Owning a business can offer the most rewarding and most stressful experiences of your life - sometimes all in the same day! There are days where you ask yourself, why did I wait so long to do this?! And others, where you wonder, what in the world was I thinking?! The beauty of business ownership is that it is a constant learning experience, and you have the power to make the experience what you want. You have the ability to positively influence others, to make a difference for your customers, and ultimately, make your dream job a reality.

While I am all about positivity and looking on the bright side, I also value being frank and realistic. I thought it may be helpful for other entrepreneurs or aspiring business owners to hear a peer’s perspective on the good, the bad, and the ugly of owning a business. Hopefully, we can lift one another up and remember that the hard days aren’t so bad, and the good days are worth working for!

Tunnel vision, messy desks, overbooked schedules… Does that sound familiar as a business owner? Since starting my business I’ve found that I rarely have time to reflect on the whole journey. Because if I’m not working, I’m not making money, right?

But we all know the importance of reflection. So when 2nd Brain Collective reached out and asked if they could interview me on my experiences as a business owner and the world of marketing, I eagerly agreed. There have been many highs and lows in this experience, and I figured there wasn't a better time than now to take stock of the last two years. This new podcast is all about business and marketing in the digital age. Thanks 2BC for having me! 

I highly encourage you to listen to the podcast (and all of the other interesting 2BC interviews!). I promise you'll learn something new about RDS and may even laugh. ;) And if you'd like, keep reading to discover more about how I started Rough Draft Solutions.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of this post, I have an important question for you.

Do you have a personal brand?

If you answered yes, great! Keep reading, I have included several powerful tools for you to ramp up your brand!

If you answered, no, I’ve got some earth-shattering news for you. You already have a brand, whether you know it or not. And if you aren’t actively managing it, your brand is most likely working against you, instead of for you. I know, I know. You don’t need one more thing to add to your to-do list. But trust me, personal branding needs to be on your list. If it isn’t, you could quickly lose control of your personal and professional identities and find yourself in the category of wishy-washy has-been.

Today is an exciting day! We are hosting our very first guest bloggers! Allison Spooner and Jesse Flores are sharing with us how business isn’t just business. It’s personal. Their insight is on-point and vitally relevant to our efforts to support our clients in an authentic and valuable way in 2016.

So, who are the writers? Allison is a freelance, content wizard. She writes content that helps businesses in Lansing and beyond tell their stories, educate their customers, and promote their brands. Jesse is a startup junkie and tech enthusiast. His most recent endeavor is launching SuperWebPros, which builds Super Websites with Heroic Service for small businesses. Over the past year, we have enjoyed brainstorming with these two content and business gurus and are confident you will enjoy the insight they have for you.

Staying on task isn’t exactly every business owners’ strong suit. You may have started your workday with the best of intentions, only to find that by the end of it, you didn’t accomplish anything on your list. And while it’s easy to blame outside distractions for the inability to focus, more times than not, a lack of a solid plan is the number one reason we fail to be productive.

The truth is, the secret to maximizing productivity isn’t complicated. It simply requires that you take a few simple steps to get organized and plan your day effectively.

One of the most frequent questions I have received in the last 12 months has been “How’s business?” And every time I have been lucky enough to say “Absolutely wonderful.”  I have had to pinch myself a lot because I can’t believe the success we’ve had this year is real-life.

As a business owner, your journey begins with a vision, and you develop an idea of what needs to happen and how you want things to be done. While you may have an impressive vision, the challenge is making it happen. Many times, you cannot do it on your own and will rely on employees to help you complete the work and represent your company’s mission. Once you have a team in place, the next hurdle is setting them loose to do their work. You will do your best to lead your employees in the right direction, but at what point does the directing become too much? How much managing can you do before it becomes micromanaging?

Being a solo-entrepreneur definitely has its benefits - getting to do what you want when you want it and having the freedom of not managing others barely scratches the surface. But when it becomes apparent that your business needs help and you want to add people to your team, how do you know who are the right people to hire? Do you pick those with the most education? The most experience? The best personality? Which qualities are most important to look for in a new employee and which qualities should you look out for as warning signs in interviews?

Have you ever asked your employees how they want to be treated? What their expectations are for you as a boss?

The way you treat your employees has a strong influence on their productivity. In order to establish a strong and successful working relationship its important to treat your employees with the same respect as you would treat your best customer.

From an employee perspective, here are a few ways to treat your employees well and create a relationship that is a win-win for you both.

Starting a small business has its perks. We can follow our own creative senses, plan our own timelines, and listen to no one else’s orders but our own. But when the business begins to grow and employees come on board, we must adjust. We are accustom to leading ourselves through our business ventures, but how do we instill the same level of passion, drive and commitment to quality in our growing team? How do you direct people through the ins and outs of the processes you could do in your sleep?

Today we will share tips on how to go from being your own boss to being the boss of others, and becoming the most effective leader you can be for your company.  After all, if you don't lead, who will?