Small Business

Link Love: Thanks for Profiling Small Coffee This Year

I’ve been honored and flatted to have been profiled a few times on the occasional website a few times over the past year. After spending years profiling other people as a journalist, it’s an interesting twist to be the subject of someone’s blog post, article, or podcast. I’d like to give a shout out to the prolific Bekah Epstein, publicist behind Fifteen Media, for highlighting me in the “Career Confidential” section in her groovy blog Neon Notebook; and to fellow publicist Sara Hussey, who included me in her “Meet Our Tribe” roundup. Last but not least, I had the pleasure of participating in my first-ever video project by Joel Valle. Take a look!

Thanks!

5 Time-Saving Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Use

This blog was originally published on the Studio Guerassio blog.

When it comes to running a successful business, providing the best quality in the shortest amount of time is key. However, it can be challenging for entrepreneurs with limited resources to organize and manage everything—planning events, creating social media posts and staying on top of email—when you don’t have any help. As a publicist with a limited amount of time and money to spend, I rely on several tools and apps that are designed to make my life a little easier. Luckily, there are a lot more tools these days that eliminate the need for relying on a personal assistant—or even needing to outsource the work. My intern Madison and I gathered up some of the go-to tools we’ve been using to be more efficient. Try them out!

Boomerang for Gmail

Grace Bonney referenced this tool in her After the Jump podcast, and since I’m a huge Design*Sponge fan I jumped on the bandwagon. Now I could be a spokesperson for Boomerang for Gmail. Basically, Boomerang lets you schedule emails and resend emails to yourself when you want to get to them later. You can also do fancier things with it, too, like remind yourself if you don’t hear back from someone. Boomerang costs $4.99 a month for a personal account and $14.99 for a professional account. If you’re someone who frequently uses your drafts folder and worries about forgetting to send emails, or accidentally sending too many reminders, this is the program for you. I actually feel less stressed just thinking about it.
 

Doodle

Doodle prevents you from sending 10 different emails about scheduling and setting up meetings. It’s awesome to hear people’s reactions after completing it the first time: “Wow, that was so easy.” All you have to do is provide a link to Doodle and teams can vote on which times work best for them. Genius.
 

Basecamp

Basecamp is a great project management suite. It’s user friendly and it saves you from sharing a bunch of emails back and forth. I like how it visually shows you how much you’ve accomplished. If you’re looking for a way to manage tasks, the free Basecamp account should be sufficient; but if you want to manage multiple projects it’s $29 a month, regardless of how many employees you have. Do-able, right?
 

iScannner

iScanner saves you the time it takes to warm up your computer scanner by letting you scan and email documents directly from your smartphone. Mind boggling, right? I still remember the day I found out a former boss used an app to scan documents. She was instantly taking photos of all of her receipts while I was folding mine up and saving them to scan for later. I felt like a fool when I realized it was only $4.99 to use an app like iScanner. I’ll admit, in the past I’ve used a variety of tools that snap photos and convert files into clear PDFs and JPEGs, so I’m not married to this particular app, but it comes highly recommended.
 

Buffer

There are a lot of social media management tools out there: Tweetdeck, HootSuite, and Edgar come to mind. Buffer, however, is the least cumbersome and has the most bang for your buck. It lets you schedule all of your social media posts in advance—and it has a widget that lets you “Buffer” any photo or Tweet from a website, just like Pinterest lets you pin. The best part: you can Buffer a tweet or a post for a later time that Buffer thinks would be good, so you’re saving yourself all of the clicks it would take to program exactly what time and day you want your posts to go out, and the same goes for retweets. Buffer is free if you only want to manage one profile per platform. However, you can manage up to 10 social profiles for only $10 a month or 25 for $99 a month.

Am I missing any from the list?
Leave a comment below with your recommendation!

Photo originally from Lifehack.

Reflections From My First Year of Being in Business

 Me and Anne at my launch party in January 2015.

Me and Anne at my launch party in January 2015.

I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately. It may be because a lot of my clients are going through some major changes—growing, changing, firing and hiring—and my humble business has been evolving along the way. When I launched Small Coffee in January 2015 (with a big party at the now defunct You’re Welcome Studios), I thought I would be blogging every week—sharing insights about my business with my modest following. But the reality was, I was working 60-hour weeks, driving all across town (because I couldn’t afford to live central), and trying to figure out how to make ends meet. The last thing I could think about was writing my own blogs—but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I have a lot to reflect on. I’m not longer driving all over town, and I’ve also scaled to the point where I now have a little help, finally!

