Lisa Robbin Young

When you’re developing your brand, it takes a lot more than just creating a fabulous and memorable logo or coming up with a catchy tagline. A great brand makes a lasting, memorable impact in the mind of your customer. It's built on a combination of things, like strategic planning, consistency, and your brand stories - they "mythology" of your company, your found (YOU), and your offers. It doesn't happen by accident. You have to choose - and keep choosing - to have a great brand.

image of a generic brand board

Photo by Leeloo The First

Show Your Vision

Most brands have a clear vision. Your vision basically outlines the long-term plans and aspirations for your business, so it’s a great way not just to explain to your customers, investors, partners, and others that you’ve got a plan and you know what you’re doing, but it’s also a wonderful reminder to you of what you’re aiming for in the end - sometimes it’s easy to forget. Part of that vision is private. Internal to the company stake holders (employees, team members, you). But the public facing part of your vision is often found in the form of a vision statement. It's one way (but not the only way) to communicate that vision to your Raving Fans.

Consistent Brand Voice

When you’re building a brand, you need to have a consistent brand voice - that way, whether you use your branding on your website or you hire a sticker maker for some giveaway swag, you’ll be able to make sure everything looks the same and, crucially tells the same story with the same message. 

That means you're not speaking informally on your website and then showing up ultra-professional in person. That creates a disconnect. It you say "y'all" on your website, say it in person, too!

One of the best things to do to keep your brand voice consistent is to be genuinie - especially as a personal brand. The worst thing you can do is create a persona for your brand that doesn't feel authentic to who you are. You'll feel imprisoned after a while - chained to a brand identity that doesn't fit you. If your brand is an authentic reflection of who you are and what matters to you, then you won’t have to keep remembering what you said or did or how things sounded; it’s easy to remember - because it's YOU... or at least the version of you that you want the world to know.

This is important: you don't have to air all your dirty laundry. You can keep some things to yourself. No one has a right to see every part of you (except you). YOU get to decide how to "shape" your public brand by deciding what you want the world to know.

That said, you never have full control of your brand because it's ultimately up to your audience. It's how THEY see you and the stories they tell about you that ultimately define your brand. As I often say, you can't control the outcome, all you can do is influence it based on how you show up in the world. That's actually a GOOD thing because if you're being genuine, you're attracting people who like what you're about and repelling the folks that don't. 

Exceptional Customer Service

A great brand understands how important it is to treat your customers well. Understand your market, do appropriate market research, get customer feedback, and engage with your customers to get a broader view of who they are and what matters to them.

When you know what your customers want, you’ll be able to tailor your products, services, and marketing efforts to meet their expectations - in ways that also work for you - and you can use your brand to tell them you know what they’re looking for.  

Staying Relevant

Staying on top of trends, attending industry events, going to conferences, and so on - the more you can learn and implement, the better. That doesn't mean running yourself ragged, but it does mean having an idea of what's actually going on inside your market beyond your doors.

Of course, to stay relevant means you might have to make changes in your business, so if you’re really serious about making your brand great, being comfortable with the idea of change is a must. The only constant is change, right? Make calculated, strategic changes when it matters. It will help you stay relevant to the people that matter most to your business.

And it's okay to NOT be mainstream. In fact, most creatives aren't. They've found their own path forward and that's half the reason their audience loves them. Let your audience love you and your brand, too!

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Being in business is honestly one of the most challenging things a person can ever do; it’s not easy stuff in the slightest! One day, you’re on top of the world, sketching out big plans like your marketing strategy, and the next, you might find yourself drowning in to-do lists. That initial rush of excitement can quickly give way to the grind and that's exactly when many new business ideas begin to lose steam. 

Running a business in the early stages (or launching a new initiative in an established one) can be particularly tough. Staying motivated is crucial—not just for ticking off tasks, but for keeping your spirit alive through all the ups and downs. AND THERE ARE A LOT OF UPS AND DOWNS!

The truth is, you can't expect to always be "on" and have the best attitude - sometimes, when things go off the rails, it's demotivating and really sucks! But when the temptation to just say “screw it” and stop might be tempting, having ways to stay inspired and motivated can help you re-focus and get back on track to turn your dreams into reality.

You Need to Stay Connected to Your “Why”

Remind yourself why you started on this journey. Whether it is the desire for financial independence, a passion for your product, or the drive to solve a problem, keeping your core motivation at the forefront can reignite your enthusiasm during tough times. Lizzo slept in her car in order to stay in the place where she could make her musical dreams a reality. I'm not saying you need to do that, but it's important to place your dreams and realities into perspective and be honest about why you're doing what you're doing and what you're REALLY willing to do to see success.

Create a “TaDahh!” List

Instead of a traditional to-do list, keep a 'done list' - I call it a "Ta dahh!" list. It's a place to document everything you've accomplished at the end of the day. It’s about feeling accomplished at the end of the day, not focusing on what else you need to do today and for the rest of the week. It doesn’t really matter if it’s big or small. Did you launch a new program today? Ta Dahh! Set up your website? Ta Dahh!" Complete your EIN registration with a federal employee identification number filing service? Ta Dahh! It's DONE! Celebrate!

Practice "Do Nothing" Days

A day of doing nothing? How exactly could this even help? While this might sound counterintuitive, occasionally allowing yourself a guilt-free pass to relax and recharge without any pressure can prevent burnout. Basically, it’s just a break, and you deserve to give yourself a break.

In my first marriage, I had a "leave me the eff alone day" every quarter. I'd leave in the morning and come back whenever I felt like it. Don't call me. Don't try to find me, because even I didn't know what was going to happen that day. Sometimes I just went to the park for a few hours and came back home. Other times I left town completely. It just depended on where my head was at and what I needed to refill my bucket.

Now, I have structured "uncontaminated time" in my calendar. That's a term I learned from Breanne Dyck that I've shared with my own clients. If your calendar is so full that you don't have time for NOTHING, it's no wonder you're struggling with motivation.

Schedule Some Time to Just Think

It can be a nice way to decompress and really let go while staying motivated. So, ideally, it’s a good idea to set aside regular time slots each week just to think. You’ll want to use this time to step back and look at the bigger picture, brainstorm new ideas, or reflect on what is and isn’t working. This can prevent you from getting bogged down in day-to-day tasks and help you stay focused on strategic goals. It’s also a good idea to gain more mental clarity.

