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What to Do When Your Brilliant Biz Idea Doesn't Make Money

I am going to throw out this disclaimer at the onset: I am totally contradicting myself in this post, but I think it's necessary to offer two points of view on the subject of what makes a successful business when it comes to money.

If you are reading this, you probably fall into one of two camps: you are a woman looking to follow her big business dream or you are a female entrepreneur already trying to make it happen. Either way, you're wondering what to do if your "dream" doesn't make or isn't making any money.

what to do when your brilliant business idea doesn't make money - belong magazine blog - for female entrepreneurs, creatives, women in business

I previously said that your brilliant business idea is only as good as its profit potential, right? What do you do when you have gone through the numbers (if you haven't, find our handy worksheet and post on this topic HERE) and just don't see family sustaining "profit" in your future? Do you ditch the brilliant idea?

Just because an idea isn't financially profitable doesn't mean that it is a failure. Just because an idea isn't financially profitable doesn't mean that you should give up on it altogether. 


It depends.


1. Your Resources /

Sometimes, we have to face reality. If you need to support your family financially, you may not be in a position at this time to pursue your idea in a full-time manner. And, if you are already working, maybe you need to spend your remaining time on your family if you have one. In this case, your resources (time and money) are probably best used on the necessities. But don't give up on your dream--keep notes and find ways to take tiny steps while keeping your expectations realistic--it is going to take time and it may not make money.

If you do not have the responsibility of providing for your family financially, you may find that you are able to take larger steps (or more tiny steps) towards your dream. 

If you are super confident in the success of your idea, maybe you need to seek out investors. That's always an option!

I'll just say this: we all have limited resources. Be sure that you are being responsible with yours and using them thoughtfully.

2. Your Heart / 

There are just some things you can't shake. If you have a brilliant idea that can help others and brings you joy, maybe you should go for it but consider it a hobby. There is nothing wrong with using your talents and passions to serve other people--in fact ,I think we often forget the importance of this. But if your idea is not making money and is causing you stress and anxiety and zapping your joy, it's time to put it on the shelf--or time to pivot into something new (a whole separate topic). 

Only you can determine the course of action for your brilliant business idea if it is not financially profitable. And only you can change how you define success when it comes to your idea. 

Remember this: Success is not always defined by money. 

Where are you today? Struggling to make ends meet? Frustrated because you're stuck in the mindset that financial profit equals success?Tell me in the comments so I can know how to better support you. 

Or better yet, join our facebook community, The Belong Collective, to get advice, encouragement, feedback, etc... We'd love to have you and support you in making things happen with your brilliant ideas.

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The Imperfect Boss / And Why That's Enough

I’m no rookie at this whole #imperfectboss thing. Not only have I participated in previous campaigns, but I am truly an #imperfectboss.

I don’t say this to put myself down or make you feel sorry for me because it seems I have low self-esteem. I say this in an effort to: 1. shatter any illusions there may be about “having it all together” and 2. encourage others that perfection is not the goal.

the imperfect boss and why that's enough - belong magazine blog- the imperfect boss campaign - encouragement for small business owners, lady bosses, fempreneurs, female entrepreneurs

I don’t have a staff, so I am technically a boss of one—me. And I am a darn good boss, if I may say so myself. But I’ve got a long way to go. I excel at so many things, but fall short in so many more.

So let’s shatter the myth together. Whether you have a staff of one or hundreds, none of us are doing it all right. We don’t have it all together and we’re messing up. And that is OK! This whole boss lady thing is tough and a lot of work. A LOT OF WORK.


1. anxiety + depression /  

This is no newsflash as I try to be very open about my anxiety and depression. I don’t like to use the words “struggle” and “deal” because those have negative connotations, but I will say that these diagnoses are challenges for anyone, but are amplified in the world of “bossdom.” When I’m sitting at my desk with my hands shaking, heart pounding and frustration building as these feelings are out of my control, decision-making and productivity become a challenge (on top of the everyday challenges we all face).  

2. I don’t know what I’m doing /

It’s exhausting keeping up a front of “having it all together” and acting like I know what I’m doing when I HAVE NO IDEA! This is all new to me and I’m figuring it out as I go. I think I’m hard on myself for not knowing what I don’t know and don’t offer myself enough grace.

3. I am afraid of offending people /

I recently realized this is a big deal to me—ultimately, it comes down to my pride. In a sense, I feel like I’ve reverted to junior high status again, hoping that everyone likes my new jeans or hairdo. I care what people think. Too much. And more specifically, I am afraid of unintentionally hurting or offending people. It makes me sick—literally—like sends me into a fit of anxiety. I have a hard time remembering that I know my heart, I know my intentions, and I am not going to please everyone all the time. I wish I didn’t care, but I do!


