Episode #37: Listener Q&A: How to Attract Your First Client, Starting a Food-Based Business, & Hiring

DRIVEN: A podcast for modern entrepreneurs. Listener Q&A: How to Attract Your First Client, Starting a Food-Based Business, & Hiring.

In today’s episode, I’m chatting with a special guest co-host, my friend and colleague, Naomi Nakamura. I’m going to be answering listener questions submitted through our Instagram account @thedrivenpodcast. Then, I’ll finish up the episode with a weekly actionable tip!


Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Diane Sanfilippo: In today’s episode, I’m here with a special guest co-host; my friend and colleague, Naomi Nakamura. I’m going to be answering listener questions submitted through our Instagram account at The Driven Podcast. 4

Topics:

  1. What’s on my plate [1:18]
  2. Shop Talk: Listener Q&A: Getting Started in the Food Business [6:50]
  3. Shop Talk: Listener Q&A: The Process of Hiring [15:32]
  4. Shop Talk: Listener Q&A: Help getting started [28:07]
  5. Tip of The Week: Take action [44:31]

1.  What’s on my plate [1:18]

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses, and in our lives this week. And before I get into what’s going on in my life and business this week, I thought I’d have my friend Naomi introduce herself and tell y’all a little bit about who she is and what she does.

Naomi Nakamura: Hi everyone; my name is Naomi Nakamura. I am an integrative health coach at Live Fab Life. I am also a program manager, and I work full time in the high-tech industry. So a lot going on. I’m also a Beautycounter consultant, and I have my own podcast.

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s your podcast?

Naomi Nakamura: The Live Fab Life Podcast.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love it. So, Naomi is actually a close personal friend of mine. She was someone who was a 21-Day Sugar Detox coach for a while, and we just connected through that, I think. You came to a bunch of book signings, and came to a couple of Scott’s events, and we connected because of Beautycounter, and then we just started hanging out and then our dogs became friends and it was over. Right? {laughs} That was basically it.

Naomi Nakamura: That was basically it.

Diane Sanfilippo: So some of you may have seen Naomi’s dog over on my Instagram sometimes. Little Cocoa Pop. She’s the little gray fluffy mini teddy bear looking dog. She’s a little sweetie. She has a very strong, bossy personality.

Naomi Nakamura: She’s an Enneagram 3, right? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s what we’ve decided. Awesome. So, yeah. I’m so glad that you decided to join me, and help cohost this week and read the questions and kind of just; I don’t know, be here. You can chime in if you’ve got something to say, too. Feel free. But yeah.

Naomi Nakamura: Well thank you for having me. So Diane, what’s on your plate this week?

Diane Sanfilippo: So this week I’m really excited. So you guys know, we record a little bit ahead of time, so this happened a little bit in the past. So you’ll wonder; well, didn’t that already happen? Yes it did. {laughs} We launched new sizes of the Balanced Bites spices; finally, finally, finally. It’s just, stuff takes so long. And it is so painful to kind of wait through the process and get through all of that. But I’m really excited. They’re just normal sized jars. Initially, we feel like they’re cute, but the reality is they’re normal sized. They’re not miniature or any of that. And I think it’s going to be great. I think people are going to be able to fit them in their kitchens and their lives a little bit better. The price will be a little bit easier for people to handle, I think.

And we actually; this is really interesting. I’ll probably get into it when I get to one of the questions. But, we had a bit of a snafu with quantities that came in on the bags that I’ve got. It was kind of a long story, but it’s going to pivot and turn into something really great so I think we might end up having some refill options sooner than expected. And I’ll explain more about that, maybe later. But stay tuned.

Other fun things; mostly branding related. So I’ve been talking about this on the show recently. We did a whole rebrand with Balanced Bites; you know, the name of the company is the same, and I actually the labels on the spice jars is the same as we had intended, because those were printed before we did this new logo and everything. But we kept the type face pretty similar. So to the average consumer, you’re not going to see a huge difference; you just won’t see our mascot, our icon Chuck. Chuck the chicken. He’s kind of like a four-season looking chicken, where he’s got these four little quadrants. He’s got his head, he’s got a citrus slice, an onion slice, and then some cilantro and a radish, I guess we’ll call that, to make up his tail. But he won’t be featured on our spice jars, but they will still fit the whole look and feel.

