Anybody can wake up and start a company, but it takes dedication, time and commitment to make a business work and be successful. You do not need to be highly qualified or have attended prestigious schools (although these are great qualities to succeed). Sometimes your mistakes and failures lead you right to your destiny. What do I mean by this? If you lose your job or are rejected from a company, then this is probably a wakeup call to try something new or go into an entirely different direction, career wise. Joëlle Anello, a Toronto blogger turned her hobby, her blog La Petite Noob, into a full time career after an unfortunate shift in her work life. She took what seemed like an escape from reality, and made it her every day.
I had the chance to connect with Joëlle, who is an entrepreneur that inspires me to continue working for my dreams despite the obstacles I face. Read below for Joëlle’s experiences with becoming a blogger and her advice to aspiring young millennials looking for direction but are unsure of what to do.
Did you always want to become a blogger?
For me, blogging was a way to escape a workplace that I wasn’t 100% happy in. I needed a creative outlet, and my blog La Petite Noob definitely filled that void. As the years went by, and I started to gain more readers and traction, I finally started seeing myself as a ‘blogger’ and began to think that maybe this was something that I could do more than just a hobby.
Did you ever expect you would be your own boss and travel around the world?
Honestly, I never expected to be working for myself. I’m a pretty structured person, so I was always happy working as a part of a company. Because I view the blog as a piece of myself, I never really look at myself as a ‘boss.’ I’m just very grateful to be able to do what I love, to share myself with the world and to be able to support myself financially while doing so.
What you would you say is the hardest thing about being your own boss?
I think having to wear so many hats is definitely the hardest thing about being your own boss. In any given day, I’m my own copywriter, secretary, cleaning staff, travel agent, sales negotiator, etc. It can get to be quite tiring, and the job literally never stops, but because this is my passion it doesn’t bother me much!
Was there ever a time where you wanted give up? What kept you going?
Sometimes, one the busiest days, or where there are lots of little mistakes being made that are 100% my fault, I can get quite down. The passion I have for my blog always keeps me going so, while the hard days do weigh on me, I’ve never considered giving up.
What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way you work?
I’ve learned to always believe and advocate for yourself. Never let anyone make you question your worth. If you want something, don’t be afraid to ask for it. And above all, always proof read your emails!
Did you have any mentors to help you get to where you are, now?
While I couldn’t pin-point a mentor, I’m constantly motivated and driven by the bloggers around me – especially in Toronto. The amount of passion, creativity and hustle in this industry is completely inspiring!
Do you have any advice for a blogger / young entrepreneur starting up?
My advice for a new blogger is to dive in head-first and always, always, always create out of passion. Become obsessed with content, and never stop trying to accumulate it. This industry has to be your passion, because all of the perks can take a long time to come – for example, I didn’t get my first paid project until I had been blogging for almost 2 years. Enjoy the ride!
So, you landed your dream job and now you have no idea what to wear? We have all been there, rummaging through your drawers and throwing all your clothes on to the bed hoping to find the perfect outfit. Take a deep breath because destroying your closet will not help. The first day of work is a lot like the first day of school, you want to give a great first impression since you will be seeing these people every day. Although figuring out what to wear may be overwhelming, and people will judge you no matter what, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Looking confident and comfortable is a key aspect to killing it on your first day on the job. Which is why I have listed the Dos and Donts from my personal experiences for your first day on the job.
Dress for YOUR position
When I started my internship at the beginning of summer I was extremely nervous about not fitting in and was not sure what was the appropriate style for this work environment. I dressed professionally with dress pants, a blouse and heels – this was my first time working in a professional setting, and I wanted to look the part, but I did not consider what part I played in this position. What I mean by this is, when I got hired to be an intern, I was 20 – years old, also known as the youngest employee in the company. I did not have to come in wearing pencil skirts and button ups, but I also needed to dress appropriately.
Do take into consideration that every company is different. Working at a branding company that atmosphere was loud and full of creativity and I felt more comfortable dressing professional but chic. Research the company and the people there, to grasp a better understanding about the working environment before you start your first day.
