If you’d like to become a Jess LC Ambassador, please follow the directions outlined above.
Last week I got an email from a longtime MML reader who wanted advice for her husband’s business. Given my history with growing my own company, she thought it might be helpful to get some insight on their situation. I thought the best way to help them and help other MML readers was to share the general issue they are facing here (with her permission) and then explain the similar situations I’ve been in myself.
At the Crossroads: A Reader Question
My husband has his own business and he is just now going into his third year. It has been growing gradually just with the help of word-of-mouth, a website, and Facebook. I believe we have come to a cross-roads, and I fear that my husband could make a decision based on money alone. He is in the home improvement business and does anything from installing trim inside a house to building whole new additions. The crossroads we are at leaves him with two options:
Option 1: Pay about $1000 more a year to increase his insurance on his truck in order to sub-contract for a company (large home improvement store that begins with an L). But, when he is on the job for them, he cannot in any way advertise his own company. He would have to wear their shirt and their hat with their logo on it. There is a pretty good guarantee that he could increase his volume and the money coming in through L, but at the same time it is not getting his company name out there. And, there is the potential that he could get so busy with them that the jobs he does have through his own company could potentially suffer. But, that is a big what-if.
Option 2: Pay the same amount of money and invest in some marketing targeting his work area. Maybe using things like Valpak, The Shepherd’s Guide (Christian phone book), etc. or even hiring somebody to do some marketing. In this way, he may not have the same work volume at first, but it could potentially grow his business name and help it to become more well-known.
Okay, before I even begin to dive into this question, I want to state loud and clear two things:
1.) Please do not take any actions in your business purely because of what I say. This is your life and you need to be comfortable with the decisions you make, taking someone else’s opinion and following it blindly will only lead to designing they life that person wants, not the life you want.
2.) There are no black and white, cut and dry, right and wrong answers to business strategy. Both options you stated can work out beautifully or fail. Thinking that one option is “right” and the other is “wrong” will set you up to be thoroughly confused and paralyzed, because it is simply not true. Take a deep breath and feel comfortable knowing both options can lead to success – it’s just a matter of choosing what kind of success your after that is worrisome.
Furthermore, since I don’t know the financial data, risk factors, and personal motivations for your husband’s business, I am going to speak about your quandary by relating to situations I’ve experienced in my own life via Jess LC. Please listen to my stories and see how pieces resonate with your own business and see if any clarity comes from your own intuition. Because at the end of the day, you are going to make your own choice in this matter, and it is best made by following your gut/spirit.
I will also state that I’ve personally tried BOTH options for my business in the past. And BOTH options worked. So my guess is that this is all going to boil down to how you want your business to grow and what kind of journey you’d like to take.
When I started Jess LC full-time in Chicago in 2007, my overall motivation was to eventually write a book called Makeunder Your Life, which I knew to be my purpose. But in order to pay bills, Jess LC was my full-time gig until the book became a reality (still waiting on that book, but MML is a stepping stone). To get as much money in the door when I started as possible, I focused on selling my jewelry wholesale to boutiques in Chicago. It was a comfortable business, I was used to selling to stores since I was 15 years-old, and it did get the results I was looking for: cash flow to avoid working a full-time job for someone else. Eventually, to really sustain the wholesale business I built, I took on sales reps to sell my jewelry to stores nationwide for a commission fee. This phase of my business is the equivalent of Option 1 for your husband. Working with sales reps was a means to an end: getting more money in the door as quickly as possible to keep going, to keep growing.
The benefit of Option 1 for me was that I indeed went from selling in 15 stores to over 100. The downside to working with sales reps and selling primarily through wholesale accounts was that I was personally unfulfilled and I relied on the sales reps to produce results for my business. If they did well, I did well. If they didn’t sell well, I didn’t sell well. At a few points I felt like I actually worked for them, they brought me new orders and I fulfilled them. I was simply completing a process that they began. Over time, this didn’t sit well with me. I wanted to branch out on my own, to create a business that didn’t live or die based on their performance.
Luckily, the sales reps I worked with over time decided to launch their own clothing business and strayed from their original goal to represent other brands. This was ideal for me because I didn’t need to sever ties with them, it happened gradually and organically. And as I watched their sales slow to a halt I gritted my teeth and refused to complain about the dip in revenue.
