I SEE YOU

This is somewhat of a follow-up to my FB live "My thoughts on Toastmasters" (September 21).

We are back to regularly scheduled programming! Because I was competing in a Toastmasters Humourous Speech contest, I had to skip a week of blogging. It was an intense ten days of writing and rehearsing and practicing. It was also a lot of me freaking out with thoughts like, "Oh fuck. How the heck am I going to get through this? I think I need to barf. Why am I doing this? UGG. I need wine. No, I need some chocolate. No, just everyone leave me alone, ok?!!" Good thing I have a VERY patient husband.

I was super nervous, unable to efficiently focus on work, and I felt super ungrounded. I also had a doozy of a headache for two days before the competition. I think my brain was literally fed up with my speech - it had heard it on a continuous loop for too long! It no longer thought it was funny. Lol.

CHARGE MORE

This past Sunday I got schooled in some business basics.

One of my ongoing freelance gigs is quite unusual - I design and create presentation boards for an Interior Designer, Annie, who designs for upscale retirement homes. The process looks like this: after Annie has selected all of the fabrics and materials she wants to use in a home (which can be dozens), I help her pitch the look and feel to the client by creating large boards that tell a visual story of the new home. I spend hours cutting fabric with pinking shears, gluing wallpaper samples, adding pieces of wood or laminate, layering them together, adding custom-designed labels, and mulling over how the materials should flow together so it is completely clear how everything will fit together visually. I have been designing these boards for over 20 years after my teenage boyfriend suggested his mom - Annie - hire me for one of her projects. Decades later, we still work together, and rather seamlessly, too.

GIVE YOURSELF GOLD STARS

Are you giving yourself gold stars?  

I hope you have. I have definitely not. 

What I mean is, I have not been acknowledging my small (sometimes teeny tiny) accomplishments and successes as I embark on launching a new coaching business.

For my entire life, I have been extremely uncomfortable with praise or celebrating 'wins'. If I get an award or simply positive feedback, I get very embarrassed and my mind immediately jumps to, "I'd rather not hear this because I don't really believe it." I want to go all 'ear muffs' from Wedding Crashers.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT

I almost did it. I almost pulled a total fakeroo social media move. 

Luckily I caught myself in the act and shut that shit down.

This past Monday I was planning a post for #mavenmonday which is my version of #motivationmonday. I wanted something inspiring to set the tone for the week, and something that suggested courage as I believe that is the most crucial part of being an entrepreneur. For just a split second, I was going to share the image you see in this blog post - moi in the garden - with the caption "Monday. Let's do this'. 

THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS CARDS

Some people think business cards are dead. I could not disagree more.

We live n a world of high-tech digital platforms and supersonic hype, there is still one traditional piece of promotional material every entrepreneur must have:

The business card.

Humble and small, simple but mighty, the business card is here to stay. And you need to know how to make it work for you. Just because you can quickly design and order cards online, doesn’t mean the task should be taken lightly.

Making space

Some people like to clean when they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Others reorganize their sock drawer. I purge. I start tossing stuff out, left, right and centre. 

Recently, with the relaunch of my business and coaching, a freelance design project, a corporate contract, and trying to facilitate moving my mom into a retirement home, things have felt really hectic, stressful and just "too much". In addition, for the last seven years, I have been working my way through my dad's estate which includes about ten galleries worth of artwork (he was an artists as well as a contractor), and a sea of other treasures not even yet accounted for. While it is a labour of love, it has been draining at times.

It was time to make things lighter.

A lesson in patience

feel like I have been saying this for-ev-ah, but my new ebook, Million Dollar Brands: 6 Secrets to Building Your Empire, is almost here. July 31st is the official launch date! 

This ebook began last fall when I knew entrepreneurs needed a clear, easy-to-understand guide to branding. I wanted to create my own version of a Branding 101 book, distilled down to a quick but super valuable read. I know it will help so many biz owners power up their branding game. So why the delay??

Time for me to get brave

Hello, Mavens!

It has been a while... I'm excited to connect with you all again.

2017 started off with a bang, but not the good kind. More on that another time, but I can say with relief and joy that my doggie Dolly is healing (yes, miracles do happen) and I'm getting back on track with my business. I kinda got hit with a tornado, but I'm alive and well and things are GOOD.