Launching my company was pretty scary, I’ll admit, and I honestly couldn’t have done it without the help and support of encouraging entrepreneurial friends and mentors. Here are some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from the people who have helped me along the way, and from my own experience over the past 15 months.

Manage People’s Expectations

I met a very Zen web developer who said you should always charge more then you think the project costs, and calculate that it will take you twice the time to complete. That advice is sage because projects usually do take longer then I estimate. So, I never promise clients I can get them something right away because that always leads to me pulling all-nighters. Rather, I give myself at least a day or two of cushion time so I can do a quality job on the project, and I always give clients a deadline for deliverables. I never want be late, and clients love knowing when they’re going to get their work.

Don’t Share Too Much

I had to learn this the hard way. A woman who decided to start her own social media company asked if I could chat with her about her new business. We met for lunch, and weeks later I found out that she emailed one my clients, asking them if they would be interested in her services. I discovered she sent the email just days after I mentioned them to her. I confronted her about the incident and she denied that I mentioned my client to her—but now I’m extremely careful about what information I share with people. I love helping people, but once you’ve been burned a couple of times it becomes hard to trust people who just want to “pick your brain.”

Take Breaks

I’ve discovered that it doesn’t do me any good to stay cooped up in my office all day when I’m trying to be creative. I don’t follow the Pomodoro Technique to a T, but whenever I find my mind wandering from work, I get up and take a little walk, work out, make a phone call or go for a drive. I find that this is like vitamins for the brain. Once I step away from my computer, I get reenergized and think of a million good ideas. 

Confidence Matters

I struggled with confidence when I was first starting out. Despite having legitimate experience and a good education, I had a hard time telling people that I owned my own business and that, well, I’m a badass! I remember meeting a woman who was much younger than me who had people eating out the palm of her hand at a networking event, and I felt intimidated by her. Later, I realized the only thing she had that I didn’t was a good sales pitch. I consider myself a humble person, so I still struggle with being confident, but I’ve learned that by simply acting confident I become confident. The rest is easy.

Networking is Everything

Some of the best advice I received was to not panic when you don’t have work. Rather, use the time to work on your own business. When you invest some time in your own marketing—building out your website and portfolio, attending a conference, or just going out and networking—the work comes to you. One of my clients was referred to me through another marketer I met at a freelancing event who was in a pinch. She had to move out of town but needed somebody to inherit her client, so she made an introduction and I’ve been working with the client ever since. Another client of mine came about after I met up with a friend for lunch. We were catching up and she said, “You should meet.” The rest is history. In other instances, work has come from connections I’ve made through professional and recreational organizations. I can’t imagine not working with these clients, and I owe it all to the people I’ve met along the way. 

Be Patient

During the first nine months of my business, I had about five distressing conversations with one of my best friends (another entrepreneur) about how I wasn’t making enough money and how I needed to find a real job if things didn’t work out after the first year. She repeated the same mantra to me: it takes time. The money doesn’t come right away, and you can’t predict what factors might influence your life. In fact, several people have told me that it takes three to five years before businesses really pick up. Now that I’ve been able to prove what I can do, several companies have approached me for work, and I don’t have those mopey conversations anymore. I know I’m in this for the long haul.

Look Forward

 My awesome grandma, Dominga. 

My awesome grandma, Dominga. 

My grandma was one of the most inspirational entrepreneurs I’ve ever met. Before she passed away, she once sat me down, looked me in the eyes and said quite seriously, “Never look back. You want to constantly be looking forward.” Shit happens all of the time and a lot of people can’t handle the stress that come with being an entrepreneur. My clients frequently tell me about the fires they have to put out every week, but they always talk about them with a sense of humor. They don’t dwell. I always think of their stories, as well as my grandmother’s, when I beat myself up for making a mistake. There will be ups and downs. Always.

I’m still learning some great lessons along the way. I’ll keep you posted on what I learn this year come 2017.

Pitching Your Story Workshop

Back in November, the lovely members of Vessel Coworking asked me if I would participate in professional workshop. The subject matter was up to me. Not wanting to have all eyeballs on me (yet!), I proposed that I help come up with a panel. Specifically, I wanted to invite a group of journalists and publicists (friends and acquaintances) who could explain how people could pitch their story to the media. The panel became “Pitching Your Story to the Media” with Danielle Urban of Pierpont Communications, Omar Gallaga and Tolly Moseley of the Austin American-Statesman’s Statesman Shots, Sarah Thurmond of Austin Monthly, Rebekah Epstein of fifteen media, and yours truly of Small Coffee! Enjoy!