Ideas in Color

Here’s a little dip into the creative process for all of you out there who don’t identify as creatives.

First and foremost, know that there is a mysterious part of you that has amazing ideas. Sandcastles and tree fort ideas. A place where your mind is wild, where it does not jump when it’s told to jump. Let’s take a moment to let that wild mind roam.

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Stop giving a sh*t about anyone else’s opinions. Until you’re ready to sink money into an idea, let it dance around. Don’t worry about the outside world. This is your world, kid. You get to have ideas and to create as wildly and as often as you want to

Practice! The more you practice– aka. give yourself permission to be creative– the better your ideas and your creative output will be. You’ll see– the more often you let your wild, untamed, creative self out of the box, the juicier and more fun the ideas.

Hold a hand. There are lots of people out here who are willing to help your ideas become reality. Contact me today to schedule some time to create your next big idea. I’ve got you, and I’m holding onto your ticket to ride.

Pivoting to Stay Afloat

Romance is the love affair with the happy outcome. How it can blind the small business owner! During the uncertainty caused by the COVID pandemic, my colleagues who own small businesses have been forced to wipe the stardust from their eyes.

How do you make up for the absent business lunch rush, or the missing tourists rife with cash– or even the preoccupied parents who had free time to shop during the school day? What can business owners do to stay afloat when services can’t be accessed? How can you pivot to become innovative?

As an entrepreneur, I have my ear to the ground, and I’m hearing some strategies that are working for small business owners in my circle during COVID:

Downsize. Noooo!… but, maybe? It’s flipping painful to close a location of your business that can’t keep up. But cutting labor costs, overhead and insurance, utilities and associated costs with a location that’s become ghosted can help the overall health of a business. Better to be sleek and mobile than bloated and sunk.

Focus on alternatives. A friend who owns a liquor store in a ski town has found that manning a take-out window has allowed him to lower staff costs and maintain social distancing. He’s wondering if he’ll ever go back to the way things were.

Assess what’s working. A restauranteur upped her pre-packaged take-out inventory, adding new cold shelves so customers could take home more prepared foods– because that’s what’s working during COVID. That new innovation is creating a new revenue stream. It’s also targeted a new clientele, and it’s a keeper. Strengthen what’s working, and then communicate to your clientele what’s new.

If you have time to lean… you have time to clean. Anyone who’s worked in the restaurant industry has heard this. Now is the time to do the deep dive. Get rid of stuff that’s not serving your business (the old files that can be shredded or archived– both physical and digital: inventory can be donated to needy causes). Spruce up the office or the warehouse. Get to know what you have got and release what isn’t working, so you can be prepared for whatever is coming.

Tackle your business plan. If you haven’t written a business plan– now is the time! What better way to assess the past and envision your future.

Re-imagine your image and brand. This is a Joly Herman Creative specialty. Contact me for a strategic message package. Let’s deep dive into what works, and ask questions about what might need to be cast off. I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

Why We LOVE Small Businesses

The American dream looks like this.

Two women– whose backgrounds intersect enough to begin a conversation– share a dream. They both have expertise in a field: one is an RN and yogi with extensive knowledge of the body, and the other is a licensed therapist whose specialty is the mind and spirit. They realize that their idea of movement therapy goes beyond what is found in the community. So they develop a completely new methodology of movement “work-out” that brings consciousness, exuberance, aliveness, and healing into their classes.

I had a fantastic time working with Wendy Zoog and Julia Harkleroad, founders of KALOS Experience. They came to Joly Herman Creative bubbling with ideas, and I was able to be a pragmatic sounding board, consulting about marketing plans, business plans, and their ultimate goals. They left deeply engaged in conversation about how to apply these tools to grow their business. And they are growing. Check out how their community is thriving now, and how you can get involved in a movement.

In my mind, it’s the risk takers, visionaries, and innovators that make the U.S.A. the best place to be an entrepreneur. Contact me today to put your dream into motion.