Instead of lamenting the decline of my wholesale business, I started focusing on selling online. I started MML. I started designing the business as I really wanted it to be. I threw my attention and time into marketing jesslc.com and helping people with MML. It was a test of faith and persistence to get my business to blossom on the internet – where I felt most at home and fulfilled. Like growing a garden, it takes a few years of trial and error, lots of sowing, and time for the plants to mature. The fruit each season is more robust than the last. Now, two years later, I am at a higher revenue and profit level than I was back when I worked with the reps. And my life has in so many profound ways turned into the life I designed.
I hope by sharing this personal story, you will feel more confident in either option for your husband’s business. I also think you and your husband have the maturity and business acumen to decide confidently to choose Option 1 or Option 2. You have a choice to make either decision a successful one. And you always have the choice to try Option 1 until you have the cash flow to make Option 2 your primary objective as I did in my own business. But I must caution that Option 1 might be hard to leave in the future. From the phrase I highlighted in red above, there is an underlying assumption that your husband really wants to choose Option 2, but is worried about the cash flow not being as predictable as Option 1. Option 1 could become so comfortable that it is hard to leave. Predictability and comfort make “acceptable excuses” to avoid risk and true authenticity. So if you choose Option 1, please stay vigilant that you don’t stray from what seems to be the primary goal: Option 2.
I hope that this has in some way helped you (and other MML readers!) with your decision. Please talk it over with your husband and take a deep breath: both options are possible, neither is right or wrong. It’s all about designing your life and business with intention.
What is your intention?
Go do that.
Good morning and happy Valentine’s Day! My weekend was a special one thanks Mr. Lively. And I hope you have a great day planned doing something you love.
Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a tangible rise in attention and awareness about Jess LC and MML. It’s been a fantastic shift which has brought forth many positive opportunities. And I’m incredibly thankful.
But to be honest, I’ve recently been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the attention and sheer volume of requests via MML and Jess LC. The number of people reaching out for all sorts of things has reached a level where I’m no longer comfortable. Saying yes to every opportunity (though I’d like to), is not a responsible use of my time or resources. I know this objectively, rationally. I am only one person juggling a blog with a bustling business. We are only one small jewelry shop of a jewelry maker, a jewelry designer, and two interns. There is only so much that is possible.
But if I’m continuing to be honest, I am afraid that if I start saying no, setting policies, and boundaries people are going to be upset.
I’m really afraid people will be mad if I say “no.”
And the truth is that this fear of rejection, if allowed to continue, urges me to shrink from the light and fade away. If I stop trying to grow, I will not disappoint anyone because I can say yes to almost everything all the time. Staying small means saying yes is easy. Growing means “yes to everything” isn’t always feasible or healthy.
Though staying put in life would certainly be a safe choice, and absolve me from my fear of rejection, it would also avoid any chance of actually doing more good by growing the business and blog to help more people.
With these considerations in mind, I have been wrestling over the past few days with the idea of setting boundaries and policies to protect myself from burnout and the fear of disappointing people. When thinking back to the vision I have for my life, I see a lot of excitement, helping, and growing personally and professionally. But in order for this to happen, I need to recognize and foster my own well-being. Boundaries regarding requests will help me feel comfortable in my life to feel safe so that I can create and help people in ways that are most important to me personally.
At the end of my life, I will not be asking anyone else if I did the right thing or said yes to the right opportunities. I will ask myself if I enjoyed the decisions I made and helped others as best as I could. I am responsible for enjoying my life and fostering an environment that I love and has personal meaning.
Further, the people making requests and reaching out to me want to know that I am 100% committed to the decisions I make. They aren’t trying to bully me into things I do not feel comfortable with. They want me to enjoy my life as well. And though each specific request I get in and of itself is not usually large enough to make me feel overwhelmed, the volume of all requests has hit a point that isn’t possible to say yes to everything any longer. Plain and simple.
I think (or hope) that over time these new policies and boundaries will be easily adopted by myself and the people who reach out. Perhaps what is most enlightening about this realization is that when designing a life with intention it’s as important to say “no” as it is to say “yes.”