Believe me, I understand that there are times when it feels like you just can't pull away or the house of cards will collapse. That's the MOST important time to step back. because you're building something that's not sustainable. Sure, there are times to hustle, but those times need to be the exception, not the rule. If you need support figuring out how to have a business that works for how you're wired to work and gives you a sustainable path forward - with time off for doing NOTHING - book a next steps session and let's talk!

When you’ve been running your business day in, day out for years on end, it’s easy to let things slide and become a little uninspired. Think back to when you first thought of your business idea: all you were thinking about was how to get things going. You also thought about the money, the lifestyle, and all of the other perks that come hand in hand with owning your own business.

But, when it actually comes to it and you’ve built this business model, you realise how much there actually is to think about, and your whole life becomes centred on making sure that what you’ve already built stays where it is. The problem with that is that while your business might still be making money, it’s simply not going anywhere. And, you might be feeling too afraid to take that next step to make things exciting again; not just for you, but for your customers as well.

If you really want a business that stands out from the crowd and excites people, you have to be brave enough to take those steps!

Not sure where to start? Here are a few thoughts on how you can breathe a new life into your business.


Rebranding is a big step, and it’s something that many small businesses steer away from because it can become confusing to your customers. If you’re already struggling to keep up with the brand you have in place at the moment, you might be wondering how rebranding might benefit your business.

When I approached Tracy at Digivisual Design to work on my gorgeous new website rebrand, I knew it was time for an upgrade. The old red an blue with animal prints was fun, but it didn't reflect the more sophisticated (dare I say elegant?) appearance and approach I was taking in my business. It didn't accurately attract the kind of clients I wanted to attract, either, which was a BIG clue. We'd already done some preliminary work around my mood board for what I wanted the new website to be like, and that laid the foundation for a solid rebrand.

So, if you know that your branding isn’t working for you - or you don't even HAVE a brand, but you're swimming in a sea of Canva templates and changing out colors - then this is something to consider. Think about it this way: if you re-emerge as a business that’s bright and beautiful with new ideas and products to bring to the table, then you’re bound to attract more attention. If you’re bland, rebranding is a good choice to consider.

Rebranding isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have the mind for design and creation. If hiring a pro isn't in your budget yet, talk to Tracy. She has a DIY course that can help you create something inspiring pretty quickly.

Be innovative

If your branding is strong, it could be your client experience - either with your offers, or with your company. Sit back and think, what kind of experience would you like to have if you were looking for the same things your customers are. There’s a good chance that doing this alone will give you plenty of ideas on how you can switch things up to be more enticing for your customers.

For example, if you run a local pharmacy that simply doesn’t seem to be getting the customers that you used to, then what is it that you’re missing out on? You could consider adding in a consultation room for patients that need privacy, or you might implement patient adherence solutions so they can keep on top of their medication. There are ideas galore out there to improve your customer experience. Maybe it's time to explore some new options!

You might also benefit from looking at what your competitors are doing - but with a caveat.

This isn't about making yourself feel bad about what you're NOT doing or how they are somehow so much better or farther along than you are. Instead, use this as an opportunity to see what you can do that they can't or a way to do something even better. You might even spot a gap in the market and bring something new to the table that nobody else is doing in your industry. When I launched the Incubator years ago, there was no one else in the coaching world offering it. Now you see "incubators" popping up all over the place for creative entrepreneurs (still none with our pay-for-results model!). When you can offer something new and exciting, customers that need that difference will choose you.

Also, if the fear of rejection has stopped you from releasing a product or idea into your business, then now is the time to take that leap. It might just be the one thing separating you from your competitors and it could take you from zero to hero in your industry.


When the going gets tough, sometimes the best thing to do is get out of the space you’re in and start fresh. In fact, there’s a good chance that if you’ve ever struggled with a situation in your life, all you could think about was escaping from the space you’re in and never looking back. And, the same goes for your business.

Like with your personal life, the thing that’s holding you back might simply be your location; the benefits you’ll get will be the same! If relocating your business is something you want to consider, you need to start thinking about being in business central, where your brand is more likely to get the business it needs. You need to think about larger cities and the benefits that will come hand in hand with this.

Of course, moving to the city might mean uprooting your life, but if there’s nothing holding you back in your personal life, then what’s stopping you? It might take a lot of guts to do this, but if you do, the benefits will be worth it, especially if you’re currently situated in a small town that doesn’t get much tourism at the moment.

All you’d need to do is find a place that suits your business, in an area that would likely suit your industry too. Using the pharmacy example again, you could find a space where there are lots of other medical establishments nearby so that you become the new “go-to” pharmacy. Of course, this might not apply to your business, but the premise is still the same.

You’ll also need to consider the needs of your staff too; you don’t want to end up moving somewhere that nobody can get to. Some staff might be willing to relocate with you, whereas others may prefer to commute or work more of a hybrid role if possible.

Relocation doesn't just mean physical... although it can. I've moved 5 times in the past few years and, while it's been a lot, it's also put me in the place where I am today. Relocation can also mean your online assets. We consolidated our community and learning areas into one place. We've migrated to a new mailing list service provider. Those moves weren't easy, took some work, AND were totally worth the effort.

Change how you communicate with customers

One of the best things you can do for your business is making sure that you’re communicating with your customers in the right way. But ask yourself; are you already doing that? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s often an area where businesses fall short, which is why so many companies around the world have a really bad reputation when it comes to customer service.

You already know how important great customer service is and that it should always be in practice with you and your staff, but actually doing it is easier said than done, especially if you have rude or difficult customers. However, making sure that you’re polite, helpful, and take prompt action on customer complaints will help you stay on top of things.

Sometimes though, it’s not just about customer service, it’s actually about what you can do on a deeper level to make sure that you’re targeting the right people for your business. For example, you could take the time to use a testing platform to encourage the right customers to come forward to your business and introduce you to the right kinds of people you should be aiming your marketing efforts at.

In fact, user testing is something that many large businesses use, and taking the results of it could have a seriously positive effect on your company, so it’s definitely something to take into consideration.

