Building a Brand

20150512_123925When I started my own business and opened Nothing Past Nine, I was confident that my education, knowledge and determination would make the business side of the equation easy! All I would have to worry about was creating products and taking pretty pictures of them! HA! If only it were that simple.

Building a functioning business is easy. Building a brand that stands for something you believe in is hard work that makes you question everything and always strive for more.

As an entrepreneur, you have the benefit of working for no one but yourself. Flip side is that there is no one else there to pick up the slack when you’re tired. There is no one to blame when something isn’t done, or isn’t done well. Everything you do is a reflection of yourself and as people judge your work, they are determining the value of a piece of you.

Going into my second year as a small business owner I’ve decided to dive into building this brand and this business to be something I’m proud of and not simply something I do to make money. I’m taking the time and energy to think about why I do what I do, and how all the different pieces of my brand align with that. They might mention the importance of this congruity during MBA classes, but putting your heart and your passion into words that resemble a mission statement can be daunting! Much less making sure that every post, tweet, image and description align perfectly with your vision!

If you are a business owner or thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, I challenge you not to neglect the hard work of laying a firm foundation for your brand. Not only will you be more content with the image you are communicating, but you’ll be reaching the people that you are aiming for; the people that want to do business with you.

When I started my own business and opened Nothing Past Nine, I was confident that my education, knowledge and determination would make the business side of the equation easy! Now I know that understanding my motives and the reasoning behind my actions is what makes decisions and next steps easier and easier. Which means I can enjoy more time creating and taking pretty pictures!

Follow along on social media (especially Instagram!) @nothingpastnine to see how this small business builds its brand. Share your story too! We’re in this together, my friends.

Light Bulb Moments!

I wish I could pull off saying, “ya’ll” because….. ya’ll, I’m so sorry! I haven’t kept up with my summer series, and the relaunch is now a week away! While I feel awful for not executing the adage of “under promise and over deliver,” there are a couple of silver linings that I’m dubbing Light Bulb Moments.

If you’ve been following along for behind-the-scenes information and insight into life as a small business, it’s about to get real!

First Light Bulb Moment

All the talk about having a purpose behind your business, and a purpose behind everything you do, has finally hit home. No, it’s not a new idea. Yes, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Someway, somehow, the concept just clicked in my mind over the last couple of weeks. I learn a lot from the beautiful souls behind With Grace and Gold, and have been working on their latest project Signature School. Thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking to define who and what you are as a business! (Early stages or late!) I’ve also been reading The ONE Thing by Gary Keller. Among others, these two sources have got my wheels turning.

Second Light Bulb Moment

Less truly is more. Again, I know you’re shocked by this original revelation! All my life I have been a “yes man.” Disappointing people and failing are two of my deepest fears. Haven’t gotten over that completely by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m coming around the idea that saying “no” is ok. In fact, it’s a good thing! Not only are you taking care of your sanity by saying no, but you’re actually able to do more with the things you say yes to. And those things you say yes to…..are the things that mean more and align with your purpose!

Alright, alright. These might not be earth shattering concepts, but they are rocking my world on a personal and professional level. I would challenge you to look at what you’re doing and how you’re feeling and ask the simple question, “Why?” As I’ve started to do that, I find myself learning a lot about myself and what I want out of this special life I’ve been given.

So enough of the sappy stuff. What does all this mean? Most notably, I’ve abandoned my original plan of finishing the three summer series on this blog, and the site will be temporarily offline for updates leading to the relaunch. How/when posts will be added is also going to change. In general, you’ll probably sense a scaling back that is wholly intentional. I did not set out to create Nothing Past Nine in order to blog or create a website. I founded the business to create. These additions will help grow the business and I enjoy doing them, but the pressures can become too great very quickly. I am excited about this relaunch and re-energized to give more to less!

It’s Happening!

