One of the things I’m working on with my power pod is working on increasing visibility. I want this in order to be recognized as an expert in the design field, not only to bring in more clients, but also because I like working with established small and medium sized businesses. For some reason, a lot of my clients spend time on LinkedIn – more than on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. So I’m going to take a year and focus my visibility efforts on LinkedIn. I know it can take some time to see results, and that I may need to change my approach, but I’ve got the start of a plan. I’m going to reevaluate every 3 months, and see what needs to be tweaked, changed or let go.

So, what I’ve discovered in my LinkedIn research is:

  • the best times to post on LinkedIn are Tuesday and Thursday, between 7am-9am and 12pm-2pm
  • 20 LinkedIn posts a month help to reach 60% of a person’s audience
  • Status updates should be approximately 50 characters with a question
  • Add a link to point to an article for more discussion, and edit the link’s description so it’s concise & draws attention
  • Posts on company pages can be targeted to specific followers by industry, role, etc.
  • Long posts work best at 500 – 1200 words
  • Hashtags are necessary to incorporate

I’ve finished updating my profile so it’s more in depth. I’ve updated my contact information. And in the next couple of days, I’m going to be updating our company’s page so that it focuses more on what benefits companies can get from working with MoonSoar Services.

I’m going to spend the next 3 months focusing on my own profile, not on my company page. I do better signing new clients when I’m interacting with them as myself and not as my company. Plus, for the time being the company page only has 2 followers (myself and John) so it doesn’t make sense for me to post there when I’d reach more people through my personal network.

What I plan on doing for the next 3 months before I come back and do my first evaluation is:

  • Post a status update on Tuesday morning about the blog post that was published on our website on the previous Friday
  • Post a short article on Thursday morning about something trending in web design or marketing that week
  • Post another status update on Thursday afternoon about something trending in business growth or marketing

Hashtags I want to focus on include:

  • #strategicdesign
  • #a11y
  • #Cbridge

I’ve known for a long time that I wanted to start my own business.

For most of my life I have struggled with social anxiety and clinical depression. Because it’s something that I’ve had to live with for as long as I can remember, I’ve learned how to survive through it… I’ve also learned that it’s something where the environment that I’m in has a huge affect on how I am mentally each day.

The corporate environment was always one that I struggled with – because it could be extremely hectic, emotional and political, and these were areas where if I could feel any kind of conflict, my anxiety would shoot through the roof. The conflict may not even have been something I was involved in, but if it was going on in my environment, I felt it acutely. It would leave me unable to focus on my work at the best of times – at the worst, I would need to retreat to the bathroom in tears in order to prevent a panic attack.

When my anxiety wasn’t bothering me, my depression was. It left me feeling trapped and hopeless.

There were some days that were an absolute fight to push myself outside of my apartment. There were some days where I didn’t make it out the front door. There were days where I didn’t make it through an entire day at work. And there were a lot of days where I wasn’t able to produce my best work because of where I was mentally.

(Side note – I really wish the corporate environment could be more mental health friendly.)

But whenever I was able to work from home, I accomplished more… and what I did produce was more in line with what was needed to further the company that I was working with at that time. I was able to focus better, and that in turn allowed me to better pay attention to the small details in the website or graphic design that I was working on.

So, my “why” for creating my own business – because while I can survive the corporate environment, I don’t thrive in it. Because when I control my own environment, I can better create. Because when I can better create, I can better focus on helping other businesses reach their goals.

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a few months. I have had a general idea, but I want it to become more specific and more defined so I can pinpoint what it is that MoonSoar Services does, so I can better target my ideal clients, and so I can measure my own successes.

And for right now, this is where my mission stands:

I want to help Canadian small and medium sized businesses with strategic website design, taking their roadblocks and developing a website that will allow them to convert visitors into customers, access new markets, and grow their brand.

That’s not to say that it won’t change. Goodness knows, it’ll evolve as my business evolves. But this is my starting point.