But anyway; we’re rolling out on the websites. We’re rolling out packing tape for our meal boxes. We’ve got a new insert going into the meal boxes that will probably not come out for a couple more weeks, because we’re just going to send that to print next week. So, really exciting. {laughs} It’s like; you build these brands and these companies, and it doesn’t just all happen overnight that you decide to start something and then it looks real and it’s like a real company. And I know that to everyone else it feels like a real company already, but to me, this branding has just; I don’t, it’s like put a stamp on the letter. It’s a seal of; ok, now you’ve got this whole look and feel. It gives me grounding, and it gives me direction. Even the coloring worksheets and all of that. I don’t know; it just brings the whole thing together for me, and it makes me feel so much more like a grownup brand. {laughs} So that’s been really, really fun.

Naomi Nakamura: Well, as someone who has been witnessing a back scene; or behind the scenes to all of this for months and months now, I’m excited for you.

Diane Sanfilippo: Thank you.

Naomi Nakamura: I’m excited to see it all happen, too.

Diane Sanfilippo: I always send Naomi; I’m like; do you like this one better, or this one? What do you think of this? Because Naomi is one of our very regular customers, so I always throw things by her to get her take on it. Like what does she think? Also because we really share similar taste level when it comes to design and aesthetic and I wanted things to be playful but refined and classy. And I feel like we’ve really struck that balance. So I’m really excited about it. So yay. Oh, and also I’m eating all the chicken chips.

Naomi Nakamura: And now I am too, thanks to you! {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: #Influenced. No association. Although I should probably reach out to Wild and ask them if they want to sponsor this podcast. Because, listen, entrepreneurs need snacks too. So Wild Chicken Chips; if you’re listening, at me. {laughs} I’m here.

2.  Shop Talk: Listener Q&A: Getting Started in the Food Business [6:50]

Diane Sanfilippo: Shop Talk. In this segment, I’ll be answering your questions about business and entrepreneurship, and Naomi is going to read the questions. These came in through Instagram; so if you want to be able to ask your questions, you can always drop them in a DM. Sometimes we put up a question box, but DMs are totally fine to pop a question at The Driven Podcast.

Naomi Nakamura: Ok; Ida asks, “How do you get started in the food business? I work in publishing and technology, but my dream is to do a cookbook or something food related. What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into food; like creating spices?”

Diane Sanfilippo: For example, right? You would think that we just made this one up. {laughs} Ok, so this is a big question because this is a big pivot. And I think that she’s got some great things going for her now, and some big challenges ahead. So most of us who got started in what you would call the food business now; if you look at folks like myself. Folks who have much bigger companies; someone like Mark Sisson, who has built, obviously, Primal Kitchen. Some of the folks like at Siete Foods, getting started in the food business. We didn’t all start the same way.

But what I usually recommend is; you need to find a way to build an audience. Whatever that’s going to mean; whether you’re providing value in a certain way, or you are connecting with people who already have an audience. I think if you’re trying to write a cookbook; she says, “A cookbook or something food related, like creating spices.” All of this stuff is a little bit; it needs to go in an order. So if you’re going to create a cookbook, you really don’t want to write a cookbook if you don’t have an audience of people who are going to be ready to buy it. Because it’s a ton of work, and it won’t go anywhere. No one is really going to buy a cookbook just because you write it. They have to know who you are. They have to know your point of view. Why do they want this book? What are they going to get from it? Is it going to be health oriented? Is it going to be a certain type of cuisine? Why should they listen to you?

And in today’s day and age, the way that you really build that at this point, it is through a combination of, I would say, an online platform and; I still, you know obviously we’re currently in the middle of this whole corona virus/COVID/at home situation. But we will get back to interacting with people in real life. It is going to happen. and I always tell people who are doing things in food and nutrition, etc., to be connecting with people in real life.

So if this begins with; head to your local grocery store. “Hey, can I teach a cooking class? Here’s my background.” Why are you an expert? Why are you someone people should listen to about food? You have to establish some level of authority. You don’t need to be a nutritionist. You don’t’ need to be a professional chef. But you need to establish some level of authority. And part of establishing that is actually just doing the work. Just showing up. Just getting one person to say; yeah, come teach this class. Ok, great. Here’s the next person; I’ve taught classes already over here. There you go, there’s a little bit of ground under your feet to kind of keep you moving.

So that’s kind of the first thing I would recommend. From there, creating a food product, just like writing a book. We talked about writing a book in a past episode. Look; I’m always going to tell people not to write a book. So if you want to do it anyway, and you make it happen, you will make it happen. I’m going to tell you the same thing about getting into food, because this is not my first time at the rodeo. When I first started working in food, it was more than a decade ago. I started a local, here in San Francisco, meal delivery business. That was the first food business I had.