My big announcement I want to share is that…

HELLO, BOUNDARIES

Post is inspired by this interview with Brené Brown:
http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/boundaries

Boundaries.

As soon as I hear that word, I mutter a not so silent ‘fuck!’ to myself. Fuuuuuuuuck.

I don’t have the best track record of setting healthy boundaries - with personal relationships and especially with work.I know logically and rationally they are necessary, but for most of my life, I have always justified going above and beyond for anyone and everyone. I love to be generous (my husband calls it my ‘Italian generosity’), help people 24/7, and I am hard-wired to solve problems. I am Little Miss FixIt. The positive side to this is that, at least in part, these qualities allow me to be an awesome business consultant. This I can say with sincere confidence.

MILLION DOLLAR BRANDS

I have been writing, writing, and writing! And it is longer than expected!

Ever wonder what it takes to make your brand look like a million bucks? And generate millions of bucks? Then this content is for you.

This new ebook training book will help you achieve CLARITY with your brand, along with super simple practical tips you can actually execute. It is part of my MARKABEE MAP 1:1 coaching program that launches in January!

MAKE 2017 AMAZEBALLS

Want to start 2017 with a kick-ass brand and a company that generates more revenue?

My signature 4-week MARKABEE MAP program will get you there. And I want to work with you 1:1. No group distractions. Just you and moi. We will cover everything from brand strategy to social media, and how to find clients you love. PLUS lots of freebies including a new ebook I have written - hot of the press, my brave friends.

DON'T BE SQUARE

This is an excerpt from my ebook CREATE BUSINESS CARDS THAT FIRE YOU UP (AND SCORE CLIENTS)

Although you may be tempted to ditch the standard size and go for something original – a square, or even a circle, I encourage you to ask WHY you want to do that. Just to be ‘different’ or ‘creative’? That isn’t a good enough reason. There are other ways to make your card stand out from the pack. Odd sizes can be awkward to file in your wallet or business card holder and appear gimmicky. They can also be hugely more expensive to produce.

WHAT IS BRANDING?

Let’s get back to basics, shall we?

Most people think a logo is a brand. A logo, on its own, is not a brand. It can be part of the foundation, but a logo alone does not tell your entire company story.

A brand is actually what other people perceive to be what your company stands for, and how it makes them feel. It can be a correct perception or a skewed perception. It is up to you, and the creative team you work with, as to how you tell your brand story.

CHOOSE A BUSINESS NAME YOU LOVE :: PART 2 OF 2

2017 UPDATE! I have since decided to change my company name to my actual name, Alana Ruoso. Oh, the irony! But read on to see how I worked through this process. And check out this blog post here where I announced the name change officially.

In PART 1 we looked at what happens when a client is stuck coming up with a name for their business that they LOVE.

Today in PART 2 I’m going to tackle the second most common obstacle I see with clients and the company name game - they can’t stand their existing name and they don’t know what to do.

CHOOSE A BUSINESS NAME YOU LOVE :: PART 1 OF 2

2017 UPDATE! I have since decided to change my company name to my actual name, Alana Ruoso. Oh, the irony! But read on to see how I worked through this process. And check out this blog post here where I announced the name change officially.

When it comes to choosing a name for your business, here are the two obstacles I see most often:

1.  The client can’t come up with a name they love.
2. The client feels stuck with an existing company name that they detest.

MA'AM, STEP AWAY FROM THE SUFFERING

Got your own business?

Then networking and getting out there is a non-negotiable part of your agenda. Knowing this, a few years ago I set out to a women’s entrepreneur event – super casual at a pub in midtown Toronto. I was all excited to get inspired. “I’m gonna put myself out there and it’s gonna be awesome!” I told myself. I didn’t know anybody in the group, just the one woman who invited me. I figured sometimes that is when you actually have the best time at an event - no expectations, no preconceived notions, just a willingness to connect with others.

At the time, I went to this event I really didn’t know what to do with my design business.

A NEW GOLD STANDARD

Want branding that says ‘rich’, ‘money’, ‘glam’ and ‘luxe’?

Got a product or service that you know is going to make people money, and you just can’t wait to see your clients take it all to the bank?

Then chances are you’re thinking you want to go for the gold in your branding – a gold metallic look applied to fonts, borders and more. Oh, and gold ribbons floating across each web page! You want people to see your shiny brand and think of dazzling coins, jewelry and big bars of the good stuff.