The Great Refresh

I’ve come to crave the siren song of the deadline. My adrenaline starts pumping, my thoughts race, I feel like a machine that is focused, churning, and fully alive. When the work gets done and I’ve checked it, I’ll step back. Sometimes I’ll finish a day ahead of a deadline so that I can wake up with a fresh perspective. A hot cup of black tea in hand, the door shut to the world, I put on my editor’s cap and take another look.

When the process is all over and the deadline has been met, I’ll re-visit what’s gone out over time, but I think it’s important not to obsess. In fact, I think it’s important to step back completely from a project and look at something else. Or look at nothing at all.

I like to purposely refresh my creative mind. Whether I take a walk and really look at the trees, hear the crickets and birds, or take a weekend road trip where I can listen to someone else’s story, try new foods, and watch the skies change throughout the day, the reset is crucial to preventing burnout in my work and personal life.

Are you taking time to refresh and reset? Is it something that comes naturally to you? Or do you need to schedule it? Get to know your patterns of productivity– are you a streak shooter, or a steady cruncher? By learning to respect your personal work cycle, you may find yourself becoming happier and healthier in your business life.

You now officially have permission take a breather, put the work aside, and trust that you will be just as good– if not better– when you come back. Drop me a line if you want to look at how your productivity cycles are working for you– because small business owners need to avoid burnout, no matter how driven we are.

Politics and Business

When I lived in Germany, I had the privilege of working in a public Montessori school as a teacher of English language. Upon signing my contract, I was asked to check boxes regarding my tax status. There I encountered a line item that was utterly unfamiliar to me. Which religion would I be sending a portion of my taxes to? I was asked to check a box. Catholic, Protestant or “other.”

Moreover, when it came to the point when my preschooler was to enter preschool, I would choose from the two dominant religious affiliations for her preschool and elementary education, which were funded by these taxes– or else go to a state-funded school, for the “others” who didn’t affiliate with the two religions.

This shocked me to my core. I was raised in the United States– we don’t pay taxes to a government mandated religious institution. We practice separation of Church and State. I didn’t realize how fundamental this founding tenet was in my understanding of how the world worked, until I was asked to check a box.

Here’s a question that relates to small business owners: like this instance of conflagration of Church and State, should business and personal politics ultimately be kept separate? As a business owner, would I be alienating “others” when my ideology becomes too narrow for my clientele? Or is my business intended for political expression? Does taking a stand help my brand, or hurt my brand? What does my demographic think? Am I clear about the potential benefits and/or disadvantages of mixing politics and business?

I think examining these questions is an important aspect of doing business today. I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a line, and let’s analyze your demographic’s needs and check to see if your messaging is in sync with your clientele.

Stay Green

Your product might change, your services might change, and even your branding might undergo some changes, but it’s important to the longevity of your business to be able to craft content that has staying power.

Creating messaging that feels relevant for a long time isn’t rocket science, but it takes a steady hand. You want messaging that reaches a large audience, is relatable, but also relevant. A term that gets thrown around in branding and design is “evergreen.”

How do you stay green? Ironically, it’s by keeping tabs with what is going on. Making tweaks when necessary (COVID’s mask requirements have been a game changer in 2020), and looking at what your demographic is up to– and reacting to it.

But you have got to have strong roots. A narrative that tells your business’s story is absolutely crucial to all of your messaging. By staying true to your narrative– the story of your business and brand– you can retain the clients you’ve won over from the start, even while your business blossoms.

Drop me a line to find ways to innovate and be true to your brand. I look forward to talking with you.

Relevance

Pinch me! The restaurant that was a glimmer in Jo Marie Scaglia’s eyes last year is now a reality.