6:15. John’s alarm goes off and he hits snooze until I roll out of bed and make coffee.

7:00. I check my email and get organized for the day ahead. Monday includes a brief review of everything that’s due the upcoming week – I have one deadline and a large project due in a few days, so most of my effort this week is going to be focused on these two projects.

8:00. While coding a website for a client, I have the Dream, Girl documentary going in the background. I’m extremely impressed and excited with the documentary – it’s inspiring to hear the story of other female entrepreneurs.

9:00. I continue coding my client’s website and am quite pleased with how it’s coming along. I wanted to give the JointsWP Foundation 6 WordPress framework a try and am REALLY liking it. It’s speeding the process up a whole lot, and I really like the Foundation framework as a whole.

11:00. I spend the next hour doing some networking and marketing – typically it includes answering emails, connecting with people on social networks, reaching out to new people that I want to meet.

12:00. Lunch break – usually something quick, like leftovers. Today, it was leftover chili. I also grabbed a 10 minute power nap because it’s Monday, yo. That’ll teach me for staying up late curling last night.

1:00. I’m switching to do work for another client this afternoon. I’m working on some printed material for this client, along with their web material. I really enjoy this because because it gives me the opportunity to work in a variety of areas and it’s always something different.

3:30. I need to take a break so am taking full advantage of the fact that it’s still so beautiful out in the middle of November. I go out for a walk along the river.

4:00. I do another couple of hours of design work the client I had been working on earlier in the afternoon, just to finish up some loose ends that I had from the afternoon.

6:00. I watch two episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 while I make (and eat) dinner (sausages, coleslaw and sautéed mushrooms), do a little bit of work on my blog, and answer some emails.

8:00. Most nights, this would be where John and I go over everything that happened today, talk over any roadblocks we may have, figure out strategy for coming days, etc. However, I spent half of yesterday at the curling club, so tonight I get to play catchup. Vacuuming, mopping and washing the guinea pigs’ bedding.

9:00. This is the point where I actually get to relax, snuggle my guinea pigs and read a book. Over the past couple of years I’ve had less and less time to read, but still make sure I get a little time every night to read, even if it’s only a little bit. Right now, I’m in the middle of Stephen King’s The Shining and I am loving it.

I have a few favourite times of each day. I’m really lucky that I get to work doing what I love – designing/coding websites and designing marketing materials. So I do definitely enjoy a large portion of my day.

That said, though, there’s nothing quite as wonderful as spending time with John and our guinea pigs at the end of every day. It allows me time to really unwind and centre myself, so that I’m relaxed and able to get a good night’s sleep to prepare myself for tomorrow.

Someone told me this weekend that not everyone has it in themselves to start their own business, but I’m not convinced that’s the case. As long as you have the drive, and are able to weather the good times and the tough times, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to do this yourself.

You’ve got to know that there will be days that are harder than others.

The biggest roadblocks I’ve faced have had to do with my social anxiety. This is something where, when things that are at their worst, I am unable to function normally. I’ve been working with my doctor and my therapist to work on getting a handle on things, so for the most part things are good right now, but whenever there’s a first that I don’t know what to expect at all, I have a huge roadblock that I need to get over. These include:

  • Chamber of Commerce networking events
  • picking up the phone for that first call to a client
  • reaching out to a potential client
  • following up with clients who are overdue on payments
  • seeing people I know when I don’t expect to
  • and joining new networking groups.

Today’s prompt in the Classy Career Girl #MyStartupStory Challenge is “My Business Vision.” It actually coincides with a lot of what I’ve been working on and mulling over on my own for the past few weeks, so this has given me the real opportunity to get it all down in words.

In the past, I’ve worked a lot with small and medium sized businesses who don’t necessarily have the resources to bring graphic design, web design or marketing in-house. These businesses know that it’s important, but don’t have the know-how to put a plan into action on how to turn their website into an effective sales and marketing tool.

