5 Tips for Gaining Business Confidence and Showing Up Undeniably as Yourself

5 Tips for Gaining Business Confidence and Showing Up Undeniably as Yourself

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Until quite recently, it was the same old story. I’d go somewhere, meet new people, and that classic question would inevitably come up outta somewhere:

So, Alex, what do you do?

Here it is! My golden opportunity to introduce myself as the boss Squarespace website designer that I’m working day in and day out to be! My hopes and dreams and all the things that set my little heart on fire! Here we go, here it comes…

“Oh, I teach English as an assistant teacher in a French high school.”

Wait a second, wait. No… No, that wasn’t right, was it? We missed something there.

And by then, the conversation has already moved full speed ahead and to jump back to that topic would be just a little weird now.

End inner dialogue.

Also, not sure we even have to mention the fact that I literally can’t remember anyone’s name from that little conversation because I was so busy in my head trying to figure out why I didn’t show up as the person I am, and more importantly, as the person I’m working to be.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Deep down, we know who we are and we know what sets our beautiful hearts and souls on fire. But why do we settle for giving those around us the “societally-acceptable” versions of ourselves. The versions that say “yes, I’m a responsible person and have a ‘normal’ job despite the fact that I’m working my arse off every other waking hour of my life trying to build something I’m 10,000% more passionate about!”

Why do we feel nervous to show up confidently, beautifully, UNDENIABLY as our true selves?

I’ve only recently started mentioning my Squarespace website design business, Alex Morton Creative, as my main entrance point when asked what I do or what I’m all about. Sure, I still work as an English teacher, but I treat that job as something that’s in the background of what sets my heart aflame – which is building a profitable, sustainable, and location-independent business all on my own.

That’s the kind of stuff I wake up for in the morning.

So, why wouldn’t that be what I open the Alex Morton show with during any given conversation?!

Crazy, right?

We need to start showing up as ourselves – our TRUE selves and the selves we already look up to. The selves we know we’ll become as long as we keep at those little, consistent professional actions for our businesses and passions.

Here are a couple of actionable items that have personally helped me to break out of my own limiting, insecure frame of mind and into a more confident, this-is-ME mentality:

1 | Set your intentions – weekly, daily, or simply whenever you feel yourself straying back into no-woman’s-land.

A few months ago, I made it a non-negotiable for me to wake up in the morning and, no matter what, journal for around a half hour. I do this to clear my head, especially in preparation for the day ahead. If I don’t have my daily journal-session, I’m running around like wild and feeling like I’m trying to chase my to-do list instead of easily strolling along and pleasantly checking off each action item.

I’d much prefer jotting down a couple of thoughts and then setting up a list of clear actionable items that I need to complete during the day. As a general rule, I only list about 3 of these actionable items. Otherwise, I’m caught up in the unforgiving to-do list grind – you know how that goes!

2 | Get comfortable talking about yourself and what you do each and every time you meet someone new.

We all know the story. You know you want to start talking about your great professional self as it pertains to what you’re passionate about, but where do we begin? It always just seems easiest to fall back into our old stories – the ones that don’t include what we’re most excited about.

The quickest way to get over this is to, as Nike says, just do it. Next time you find yourself in an introductory or “what’s new with you” situation, just do it!

Just come out and tell them what’s actually new with you and your business. See how you feel doing it – hesitant, nervous, excited? Hey-that-was-easier-than-I-thought? And then keep doing it until you’re never not doing it.

3 | Don’t underestimate the power of meditation and visualization.

This point goes back a bit to the whole journaling bonanza of my first actionable item. Not only have I gotten into the non-negotiable of my daily morning journaling, but it’s usually followed up with at least ten minutes of meditation.

I say “at least” because sometimes I’m feeling like a crazy little daredevil and end up pushing through to twelve minutes. Wild, right?

Meditation is simple, but it can be incredibly difficult when you’re not accustomed to sitting and doing nothing but breathing for a little stretch of time. I promise you, if you stick with it, it gets easier and becomes an invaluable part of your own routine. I don’t know what it is, but it just makes your day better, and it connects you to some sort of deeper self that leaves you feelin’ overall more grounded. The perfect solution for wanting to feel more confident showing up as your true self!

4 | Know (and practice!) your elevator speech!

Yes, it’s time to break out the mirror (but be careful to not actually break it – something about bad luck, which we’re specifically not going for at this moment in time). If someone were to come up to you right now out of absolute thin air and ask what you do – how would you respond?

Try it, why don’t you? How do you sound to yourself?

Uncertain, hesitant? wait-what-do-I-do-again?!

Practice. Go to your nearest mirror (or reflecting pool, if that better suits you) and tell yourself what you do and who you are. Your ears need to get accustomed to hearing it just as much as your mouth needs to get used to saying it before your brain really starts to believe it. So get to steppin’ and start chatting to yourself in the mirror!