How is this relevant to Joly Herman Creative? Shortly after arriving in Kansas City, MO, I reconnected with Jo Marie after having last seeing her when we were both haunting San Francisco’s bars in the late 90’s. We fell into an immediate conversation about the connection between insomnia and owning a business. I’ve mentioned it in other sections of this website,

but the process of pulling the narrative from Jo Marie’s family history and making it relevant to this new concept was an absolute joy and an honor.

Relevance! What a fantastic word. It’s the why behind the brand, and the product in motion. Jo Marie’s story goes back to generations of restaurant owners in her family. It was the Sunday dinners that her mom made. It’s the meat on the bones of this new concept. And we worked to craft the message so that it would be relevant to the audience who are sure to flock to this gorgeous– I mean gorgeous— new space in Prairie Village.

What’s relevant about your business that’s worth talking about? What narrative makes the product that much more appealing to your audience? Shoot me a message and let’s find the story.

Mind Maps are Go!

My husband works in the corporate world. He works for a big company that builds very big things for big clients. He came home from a four-day retreat about to burst.

“Joly, have you ever heard of this thing called a mind map?”

“Tell me about it,” I said.

“It’s this process where you have an idea, and then you make a map of ideas and processes to get to the end result.”

“With little bubbles around the ideas?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“And lines that connect theideas with the other ideas?”

“Yes,” he said.

“And then at the end of the mind map session you’ve got an understanding of how to get from Point A to Point B?”

“Yes!” he exclaimed.

“Sure, we’ve been using those to teach English composition for years.”

“Oh… really?”

“Yeah, I’ve been using mind maps with my students since the 1990’s.”

“Well, they really work,” he said, maybe a little disappointed that he wasn’t turning me on to the whole mind map revolution.

Then he unpacked about 50 travel-sized shampoos and hand lotions, and told me about the rest of his trip.

Heck yeah, mind maps are cool! They work especially well on white boards, where you can sit back and see your big picture, but they work equally well on paper.

Get some different colored pens and start working with an idea that you have for a project.

Let’s say that you are interested in writing a biography about your grandmother who bred Saint Bernard puppies, raised 8 kids, and opened a café in rural Idaho.

Her name would go in the middle of the blank page or white board. Let’s call her Violet. Draw a circle around her name. Then a line would branch out of that and its title would be “Puppies.” Branching off of puppies, you might write ”breeding,” then off of that line “a link to her homeland.” Other topics might include:  “building a business,” “famous customers,” etc…

Another tendril might say, “Café.” Branching off of that might be things related to that business, like “Converting the train depot into a café.” “Recipes” might go on another small branch. Another branch might say “customers.” You can keep going as long as your ideas keep coming.

After you’ve exhausted the topics and details on your mind map, you can begin to structure the topics into hierarchy of importance; or, you might find overlaps which could help create interesting narratives.

I like using mind maps with creative projects because I can get the idea out into the world and then begin to structure it. Mind maps are also an effective way to put business concepts onto paper—or on the white board.

Reach out to me to help get an idea off the ground.

An Argument for Consistency

Consistency is a small business owner’s best friend. It’s the secret sauce. It’s why clients keep coming back. And we want that, right? If you’re not consistent with your message, your voice, your branding, your look– your clients will get confused, and might ultimately turn to your competition. Let’s take a look at areas where consistency can be achieved.

CONSISTENCY IN BRANDING

Your branding is how you present your business to the world. It’s your logo, your color scheme, your fonts, your voice, your messaging. Branding has to do with the vibe you give, the feel your business has, the people you have as clients. It is every impression your clients walk away with.

CONSISTENCY IN MESSAGE

If your clients expect everyone in your hair salon to be wearing black, to be listening to The Cure, and to be well versed in the art of permanent eye makeup, you would probably lose a few if you started playing Brittney Spears’ new release in the shop, or if you began sending tweets about your new perky pal the tennis pro. Know who your clients are! Speak to them. Be consistent in your messaging.