Bring a change of shoes
At my previous part time job as a sales associate for a clothing store I wore heels during my shift and regretted immediately once I sat in my car and had to drive home in pain. I am a petite woman so, wearing heels gave me the lift of confidence while in a work setting, but I would forgetfully not bring a change of comfortable shoes for before and after my shift begun. Lucky, my internship now, requires me to sit at a desk most of the day writing on my computer, which is why I can wear heels to work without getting sore feet, but comfort is important. You want your employers to know you are comfortable where you are and can adjust, you never know what errand or event you have to run off to at work. Bring an extra pair of runners and change into your work shoes before and after work, this is also a good idea if the weather is terrible and you do not want to dirty the office floors.
Don’t try too hard
Remember that the only person you should be impressing is yourself. Forget about the big name executives and clients and wear what makes you feel like a bad ass queen. Do not over do it by layering on the makeup and over spraying your perfume to make a statement. You want to be remembered for your work, not how you look, because you are worth so much more than your appearance.
I spent every day at work worried that I was being judged and criticized when all I wanted was to fit in. Turns out, I was never being judged on how I looked, but on what I can do, and it was not until the internship offered me a job that I realized it was my confidence in my work that helped me succeed. You do not have to wait until someone tells you, you are doing a good job to believe it, if you walk in and show that you are capable of succeeding people will believe it too.
Always remember, how you let a man into your space will determine how he behaves once he gets there. Years ago when I worked as a stylist in the music and entertainment industry, I constantly stood at a crossroads between right and wrong. My moral compass was always being tested. Working in a male-dominated industry definitely teaches you some things. Not only did it test my patience but it also helped me get a backbone. I was young, curious and exposed to sex, drugs and (business) politics on a regular basis.
Not actual sex. But what I mean is that I was in an environment where women are seen as objects and not heard. Just to give you some context, I’ll tell you a quick story.
I was working on the set of a music video (girl, 24hr video. Ugh. Set life) and getting a girl dressed for her scene. It was a bed scene. Bikini shot by a sunlit window and her only job was to roll all over the sheets and look sexy. While tying her strings together, she started crying. Of course I panicked because this had never happened before. For the most part, the talent keeps it pretty profesh. So I asked her what’s the matter and she replied that she didn’t even know how she ended up here in the first place. She continued to tell me how she got the role and all the things she had to do to be the lead vixen. It was the first time in 6 years that I was so disappointed with myself. I felt like shit and I hated that my part contributed to the downward spiral of girls I met on a regular basis. It was the first time I questioned the work I was doing. Moral of this story is that I’ve heard and seen many things .
But anyway, my point is that every woman should have standards or what I like to call non-negotiables. I don’t need to tell you this, you know it. However, a simple reminder never hurt anyone. I want to replay some scenarios I’ve experienced and explain how I practice what I’m teaching.
- Set strict boundaries
Funny enough, I was in an uber with a girlfriend yesterday evening (around 8pm) and she was on her phone replying via email to a male colleague. She was scheduling their first meeting and looked over and asked, “Should I tell him I’m available now?” I said hell nawl. He can wait till sunrise. Don’t give him any leads to assume it’s anything more than what you intend this call to be. There were two other gentlemen in the car who laughed so hard. Then my girl and I joined. I wasn’t surprised when the two gentlemen agreed with me. They knew exactly what I was talking about. Unless absolutely necessary, I really try to keep all meetings during the day – coffee or lunch at best. In my personal opinion, dinner is suggestive. Give him an inch and he just might stretch it. Nawl. I’m not here for it. I’ve had instances when it all went left. In addition, whether man or woman, I also mention that I have another appointment afterwards (which is sometimes a lie – oh welp) so they understand that I don’t have time to waste. It creates a sense of urgency and tightens the agenda.
- You don’t have to bend
On another set of a music video I was working on, one of the rappers started rolling a blunt. I thought three things. Number one. Smoking is lame (personal opinion). Number two. I have thousands of dollars worth of clothes here and I can’t return them to designers smelling like smoke. I wish he’d try it. Try me. Number three. Do I say something or play it cool?
Girl, nawl. I definitely said something and the crew and artists definitely did not like it. I came across as the goody-two-shoes but this was something I wasn’t going to compromise on. I told him to take it outside. He looked at me like I stuttered or something. I told him that if he didn’t I’d walk and he wouldn’t have anything to wear in his video.
He took it outside.
But don’t get it twisted. Not every story will have a happy ending. Taking a stand for things I believe in is hard bruh. I’ve been called all kinds of names and have been mistreated because of it, but stand tall and stand strong. If it’s important to you – do not bend.