I’m a problem solver, and I specialize in working with businesses to create beautiful websites and marketing pieces that convert visitors into customers.

Through the use of measurable and achievable goals, I work with companies to identify website roadblocks, research how competitors may be solving these problems, and help these companies create an effective, useable and accessible website that differentiates them from their competition and can be used as a sales tool.

I utilize design to tell a story that speaks to that company’s customer base so that they can connect with these individuals on an emotional level. When I’ve finished working with a company, I want them to have the pieces in place that they can work with to improve their sales and become a more profitable company.

When I was interviewing at my most recently past job, one of the questions that I was asked was where I saw myself in five years. Because I am a socially awkward penguin, I answered, “I want to be running my own business.” Even then, I knew that working in a corporate environment wouldn’t allow me to create my best work; I had just come from another corporate job where I was feeling stifled, and needed a quick fix. Fast forward almost five years from that interview, and the company I was hired at did some massive downsizing… and I found myself without a day job.

Thankfully, I had already been getting ready to go out on my own. I had already done a lot of the ground work, I had already been working with some clients, and was at the point where I couldn’t juggle both jobs. Although I knew it was time to make the jump, I was afraid to do it. The downsizing made the decision for me.

Last May, I took a week of vacation and headed up to the cottage to spend the time really jumping into my business. I knew it was going to be a side project for a short period of time, but needed that initial break in order get started. So, overlooking Lake Huron, I made the initial commitment that no matter what, I would make this business successful.

I wanted the freedom to work from whatever location I wanted to on any given day. I wanted to work on different types of projects. I wanted to not be dictated by a 9-5 schedule. And more importantly, I wanted the ability to work with companies and organizations that I could help become more successful.

So that’s what I’m now able to do, and I’m loving it.

I recently had the opportunity to start working for myself, and I’ve embraced it. It’s a change, it’s not easy, but it’s so much more rewarding. My company, MoonSoar Services works with small and medium sized businesses to create a website that will help grow their online brand and will work towards converting visitors into customers and clients. I love the ability to get one-on-one with these business owners, learning about their businesses and what their goals are, and putting together a plan that will help them achieve these goals.

In the meantime, I’m also working on doing this for my own business. I know how much stories help connect with other people, so I’ve joined the Classy Career Girl #MyStartupStory Movement, which seems to align itself perfectly with my desire to create my own story for my own business.

Today’s Challenge: Where I Create

We recently converted our spare bedroom into my office. While the rest of our apartment is utter chaos (at the best of times), I was able to take this small space and transform it into an environment that helps my creativity grow, while also preventing me from getting distracted by all of those dishes that need to be cleaned, or that basket of laundry that needs to be washed, or… well, you get the picture. I love that I have a separate space that I can isolate from the havoc of the rest of life.

The desk I’m using was quite the find and I’m in love with it. We have a lot of antique stores in the neighbourhood, and we found this at one of them. It’s a banker’s desk, built by the Preston Furniture Company. When we bought it, it wasn’t a pretty thing, but after a lot of sanding and refinishing, it’s … well, it’s beautiful. Not something I ever envisioned myself using but it suits me.

One of the biggest challenges I had working in the corporate world was that my anxiety and depression ebbs and flows with the overall mood of my environment. So when I was around people who were upset about something, who were disappointed, who were stressed out… well, I’d feel it acutely. One of the focuses I had when creating my current office was to make things as serene as possible, so I can actually focus on what I’m working on.

On my desk I often have a candle with some aromatherapy oils burning, a cup of coffee (or water or coke, depending on the time of day!), and numerous pads of paper with all of my notes from clients.

I also have a lot of knick knacks hanging around the office, all of them scifi themed. You can see the Shaun of the Dead figure in the picture above, but there’s also a light-up Spock that my friend Lisa got me one year at SDCC, a handful of Funko’s, and a small replica of Serenity (the ship from Firefly).