I am still getting it done, making things happen and running my business like a boss. And so can you. Why? Because you are enough. Just as you are.


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The Art of Simple Living: 3 Ways To Simplify Your Priorities & Get More Done


Whether you’re a business owner, a blogger, a mother (or a creative in any right) the words “running a million miles a minute” are probably so ingrained into your daily life that you don’t even think about it anymore. We live in a go-go-go world where downtime is frowned upon and having a calendar that isn’t filled to the brim is out of the norm. Darting from meeting, to photoshoot, to soccer game, to self-appointed-me-time can get overwhelming. If you’ve ever ended a fully-scheduled day and asked yourself if you really even got anything done, you’re not alone.

The art of simple living - 3 ways to simplify your priorities and get more done with Simply Liv & Co. - belong magazine blog for female entrepreneurs, creatives, women in business

Chances are that like most women, you have big goals, but without the proper priorities, goals can be difficult to reach at best — impossible to achieve, at worst.

At Simply Liv & Co. I thrive on “inspiring simplicity”. I love showing women how simplifying their lives — everything from their closets, to their hearts, to their social schedules — will not only help them be more productive, but allow them to find joy in what they do.

Living simply doesn’t come naturally for everyone though (myself included!) so I’ve come up with a few “steps” that can help you learn to simplify your priorities in your business, social life, and at home, so that you can get more done and love what you do.

1. Learn the Power of “No” /

It doesn’t sound glamorous or inspiring at first glance, but believe me that those two little letters can simplify your life more than anything else. More often than not, when we feel overcommitted it’s because we’ve said “yes” too often when we should have said “no”. Saying no more than you say yes takes the possibility of overcommitment off the table entirely.

List out all of your commitments (either mentally or on paper) and note the ones that are non-negotiable. Those, you can’t really say no to. Think things like parent/teacher conferences, meetings at work, or obligations that align with your values.

Then, focus on the ones that you don’t necessarily have to do, but want to do. Limit yourself to only one or two of these, so that you can truly pour yourself into them.

Lastly, any event that you’re committing to for the sake of someone else can be an immediate “no”. Causing yourself unnecessary stress or spreading yourself too thin just to make someone else happy isn’t worth it. Chances are, they’ll understand when you say you’re overcommitted and support your decision to step out.

2. Less But Better /

No matter what it is (except maybe in the realm of coffee and ice cream…) my mantra is always “less but better”. I’ll use your closet as an example, even though the rule applies to so much more than just the clothes you buy.

Instead of having an overstuffed closet full of clothes you never wear, don’t feel awesome in, and can’t really pair with the rest of your wardrobe, doesn’t it sound better (and more productive) to have fewer pieces but ensure that they’re all ones you love? If every article of clothing in your closet fits you well, makes you feel beautiful, and can be worn with at least three other pieces in your closet, it’s a keeper.

The same can apply to any aspect of life, really. Committing to do less while simultaneously ensuring that what you do commit to brings you real joy, will ensure that the things you put your mind to are fulfilling and that the work you’re producing is higher quality.

3. Lists Are Your New BFF /

Again, practicality over glamour.

Even if you’re not a “list person”, I always recommend that people at least make a “master list” of things that must get done. You can group your lists by day or by type of event (think “blog”, “social media”, “household”, etc.) but the main thing is having it all on paper. There’s nothing like the sound of a pen crossing off an item on your to-do list that brings focus and motivation to tackle the rest.

Once you’ve eliminated the excess through mastering the art of “no” and committed to doing fewer but better things, you list won’t seem all that overwhelming.

Do you often feel overcommitted and spread thin? Try these tips and watch as the stress slowly melts away as new habits take the place of old ones.

Olivia is the founder of Simply Liv & Co., an online resource and community for women looking to live simply and with intention. She shares everything from practical decluttering tips, to capsule wardrobe advice, to help with shopping ethically. When she’s not blogging, she can be found coffee(s) in hand with her two toddlers, dreaming about a mountain vacation.

Website || Instagram || Inspiring Simplicity Community

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How to Differentiate Yourself Without Losing Yourself


In a world filled with constant inspiration and innovation, it’s so hard to distinguish yourself from others, figuring out what makes you, as a small starting business, stand out. It can be frustrating coming up with an original idea that will be not only trendy and useful, but also marketable.