- Pick a location wisely
I can’t even tell you this story without laughing because this guy really tried it. A very well-respected businessman in Toronto requested a meeting with me. I know (of) him pretty well because we have many mutual friends. So I suggested a cafe that was mutually beneficial from a distance standpoint and his response was as follows:
“My accountant has me on a budget. I’d much prefer to meet at my home office.”
I’m sorry. Wait. What.
Oh Sir. Hell nawl.
He could really be telling the truth, but honestly, I don’t care. I don’t like how it came across and declined the invitation immediately. I lost money. I lost a potential client. But don’t care – I kept it pushing.
- Charge what you’re worth and don’t feel bad about it.
Girlfriend. I be chargin’ a bag of money PLUS tax. I do not play. This is what I do for a living. I’m confident in my abilities and I make every effort to deliver quality so I really don’t like when anyone, be it man or woman, requests a discount or doesn’t come correct. I’ll give you another scenario that recently happened. Someone reached out to me via Facebook to do a radio interview. I am always flattered whenever someone wants to feature me on their platform. If the initial touch base is on Facebook, I’m cool but I typically like to keep all business correspondence via email. So I asked him to email me. He #swerved and continued speaking to me on Facebook.
So he proceeded to send me details on the interview such as the theme, time, date, etc. however, before I could confirm the interview, I responded with a few questions of my own: Number one. May I see your website? Number two. Can you tell me more details about your audience? Number three. Who else has been featured on your show? Number four. Tell me more about your daily/monthly views.
Simple questions. It’s business, not personal.
His reply *Crickets*
Ok sir. We’ll leave it there. My assumption is that he felt some-type-of-way by my questions and that I should’ve already assumed ‘he’s poppin’ and should’ve agreed.
No sir. Keep it pushin’
Listen, you get what you expect. People need to know where you stand. I’m more than happy to contribute to your platform but I have a protocol that I follow. Sir, it’s called being professional.
Below is a video clip of Nicki Minaj that I really love. She speaks a lot of truth in this interview. Take it in.
“When I am assertive, I’m a bitch. When a man is assertive, he’s a boss.”
These are only very few instances that shed light on how I navigate my business relationships with male counterparts. But don’t get it twisted. All men are not dogs. All men are not assholes. Some are really awesome and have your best interest. Either way, keep an open mind and heart always. Just don’t lose your head. BOSS UP. Don’t get weak. Boss up!
Peace & Love
Girl, you’ve got to chill.
I can’t take any more complaining about your 9-5 job so I’m about to hand you a reality check and let you know why this season of your life has importance. The reason why you are not happy in your current situation is because you fail to find the beauty in your world of chaos. Not only do you fail to see the beauty through your lens but your narrow sight is delaying your blessings.
Why you sabotage yourself on purpose is beyond me.
The more you speak negativity into your life, the higher you build a wall between you and your destiny. Words have enormous power and if you don’t start filtering your language and talking to yourself with more respect, you’ll keep walking in circles. So my first suggestion is to start each day with 5-10 minutes of silence. At the very least, give God thanks for breathing air into your lungs. Be grateful for the fact that you have a damn job to wake up to when other people are still searching endlessly. Take a second to breathe and refrain from starting your day caught up in the false impressions of someone’s Instagram or Facebook profile. Give yourself 10 minutes to sit in silence and listen to the sounds of your breath and watch your chest rise. Wiggle your fingers and toes (still got ‘em? good). Bury yourself underneath the covers and just be.
Girl, you’ve got to chill.
I wrote a popular article about why my closet has not seen a track suit in nearly a decade and the main lesson was even if you don’t feel good, look great. Don’t ever bring yourself down to the level of looking like your mess. You may feel like one, but take a page from all the women we look up to. The one common thread they share is that positive thinking is always at the forefront of each of their success stories. It all starts with how you carry yourself.
When you get into the office, give your best effort. Not just some days, but every damn day. Because it’s real silly to ask for more when you haven’t even mastered less. You have big dreams and ideas, but don’t expect God to serve you blessings if you can’t master your current situation. If you want to be a success, there are levels to this. I don’t care where you work….