It started at the end of 2007 into early 2008. I actually kind of kicked it off as a catering business. I catered a handful of local fitness-oriented events. I actually catered; Lululemon opened downtown here in San Francisco; I actually catered their opening event, which is so random. It was called the function show instead of a fashion show, because their clothes are functional. But I worked at Lululemon before that, they knew I was starting this food business. And they were really cool about hiring people from within the company to do things. I had stopped working there, but I ended up catering that event.

So those types of things; you basically have to just start doing things to see where your path goes. So when I started this as something that was cooking for people in real life, and very quickly learned that that path was just not the right one for me. I burned out really quickly. Earning money on a small scale. If you were going to be a chef and cook for people, you’ve either got to go super private; this is just my take. I’m happy for someone to prove me wrong. Super private, high end; cooking for one family, two families, a handful of families. And that’s a really premium service. Or you’ve got to find a way to make more food at a time that’s relatively affordable for someone that isn’t going to always cook for themselves. But it’s definitely not less expensive than cooking for yourself. And that’s kind of what I do with Balanced Bites. And I have friends like Mary, the Paleo Chef, who cooks for high-end celebrities, athletes, etc.

I think the middle ground is really challenging to make a living at. That being said; wanting to get into food and creating a food brand and a food item that you’re going to sell; really, really challenging. You need a lot of capital. You need a following. You need to make decisions that; do I want to take on investors? So, I think there are just a lot of questions to be answered, and I think Ida has a lot more consideration to put in around this. But the biggest thing I can say about this is; you have to start something. Asking me is fine, but I think the biggest piece of advice is; do something resembling anything. {laughs}

That’s kind of a quoting, When Harry Met Sally, there’s a scene where they’re playing Pictionary, and one of the characters he’s like; draw something resembling anything. {laughs} I just; I always think about that. Because do something. Learn from it. Iterate. And then pivot in whatever direction. Because you’re going to find out; do people even want that? Are they interested? Am I cut out for it? I learned I wasn’t cut out for being the person in the kitchen. But now I’ve learned I am the person to market something, and connect with my audience, and figure out exactly what people want and how to make it in a way that’s exciting.

So, you have to find those things out. And I think a lot of folks are not willing to just try things, because it’s painful, and it feels scary. And it feels like; well, then people are going to see me doing this thing, and what if it doesn’t work. Well, I have failed every time, until the moment that I don’t. You know what I mean? It’s like; every relationship breaks up until then there’s one that doesn’t. Like, that’s just how it works. So, that’s the advice that I have. You have to just get started. You have to do something. Put yourself out there. And see where it leads you in terms of both; what do people want; and they’ll tell you what they want by showing up for the thing, or by paying for the thing. And; what do you think you’re really cut out for and passionate about and good at.

And I will say this one other thing. When I say what will they show up for; they might not show up the first time. You have to stick with it. I still could teach a class where somebody; there might be one person who shows up. I think; Naomi, you probably came to Athleta one time. I gave a talk; were you there? I feel like you might have been there. Maybe you weren’t there. Ok. I gave a talk at Athleta a couple of years ago; I don’t know when it was exactly. It was at some point, maybe 2015-16, and I think maybe like six people showed up. And I’ve done book signings where there are over 100 people. And it’s like; somebody might not imagine that I could possibly be speaking at an event that a ton of people wouldn’t come to. Yeah; it happens all the time. But that’s ok, because I’m connecting with those six people. And what a wonderful experience to have more time to sit and chat with them and learn about what I can do to help them.

So those are all my tips. It’s not this practical; here’s what you do first, second, third. Because you’re just in the baby stages. You don’t even know what’s next.

The thing I was going to say, too, is you have this awesome upside. You currently work in publishing and technology, so you have a job. Don’t quit your job. You’ve got to moonlight. You’ve got to side hustle this thing for a long time until you hit the breaking point of; you wake up every day with this passion for this other thing, and it’s already making money. You have to be making money in that other thing first, otherwise I think it’s just very unwise and a little too; I don’t know. It’s just too flippant to be like; well, let me just try this thing. Well, why don’t you prove your concept first a little bit. And then kind of ease over.

3.  Shop Talk: Listener Q&A: The Process of Hiring [15:32]

Naomi Nakamura: Ok, Rachel asks, “Hey Diane! I love this podcast, and have already gained so much from it, so thank you for the time that you and Cassy put into it. I’d love to know your process for hiring contractors and building your team; not Beautycounter. For example; how do you actually find the right person? Is there a trial period? How do you negotiate prices, both hourly and task based? How do you work out how much and how often you need their services? For example, I’m keen to find a researcher, content writer, as well as a copy writer, but I don’t need them full time. If this question makes it to your episode, thank you in advance.”