6 Ways to Differentiate Yourself without Losing Yourself - belong magazine blog - the life of a female entrepreneur, women in business, lady boss

Personally, I spend hours trying to figure out my business plan as a freshly graduated twenty- something with a million ideas. Besides having a great product, you have to strategize logistics as well. Starting off a new sole proprietorship, you are your own manager, marketer, advertiser, accountant, designer, and on top of that salesperson. As I'm busy juggling all of these positions in the launching of this project, I find myself struggling with doubt that I can even accomplish anything. I just keep telling myself over and over:

I cannot lose who I really am while in transition. 

It seems simple. However, in the stressful, anxiety filled stage of starting a business, the time comes where you have to pitch your business to future customers. There’s when the lies start to sneak in. That little voice whispers, "This is a terrible idea," "You' ll never make it," "What are you doing?" or "You’re not smart enough, creative enough, good enough."

You start to compare yourself with others and their successes. You start to doubt whether or not you can even accomplish such a daunting task of owning a small business. You think about logistical things like finances and how much you’re about to invest. As the whispers get louder, you doubt more and more until you are ready to quit. You start to lose focus of your goals. You start to lose yourself.

What distinguishes you? Why would people rather come to you for your product or service than go to your competitor?

"Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

1. Be yourself.

Don’t try to be anyone else. Customers are choosing your product over anyone else because they want you. At the end of the day, selling yourself is more important than selling your product. When a customer is deciding between two similar products, your product instantly becomes nothing but a commodity. A customer chooses you for you.

Being a creative, it's so hard to not compare your work to others. It’s okay to admire people. It’s okay to look up to others. It’s okay to set goals. It’s not okay to compare yourself. People don’t want you imitating another company.

Original ideas are the ones that will get you noticed. Be weird. Be quirky. Do something totally off-the-wall. Be YOU. Your voice and your creativity matters. 

The more you compare in a business sense, the more you will feel dissatisfied with other aspects of your life.

2. Focus on the customer.

At the end of the business day, it’s all about the customer. It is vital to cater to their needs give them what they want. Show them features of your product that maybe would be specifically useful for their scenario. By getting to know their needs and wants from your product you are building relationships with customers. Having a good relationship will not only keep them coming back, but also will give you relative feedback on how to improve your business.

3. Change the customer’s thinking

As you’re building relationships with customers, getting to know their needs and showing them the benefits of the product, let them know that what they are purchasing is an investment for them. Don’t just sell your product to the person who will be quick to say, "yes" and move on without further thought. Make sure to sell to the person who will see the long term benefits. These types of customers will be the ones that advocate for you, spreading positive word-of-mouth, reviews and also give you useful feedback to improve your product.

4. Use social media to its fullest potential.

Over the past few years, social media has exploded. Between Instagram and Facebook alone there are billions of users. Social media is not just for advertising. Use social media for customer relationships, gaining them, keeping them and deepening them. Having high quality pictures and videos that show testimonies and the product in use are the most effective way to show new customers about your pr oducts offered. Thanks to the comments section on social media, you can easily get customer feedback

5. Try not to stress.

In a season of growth, we tend to over-think every little detail. Sometimes, plans fall through and don’t go our way. That’s when we get upset and the lies slowly start to sneak back in. 

6. Remember to be still.

This one is tough. It’s sometimes so hard to find the quiet. Between starting a business, family, friends, church life or maybe even a second job, life is hectic. I find myself the most creative in the quiet.  It’s so important to remember to be still amongst the chaos. I found that even just 20 minutes of quiet time is beneficial.


Anita was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio received a Bachelors of Business Administration from Kent State University in 2016. She has a heart for worship, traveling and all things breakfast food. When she's not busy songwriting and playing her piano, you will most likely find her deep into a book trying to deepen her relationship with Christ. In a moment's notice Anita's wanderlust will take her across the country on a spontaneous trip, in her never-ending search for the best coffee shop in America. She comes alive when she sees that her work genuinely encourages others. You can follow her adventures of music, writing and traveling on her Instagram • @anitalouisemusic

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stay in the loop /

I love Fridays. Not because it's the end of the regular workweek--because, let's be honest, as entrepreneurs, our workweek never really ends. It just feels like a day to take a deep breath and celebrate the accomplishments of the week.