- flippin’ burgers at McDonald’s
- washing dishes at Burger King
- sorting mail at the Post Office
- operating coat check at the club
- customer service at the bank
Doesn’t matter. You make sure you are the best at what you do and show others what you’ve got. I know you have it in you so don’t make a lasting bad impression. You don’t know who’s watching and what power they hold. I also know how much you despise your position, but consider this practice for the big win. At every stage and every age, you need to be productive. Master this season so you can take the lesson and move on.
Girl, just take the lesson so you can move on.
The lesson is what will open the door to the next level of your life. I would never be where I am today if I didn’t do the same damn thing. I remember one of my first jobs out of college. I worked at an interior design firm; a very prestigious – multi million dollar company. My boss was an old Italian man (his name was Gino) who yelled at me daily. Honestly, I think that’s the way he just spoke. Loud and proud. But it scared me to death. I just started navigating the working world and could barely stand on my own two feet. Sometimes you could even find me in the bathroom crying on the floor. I despised him. I wanted out but was even too scared to quit … until one day I did. I told him I found a new position and I was leaving. He told me to come into his office and sit down. He then told me that I wasn’t going anywhere and asked me my price. I replied, “if you can match my new job, I will think about staying but the real reason I’m leaving is because I don’t think I can handle this environment.” Of course he looked at me puzzled, but quickly understood what I meant and for the first time we had a heart to heart. He told me that I was old enough to be his granddaughter and that he’s hard on me because he could tell I am built for challenge. He wanted to build my character and told me that if I ever wanted to be as successful as him I needed to build tougher skin.
Girl, there’s the lesson.
I’ve had my fair share of 9-5 jobs. But most people feel how you feel so I understand. But it doesn’t have to stunt your growth. Today, I’m a #girlboss. I run three successful companies, manage 22 part-time employees. Gino (and many other shitty jobs) definitely had a hand in giving me the confidence to take leaps and bounds. There’s no magic formula to this. Allow your circumstances to push you not close you.
Life may be hard but prayer changes everything. Don’t be too shy to reach up and hold God’s hand a bit tighter. He will guide your steps and pave a path meant just for you. Last but not least, hold on to your truths. Your success will only be as big as your appetite which means you will need vision in order to get through this. So keep pushing, keep dreaming and do it for the love of the possibilities.
Peace & Love,
A few months ago, Shonda Rhimes came across my Instagram timeline in a video promoting her MasterClass for aspiring TV writers. I almost jumped out of my seat. I’m not really interested in writing for TV per se, but writing in any form is a serious skill, and Shonda’s got it down pat. To get an opportunity to learn from the titan herself? Yes please! If there’s even a sliver of hope that she could make me a gladiator like Olivia Pope, I’m all over it.
In an ideal world, choosing a mentor would always be that easy. You’d get that spark and know immediately that learning form this person would revolutionize your life. But it’s rarely ever that simple, especially if you’re looking for a mentor online.
The internet is brimming with “experts” on everything from blogging to small business, and all of them promise to help you slay at one thing or another. But online, it’s easy for nearly anyone to look like a pro and hard to tell what you’ll really be paying for. How do you know who to choose when everyone’s got polished websites, cutesy inspirational Instagram posts, and a couple thousand followers singing their praises?
Naturally, everyone shines the spotlight on their brightest moments. Even Beyonce only posts her finest selfies. Mentors are no exception. Of course they’re going to show you their highlight reel. But don’t get too caught up on pictures of vacation getaways and captions full of inspiring words and forget what you’re really looking for. Sometimes the hype is just a cover up for a lack of real success.
Look for proof that your potential mentor is actually good at what they do. A business coach should have a history of business success. A personal branding expert should be able to point to brands they’ve helped develop. If all you want is #inspiration, search it up on IG, but a true mentor has real wins they’re able to translate into applicable knowledge they can use to coach you.
If you’re worried your own judgment isn’t enough, don’t be shy about getting feedback from people who’ve worked with these mentors. If you wouldn’t buy a new foundation without checking out Youtube reviews, you shouldn’t pick a mentor without getting the inside scoop from someone who’s learned from them. Ask other clients what they got from the mentorship experience and how they felt it impacted their success and use those answers to help you gauge whether their mentorship is worth your investment.
Another great way to spot a good mentor is by looking at their freebies. Most online coaches and mentors offer loads of free content–newsletters, blog posts, printable worksheets, even social media posts. Consider this your taste test. Good mentors aren’t scared to deliver gems in their free content because they know they have plenty more to share. So if your potential mentor’s free content is a mess, feels empty, or doesn’t inspire you, there’s a pretty good chance the stuff you’ve got to pay for isn’t going to be worth your coin. If the sample doesn’t leave you hungry for more, keep it moving.