Under Construction Image

Big ideas in the new year are all well and good when you aren’t planning a wedding that’s happening shortly after!  Nothing Past Nine has suffered throughout my wedding planning process, and no more so than in the past few months.  I have decided to develop this lapse into an opportunity for growth and change.  Many of those big ideas from the new year will happen – better late than never right? – in addition to a few more projects I’ve been scheming about in between vendor meetings and table assignments.  Details are sorting themselves out, but a grand re-opening is on the horizon, and I am so excited to share everything with you!


What a Whirlwind!

Ay yi yi, friends!  It’s “late” November already!!!  I knew it had been awhile since I was able to post, but had no idea it had been weeks!  I’ve been working on a personal “happiness” challenge with my best friend – and actually been keeping up with it! – but this blog challenge has suffered.  This will not be another post about me vowing to make this a priority.  I’m learning and will just say that I will do better.

2014-11-07 18.45.07The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me personally and for the shop.  That craft fair that I stressed and stressed, and stressed and stressed about…went very well.  I’m not a millionaire now by any stretch of the imagination, but I am so proud of myself for getting out there to sell in person and heard so many sweet complements that filled my confidence tank to overflowing.  I reaffirmed that craft fairs are not my style, but supporting the ladies of my church will bring me back to that event year and after year.  Plus, now I have some idea about what I’m doing!

WIth the holiday season HERE already, not even approaching, I know I’m right there with all the other Etsy folks working in high gear to reach all those festive shoppers.  Putting together promotions for the season and keeping track of all the projects, shopping, activities, etc. is a challenge, but I keep telling myself that I did it last year and can handle it this year as well.  I’m no super woman, but I’ll keep trying!!!

Where are you at in your holiday planning?  Are you hosting?  Cooking?  Traveling?  What are your tips for getting through the end of the year without stressing yourself out too much?  Any good free resources to share with us?

My Personal Struggle with Pricing

On October 1st, Nothing Past Nine will celebrate its first birthday/anniversary!  Hard to believe it’s already been that long!  I’ve learned a lot in the past 11+ months, but I know the learning will never end.  Each day is an opportunity to grow and develop as an entrepreneur and craftswoman.

My current challenge, as my last post alluded to, is an upcoming craft fair.  My first chance to sell my goods, as a business, in person.  The woman who asked me what makes my products special has haunted me – in a good way! – and I am still working on the best answer to that question.  (Hopefully, I’ll have something to run by you all soon!)  In working through this though, I came across a diagram through this Toronto Etsy Street Team post that showed what prices do to the perception shoppers have about a crafter and his or her products.

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While I hadn’t seen this particular image before, we did talk about this concept during my graduate school program, so it is not unfamiliar.  When initially creating my pricing scheme, I knew I was on the low end, but wasn’t – and am still not – comfortable with the idea of charging what I consider too much.  So what’s the proper strategy?  What’s the happy medium?

Since I’m not offering you much for reading this (unless you needed this shot of motivation like I did!), let me get to the point!  I have decided to increase my prices on Monday, albeit slightly.  It is not because of greed, or to make this a full time job.  More than anything, it is to help improve and establish the Nothing Past Nine brand.  Here’s to taking one small step toward valuing myself and my work a little bit more!

Happy weekend!

WANTED: Crafter with Fair Experience

Blog Countdown BoardI’m branching out, kind readers.  Not far, but I’m branching out.   In two short months, I will be participating in my first craft fair.  The event is at my church so it’s a comfortable environment, but I know that this bazaar has a good reputation in the Charlotte area.  To me that equates to a good turnout and craft aficionados who know their stuff.  Commence worrying!

Although I work in a people job, I have no confidence looking people in the eye and talking about my products.  A lovely associate at my craft store asked what made my scarves special last weekend, and I didn’t have an answer for her. Not a good start!  My education will be helpful for thinking about the business things, but does anyone have any advice for me as I prepare for my first fair?  Tips on display?  How to talk to people who aren’t impressed?  How does the shy girl make a sale?!  What will I need that I won’t think of?