Click here to download the full-size wallpaper seen above.
Get Off the Pot
I’m sure when you first read that you thought “But Kendi, I don’t do drugs.” That’s good. I was just testing you. But really what I mean is “S*** or Get off the pot.” See the difference? I know you are inspired already.
Truth is, I’ve never liked that term. It’s grotesque and it always creates a gruesome and literal image in my brain. But as a new small business owner (can I claim that title yet?) I have to say this is one of the best terms I can use. I am a sales forecast analysis away from finishing our business plan that I started a month ago. Has it really taken me 30 days to get that far in? No, it’s taken me about 3 days to write 25 pages of a business plan. It took me the other 27 days to get off the pot. (Again, proverbial toilet not the drug). I want you to know the urge I am fighting to make drug jokes here. I won’t but not because I don’t want to.
So what else were we just sitting on? The design of our logo and of our brand. In January we realized that my brain can only reach so many levels of creative and so we decided to quit sitting on the fact that we can’t design what we want and decided to hire someone. A very creative someone. We stopped sitting on our weaknesses and found someone with a strength.
We also stopped turning down weddings because we weren’t “ready.”Â We were sitting on a talent because we don’t have a 100% branded, beautiful business. Turns out, we are shooting a wedding this weekend. Ready or not.
I am no expert but I do know what I know. If you are sitting on something, stop sitting and start doing. If you are waiting for a new idea, a better idea, for something to be easier, you will wait for a very long time. S*** or get off the pot. Don’t make me draw it out for you or make me use this term ever again.
*Other possible analogies I could have used “Paint or get off the ladder” “Drive or get out of the car”Â but those aren’t as fun.
Today we have some great DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews to share! Click the links below to hop over to MML reader’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews. As a refresher, the DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews share the intentions of the writer and specific, first-person examples of how they have “designed their lives” around those intentions.
Kimberly’s post is on Third Floor Design Studio.
And Roxy’s post is on A Spot of Tea.
Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.
This morning I would like to point out a really interesting post from Rue Mag founder, Crystal of Plush Palate. In her recent post, she asks for input on what makes someone successful or a failure. While writing my own comment on the topic, I thought it might be worthwhile to share here on MML as well. I get a lot of business owners or want-to-become business owners asking me how to grow and become better at their business. In many cases, the words are code for “how to make their businesses” successful.
To be honest, my perspective on this question has actually shifted in the the past year. Below explains my thoughts on the success vs. failure definition.
I don’t think that money actually has anything to do with success or failure – not that you did either – but it is many times a looming indicator for a lot of people. While starting a business, it is essential in order to continue to grow the business or pursue the purpose, it is like fuel, if you will, and therefore really important.
But I’ve found as I’ve grown my own business, that as money fades into the background and becomes relatively less worrisome, the real test of success is how well I’ve been able to develop and grow my business into something that provides purpose, meaning, and touches people’s lives. That impact is success – I could have done many things to just earn more money or have a bigger business- but if it didn’t provide purpose and meaning, then I think as a self-employed person, I kind of failed at the whole point.
Do what you love and keep doing it. The fact that money may be an issue throughout that journey is an undeniable fact, but doesn’t need to enter the success/failure equation.
Of course this is just my personal opinion and there are an unlimited number of success/failure definitions. Hop on over to Crystal’s post to share your thoughts on the subject!
As with past items, everything you see has been donated, recycled, gifted, returned, or thrown away. The challenge is simply titled “Throw Out” Fifty Things because of the book it is inspired by. But in fact, the very few items that were trashed were beyond repair or future use. Most items were recycled or donated. And the best part of all is that I don’t miss one of these items and feel like I have a much nicer, calmer, more intentional space!