Be loyal to your customers

Finally, if there’s one thing you want when it comes to gaining and keeping customers, it’s to be a loved brand. And to do that, you’ve got to be loyal. This means you have to be consistent in everything that you do all while being the best at what you do. There’s not a single customer out there that will say that they don’t like consistency when it comes to businesses they’re dealing with, and they love it when a company goes the extra mile to help them.

If you can master that side of things, you’ll have a brand that’s lovable, a brand that people immediately think of when they need your products and services, and you’ll have a brand that’s as successful as you’ve always dreamed of.

Remember, the sky's the limit, and while big business decisions can be scary, the simple fact is that your business isn’t going to go anywhere if you don’t make those decisions and act on them. Bring your business back to life with these 5 amazing tips!

Whether you are established and looking to grow your business, or you are just starting to think about the future of your company, your market matters.

Regardless of your industry, your market needs to be big enough to support the health and wellbeing of your company. The larger your company, the larger your market needs to be (because you'll need more money to pay those bills!). Sometimes that means you'll need to broaden your audience and serve a different "slice of a slice" in order to get that market coverage. Apple started as a computer company and has diversified over the years into music and media to serve a larger market. You may not be the next Apple, but it might be time to broaden your market reach. If so, read on!

Image - CCO License

If you are keen to find a broader market for your business, here are a few ways to reach more people:

Widen Your Niche

I know. Business coaches like me tell you to "niche down" and focus on one thing (or one collection of things). That's to help you gain momentum and traction in a market. When you're clear on who you serve, it's easier to create marketing that resonates. But once you're established, or if you truly do have a wider market potential, it makes sense to open things up a bit and serve more people.

Here's a pretty basic example: I taught direct sellers for years. That was my niche. But folks that weren't direct sellers kept showing up to my training and, eventually, I had a throng of non-direct sales business owners that made up an entirely new market for me. Over time, I shifted almost completely away from direct sales-specific training, and had a wider focus on entrepreneurship for creative entrepreneurs. And even now, I'm shifting my focus again to micro business owners who know they want to be the celebrity in their niche. It's a wider audience than just creative entrepreneurs, even though it's a much more focused area of support.

Start to explore the sub-realms within or alongside your niche. Leverage the audience you already have, if possible. If you're a photographer, for example, maybe instead of doing just weddings, you'll also do boudoir. You're widening your offerings to attract a slightly different audience, but an audience that probably overlaps at least a little with the folks you already serve.

Bring In More (Web) Traffic

Whether you've got a brick and mortar location or you're solely online, having more of the right people coming through your "doors" means the potential for increased sales and repeat buyers.

Physical locations make a difference (location, location, location!), but so do the ways you invite people to those locations. What kind of attraction marketing are you doing? Are you partnering with nearby shops to capitalize on traffic already in the area? There are a variety of ways to bring more bodies into your establishment. What are you currently doing and what needs to change? Hiring a marketing agency or a business coach can help (ahem. hint hint, nudge, nudge!).

In the online world, you may want to use a professional SEO agency like Big Surf Digital to help you to bring in more web traffic. You can also do your own bit towards increasing traffic - including creating compelling content that is going to draw people in.

With more web traffic comes a broader audience and greater opportunities for sales, so this is something that you will certainly find useful to focus on.

Partner Up

Sometimes, a very effective way for a business to broaden its market share is to actually partner up with another company. It goes without saying that this other company won’t be a direct competitor, but one that is working in a similar kind of area of work, and in such a way that you should be able to work together towards similar goals. Think: a tax accountant who has a referral relationship with a financial advisor. With the best partnerships, you end up in a situation where you are going to both benefit much more compared to being alone.

Be choosy about your partners and who they are, but it’s the kind of thing that can help grow a business more quickly because you're leveraging the power of the networks of TWO businesses, instead of one!

Sell A New Product

Like the Apple example above, sometimes it’s as simple as just trying to sell a new product and seeing how that fares. Don't spread yourself too thin - that's the issue that often happens when someone tries to sell a bunch of different offers right out of the gate in a new business! Instead, think of another offer you might sell that's a logical "next step" for your existing audience and start putting it out there. You might find that this is enough to start things growing again.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Looking for better ways to manage your business and keep things under control?

Easier said than done! You need to identify the best ways to make your business more manageable - and it's different for every business. But here are five tips to prime the pump.

High-Quality Branding 

Sometimes you have to design things yourself. That makes sense if you're a small business and you're floating a first-time idea into the world. No need to plunk down a ton of cash on a design you're going to change later anyway. In fact, my designer, Tracy, has a quick and easy e-course to help you get your logo looking awesome for less if you're still in DIY mode. But for your core brand pieces, designing yourself, is often time-consuming and ineffectual. You want brand materials that will benefit your business. Even having a designer build business templates for you can help improve how you run your business. You'll have a brand-standard way of getting your message out without spending too long developing them yourself.

Hire People You Trust 

As your business grows, you'll hire more people to handle the workload. But you won't do well hiring any old warm body off the street. You may need to design a hiring process that ensures you hire the best candidates every time. They should understand what you want for your business and be ready to offer as much as possible to help it achieve and exceed its goals. 

Use Agencies For Big Demands 

There are some issues you may not be able to handle in-house, especially as your customer base grows and you experience more demand. Rather than risk falling behind your competition, leave it to agencies to automate and operate your marketing needs. You can work with an email marketing platform to maximize reach and exposure to maintain customers and obtain new ones. Additionally, working with outsourcing companies for written content and other essentials will enable you to focus on parts of your business that require more attention.

Encourage A Positive Culture 

Toxic company cultures can severely impact how productive your team is. Although you hope everyone will be professional enough to put differences aside for projects, this is not always the case. Therefore, encouraging a positive company culture and fixing any issues between your employees is vital. You need to be on the ball with what’s happening within your office and create an environment where people will happily voice their concerns without fear of reproach. The more communicative your office is, the easier it will be to keep everyone on the same page.  

Control Your Budget 

Finally, all entrepreneurs must learn to control their budget by setting goals and tracking expenses to ensure they can improve overall management. While you can’t be too stringent with costs, you shouldn’t overspend, as this can put your company in a precarious position. As long as you make the best investments in equipment, people, and marketing, your company will thrive as expected. 