5 | Drink water.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I added this one, but as I was going down my list of actionable items to start showing up as yourself – the thought of water and drinking enough kept coming to me. So… I figured WHY NOT ADD IT.

Because we all know we ain’t drinkin’ enough water up in here. Stay hydrated, have glowing skin, and show up as your beautiful, impressive, wonderful self.

To conclude all of this showing-up craziness, when someone asks you what you do or what you’re all about, simply tell them. Don’t sugar-coat it to make it more acceptable or easier for people to swallow. If you’ve been lucky enough to find something you can’t wait to wake up for in the morning (regardless of whether or not it makes you money), by all means shout it from the rooftops.

You’ve just discovered a burning passion for juggling? Amazing.

You’re really, really into learning how to create email marketing sequences (bless you!) and you’re thinking of turning it into something that might help emerging entrepreneurs and business owners? Perfect.

Be proud of what you’re interested in and passionate about, and don’t be nervous to let people know.

I really think we could use more people like that in this world. People who prove that it’s OK to not be everything for everyone and to not be ashamed of what they love to do even if it’s outside of the (dreaded, and oftentimes boring) expectation. Let’s make life a little more interesting, shall we?

Be different, show up as your best self.

What a concept, huh?!

Alex Morton

Alex Morton

Web Designer and Branding Guru

I’m Alex, and as a Squarespace website designer, I’m not gonna’ build you a website and peace out. I’m here to partner up with you, to support you in building your business, to collaborate whole-heartedly with you to bring your website dreams to life.

 

Click here to steal my branding process and give your current (or not yet existing) brand the makeover you know it deserves.

 

Find me at https://www.alexmortoncreative.com

Corporate Social Responsibility Ideas for Small Businesses

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As millennials become the largest audience in the consumer market, their buying decisions have almost all of the purchasing power and guide corporations to make very specific strategic decisions. Millennials care more about purpose, ethics, and making a difference than they do about the price of a product. Most of the time they’ll spend more on a product when a company has clearly shown how the purchase of that product makes a difference in the greater world.

Being aligned in your purpose as a business and effectively messaging that purpose along with a powerful story around making an impact draws millennials toward your brand. Here are some corporate social responsibility ideas that are easy to implement within a small-scale business model all-the-while allowing for growth.

Buy One, Give One

With a physical product, a “Buy One, Give One” model has the potential to align well. Take for example TOMS. This is a company that saw a social issue and wanted to utilize their product to solve it. TOMS tend to be a bit more expensive, but when a pair of TOMS is purchased, a pair is also sent to a child in need.

Overall, TOMS has made volunteering and community impact a huge part of its mission and corporate lifestyle. Every employee is encouraged to volunteer in their local community, while they are also given the opportunity to go on one of their trips to deliver shoes to different communities.

There are other companies that have implemented a model like this as well. Check out Warby Parker, SoapBox, Out of Print, and Smile Squared.

Some of the above examples are large corporations, but some of them are much smaller meaning the business model they have is more transferrable over to a smaller business. However, keep in mind that the giants like Warby Parker and TOMS were once upon a time small businesses, too!

Percentage of Proceeds
If there is a cause that you feel deeply passionate about and it in some way relates to your business/brand, this would be a great thing to link up to your messaging and support through your business.

A few examples of companies already doing this: Elephant Pants, Bravelets, and Sand Cloud.

These companies have identified an issue that they want their brand to support and then a percentage of each sale that is made is donated in support of that cause. These companies have each supported their causes with thousands of dollars of donations. They’ve utilized this powerful tool to resonate with a group of people eager to support a cause, which makes them feel good and makes their consumer feel good!

Gift Wrapping for Charity

There are many companies that offer gift wrapping services to their customers. This is a great way to entice people to buy and they make sure that the presentation of their chosen gift is impeccable. One option to consider is adding a gift wrapping option that benefits a charity.

This is a great thing to do if you have a charity that you are really passionate about, but it may not necessarily align well with your overall brand or product. When prompted to add on a gift wrapping service, the messaging can include information about to proceeds of the gift wrapping going to support that chose charity.

Information on how to start a gift wrapping service can be found here.

Environmental Consciousness
With the scientifically proven environmental changes that have taken place in recent years due to global warming, there is a movement happening around environmental support. Verifying that the production of a product leaves the smallest environmental impact can help message a brand.

The millennial generation is becoming more cognizant of their impact on the environment or even makes purchases that help the environment. As a company analyzes their impact on the environment provides an opportunity to utilize their product production process in their sales messaging to engage this new movement and help the environment as they change or start out.

An example of a company that is promoting their environmental consciousness is Wanderer Bracelets.