Diane Sanfilippo: Well, thank you, Rachel for the question. Ok, well I can answer this because I’ve recently hired two different people to my team in the last 6-8 months, and I’ve hired many people over the years. And it’s an interesting process, and it’s been a different process over the years. It’s going to depend a little bit; because the way that I approach it might now be exactly how you can approach it. Because I obviously have a following. And I have an audience. So when I put a call out for somebody to apply for a position, they’re pretty well versed with who I am and what I do. It’s just a different way of finding people. But I’m going to back it up a little bit.

So, obviously you know where to post a job opening. So there’s that. And there was a time where I think I posted to O-desk or just an online headhunting type of system, and that actually didn’t work out very well for me. The person we got connected to; it just didn’t end up being a fit. It was probably one of the shortest-lived contractors that I had working with us.

But what I tend to do is I look at what I need from a person, and write up the description. Figure out what I really think the number of hours are that I’m going to need, and I make sure that I clearly communicate to the person. Because this is what I know of myself; I tell somebody, if you have more hours, I will probably have more work for you if I can figure out what your skillset is. Because there is always a huge list of things that I would like someone to work on. And that’s just me; you might not have that same situation. She says she doesn’t need them all the time.

And I don’t have people who are all full time, either. And part of that for me is by virtue of wanting to have people who work with me who like having flexibility, so they’re not all full time. They might have 20 hours a week that they’re working with me.

So I typically write up the description, I share it out to my audience. So you wouldn’t do it that way. Finding the right person; I personally have applications come in. I look at them, my team looks at them. We filter them, just off the bat. Who sounds like a good fit; just obviously reading their qualifications. I always have; this is probably the most important thing. I always have a trial project or task or list of questions that they’re answering. Something that is very, very much job or task related. So if you need a copy writer, some kind of writer or content researcher, you have to give them a sample project and see what they do with it.

And the way that I sort of assess, or analyze, or measure up what they’re doing is; can they get it 70-80% there without my input? Because I know I can obviously manage and direct and help somebody do things the way that I want them to do it. But wouldn’t it be awesome if they can take it 70-80% there without my input. That means I’m starting out with somebody who has really got the skill level and just kind of the thought process. The attention to detail, and the wherewithal to find the answers in the moment. And when they send something back in, you will just see what happens.

There are people who are going to apply and you’re like; this person didn’t even really try. So that doesn’t even get considered. And then there’s someone who; maybe they didn’t do a beautiful job, but they even put together a little header graphic, and it’s just showing the effort. You have to see what matters to you.

So if you’re looking for a researcher or a content writer; does this person seem to do the bare minimum when they submit an application, or does it look like they took all the time? I feel like I’ve almost never hired the first applicant. And that’s not by virtue of; oh, they filled it out quickly, they can’t be qualified. But usually somebody who is taking their time isn’t going to be the one who gets their application in first.

I could be wrong about that; a couple of years ago, we hired a team member named Kate and she may have been one of the first to apply, but that would have been because she saw the application, and was like; I’m on it. immediately. You know Kate. Kate Markovitz. She’s awesome. But she’s just super detailed, and was probably like; oh my gosh, I have to do this.

Anyway. So, that’s kind of what I do. And I actually find that those example projects or sample projects are always very, very helpful. It gives me insight into; what will this person do without me holding their hand. And then I know what I’m capable of holding their hand through, what my team can help with, etc. So, that’s probably one of the most important things.

And I actually think that’s more important than whatever their job experience is. I will look at that, and I will definitely personally take that into consideration, because I know there’s probably a skillset with that job experience. So someone that I recently hired for customer service did start her own business recently, so she has a lot of grit and drive to solve problems and find answers. And this job is a little; you know, it’s beneath her qualification, if I’m putting it bluntly. But I was doing it for a year. It’s not beneath anybody, but she’s definitely over-qualified to solely act as a customer service representative. But at the end of the day, that person’s representing my brand, and I really love to have somebody who is a problem solver.

So that’s kind of the thing that I look for more deeply. What other skillset do they have? What are they capable of? What have they done in the past? because I like to know, how can this person grow with my team beyond maybe what they signed up to do initially. So that’s really helpful for me.

Is there a trial period? I mean, I just think that’s up to you. If you’re hiring someone as a contractor, I don’t know how that would work if people were actually employed if you can do something like that. I feel like, why not? I usually do start people out; and we’ll get into the rate thing. I usually start people out slightly lower than maybe what they say would be their ideal, because I want to get a feel for it, and I don’t want to overpromise and under deliver. I’d rather say; ok, that sounds fair. I’m going to start you here for about three months, and let’s see. Because what if that person really overdelivers, and I think they’re worth more? And that’s kind of where I go from there.