Mischief Managed!

You can always find better ways to manage your business and ensure things run smoothly. Focusing on these critical areas will make everything else much easier, which puts your business in a better position to achieve its goals and achieve success.

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Whether you're a new business or you've been around a while, achieving some level of established growth is an important ultimate goal for most companies. To get there, however, you need adequate research, proven strategies, and targeted actions to produce results. You must connect deeply with your audience and seek to understand and fulfill their needs - in ways that only you can. Ways that make you the obvious choice for what you offer. Since competition is rampant in every industry, it is important to stand out fiercely and ensure you capture the attention of your market. Here are some effective techniques to achieve success. 

  1. Affiliate marketing 

Affiliate marketing has been popular for some time, as it is an effective marketing strategy for growing your business. It has introduced a new way of promoting your products and services digitally. To put it simply, it involves collaboration between you and other businesses to advertise your merchandise in exchange for a commission whenever there is a sale or lead. One of its main advantages is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money as opposed to traditional marketing techniques like advertisement campaigns. This is because it is a performance-based model which allows you to only pay when there is an actual lead or sale.

  1. Blogging 

Although blogs provide valuable information, they also help businesses stand out as an authority in their industries. If you have a website, adding a blog to your website can help you drive traffic, build your brand and showcase your expertise. Consider sites like to hire SEO experts who will employ the right keywords to attract your target market.

But... SEO tools are only part of the picture. Curate quality and useful content that can educate, inform, and attract your consumers. Because if it ain't quality, people ain't payin' attention!

  1. Branding

Branding lets the world see your business personality. Brand is more than a logo or marketing slogan, it's the stories, perceptions, and ways your company influences emotions. How your audience views your business is important! Personality matters! Can a customer decipher who you are and what you represent through your brand materials? Do you hav a consistent "look and feel" in all your marketing across all your platforms? If not, you may need to hire help. I lean on Tracy Lay at Digivisual Design for all my branding help. Don't be afraid to change your brand strategy when needed. I've gone through multiple iterations over the years because I have changed. The same may go for you, too.

  1. Video marketing 

It is vital to get into the space of marketing through high-quality content that grasps the attention of your market and provides valuable information. Video marketing has become an innovative way to tell consumers about products and services through storytelling. For instance, if you sell makeup products, you can tell a tale of how applying your products have helped women feel beautiful and gain confidence in their looks. This will appeal to people who want to get a confidence boost and encourage them to buy from you. Ensure you invest in a good camera and brainstorm on creative advertising campaigns so you can stand out. 

  1. Referrals

Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful techniques that can increase your profit and elevate your company. First, you will need to provide top-notch goods and services as well as great customer service to your pre-existing consumers. Doing this will motivate them to tell others about your business and build your clientele. You can also offer incentives like discounts, freebies, or start referral programs that urge repeat consumers to refer your business for rewards. Apart from being effective, referrals can help you save money and expose your company to new opportunities and markets. 

Growing a business requires a collection of strategies and practices. With these types of marketing techniques, you can propel your company to great success. 

Image Credit: Nastuh Abootalebi from Unsplash.

Business security is an area every company needs to look after. While every entrepreneur already knows this, many don’t put enough time and effort into it. They’ll often just do the basics, which mightn’t be enough.

You’ll want to make sure your business is properly protected, after all. Once you do, you can potentially see benefits like:

  • Lower insurance premiums
  • Happier employees
  • Decreased risk of hacks and thefts
  • Better legal compliance

And... it doesn’t need to be nearly as overwhelming as you think. Instead, it’s a matter of being practical about it.

Easy Ways To Improve Your Business Security

1. Perform A Risk Assessment

Every company has its risks, with some of these being relatively obvious. Others wouldn’t be, however. Instead, they can be easy to overlook, despite how much they can threaten your business. You’ll need to know about these from as early as possible to keep your business safe.

Perform a risk assessment to figure all of this out. Not only does this tell you what risks you’re likely to come up across, but how likely you are to run into them. With this in hand, you’re in a much better position to figure out how to mitigate and overcome them.

2. Put Up External Lights

Thieves and other malicious actors always scan for places that look unprotected. If a building looks dark, especially at night time, then they see it as more of an opportunity. Don’t let that happen with your business. Put up external lights, and these can act as a deterrent for potential thieves.

Even ones equipped with motion-detection can be a great help. You’ll be less likely to have any robberies or other circumstances during the night. It’ll even keep your employees safer if they have to leave the premises during the later hours. You’ve no reason not to put the effort into it.

3. Don’t Overlook Data Loss

You’ll bring in quite a bit of data as your company operates. A lot of this could be vital to operations, so it’s worth protecting it at all costs. Making sure your systems can’t get hacked is a great start with this, but it’s often worth doing more than that.

Systems could come down at various points, risking your data. There are tools, like Office 365 DLP by Spin AI and other sites, that can help make that one less thing to worry about. While you’ll still have to put time and effort into securing things on the front end, you’ll be in a much better position going forward.

4. Set Up CCTV & Alarms In-Office

You’ll already know you’ll need some basic protection when you’re trying to improve your business security. One of the first things you should do in your physical space is set up appropriate alarms and camera surveillance. Even in a home office, they can act as a deterrent for any thieves that try to break in. Then, if anything does happen, you’ll have footage of it, and the authorities should be immediately notified.

5. Secure Your Parking Lot

If your business premises has a car park, then make sure you don’t overlook its security. The external lights mentioned above can be a great help with this. They’re far from the only things you’ll need to consider when you’re looking after it, though. You could implement a few other measures.

Ideally, you’ll want to keep unwanted intruders out. Parking barriers, gates, and similar options can all help with this. With employee badges, you can make sure only the people supposed to park in the car park can. It’ll improve your business security quite a bit, making it worth the investment.

Improve Your Business Security: Wrapping Up

You’ll always need to keep your company as safe as possible. For many people that seems complicated, and they’ll often just do the basics and leave it at that. Don’t settle for that. Improve your business security as much as you can, and you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

The benefits of putting the work in outweighs the time and effort it’ll take. You could even end up saving money because of it. You’ve no reason not to put some time and effort into making your company as safe as possible.