Know any brands implementing these strategies that aren’t mentioned here? Share them with us!

Which of these strategies are you most excited to implement?

Email Lists: Why they matter and How to build one

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It seems that every effort is about how you can get your consumer’s attention and for how long can you maintain it on your brand. However, while there is importance in building a social presence, at the end of the day, social media is “rented space.” This means that at any moment the algorithm can change or you could lose all your followers, which means that you will lose the ability to talk to the entire audience you’ve worked so hard to cultivate.

Email is a space that you own. Your email list is a sacred list of people who have grown to love you and have invited you into their inboxes. They cherish what you have to say and if they don’t, they unsubscribe. This means that your unsubscribe rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as your message is aligned with your goals. If your message is aligned with your business and your overall goals, then the unsubscribe rate just means your list of people you are speaking with is also aligning more with your goals.

So, how do you get people to even sign up and give you their precious email?

Create something they can’t say no to! Create a freebie that makes them jump with joy and say “gimme gimme!” Something that aligns with your business like the 27 Free Content Ideas we created just for YOU! This is a kickass lead magnet that will get those emails rolling in!

Well, what should you create?

  • I’m a business with a physical product; proving a freebie won’t work for me!

WRONG! When are you launching your next product? Want to get your consumers pumped about it? Add a pop-up or a page teasing about it and have them enter their email address to be the first to know when it’s released.

  • I’m a service based business but I can’t give away my work for free or else I’ll make no money!

WRONG AGAIN! The thing about offering a freebie is that it shows your potential consumer the kind of work you do, the thought process you take, and makes them want to read the emails you send full of helpful info!

  • My business is a non-profit; I quite literally have nothing to offer for free.

NOPE! Let’s get creative here . . .You’re most likely looking to reach potential volunteers and definitely potential donors. That means you have a number of great options:

  • Offer them a freebie that explains the tax benefits of donating to a non-profit
  • Categorize the different types of volunteering you offer and have them put in their email for updates on when those events are happening
  • Reel them in with a gritty, yet beautiful success story that your non-profit has and then tell them they can enter their email for more inspiring stories just like the one you just shared with them

Building your email list is SO. VERY. IMPORTANT. We send our emails out and share our landing pages through ConvertKit. They offer some really great benefits and really grow with your business.

So, what’s stopping you from starting your email list right now?

The Secret to Cultivating Engagement

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Would it shock you if I said that to build more engagement you need more engagement? Yeah, the algorithms get a little more difficult to navigate with each passing day. Basically, social platforms are trying to make sure that they are surfacing posts to their audience that people will enjoy, and their algorithm measures enjoyment through engagement just as you measure the quality of your posts by analyzing engagement and click-through rates.

The first thing you need to do to improve engagement is to engage more through your brand’s account. Engage with brands similar to your own, focusing on people and businesses that align with your passions and most importantly your purpose. By engaging with brands similar to yours, your dream clients are more likely to find you. Don’t worry, you are not poaching other brands’ customers. As a consumer, don’t you feel you have a right to know about competitors, or even complimentary brands, so you can provide the best experience and the most knowledge?

Of course you do!

Well, consider this to be an educational opportunity for consumers who are actively engaged with brands on social media. With more education, they are better equipped to decide which brand they desire to move forward with.

Go on a daydreaming journey with me for a minute. Think back to all the sponsored posts, ads in the side bars, or simply brand profile pages that you’ve been on that you’ve made a purchase from. Did they prompt you with a question? What was the selling point that pushed you to purchase? Did they have a button readily available for you?

Call to Actions (CTAs) are very important in your posts. Tying authenticity around your brand message in with the CTAs is also very important. Some great ideas for building engagement with authentic CTAs:

1. Asking a question that starts a conversation
2. Enticing a click-through with an offer or message your reader can’t scroll past
3. Taking a poll
4. Sharing content – videos, quotes/designs that speakz to your target, or articles that your audience will find helpful, Live videos with purpose that have quality content for watching later on

To harp on number four in the list above a little more, quality content is the key to quality engagement. Engagement that matters isn’t going to come from posting five times a day or purchasing bots to do the work for you.

Quality engagement will come naturally from sharing quality content that is executed upon a well thought out strategy. Quality is more than just a well written caption and applicable hashtags, but making sure the design of the post is good. For example, if you post a pixelated image with an overused quote over it, your audience will see right through it and keep scrolling. The more your posts get scrolled past, the less they will even appear in potential clients’ social feeds.

Go seek out high quality stock images or better yet, higher a local photographer to come and shoot some photos for you. Yes, it may cost money, but I promise you that this one expense will take your business to the next level AND you will start being able to charge the amount that you know your product or service is worth.

Are you ready to revitalize your social strategy and get more engagement?