If an online mentor passes all these tests, you might have a winner on your hands! There’s just one more thing to consider. Not every good mentor will be the mentor for you. Mentorship is a pretty personal relationship. Chemistry matters. You’ll want someone whose values and worldview align with yours so they can use their expertise to guide you towards what youwant. After all, you’re choosing a mentor as an investment into your goals, so it should absolutely be about you.
Somewhere out there in the big, wide digital world is your perfect mentor — your Shonda. You’ll have to squint past the hype, ask the tough questions, and do your research, but it will all be worth it at the end when you find the titan to your gladiator.
Let me know your thoughts on mentorship by dropping me a line at safiabartholomew.com! I’m @safiajb on instagram & snap!
If you’re trying to attract more high-value clients, then you’ll need high-end branding. Point blank. Period. You should not expect to invest $100 in your website, then expect your clients to pay you $250 an hour. It’s just not going to happen. If you cannot invest in yourself and your business, you should not expect complete strangers to invest in your business either. As such, your branding could be holding you back.
Your product or service may very well be of a higher quality than your brand illustrates, but if your branding isn’t on point to paint the picture ─ it doesn’t matter. You will not attract affluent clients who will pay your price point. Cheap websites and brand identities attract cheap clients. Brand you business for the client you want, not for the client you have.
No matter how small your business is, your company’s branding should be taken seriously. If your big plans for your startup or side-hustle aren’t coming together, there could be a chance your branding is holding you back from new markets, new clients, new revenue and overall business growth.
These branding mistakes could be holding you back:
Your website is one of the first places that potential clients will go to learn about your business. If your site is still 640×480 pixels and uses flash animation, you can be certain that they’re going to choose a more relevant competitor over you. Also, more than 50% of people across the globe use their smartphone to search the web, so if your site is not responsive (re-sizes to fit all devices), Google will penalize your ranking. Part of keeping your brand vital is keeping up-to-date with technology, and that means a website that puts your company’s best foot forward.
Maybe you use one version of your logo on your website and another on your printed materials. Not to mention all the different taglines you’re using because you can’t make up your mind. One of the fastest ways to dilute the leverage of your brand is inconsistency. Customers can quickly spot brand inconsistency and can easily develop mistrust with inconsistency across multiple platforms. You need to be consistent or your clients will think you are unreliable and sloppy.
Multiple Target Markets
Targeting everyone reaches no one. But by choosing your target market and honing in on it, you can please the right audience all of the time. A target market leads to a compelling brand, without which the brand will lose focus and efficiency. Don’t be afraid to be specific to define your target market. Tailor your strategies to amuse your ideal client and not just any client.
Matching the Competition
Chances are you’re not the only one selling a specific product or service in your industry. It’s not easy to create a unique product in today’s market, so you have to go a little deeper to make sure you differentiate your business from your competitors. When thinking about uniqueness, it’s okay to get inspiration from brands who are already executing this idea well. Even if you’re a small business, try to start thinking like the top leaders in your industry, without “copying” their ideas ─ just use them for inspiration. Examine what is working for them, how they communicate their message, the imagery they use to convey their message and how people are responding to it. Then look at your business, deep inside, and find what makes you special.
Lack of Brand Guidelines
Have you ever done an audit of your branded materials? Pull together everything that has your logo on it and spread it all out on a big table. Does it look cohesive? Is a common colour palette used? Is there a consistent use of typography? Do the materials look contemporary or out-of-date? This exercise is a quick way to evaluate whether you need to make changes to your brand and whether you need to develop brand manuals to help create consistency. Brand guidelines don’t have to be extensive, but they should clearly communicate how to use your brand elements properly.
A brand is the essence of your company ─ what it stands for, what it looks like, what it sounds like and most importantly how it’s different from all the rest. Building a compelling brand is one of the most important things you’ll need to do in order to ensure that your business remains successful.
Is your branding properly developed to attract your ideal client? Are some of your techniques, language, design or style outdated? Maybe it’s time to analyze your competition, current trends and re-evaluate. If your brand is currently in the “suck” phase, you should start thinking about ways you can change that might give you a slight edge.