[Note: I started doing an annual recap back in 2010 . You can find other years here:  | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2021 | 2022 - 2020 got skipped for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the pandemic that shall not be named.] 

OHHHH 2023. What a year you turned out to be!

If you've been in my orbit for any length of time, you know that my new year starts on Jan 5, because that's my birthday. It's so close to the beginning of the year - and I take that week off anyway - so it just makes logistical sense to my brain to count things that way.

So yeah... Happy New Year, y'all!

In many respects, looking back on 2023 felt like ripping a Band-Aid off a hairy, scabby wound.


But once the bandage is off, you see it's not so bad in there, after all.

While we didn't hit all our goals and objectives for 2023, we did manage some pretty cool stuff at Creative Freedom HQ. And there were some really neat surprise blessings that came along. The biggest of which TECHNICALLY happened in 2024, but I've been paving this path for months, so I'm counting it as one of the surprise blessings of 2023.

And yeah, there were some pretty crappy things, too - not the least of which was Jim's surgery. So let's pop into the wayback machine and have a look at the year we call 2023...

Oh, and for those of you unfamiliar, I set my goals using my Dreamblazing program, so you'll see me break my goals down by each of the 5 Key Area of Success.

Faith: Navigating rough waters with a smile on your face

At the beginning of 2023, this was my number 4 goal - to SHINE like the STAR that I am. To recognize, embrace, and celebrate my own Star Power. Self-belief has been an ongoing struggle since my divorce. It's easy to put on a veneer of confidence, but to actually FEEL like you're making progress toward the things that matter most hasn't been as easy for me. I had major surgery three years in a row, Covid at the beginning and end of 2022, and five moves in 4 years. Unsettled, unstable, frenetic, scrambling would probably be the best way to describe the undercurrent of energies I've been feeling for a while.

But moving to Bloomington allowed us to put down some tenuous roots... and they're starting to take hold.

Depression and anxiety have been nipping at my heels for a couple of years and THIS year it finally started to feel like I turned a corner and the clouds were rolling out. I made some new friends locally, was active in our TEDxBloomington organization, and will likely move into a more permanent curator role in the next year or so.

"Life happens every six months" was a lesson I learned from my manager during my days as a financial advisor. He encouraged us to schedule reviews with our clients at least that often, which is part of why I still hold semi-annual review sessions with my community. By the mid-point of 2023, I recognized how important it was for me to really step more confidently into the next version of me.

Lisa: 49.0

A lot of priorities got shifted with Jim's surgery (more on that shortly), and this was no exception. It became my number one priority for the second half of the year: to play big in healthy ways so that I can shine like the star I am and trust the Divine to provide.

Careful what you wish for.

So that showing up and shining part? Yeah. I think I checked that box. The trust part? Um... welll...

I definitely had some great opportunities to shine - My TEDx Talk finally went live on the TED channel, as did my marathon 4-part interview with Rachael Kay Albers about the Internet Marketing Family Tree. Enoughness became a whole thing in the second part of the year. I did several talks and interviews exploring the subject more deeply.

I also had an amazing photoshoot. The talent in this town is uh-may-zing! Jim was my Art Director for the shoot, and we hit up a bunch of locations around town. My stylist, photographer, and hair & make-up artist did a bang-up job of helping me step into this next iteration of me.

They say God doesn't give you more than you can handle. So, in that respect, we came out okay. We're still here. It was a rollercoaster, but we made it. I wish that trust was easier. But trusting the divine (as a goal) almost implies that SOMETHING is gonna happen to test that trust.

Jim was already in the throes of his months-long medical situation when his company decided to start screwing with paychecks. A day late, then a week. Layoffs and firings for seemingly no good reason. Then, while he was out on leave, a company-wide pay and hours cut.

My trust was definitely being tested!

With the help of my coach, my in-laws, and some Divine timing, we made it through. It was stressful, but he was able to tender his own resignation this week. His last day will be the end of the month.

Family: Who has your back?

This was my number three goal for the year - to cultivate a supportive community that sees and believes in me - and tells me so. This goal didn't change over the course of the year, but it did shift in priority, from #3 to #2.

While we were on vacation in July, Jim ended up in the hospital. He had some kind of mass on his abdomen that had probably been growing for at least 15 years undetected. It finally decided to make itself known in a big way. The rest of the year, Jim was in and out of the hospital a few times, culminating in major surgery just before Thanksgiving. He's still in recovery as I write this. His health is improving, but he still needs a visiting nurse a couple times a week to care for his wounds.

Yes. "Wounds", plural. They had to cut a few holes in him to fix the issue. But it IS fixed at this point. Now, it's just a matter of continuing on his healing journey.

Once Jim's health became an issue, I got clear that I don't want to move again, at least for a while. We've moved SO many times since we got married, due in part to Jim's work. With his health and work situation getting murkier as the year went on, I realized that staying here meant I needed more local friends and connections. People to go out and DO things with, but also, locals who knew who we are and could become a local community of support since we're so far from all our family.

Our neighbor Gary started mowing the lawn so that we didn't have to. He's got a riding lawnmower, so I think he likes doing it anyway. I'd bake them snacks and he'd mow our lawn. They're an adorable older couple and I'm glad to have them as neighbors.

Look at me! Actually getting to know my neighbors and whatnot!

Jim turned me on to Bumble's BFF app - essentially a dating app for finding friends. He had connected to a couple of guys, one of whom was the station manager for the local NPR station. The guy let it slip that they were looking for a morning show host, and well, let's just say, I saw an opportunity! More on that in a minute.

The app helped me to connect with a couple of new folks, too. We've hung out a few times and it feels like I'm starting to build some connections and make friends, which feels really encouraging after years of social distancing.

I also took a VERY part time job at Torrid in the mall. I certainly didn't do it for the paycheck! My youngest makes more as a high schooler than I do at this job. I get out of the house for a few hours, meet some people, and get the employee discount on anything I want to buy with the money I make. And anything left over goes into our tax account because we're likely to have a pretty big tax bill this year. More on that in a bit.