My Top 3 Tips to Help You Focus

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Focus and productivity are constantly at the forefront of every business owner’s mind, especially those with socially conscious businesses or non-profits. Every dollar matters, and as the old saying goes, “time is money,” so being focused on efficient productivity is key for a young, socially conscious business or non-profit to be able to maintain solid profit margins and make the most impact. Here are some really great tips to help you stay focused and on track for one of your most productive months yet!

1 | Try out a new workflow style.
A new style for organizing your workflow is sweeping the internet. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the Pomodoro style. What this entails is selecting a task, setting a timer (usually 25 minutes), finish the task, and crossing it off your list. If you accomplish less than four tasks in the predetermined time, take a short break (3-5 minutes). If you have more than four tasks completed, take a longer break (20-30 minutes).

The point in this working style is to show that your brain needs a break. You need time to breathe in order to give the next task the complete, undivided attention that it deserves.

There are some really great tools out there for giving this new productivity trend a try:
Tomato Timer – 25 minute work periods and pre-set short/long breaks built in
Marinara Timer – Set custom timers designed for your team’s specific needs
Classic Timer – Having a good ole classic timer can’t be beat. No more internet distractions

2 | Prioritize your to-do list but do quick things first.
Productivity is clearly linked with personal intention. Before you dive into any work for your day, it’s important to think about what must get done that day, versus what should get done that day versus what could get done.

By prioritizing your action items, you are able to effectively tackle them while managing your workload and minimizing your risk of overload. When you do your quick wins like “send Jane Doe an email” or “Input tasks in Asana,” you are able to cross things off right away and feel more accomplished. You can use this feeling of accomplishment to motivate you as you move onto the more difficult or timely tasks.

3 | Set up your schedule for the day ahead of time.
Once you have your to-do list set and you’re comfortable in your workflow style, it’ll be most helpful for you to set up your schedule to reflect the day’s objectives. Allocate your time and schedule breaks to avoid burnout. In doing this ahead of time, you’ll be able focus your attention and increase your productivity.

Within your digital calendar (Gmail, Outlook, etc.), it can help to set up the blocks of time with the task and notes that apply to the task so that as you move throughout the day; you can get reminders for when it’s time to move to the next task.

Just like budgeting and financial planning takes time to train your brain, you have to train your brain for workflows, but even more so for concentration. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at fully allocating your attention to a task and getting it done in an allotted amount of time.

What’s your ideal day? Can you bring that to reality with organization and increased productivity?

How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Brand

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Did you know that the colors you choose to represent your brand can affect the way a consumer engages with you? For example, have you noticed over the last couple of years that McDonalds has began moving away from their known yellow and red colors to more of a classy brown both in stores and on their packaging?

If you haven’t noticed, that’s okay. As a company, this is a more subtle change to psychologically impacting their consumer perception and engagement. It’s shown that yellows and reds encourage speed. Those colors aligned with McDonald’s in their founding – to be a high speed restaurant that serves a good burger to get you in and out the door with good food and a happy tummy. As they launched their line of coffees – the McCafe – they noticed that they needed to shift their branding so the colors they chose adequately expressed their new goals.

Browns and greens are shown to slow down the consumer. It makes you want to hang out for a while, which is why you see all Starbuckses are branded with brown and green. Note, the longer you stay, the more you buy.

When designing your brand, it’s most important to first understand who your target market is and what other brands they frequently engage with, what’s important to them, and what problem you are solving for them. Once you can answer those questions, it will help you in choosing which color palette best expresses your brand goals.

I actually recently went through a rebrand myself. When I started out in the virtual working world last year , I had a light blue and white color scheme. What that said to my clients was that my brand encompasses purity and goodness, while I, as the brand head, am a loyal and trustworthy partner. Since rebranding with blue and pink, I’ve achieved communicating to my clientele that I am still a loyal and trustworthy partner, but also that my brand is centered around femininity and compassion. As a Social Greatness Strategist, this aligned much better with my brand goals. I was only able to effectively make this change by understanding who I really want to reach.

If you aren’t sure who you want to reach here are some steps to take to narrow down your target audience:

1. Focus your effort and services.
Figure out which service or product you offer that is your NUMBER ONE, the one product that
set your soul on fire and truly meets your mission. This will be your light post in reaching
your market.

2. Use data.
There is so much information and data at your fingertips these days. Don’t let that information slip buy. Utilize survey information generated by you, data already available, or even your network to figure out who would most benefit from your product or service.

3. Combine steps one and two to create your dream audience.
– Here is some information on a way to build your product persona: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/find-your-target-market/

Once you have developed a focused product or service, it will be much easier to communicate to and reach your target audience. Once you have your target audience, it will be much easier to develop a brand message utilizing colors to communicate your benefits effectively.

How do you want your consumer to feel when they look at your brand?