What I am and What I’m not

Accepting yourself for who you are is no easy task. The faults, the beautiful quirks, the pet peeves, the obsessions…there is so much that goes into making a person unique. One of the hardest things I still struggle with is accepting who I am and being proud of it. I don’t know if I will ever be able to say that I am comfortable in my own skin, but what I do know is that I’m going to continue to be the best me that I can be. And I think that starts with starting to really investigate my inner self. Start to make decisions to better myself. Moreover, sticking with those decisions and actually taking action.

I am…
…a wife.
…a woman of God.
…a daughter.
…a friend.
…a student.
…a motivator.
…a techie.
…an event designer.
…a graphic designer.
…an entrepreneur.

I am not…
…a little girl.
…an expert.

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How to Start a Business in California and Frequently Asked Questions About Marketing

It makes me really happy to see people starting businesses. As a fellow business owner and advisor for many people that have started a business here in the great ol’ state of California, it’s just a great thing to see. People with hopes and dreams making an investment in themselves. In my  almost 7 years of being a business owner, I’ve seen many businesses come to an unfortunate close. But in the past few years, I’ve met and heard of many people starting new businesses again! For many, being the owner of a business is a scary thought. The lack of a “steady” paycheck, start-up costs, (sometimes) longer hours, and other things can be daunting. Though there are cons to owning a business, there are lots and lots of pros as well – doing work that you are passionate about, the satisfaction of seeing something grow from the ground up, contributing to the economy, seeing the value of hard work, networking and meeting new people, and so much more. A lot of people have asked me to weigh in on what they need to do to start a business here in California, so I hope to answer many of the frequently asked questions here.


Q: How do I start a business in California?
A: You first have to decide what kind of business structure is best for you. Sometimes talking to your accountant or lawyer for advice is best. They can give you valuable information about the pros and cons of business types so that you can make the right decision with an educated mind. If you do not want to seek the help of a professional, I would do research. Lots of research. The Small Business Association (SBA) is an EXCELLENT resource for all things business related. I’ve personally started sole proprietorships, partnerships, s-corporations, and LLCs – it all depends on the nature of your business and the amount of protection. The next step is to think of your business name and check if it’s available. You can find out more information here. Thought it’s not required, I’d also recommend getting your company trademark as well. Make sure you also check your tax certificate requirements for your city (for Los Angeles, download the form here).

Q: What kind of expenses go into starting a business?
A: There are filing fees when you start a business. For example, if you start a sole proprietorship in Los Angeles there is a fee to file your DBA and to publish your name in a local  newspaper. If you start a partnership, LLC or corporation there is a $800 yearly there is a franchise tax. Then you have the expense of printing business cards, setting up your website, setting up your accounting program, internet and telephone lines, office rent (if applicable), and office supplies. I know, it’s scary. But the good news is these will help you when you file your taxes at the end of the year!

Q: How can I market my company?
A: There are many approaches to marketing your company nowadays. The best advice I can give is to hire a great designer. The branding of your company will be the forefront of how your audience will perceive you. And trust me, that perception means EVERYTHING. Branding doesn’t just mean your logo, but the avenues you’ll use for marketing, what your brochures and business cards will look like, what kind of content you put on your blog and website, every.thing. And having a firm grasp about what you want is key. Once you figure that out, come up with a realistic plan. Maybe you need to start small – start by telling your friends and family about your new business, start marketing your business on your Facebook and/or Twitter, join the local Chamber of Commerce and start attending networking events, etc. Or maybe you want to start off with a bang. On top of your local market, you want to start a full-blown marketing campaign complete with a launch party, online advertising campaign, and press release. There is no wrong way to do it, to be honest. Just make sure you know what is best for you and your brand.

Q: Should I create a Facebook Page and Twitter for my business?
A: This is probably the 2nd most popular question I get from people. My answer is always in the form of a question. Are you going to use it, and actively post relevant content on there? If not, then it’s probably not for you. The whole point of blogs and social media is to create conversations. The point is to engage people with relevant content and do so on a regular basis. If 6 months go by and you haven’t posted anything on your Facebook page, sometimes I’d wonder if people are still in business. Social media is not an “easy” marketing strategy. It’s just like any other form of marketing – it takes work.

 Q: What is the best advice you can give to someone starting a business?
A. I always stress 3 main things. One is be patient, not all businesses boom overnight. In my opinion, lots of the businesses that have overnight success sometimes are short-lived and don’t have long-term business success. Two is find your niche. No matter who you are and what you do, the best thing is to narrow your market to an ideal client. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  Third, work hard and believe in your product. It starts with you first. If you believe in what you have to offer, then others will believe in it too. 


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Changes in Marketing for Small Business

In the 9 years I’ve been involved in graphic design and marketing, so much has changed. So, so much. A definite shift in strategy has become apparent, simple ads are no longer enough for consumers to want to buy your product. The power of mobile, internet, and social media marketing has turned to the forefront of advertising.

What do I think about this? I think it’s great! The days of paying hundreds of $$ for 1/8 page ads and a spot in the yellow pages are long gone. Okay maybe not long gone, but there are more affordable and efficient ways to market your business in addition to those “old-school” methods.

Let’s focus on the typical start-up business that I’ve been seeing lately. A company that is in its early stages of establishment is looking to plant their feet deep in their industry, have a little bit of money to invest, but doesn’t have lots of start-up capital. They ask what is the best form of marketing for their business. My first answer is always social media.

But before you go online and search for every possible social media outlet there is so you can plaster your business’s logo all over your profile page, do your research. Ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What do you want to achieve with your social media campaign?
  2. Do you want to be solely professional or personal too?
  3. How many media outlets can you manage to make sure there is always interesting content?

Something to realize is not every social media outlet is right for every business. If you create a blog, are you going to regularly post in it? Do you have a passion to write, to spread your voice, to really sit down and share what you know on a regular basis? If not, then maybe a blog isn’t for your business model.

The point of social media is already sited in its name: social. The goal is to captivate an audience/community and talk – create conversations. Being genuine, honest about your business model, and personal is at the heart of what successful social media is all about. In my opinion, it’s the only way you’ll see success. Talk about topics relevant to your business, engage your followers/friends in the conversation, welcome critique, and most importantly, HAVE FUN WITH IT!

Alright peeps, you ready? Let’s jump into the online world and start socializing!

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