How do I negotiate prices? I do hourly. That’s just the easiest for me. I think task-based; that just depends. If somebody is doing design work or project work. If they want to be paid by project, that’s up to them. If somebody is doing writing, and they’re very quick, and they want to get X-amount of dollars, and they know they can do it in a certain amount of time, that’s up to them. But I think the way that they’re going to get paid is up to them. If you’re not comfortable paying that way, then that’s up to you. But if you’re hiring someone contract and that’s how they want to be paid, you kind of have to go with that. But I do things hourly. And I ask somebody what they want.

I did recently have another opening, where somebody threw a number at me that I was like; you must be crazy. First of all; never. I did not say that. But it was so out there, that I was like; do you think we are Google? {laughs} It was just so out there. And I was like; listen, here’s where I can meet you. Because we’re a really small company. You’re going to have flexibility. You’re going to work from home. You have to remember that this is not; just because you might really be worth that much to a different company, I don’t have it. You know what I mean? I think I pay really fairly and well for what people are doing, and for the amount of flexibility that they have, because they are working contract and we’re not clocking in 9 to 5 or any of that.

But that’s up to you. And you have to have kind of a number in your head that you think the work is worth, and have a range. I do think it’s important to know that; look. There might be some people who initially feel like the rate they ask for is a little out there. But you might find that what you get is like; wow. That’s way better than I was expecting. So there are a lot of times, obviously, you’re going to get what you pay for. You don’t want to try and pay minimum wage for work that’s supposed to be higher level work. So I think that’s important.

And I also think, especially if it’s the first people that you’re hiring, I think it’s important to balance the following. You don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. And in this case what I mean by that is; if you’re like, hey I’m going to need this many hours a week indefinitely; for me, I don’t like to be shaky with that. I’d rather tell someone 10 hours a week, and then it grows, than in a month say; I only need 5, and then that’s inconsistent for them. I want to provide some stability, even though we’re not doing a full-time employment situation. I do want to commit to something that’s stable, because I think stability is important for everyone to feel confident and comfortable in the work that they’re doing. And I can always find more projects for people to work on. There’s literally never a shortage of work to be done. But that’s up to you, too. And I think if you want to do it as a project basis, where you’re like; ok, I have this much budget, and I know I can allot that. You have to figure that out.

So, that’s kind of how I handle it. And I tend to fill things by role and by need. I’ve had a lot of people who work with me now for a long period of time, and again, none of them work full time hours. So it’s really just a matter of that flexibility. But I also look at; how will this person interact with these other folks that they’re going to work on projects with. That’s really important to me, especially taking my current contractors into consideration and knowing that they need to be able to get along with this person. They need to all vibe. You know; they don’t have to talk every single day. They’re not all working on the same project. They have different projects that they work on. But now and then, they’re going to need to tap someone’s shoulder and say; hey, where can I find this? Can you help me with that? So that’s really important too, that I take that into consideration.

So if you do end up getting one person in, and then you have someone else. Maybe you get a researcher and then a writer, you want to make sure that their personalities are going to mesh pretty well, and that they can get along. So you might even have the first person that you hire help you interviewing the next people. I’ve definitely had that; some of the contractors that work with me, I’ve had one or two of them helping to interview the folks who are going to come on. Because then they can say; I felt like this person was a good fit.

They also know me. And I’m like; you tell me if you think that person is going to make it in this team. You know what I mean? Are they going to crumble with my standards? Is my feedback of; that wasn’t done the way I wanted it. Which, I’m not a Miranda Priestley {laughs}. Make no mistake. But I do have really high standards. And if someone is just going to crack underneath that; they’ll know, their personality is just not going to work.

Anyway, hopefully that’s helpful. Are you ready to hire someone now, Naomi, hearing that advice?

Naomi Nakamura: I’m like; the prestige is coming out.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah, we’ve talked about; what’s it called? Fascination Advantage. I’m prestige; power and prestige. It’s funny because I do try and give up a lot of power; I really try to let people own their role as much as possible. I don’t want to micromanage what people are working on. But at the same time, I want them to get trained to the standards that I have, so that I then don’t have to micromanage.