I also love it because we go out for dinner as a family every Friday night. My husband, three kids and I like different things, so we go "up the hill" to a spot that has several options that quenches the hunger of all of us--Chipotle, The Habit, Pieology, Panera--nothing fancy, but so perfect. And we love it. And so I love Fridays!

favorite #youbelong instagram posts /

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You can get all the details on the individuals featured HERE on our instagram account. If you want to be considered, please be sure to hashtag your pics #youbelong.

favorite pin /

favorite freebie resource / 

We did a post this week to help women who are just starting--or trying to start--making things happen. These worksheets will walk you through the process of determining if your brilliant business idea can make money. Read the whole post here.


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Can Your Brilliant Biz Idea Make Money?

So you've got this idea for a business--whether a side hustle, a full-time gig or somewhere in the middle, but you just don't know what to do with it, how to get it going, where to start, right?

Can your brilliant business idea make money? - belong magazine blog - female entrepreneur, creative women, lady box, woman in business - profit, revenue, all about the numbers and the bottom line

Maybe you dream of being a entrepreneur, maybe you just want to be a crafter, maybe you just want to earn a little extra money being a lady boss or maybe you want to follow your dreams.

Let's be honest for a minute.

Your business idea is only as good as its profit potential. So you need to really think good and hard about how (or maybe if) your idea can make money because there is nothing worse than putting tons of time, energy and money into an idea to have it pan out to nothing--and you've actually lost all of those resources in the process. It can be defeating and discouraging to say the least. So let's go in with our eyes wide open.

Take a moment to figure out if your brilliant idea could be profitable before you dive in.

1. What are you going to sell?

2. What resources will you need to start your brilliant idea and the costs associated with them?

3. What are the ongoing costs of "production?"

4. Who will buy your brilliant idea?

5. What quantity of your brilliant idea do you need to sell in order to generate profit and is this realistic?

Want to dig a little deeper? We created a worksheet to walk you through these questions and more so that you can do a thorough analysis before you start on your brilliant idea.

So that's the big question, right? Will your brilliant idea make money?

If yes, that's amazing! If no, do not despair. I've got a little something to say about that too. Coming soon!

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Using Your Experience to Create a Business + Find Joy


This is my reminder: You can find joy anywhere if you choose to look.

Using your experience to create a business and find joy - a creative entrepreneur's journey - women in business, start a biz, female boss ladies

When I was a freshman in high school I certainly didn’t know this. That year, I went through what I regard now to be one of the hardest times in my life. From an outside point of view, it made no sense—I was blessed with a nice house, a handsome dog, the most supportive family, and tons of friends. But despite all the surrounding joy, I found myself in the clutches of a sad time.

That was the first thing I learned: you can have everything it takes to be happy, and still not be happy.

It doesn’t mean you are broken, it just means it is time to grow into something better.

This sadness originated after I had my first “friend drama”, where I suddenly found myself navigating high school without my childhood BFF. Although it sounds silly, I was brokenhearted. I wasn’t able to shake it, and soon found that I allowed this sadness to linger too long and seep into other aspects of my life. Instead of bouncing back to the fun loving kid I had always been, I gave myself permission to stay sad. It was easier to sit in an emotion than to do the work to feel better. As a stubborn teen, I convinced myself that I didn’t need fixing anyway.

My mom had been my greatest friend during this time. Eventually, after seeing me struggle for too long, she placed a huge glass bowl of quotes on my desk, instructing me to pick one from it everyday. I said no. As both a teenager and someone who had always been self sufficient, I found it horrifying to accept any form of help, and I was embarrassed to admit I needed it in the first place. But, after weeks of feeling exceptionally sorry for myself, I decided to pick one quote from the jar.

“In the depth of the winter, I finally realized that within me there lay an invincible summer.”—Albert Camus

This simple sentence caused a great change that day. It was as if someone had turned the lights on and reminded me of a magic I had always known, but buried deep inside me. I tucked the slip of paper in my pocket and carried it around that entire day.

The next morning, I tentatively picked another quote, nervous I wouldn’t find this magic remaining. But again, the words I read were exactly what I needed to hear. For the next year I picked a quote every morning, completely sure there was a reason behind the timing of each message. If I didn’t understand it immediately, I carried the slip of paper around with me throughout the day until I could apply the lesson to some part of my life. Through this process, I became wiser, gentler, more understanding, and most importantly more joyful.

It wasn’t until a whole year later—after hundreds of quotes littered my walls and pockets—that I finally presented my story to a group of teens at school. Bravely, and with an open heart, I admitted that my life is not picture perfect.

In the days immediately following, kids began stopping me to tell me about their own stories, asking if they could have jars like mine too. I realized then how wildly absurd it is to be ashamed to show people how you feel. Everyone goes through hard times, and that day I was reminded of the beauty that comes along with openness.