If you confuse, you lose

CONSISTENCY IN OUTREACH

Having a media plan is an excellent way to deliver a consistent message. Depending on your business background, you might be very prone to posting on social media. Some clients from the “old school” (aka. not Millennials) are not as comfortable shooting out Tweets every day.

I want my clients to be comfortable with their “exposure” on social media. Again, some people love being out there. Others shy away from it. But being consistent is really important. Sites like Hootsuite let you write your posts ahead of time and send them out consistently. Try sending out posts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Your clients will subconsciously look forward to reading your posts on those days. Make a media plan and stick to it for consistent results.

REAL-TIME CONSISTENCY

As a former owner of a turn-key business in San Francisco, I saw how consistency in my branding helped me to succeed. Not only was it crucial that the website, newsletters and marketing materials be consistent in tone, look, and message, but my employees had to be trained in the ways of the brand.

How we answered the phone, how we wrapped up sales transactions, the quality of the services we provided, what we looked like to clients… All of this mattered because clients came to TRUST that our business would deliver what they expected every time. It helped my business have a 5-star rating on Yelp, which brought more clients walking through the door.

Contact me for a branding session, or for help crafting a media plan. We can look at where there might be gaps in consistency, and we can build a brand and a client experience that will keep clients loyal and coming back for more.

Start at the Start of Your Business

I know many small business owners who opened their businesses because they came upon an opportunity or an idea and ran with it. The business account was open, the lease was signed, and they were off. They either didn’t have time to drill down and put the basics of their businesses on paper, or they felt like it wasn’t necessary.

However, there are some business basics that are proven to drive successful businesses forward. One is the mission statement. You can’t sell your business without one.

In order to have a solid foundation to build from, you have got to dig to the kernel of what your business is about. Which words sum up your vision? What is the basis of your brand? Have you written a mission statement before and found it’s no longer viable?

Get out your pencil and your yellow pad, because I’m about to take you on a journey that will put strong legs under your business, and allow you to talk with customers and investors alike so that you can grow.

DIG DEEP INTO YOUR VISION

A mission statement is a few sentences explaining why you do what you do. The mission statement represents your company’s values. It may even give a few words about how those values are achieved.

Once you have that down, you can build the what’s and the how’s of your business. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when writing it; but by bringing your authentic self to the mission statement, you can build a business around what you think the world needs.

Let’s look at a few mission statements that are at the root of some businesses you may recognize.

BRAND: American Express

“We work hard every day to make American Express the world’s most respected service brand.”

MESSAGE: Wow, how’s that for a far reaching goal? But the wording tells us that the people behind the brand “work hard” to make the brand the most respectable in the world. It tells us that their goal is lofty, but that they are willing to put in the effort to be the best.

BRAND: Kickstarter

“To bring creative projects to life.”

MESSAGE: Right on point, Kickstarter targets the creatives who are looking for funding. More than making an idea a reality, the promise here is to bring something to life, to create a cycle, a story, a buzz. A simple, but powerful mission statement.

BRAND: Google

“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

MESSAGE: Organizing the world’s information? Bring it!  Another short and powerful mission statement, which goes further to explain how it will use the information after it is organized.

BRAND: The Home Depot

“The Home Depot is in the home improvement business and our goal is to provide the highest level of service, the broadest selection of products and the most competitive prices.”

MESSAGE: Very deliberate, practical explanation of what happens at this store. Hard to poke holes in this mission statement.

I’m not here to tell you that I advocate these companies or their products. In fact, you might object to the politics or practices of any of these companies. Personal preferences and politics are one thing, but don’t forget to take a look at what works.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

Write down a list of some of your favorite companies.

Look up their mission statements.

Do they have mission statements that clearly define what their missions are?

Which mission statements do you like? Which ones are annoying to you? Why do you think certain statements are effective, or why not? This exercise in discernment can help you recognize the tone of the statement you want to create.

Basic research like this can help you start to shape the most important building block of your company.

And hey, if you want to go further, contact me. I’m available to help you put your vision into words.