4.  Shop Talk: Listener Q&A: Help getting started [28:07]

Naomi Nakamura: Ok. Erin asks, “I quit my job and started my own business in January. Obviously, not knowing what would come. Last year, my husband and I saved and spent money to set up an Airbnb to provide extra income as I would be without for a while. I realize we are very fortunate for me to be able to just quit and figure it out. At this point, the Airbnb isn’t giving any income, and I have an unknown business. I can do my business entirely online, but I’m struggling on how to snag that first client to get things rolling. I’ve been posting content on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and I post a blog post each week to gain a following of any kind and get my business known. I’ve been doing a few virtual networking events, but nothing so far. I have a list of potential local businesses that might be able to use my services. Is now a bad time to cold email? Should I be paying for ads on LinkedIn? Any other advice? For context, I’m a project management consulting business for other small businesses.”

Diane Sanfilippo: Awesome. So I checked out some of the links that we got here from Erin. And first and foremost, when I look at the blog, it looks like the first post was March 23. So, you were just born yesterday with this business. And if I were looking to hire someone in this line of work, I need to see a little more depth and a lot more content. I need to get a better feel for who you are and what you have to offer through that content, partially.

I really want to know; who is your ideal customer? Because when I land on your website, I don’t think I’m your ideal customer. And maybe I’m not, because I’m not a corporate entity. I think that what’s communicated through your logo and the color choice is; it just doesn’t have a feel that I think is modern. It doesn’t feel like it’s communicating the right thing to me. I think that what would be really helpful is if you used a system or service like Canva, and found some branded posts that you could pick. You might need to work with someone. Work with a junior graphic designer. Someone who just came out of school who can help you. Maybe you can offer them some type of coaching as well. Taking business owners from overwhelmed to focused. Maybe you can find a graphic design business owner who needs your help, and you can barter a little bit. That’s definitely one way to go.

But I would say; first and foremost, the look and feel of what you’re presenting is not really communicating, I don’t think, what you want it to communicate. And that, unfortunately, it really is the job of a graphic designer to help translate content into something visual and engaging. Services and systems like Canva can be really helpful for that, and we can kind of DIY. But I didn’t even do my own rebranding, and I am a graphic designer by training, years ago. So I think we all have to recognize when certain things are out of our scope, or just, we’re obviously not doing it. So we need help. I was obviously not doing it to get this branding going for Balanced Bites. We had a letter style; a font. That was really all we had.

So that’s kind of the first thing. Well, the second thing. The first thing was, I need you to have a lot more content. The second thing is; I need this whole thing to have a look and feel that feels more modern and cleaner and much more targeted at business owners who are looking to someone who will coach them to be an example. And if what you’re putting out there on social media, on the blog, isn’t a visual example, you’re kind of dead in the water. I know that sucks to hear, but what am I if I don’t tell you the truth. So I think that part is really important.

I think what you’re doing with the blog posts; here’s a really practical tip. Ok, so when I click over to your blog, I see that you’re working to put the content over on Instagram. You’ve got scope creep as one of these blog posts that you have, handling new project requests. You’ve got scope creep resolution on your Instagram. And it’s a set of sliders. And I think this approach to where you’re going to put content on the blog and on Instagram and have this visually engaging, get the content out there; I think this is a good idea. I think the execution is really lacking.

So what I would rather see is; on your very first image, put your scope creep resolution; although frankly, I wonder if those words are plain English enough to the person that you’re really trying to talk to. Like; scope creep; most people in business kind of know what that means. But it would be better possibly for you to ask someone who is a little bit connected to the jargon; what would you expect to see here? And then I want that first image to actually provide content and value. Don’t make me click for more value initially. Yes, you can have more content in those further images, but give me some value right up front.

I constantly talk about the holistic psychologist because the content that she’s providing; of course, we are all in this whole… People who are, let’s say, millennial to Gen-X, we’re all in the personal development age where 30-50, we’re like, oh shoot. A lot is going on with my life; right? So we want that content really badly. But listen; there’s a ton of folks on social media who are probably working in these types of jobs that could use this help. You’ve got to be able to communicate to them really clearly on that image. Just educate them. Tell them something that they didn’t realize, but it has this hook of something that they do know is a problem.

So maybe scope creep is a good enough word or expression. Naomi is kind of nodding along; you feel like that’s corporate speak?

Naomi Nakamura: Well, as someone who does program management in my full-time job; I work for a very large company, and I work with very seasoned professionals. They don’t know what scope and creep is. So if you’re calling on small business owners, they probably don’t know what that is, either. Other project managers will, but your potential ideal client won’t.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. So, if you want…

Naomi Nakamura: Or even if they do, I would go in with the assumption that they don’t.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. So if what you want to do is define scope creep and help them know that that’s what’s happening, then you would have that maybe on the page, on the top of this graphic, scope creep. Is it happening to you? And give them the definition right there in the graphic. And then you can also talk about it and further describe it in your caption. But I think you are missing an opportunity to just hit people with content and information and value right on that first image, and then go deeper if you want to in the further images.