29 through 38
- 29 – Old sweater, don’t need
- 30 – Catalogs, don’t use
- 31 – Furniture parts, don’t use
- 32 – Jewelry boxes, don’t use
- 33 – Plastic lids, don’t need
- 34 – Old salve, don’t use
- 35 – Old key, don’t use
- 36 – Sunglasses case, don’t need
- 37 – Photo album, don’t need
- 38 – Bulletin board, don’t use
39 through 48
- 39 – Bottles, don’t need
- 40 – Candy, don’t use
- 41 – Rusted knives, don’t need
- 42 – Take-out silverware, don’t use
- 43 – Graduation tassel, don’t need
- 44 – Wine holder, don’t use
- 45 – 3M hooks, don’t use
- 46 – Expired food, don’t need
- 47 – Magazines, don’t need
- 48 – Old candle, don’t use
49 – Side table, don’t need
50 – Shopping cart, don’t use
After a lovely trip to Florida, I’m back in work mode getting things taken care of with Jess LC. Leaving for a few days has left me with a full plate of work.
But I will say, escaping the Chicago blizzard to swim in the ocean, watch whales, go on alligator boat rides, and spend some serious time on a hammock was much needed after being holed up in my apartment for four days. : )
Mr. Lively sent me this video which explains why so many people I meet via MML are dissatisfied with their day jobs. And why so many struggling, start-up, or successful entrepreneurs are often more fulfilled without the comparable corporate paycheck.
If you dread going to work, this definitely might illuminate (or validate) why you feel frustrated.
In other news…
Mr. Lively is whisking me off (sort of) to Florida for a long weekend to escape the Chicago blizzard and meet his sister. I’ll be back in the Windy Snowy City on Tuesday. Until then, it’s time to soak up some sun and pretend spring is on it’s way!
Okay guys, I hate to interrupt my Throw Out 50 Things Challenge, but I seriously over-estimated how much I could accomplish today. Those 50 Things posts take a surprisingly long time to create, and I don’t have time to get that completed along with my other items on my to-do list. Especially since one of those items just happens to be…
Packing for Florida!
Yep, that’s right. Mr. Lively and I are headed to Melbourne Beach to hang out with his sister for the next four days. It could not come at a better time. I honestly haven’t left my apartment building since Monday due to the Chicago blizzard and it’s time that I get some fresh air, warm rays, and local crab! We are gonna trade my stir-crazy for stir-fried… or something like that.
In the meantime, I’ve got a few good posts to share tomorrow and Monday on MML.
Jess LC Facebook Page with Exclusive Flash Sale
In other news… our very own Kat has done a tremendous job launching our Jess LC Facebook page today! Hop on over and like us, friend us, etc. to find out about our monthly flash sales that will be announced exclusively on our FB page. In fact there is one going on right now…
Okay, time to post my first batch of stuff from my most recent Throw Out 50 Things Challenge! You can see below the items that I no longer need, use or love. I will say that all of these items have been donated, sold, gifted, returned, or thrown out as needed so there isn’t anything that you’ll be able to snag (sorry!).
One thing to note in the challenge as S.E. Minegar commented earlier: multiple items of the same kind count as one thing. So 12 magazines is really “1 magazine(s)” in the 50 thing count. I grouped my items similarly when it comes to boxes, bottles, batteries, etc.
1 through 10
- 1 – Wire Hanger, don’t need
- 2 – Luggage Tag, don’t use
- 3 – I think this is a t-shirt but I’m not really sure, (obviously) don’t use
- 4 – Tape dispenser, don’t use
- 5 – Compact, don’t use
- 6 – Single sock, don’t use
- 7 – Silk cropped top, don’t use
- 8 – Travel lotions, don’t need
- 9 – Purse and shoe bags, don’t need
- 10 – Dress, don’t use
11 through 17
- 11 – Lamp shade, don’t need
- 12 – Ripped jeans, don’t use
- 13 – Worn out ballet flats, don’t need
- 14 – Trench coat piece, don’t use
- 15 – Unneeded shelf, don’t need
- 16 – Zipper plastic bag, don’t need
- 17 – Old hat, don’t use
18 through 28
- 18 – Folder, don’t need
- 19 – Boxes, don’t use
- 20 – Old battery, don’t need
- 21 – Old cds, don’t use
- 22 – Store loyalty cards, don’t need
- 23 – Old pens, don’t use
- 24 – Flower food, don’t use
- 25 – Measuring spoon holder, don’t need
- 26 – 2010 calender, don’t need
- 27 – Pennies, don’t use
- 28 – Pedometer, don’t use
I’ll be back later to share items 29-50!