me to be there at a certain time. But other commitments–makeup lessons, wedding trials, meetings, classes I teach–are partially dependent on when I want to do them. And what I call my “admin days”–days with no clients, meetings, classes or appointments–are completely up to me. Today is one of those. I got up when my body wanted to (7:30am) and have been working from bed. I’m leaving soon to walk to the bank (work-related), then I’ll go Staples (work-related), laundromat (personal) and grocery store (personal). When I get home, I’ll work until I decide I need a break, then I’ll go for a run. I often end my work day around 9:00pm, but my personal stuff is sprinkled in throughout the day. I’m very grateful that on my walk to the bank, I can stop in a store and pick up a birthday gift for a friend or take care of some other task on my personal To Do list. No one is breathing down my neck, timing my return to the office, ready to freak out on me because I walked in two minutes after my break ended. No one can tell me I can’t do what I want to do when I want to do it. Timing-wise, it’s not really work/life balance since I spend more time working than not working. However, it is a type of balance in the way that I don’t have to cram all of my personal errands and appointments into nights and weekends. This schedule freedom is one of my favorite parts of being an business owner, as you can see by the length of this paragraph.

Job Freedom. When I first started doing makeup, I wanted to be a freelance, one woman show. I thought I could work in film and maybe do some weddings on the side. I soon realized working in film wasn’t the right path for me, so I changed course. And that’s something else I am immensely grateful for–the freedom to choose the direction of my career. I don’t have to climb up the corporate ladder to get to where I want to be. I just decide, This is what I want to do, then I go for. It doesn’t always work out, but I’m at least able to try. This career freedom is something I take for granted until I hear someone talk about the constraints of the structure at their company and how they are not always able to work the job they want to be working. Creating my own job description and changing it when and how I want to is exactly what this little INFJ craves.

INFJ life: I will gladly follow rules and policies…if I make them.

Working from Home. Not only do I get to decide when I work and what I work on, but on admin days (or partial admin days), where I do my work. In Rhode Island, I have a office where I meet with clients, but I normally work from home. In my current winter home in South Carolina, I sometimes work at the desk in my studio apartment or, like I’m doing right now, from my bed. (What? The desk chair is uncomfortable!) If I want to work from a coffee shop for a change of pace, I can do that too. Raining, snowing or cold out? Unless I have clients, I don’t have to leave my house to go to work. The convenience of it all is just too good. The freedom to choose my workplace in combination with my schedule freedom makes my job feel more like part of my life than a separate thing I have to go to at a place not of my choosing. When I hear friends say they had a nightmare three hour commute because of black ice but they had to go in anyway, or how their company requires them to go into an office every day even though 95% of their work can be done from anywhere with a computer and a phone, I am reminded of how lucky I am. I love that more and more companies are allowing telecommuting so even if you’re not a business owner, you can get some of this flexibility. It’s a game changer.

Ability to Change the Job. When you’re the captain of the ship, you can decide how you want to run it (or sail it? I don’t know). I’ve worked at jobs where I knew there was a better way to do something, but I couldn’t make changes because of rules, policies, prideful bosses, whatever. But with my company, no one can tell me I have to do something a certain way. When I started AB Beauty, I took what I didn’t like about the beauty industry and some small businesses in general and changed it within my company. Sure, there will always be laws and tax code I have to abide by, but I can create my own systems, style of management, methods of client communication, etc. This is something else I sometimes take for granted, because it is now so natural to me to change something if it’s causing problems. Again, I can’t always do that–and there are plenty of things I do that I don’t like because it makes things easier for my clients or Independent Contractors–but there is a lot I can change when I want to. And guess who I have to get permission from? NO ONE. It’s glorious.

Boss Pride. If you are doing a good job at whatever you do, I think you should be recognized for it, and I think you should be proud of your work. I have what some consider a harsh theory and it is this: 70% of people are bad at their jobs. I stand by that. When I have an interaction with someone who is doing a good job, I write a review, email their manager, leave a big tip–whatever. I think it’s rare for someone to be great at their job, so those 30-percenters deserve a thank you, a pat on the back and recognition. As a business owner, your company may win awards or be recognized in another way, but that doesn’t always happen. What you can do–and this is a hard one for me and I’m sure many other business owners–is be proud of the business you’ve created and the successes you’ve had. And at least in my experience, this pride feels different than the pride I felt when I got good performance reviews or raises when I worked for someone else. The boss pride is cool because you can say “I did this. I made this happen.” At my company, our success is in big part due to my team. I absolutely could not do it without them. So I hope they are proud too! But I do recognize that I played a part in each transaction that has ever happened at AB Beauty. I really feel like I worked for every penny that came in. There is no phoning it in as an entrepreneur (if you want to stay in business, anyway). Maybe this one seems weird to say, but I am grateful for the opportunity to feel proud of making a living for myself.

Friends & Family Time. You know that schedule freedom I talked about? That goes hand in hand with Friend & Family Time. If I want to make plans with a friend or relative and they can give me some notice, I can build my work day around them. For example, my parents came to visit me in SC recently. I can’t take a full day off, but I was able to do some work until noon, hang out with them all afternoon and into the evening, then catch up on work when I got home. I didn’t have to take personal time or play hooky so I could go on a Charleston carriage tour with them. I just got a lot of work done in the few days before they arrived to prep and then worked short, spread out hours on the days they were in town. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–being able to see my friends and family as much as possible was one of my two main personal goals when I opened my business. I still miss some things due to working weddings on spring, summer and fall weekends, but I’m grateful that this ladyboss gig gives me the schedule freedom to spend time with my friends and la famiglia.

Financial Freedom. On one hand, it is nice having consistent paychecks. For budgeting purposes, it’s so much easier to know exactly when you’ll get paid and how much your check will be. And a bad week at work for an employee doesn’t necessarily mean the same as a bad week for a business owner. An business owner’s bad week (or month…or quarter…or year) can mean severe financial stress and pressure. But a good week, month, quarter or year for a business owner? That can mean a bank account bump up you couldn’t get with six promotions at an employee job. There’s no income ceiling for bosses. My paychecks are the payments from my clients, and I can get more or bigger paychecks by booking more jobs, expanding the company, offering more services, etc. I have my ups and downs like any business owner, but I am thankful I have the chance to increase my income without a cap on my earning potential.

Charleston Snowbird. My second personal goal when I opened my business was to eventually be cold as little as possible, which means leaving New England during the winter. It took a long time, but I was able finally do it in 2017. I choose beautiful Charleston, SC as my (working) snowbird home and I LOVE IT HERE. It’s not tropical, but that’s okay. High 50s and 60s in the winter is fine with me (and it’s been even warmer than that lately). Unless I found an employee job that was a 100% telecommuting position, it’s unlikely that I would have had the chance to do this if I wasn’t a business owner. I mean, the only other people I know who winter somewhere warmer are retirees and people who work in the boating industry (and I get too seasick to even consider the latter as a career). Not only is the Charleston winter climate far superior to Rhode Island’s winter nightmare, but being here gives me the time to focus on my big picture business work, as I don’t really take clients here. It’s the perfect refresher and start to each year for me, and I am beyond grateful that my boss life allows me to do this.

A lot of the things I love about my life are due to my business. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to create the lifestyle I want. When I’m feeling down or in a rough patch, this will be a good blog post to go back to. If you’re considering opening a business, these are some things you can look forward to potentially having at some point too. And if you’re already there, congratulations! It’s easier to quit than to push through, so if you’ve made it out the other side of the Early Struggle Years, props.

Have a beautiful day 🙂