But this is where this combination of a visual look and feel, style that you can be consistent with. She’s got this font; it appears that she’s using the same font in this graphic that says myth; don’t let it creep in. Scope creep resolution. It does look like a consistent font. It’s just not visually there. I think the combination of getting some branding that’s just more modern looking is really all I can say to describe it.

And then, I don’t think that using just solo images that might be something like a blog header or something like that, even if you’re doing a synopsis or a book synopsis or whatever it’s going to be. There’s one of a clock; what are we talking about there? We’re talking about time blocking. This is Instagram; I need to know what you’re talking about. What’s the value that you’re providing. You’re not a photographer. So don’t use beautiful images as the first thing that you’re presenting. You need to deliver content and value. Content and value. Content and value. You need to show me what you can do and what you can teach me. Don’t be afraid to give it away.

This something Gary Vaynerchuk was talking about this recently, and I was like; this is obviously the stuff that people need to hear. You will never fail at your business by giving away a ton of your best content and advice and proving your authority and your expertise through social media. You will get more clients by telling them whatever it is, right there on social media. Because what they’re going to pay for is your time, and access to you, to do this work one on one. Or with their business, etc.

So I really want to see; I’m sliding through these images, and I’m like; I’m not really getting value from that.

Naomi Nakamura: Can I also say one thing? I think if you’re a business of just you, I think you really need to be able to brand yourself, because you are your brand. So I think that would help in coming out a little bit more.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. That’s a really good point. When we land on your website, we see a picture of maybe the people that you’re helping. Which isn’t bad, or wrong, and I do like who is represented in this photo. I think that’s fair. I think what you might be trying to do is not brand things too femininely; it almost looks like you’re trying to make things a little unfeminine. And maybe that’s not your goal, but if it wasn’t your goal, that’s what’s happening. By some of the color choices and some of the shapes and the fonts. It’s like; this logo honestly looks like an air conditioning logo. And I used to work in small businesses where we did landscape or air conditioning, etc. I think that that’s a cooling system, like Air Pros is what I’m going to read there.

So I would think about that. I would think about; Ambitious Solutions, that could have a totally different look to it. I don’t think that’s a bad name at all, but I think what’s happening on the website visually, all of that, just kind of needs somebody’s eye who can tell you; hey, I think this is what will connect. And then I want to see you delivering value, value, value. And another practical tip; which you’re already doing and I think you can keep doing this, is to be consistent with hashtags as well. You have a lot of hashtags going on. I would consider and look into some hashtags that have traction, but are not huge. So what I mean by that is, entrepreneur. It’s kind of a huge hashtag; you’re probably going to get lost in that shuffle. I would try and be a little bit more niche with your hashtag. So whether it’s women in business; maybe that’s a little more drilled down. I think a lot of these are really, really general. So I think you might want to start thinking more deeply about who it is that you’re really targeting. Because that’s where you want to start using those tags.

Naomi Nakamura: And what they’re searching for. So I wanted some Canva help, so I recently went on Instagram and a search for Canva templates. And I found someone who created some really nice ones. So I reached out to her, and she’s helping me with a few things.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm. Business overwhelm. I don’t know. Think about; what is it that they’re looking for. What is it; there’s a lot there. But that’s my initial overarching advice. Ambitious Solutions on Instagram and your website. Ambitious-Solutions. And I think we will all be waiting with bated breath to see a transformation. And hey; if you are an entry level graphic designer, and you want to help out, and maybe you guys can connect, her name is Erin at Ambitious Solutions on Instagram. Maybe send her a DM. Offer her your services. See what you guys can do to connect. I think that would be really helpful.

And then a couple other things, when I look at your website. I think; what did we click on? We clicked to look at about you. And you were talking about helping businesses, but I feel like this photo of you looks really casual. Like someone took it in your house, maybe. And it’s a cute photo. You look cheerful, and happy, and approachable. But I feel like I want you to look cheerful, happy, and approachable in a slightly more professional way. And I think getting some professional headshots would be really worthwhile. And this is something that; even maybe someone who does graphic design work could take some headshots. Obviously, you’re not going to have that done right now. We’re all at home. But I would consider that, too.