We also migrated the Rising Tide community off of Facebook and into a private platform. People were finally getting frustrated with Facebook enough to want a different solution. After 2022's website crash, I knew I wanted to pull all my courses off the site and had been looking for a place where both the coursework and the community could live. We settled on Heartbeat (yes, that's my affiliate link), which does both pretty well. We've removed the old LearnDash and Wishlist plugins from the site and migrated everything over there. I even moved all my direct sales training from Direct Sales Classroom. Now everything lives in one place - and I LOVE it. Engagement is higher, new people are finding us and connecting to our community. Most importantly, though, people are using the training and getting the support they need to succeed.

That's the best feeling in the world for someone like me!

Cultivating anything takes time, but cultivating community is a long game. Seeds planted and nurtured this year will hopefully yield fruit for years to come. I'm excited to see what comes of all the new relationships begun in 2023.

Fitness: The mind-body connection


Since I started and ended 2022 with the dreaded virus, this was sort of an unspoken goal for myself! In fact, this year was pretty much incident free for me! Which was good because it was apparently Jim's turn this year. In general, I try to set two goals for this Key Area of Success - one for my physical container, the other for what's being held inside that container (my mental, emotional, or other well-being stuff).

My number two goal was to take pride in my body, no matter my shape or size. My other fitness goal - at number 5 - was to rebuild my body for optimal health. For me, this was the balance of "love the body that you're in" and rehab/care for what can be improved.

My heel lift had deteriorated after my spinal surgery in September, 2022. If I stand on one foot and try to get up on my tip toe, I can do it on my left foot, but not my right. This is one of those goals that didn't see much improvement, despite months of physical therapy. I had two rounds of PT last year. It's been frustrating, but I'm still hopeful that there are a few things left we can do in 2024 to turn things around.

Not being able to lift my heel makes dancing a challenge. So my audition for Lizzo's reality show was probably one of the last times this year I actually did much dancing. Heck, just walking for more than a few minutes at a time is progressively more uncomfortable. The longer I walk, the more it hurts. I've tried to not let my physical constraints cause too much disappointment and sadness for me. I've got a lot of good things going on and I'm looking forward to what 2024 has in store.

My mental well-being definitely improved. By mid-year, I changed the verbiage a bit and goal two, which moved to the #3 position, became more about having a happy and healthy outlook in general, and less specifically about my body.

I needed to put more attention on my mind-body connection. We were going THROUGH it last year, and it was easy to feel defeated. When my student loans were finally forgiven after 20 years of repayment (YAY!), I learned that Indiana will tax me on that "income".

Ugh. If we were still in Nashville, we wouldn't have this extra financial burden! I was worrying left and right about how to deal with this new development. On the one hand, getting out from under student loans is a tremendous blessing, but we weren't prepared for a big tax bill. AND I didn't want to be one of those IRS horror stories.

It was easy, especially as Jim's health and work situation started deteriorating, to waffle between panic and worry. RE-focusing on my mental health and mindset helped me see my best path forward. It also helped me create - or in one case, re-create - some healthier habits around caring for my brain and my mental well-being. I was on a waitlist for a therapist all year long because of our insurance. I credit those habits (and my coach) with helping dig me out of the years-long funk I'd been in.

Fortune: What does it mean to be wealthy, anyway?

This year began with an admittedly vague goal: Be a wealthy, generous entrepreneur. Part of the task in this goal was trying to figure out exactly what that meant. Thus, it was the lowest priority - Goal #6. By mid-year, I realized that it was less about BE-ING, and more about experiencing. Exploring into what it would be like to live the life of a wealthy, generous entrepreneur. Having experiences that I imagine would come along with being a wealthy, generous entrepreneur. So I shifted the goal wording to reflect having a STAR experience.

Hiring a stylist for the photoshoot was a great first step. Trusting my team to just let me show up and shine during that shoot was a great next step. But I still wasn't clear on how to bring that kind of ease into my life. Ease was my word for the year. By August, life still felt anything but easy!

Enter Jacqueline Gates' STAR Program. Nope. Not an affiliate link. I just believe in her work that much. She uses a brilliant mix of coaching and stagecraft to help you develop and tap into the "character" that is your next future self. I've been an actor and performer for most of my life, and I've taught the "future self" concept to my clients, so I laugh at myself for not making this connection sooner.

Jacqui has a great way of connecting the dots between character development and identity. Working with her helped me embody the changes I wanted to step into. I finally stared to have an experience of ease - even when things were getting increasingly chaotic during the year. In fact, I've said numerous times that this is the most prepared and confident I've ever felt going into the start of a new year. Despite all the things in flux.

Freedom: Ease doesn't come very easily.

This was actually my number one goal for the first half of the year - to feel spaciousness and ease in every way throughout the year. Like I said, "Ease" was my word for the year. I wanted goal achievement and project completion to feel easy and light. I wanted ample space for leisure, vacation, and travel.

That meant really pulling back on things. Frankly, our team was just not up to snuff this year. We started the year with 2 support people, but things just didn't click. We struggled to get good workflows and meet deadlines - even ones that seemed generous. "Stuff" kept coming up. One team member had two deaths in their family within a couple of months.

Things just didn't feel easy. We had to release that team member. The other is my rock, and she has limited capacity, so I'm still actively looking for alternatives to round out our team. That has not gone as well as I'd hoped.

On one hand, it would be easy for my Fusion Creative self to just take back and do all the tasks - because it really is often faster for me to just do it that way. But, this is part of the growing pains of running a growing business. Finding reliable, consistent, quality help within your budget often takes time.

Then, once Jim was hospitalized, my priorities shifted. So at the mid-point of the year, this goal moved down the priority list and morphed into laying the foundation for Jim's retirement in 2025. Still with some sense of ease and spaciousness.

Less travel, more prep for the future.

The funny thing is that once I had THAT kind of clarity, it became a lot easier to see what was important and what needed to be thinned out. We were trying to maintain several social media presences. Even with automation, it wasn't generating the ROI that made it worth the investment. It was taking up too much of our collective time to do everything that wasn't moving the needle - which meant the show kept getting put on the back burner. I spent a good part of the second half of the year working with my assistant to clean up and pare down all the extraneous stuff.

Now, while I may have a "presence" on multiple platforms, it is primarily to reserve that user ID, not to create new channels of communication. This year we'll be focused on Youtube and Instagram. I still have groups and connections on FB that will require my presence, but don't expect to see a lot of activity from me there.

Turns out that my goal was a bit prescient, because Jim had to take 6 weeks off unpaid for his November surgery. We managed to make it through, but we wouldn't have had I not shifted this priority in July. He just tendered his resignation and is deciding on his next steps. We're not quite ready to retire him completely, but with the other big change happening this month, he's got more options and freedom to choose what his next move will be.

That other change/BIG announcement?

I applied for and accepted the position as the Morning Edition host on our local NPR station. It was a months-long interview process. I got the call on my birthday - happy birthday and happy new year to me!

With all the flux at Jim's job, I could feel the anxiety creeping up on both of us. Instead of waiting around to see what might shake out, I did the thing that would take the pressure off Jim to find something right away.

It was actually a bit surreal: applying for a job that I didn't NEED, but thought would be fun. To go into an interview process ready to walk if it didn't feel good isn't an experience I'd ever had before this year. Applying for jobs always came with a sense of desperation and fear. Like they held my life in their hands or something. Both the mall job and this radio station gig are on my terms. And I love it!

Plus, the benefits are amazing. We've almost always had insurance through Jim's work. Now, it's my turn!

And I hear your wheels turning... Yes, technically I'll be working two jobs AND running a business.

But here's what's so great about that: I'm already up at 6am - why not get paid for it? Plus, I'm home in the early afternoon, so it doesn't change anything about how I work with my clients. That was something I made abundantly clear when I interviewed. I'm a business owner. I plan to STAY that way for years to come.

And I have the capacity to do this work. I know not everyone does. And there may come a point where I don't. But for now, I do, so I'm going to ride that wave because it works for us. I've already adjusted my calendar and my offerings to reflect my new availability... and honestly, it isn't a whole lot different than it was before.

This position gives us a huge opportunity to make Jim's transition to retirement happen with more ease and more speed. He can't retire yet - we've got a few goals to hit first - but being the morning show host means that Jim gets to have that same experience of freedom to choose. He doesn't have to walk in to an interview feeling desperate or fearful. He can take some time - without a ton of financial pressure - to find something that suits him.

And we can stay put for a few years! Then, when he's ready to retire, he can work if and when he wants to, not because he HAS to. I've wanted this for him for a couple of years now, and I'm excited to see it coming to fruition!

So yeah, 2023 was a year of big changes, and 2024 has a few already in motion. Inside Creative Freedom HQ, we're getting ready to roll out a new website with updated brand elements - including the images from my recent photoshoot. We closed the Incubator to new clients last fall when I rolled out Intensives. I've raised rates on most of my work and LOWERED the price to join us in the community. I streamlined offers and made it easier for the right people to work with me - something I preach to my clients all the time!

But the thing I'm most excited about our the Star Power Intensives. These private, half-day sessions give me the opportunity to get down-and-dirty in your business like I did in the Incubator, while creating real and lasting results the same day.

Available in mini and half-day formats, I've had the joy of taking several people through their own Star Power Intensives at this point. They've all raved about the level of clarity and efficacy of what we've developed together. Of course, not everyone is a good fit for an intensive, which is why I still offer Next Steps Sessions - to help you figure out your next best move.

Over all, this is a MUCH more streamlined set of offerings, focused on helping you have the reach, the impact, and the respect that comes from being a celebrity in your niche. That's my focus going forward. I want to see more good people in roles of influence in the world. We've had enough of the rocket-launching billionaires taking the spotlight. It's time to shine a light on folks who are doing the work to make a positive impact on this big blue marble.

My theme song: Get Ready For The Future

My word this year is LUXE - luxury, yes, but also "lucks" - luck in many ways. My coach gave me this mantra: I can only win!

It's helped me re-frame a lot of what's been going on in my life as I move into 2024. I've never felt more ready for a year to get going, and this year feels like it's going to be BIG! It's my last year in my 40's. This time next year, I'll be celebrating the big 5-0, and I have plans for it to be pretty freaking spectacular. Let's do this, 2024. I'm ready for you!

Time management. If you've been in my world for any length of time, you know that I believe that you can't really manage time. Time marches on whether we want it to or not. Instead, I try to be intentional about where I invest my time so that I get the most bang for my buck, so to speak.

That's one of the reasons I love me a good template. Why reinvent the wheel when templates can do most of the heavy lifting for us? From tax invoices to pitch decks, a template keeps you from staring at a blank page and often gives you a helpful starting point. And if it's a fill-in-the-blanks style boilerplate, that can make life even easier.! Here are five time-saving templates you'll want to keep on hand in your business toolkit.

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Business Plan Templates

Every successful venture begins with an effective business plan. However, staring at an empty document and wondering where to start can be daunting for any entrepreneur. But business plan templates provide an easy solution. They offer predefined structures for outlining goals, market strategies, competitive analysis, financial forecast and more - saving both time and ensuring no essential details are missed out! Plus they're an essential step toward convincing investors your concept is worth their investment!

Financial Templates

How many times has a company asked you for a formal invoice even if you accept electronic payments like Paypal, Venmo, or Cashapp? I don't get them very often, but when I do, an invoice template makes life easy. I just plug in the details for the transaction and send it on over!

A tax invoice template is a standardized document used to record sales transactions and their related taxes - like invoice number, client details, description of goods or services sold or provided, tax applied amount applied to the total amount paid, as well as any additional important details. Plus, if you need to report sales tax, you've got a "paper trail" come tax time. We may not use them a whole lot in digital commerce, but they're still a very much-needed tool for your business. A template makes it easy to just pop in the necessary information and stay on-brand in the process.

Pitch Deck Templates

Whether you're building out a presentation for a webinar or convincing investors to support your start-up, pitch deck templates come in handy to showcase your vision, mission and/or business model in an accessible format. These templates provide a framework for crafting an engaging story about your business, covering key points like problem statement, solution, market size, business model, competitive advantage, team composition and financial projections - and they can be customized for any kind of content. They help maintain an logical flow for your pitch deck, ensuring it is cohesive and convincing to potential investors. A well-prepared pitch deck could mean the difference between walking out with an agreement and leaving empty-handed. So use these templates now and start crafting your winning pitch!