And initially here, something that’s cropped in a lot more. You could just crop this photo, and it would probably be more effective. But I would probably; this is going to sound maybe a little bit weird, but I think your hair looks really casual. And again, if you’re trying to pitch in a business setting, I would just make that a little bit of a neater situation. Does that make sense? I don’t know how else to say that. This isn’t me being critical of your appearance in any way. It’s just; it looks like you kind of just finished moving in, and you stood there by a chair. There’s nothing on the wall behind you. And you were like; hey, take a picture of me. I just don’t feel like it looks like a serious business. And listen; pictures say a lot.

Naomi Nakamura: Knowing the cost of project management, I would assume that she probably charging some high-end pricing. So I think that just needs to be reflective of the service.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, everything needs to kind of get taken to that level. And here’s the cool thing; you can have a pretty professional looking photo. Look; if your husband is going to do it, get yourself dressed a certain way. Whatever you want to do with your hair; I’m just saying, be intentional about. She’s going to be like; yeah, you’re right, we just kind of randomly took this photo. Because people can tell. It’s not a personal attack; I really hope you don’t take it that way. But be intentional about it. But your phone on portrait mode and take a photo. Even outside with some trees behind you that are blurred out in the background; that’s going work great. Even against a wall is totally fine, but you’re going to crop that. I don’t want to see any of the house. I just want to see the wall behind you. That’s more professional. Or, I want to see you in a setting where you’re actually working with people, where you’re standing in front of a group and you’re teaching. You’re working one on one with someone. There’s some kind of notebook out. You guys have pens. It looks like you’re consulting, right? That kind of setting.

When it comes to design; aside from actually getting the person to help you, good design is not more expensive than not good design, it just takes the right person and the right eye. It’s that eye for quality and visual and aesthetic. So you don’t have to get off of square space. You can just have someone who helps you pick the right colors, and the fonts, and really pulls it all together. Helps you with a logo that really sends the right message, and pulls this whole thing together for you in the right way.

Naomi Nakamura: One of the nice things is, she just started in January. I mean, we all know what the first iterations of our websites look like, so. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh my gosh! Yeah, you’re really starting off on a good food. You can work with what’s here to tweak things, for sure. You don’t have to start from zero. That’s a definite. And keep writing content. That’s probably one of the best things that you’ve done, is be consistent with your content. You started March 23; don’t stop with your weekly content. Because that core piece of content you put on the blog is going to be what informs what you put on Instagram; etc., etc. So your absolute best move has been that consistency. That’s been 5 weeks of consistency; don’t stop with that. And even if you’re like; I don’t know what to write about. What are frequently asked questions. What is getting started, 101? Basic information that everybody needs to learn, and just keep going.

Awesome. That was a good question. That was big. That was like, a legit amount of consulting. So I really hope that you take that to heart in all the best ways, Erin, and I really look forward to seeing what comes next for you.

5. Tip of The Week: Take action [44:31]

Naomi Nakamura: Tip of The Week! In this segment, we give you one tip that you can take action on this week to move your business or life forward.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright. My tip this week; I mean, I feel like this is pretty common for what we say often, and I’m going to hat-tip to Naomi, because she was like; I think this is a common theme in all of the responses today. You just have to take action on whatever that thing is. Especially right now in these unknown times; nobody knows the answer to your business building question. I can’t tell you; here’s exactly the best next step for whatever it is that you’re trying to do. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if you should put your job listing on O-desk. I don’t know if you should put it on wherever. I don’t know; does craigslist even do jobs still? Monster. Wherever; {laughs} I’m so out of it with online job hunting.

I don’t know the best next step. You have to try something. Throw the noodle against the wall, see if it sticks. And be willing to iterate. Be willing to pivot. Be willing to; we talked about this recently on the show, start small. You have to be ok with that. Because if you’re trying to build something for yourself, you’re always going to be starting at zero, no matter how awesome of a whatever you are. You have these other jobs. You just quit something else and you were at the top of your game. We’re all starting at zero again with all these things that we build.

So just be ok with that. Be ok with that, and keep chipping away at whatever that next thing is. You know what; let me try this. Let’s see what happens. And let me be consistent with it for a long time. Just be consistent. And over time, you’ll drop some of the things, and you’ll add on others, and you’ll just keep going from there. I mean, that’s how we learn anything.

Anyway, dig in. Try something. Throw the noodle against the wall. Let me know about the noodles you’re all throwing against the wall. Comment over on The Driven Podcast Instagram so that I can hear what you’re getting started on.

That’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Instagram @TheDrivenPodcast. My friend Naomi is @LiveFabLifewithNaomi, and I am @DianeSanfilippo.

Tune in next week for another brand-new episode with another special guest cohost. I’ll see you then.

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