Marketing Plan Templates

Having a groundbreaking product or service is wonderful - now how will you reach the target market with it? That's where a solid marketing plan comes into play. Marketing plan templates provide a structured format for outlining your marketing strategy, outlining key components like target audience analysis, marketing objectives, promotional strategies, budget allocation and key performance indicators. These templates will guide you through the process of planning, executing and measuring marketing campaigns to reach your target audience efficiently and effectively. Remember that an effective marketing plan can be your ticket to startup success - grab these templates now to begin plotting out the path towards market dominance!

Email Templates 

As part of an entrepreneur's toolbox, email templates are an essential piece. As an entrepreneur, your inbox is always buzzing with activity! From engaging potential investors to communicating with customers, suppliers, and your team - emails play a pivotal role in daily operations. However, writing each email from scratch is time consuming and inefficient - enter email templates! These preformatted outlines simplify your correspondence by streamlining various scenarios like sales pitches, customer service responses, team updates and investor communications. By keeping to consistent professional and precise language while saving time - time being money! In today's fast-paced entrepreneurial world, don't allow tedious emails slow you down; use email templates instead and supercharge your communication!

Template Temptation

Entrepreneurial life is no cakewalk, so templates can help ease the strain by providing an outline. Templates serve as guides rather than gospel. Use them as springboards to develop content that represents your brand and vision - not simply copy and paste from someone else. Remember the key here is working smarter not harder! Anything that streamlines your efforts and frees up your time can make a big difference in the workflows of your business.

Delegation can be a royal PITA. As a solo or micro business owner, it's not always as easy as passing a task to someone else in order to get it off your plate. If you're a Fusion Creative, it's very often true that you can do it yourself faster.

But faster, in this case, isn't always better. If you don't slow down once in a while to train someone else to do those tasks, you end up holding the bag on EVERYTHING.

Um... no thanks! We're all about Creative FREEDOM over here!

Identify what you can delegate

Not every single task can be delegated. Some work is strategic or critical to your business and may require your personal attention. Evaluate both the performance of the work and then the implications that come with delegating it. I generally encourage folks to start with the tasks that, if they fell through the cracks, wouldn't destroy the momentum of the business. I start most of my VAs with tasks that aren't time sensitive. That way, if I need to pick up the slack or find someone else to do that work, I've got plenty of time. If they prove capable on those tasks, we move on to more "mission critical" activities.

Generally, if a task is recurring or duplicatable, that's a good place to start: scheduling media, data entry, etc. If you can create a 'how to recipe' of the steps involved in doing a task, it's something you can probably delegate relatively quickly. If you work in construction, a BuildOps glossary can be useful. A process doc is a great place to start keeping track of the steps involved in completing the tasks inside your business. Once you've done the task from the process doc a few times to work out any missing steps or bugs, then you can pass that task on to almost anyone to accomplish because all they have to do is follow the "recipe" to get the end result.

Source: Pexels (CC0 License)

Let go

There's a difference between delegating a task and delegating an outcome. You need to learn how to let go and trust your team member to get the desired end result - even if they find a better approach than YOUR process doc to get it done! If you don’t, then you may find that it harder to delegate in the long term. Delegating tasks means you still need to follow up and check their work. Delegating the outcome means they're responsible for flying the plane and it's up to them to make sure it's done right - without you checking and approving everything.

That can be very uncomfortable when you're dealing with time-sensitive tasks... which is why I start my team with tasks that don't create that kind of pressure from the onset. It takes time for your team to learn your approach, just like it takes time for you to learn how to effectively delegate. In the same vein, some team members may take time to get work done, and you might even be able to do it faster. That doesn’t mean you should take care of it yourself though (not at first, anyway), it just means that you need to take steps to give your team more training going forward. If they can't pick it up in a reasonable manner, then it might not be something you can delegate just yet.

Clarify your priorities

Understanding your priorities and the difficulty of your tasks will make things easier. If something is a high priority then this means that it has to get done soon, whether it is by you or by someone else. Depending on the work, you can then decide to take care of it yourself or to delegate. The best way for you to try and clarify your priorities would be for you to connect your work to your team goals, and your company goals. It will then become easier for you to make decisions moving forward. 

Understand strengths

Efficient delegation has two elements, which involve delegating work to teams who have skills in that particular area and giving people the chance to work on new skills. Make sure you understand what your team's goals are. Host some 1:1 meetings to get a better feel for what your team is up to, their personal dreams and goals. When jobs align to those goals, team members are often more committed to doing the work - because there's a bigger benefit to them than just compensation.

Provide context

When you hand off work to other people, you have to make sure that you are providing clear context. You have to set the other person up for success. This includes helping them to understand how to get the work done and also the due date for the task. You should give them the tools they need to get the job done and the priority of each segment. By doing this, and by explaining the outcome you want, you will soon find that it becomes easier to get things done. Keep in mind that the work may be easy for you to do, but it might not be easy for someone else. Try and take the time to walk everyone through the assignment and then answer any questions that they may have. This will ensure that everyone on the team is set up for success.

Invest in Training

There may be work that nobody in your team can do but you. Some managers think that they cannot delegate work at all, but depending on the priorities you have, it may be better to train other people to do it. You have to remember that training takes time, and although it is tempting to do it yourself, it is a good way to protect the future of your business. Part of training someone else how to do the work will give them the space they need to solve problems. 

Prioritize Feedback

When you are training someone, you have to prioritize feedback and you also need to ensure solid communication. If you don’t then you may find that you end up struggling more than you have to and this is the last thing you need. Ask for feedback too. By asking your team if there was anything that you could have done better, you can then go ahead and delegate more efficiently in the future. As you coach people through work, make sure you aren’t spending too much time on it. Instead, focus on the end goal and then give your team members the chance to come up with their process. You never know, this may help you to be more innovative going forward and it might also help you to become a better business owner overall. If you can keep things like this in mind then you will soon find that it is easier for you to move forward with a much more positive and productive attitude.

Delegation can be easier than you expect if you take it slow. Sometimes you get lucky and someone can just take everything off your plate like you've cloned yourself. More often, though, it's a slow, steady process to bring the right people onto your team and help them get up to speed. You can do this. Just commit to one task at a time, then outcomes, and eventually, you'll be able to step away from the tasks entirely!