By admitting my weaknesses, I was able to gently allow others to do the same.

Telling my mom about what I learned from my peers, we put together small plastic jars filled with my favorite quotes on yellow paper—enough to pick one every day for a month. We decided upon the name “Meredith’s Jars of Joy,” and created an email address for people to contact us.

A few weeks passed, and our inbox was suddenly flooded by requests from complete strangers, leading us to start mailing jars across the entire country. By the end of the first year, we had sold roughly two thousand jars.

During all this excitement, I received hundreds of personal letters and messages thanking my mom and I for helping spread joy. People wrote about suicides that were prevented and families that found comfort during grieving. These letters are humbling and always make me cry. It is wild to know that because I was able to overcome my own situation—one that, at the time, I would have traded for anything else in the world—other people are able to find joy as well. To complete this circle of giving, we decided to donate all of our proceeds to a charity called Family Promise, which houses homeless families.

Almost four years ago I sent out that very first jar, and since then my life has changed dramatically.

I have learned that, much like adventures, you can’t simply wait for happiness to arrive at your doorstep. You need to plunge head first into the world with enthusiasm and seek your joy.

That is the secret—it’s not about waiting for joy to find you. It’s choosing to find it for yourself.

Through my daily quotes, I’m reminded of what has been true all along: there are beautiful things everywhere. Do you see them?

Meredith Robertson is a sophomore at Middlebury College, majoring in English. She is Co-founder of Meredith’s Jars of Joy, a non-profit that she runs from New Jersey with her mom. Aside from this passion, she is interested in poetry and the outdoors. She is enthusiastic about communities of strong women, and considers her life-long goal to be continuing to strengthen bonds between women across the world.

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The Freedom of Boundaries: 8 Ways to be the Healthiest Version of Yourself


My mom calls me the vault.

It's quite a fitting name actually. I have this gift of trustworthiness that makes people feel safe enough to draw near and confide. I get the privilege of hearing deep confessions, crazy dreams, and the depth of hearts. It’s a beautiful gift, but like all good things, this gift can be misused.

I also have a high performance capacity and say yes to most things—too many things. I fill up my vault with yeses. I’m addicted to pleasing people. I hold onto others’ expectations until they crush me. I let competition determine what success looks like instead of defining my success by doing more of what makes me come alive. I feel obligated to keep pleasing and keep saying yes until my vault can hold no more. And when the vault reaches full-capacity, it shuts down.

Sadly, this seems to echo throughout many successful women’s lives, not just mine. We are expected to be limitless, to have a high ceiling, to constantly compete and out-perform the other creatives in our field. It doesn’t help that our creative work calls for stout confidence and hours of long, hard work. We are gifted with the strength of an iron vault but forget to tend and care for ourselves.

Our vaults quickly fill to the brim relationally, creatively, and mentally, and before long our limits are screaming back at us.

the freedom of boundaries - 7 ways to be the healthiest version of yourself - belong magazine blog

Vaults, by nature, have a limited capacity, but by the time I learned this, it was too late. I became a miserably unhealthy version of myself. I buried myself beneath the weight of trying to be everything instead of finding freedom in the space to be myself.

So how do we prevent our vision and passion from sucking us dry? How do we invest in healthy relationships without burning out on loving people?

Those are tough questions, and I can't say I have all the answers. But I have learned a thing or two about the freedom of boundaries and the self-discipline it takes to make them.

1. Create deposits and prepare for withdrawals

Know what deposits energy into your life and what withdraws it. For me, recharging looks like a long walk outside or a cup of coffee with a friend. On the other hand, scheduling four meetings in a row will suck me dry and make me the worst version of myself. Make sure you're getting more deposits than withdrawals so that when it’s time for you to generate output you have something worthwhile to give. Embracing your humanity takes hard work and humility, but operating within your limits is where you will thrive and produce the most. 

2. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others

Taking care of yourself is not selfish—it’s preparation to be the healthiest version of yourself. It's foolish to think that we can lead or serve others without first taking care of ourselves. Disregarding our own physical and emotional needs actually harms our communities. They need our wholeness, not our haggard pieces of over-commitment and exhaustion. In order to serve other people well, we must also be attentive to our own physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental needs.

3. Go big to small

In other words, “put the big rocks in first.” This doesn’t just apply to our work-self, this is our whole being. Our top priorities should be eating well, sleeping enough, getting exercise, and connecting with others. It sounds simple but so many women, myself included, are quick to neglect their biggest rocks and fill up space with pebbles or sand. Once our top priorities are in place, we will work and create and connect from a place of health and wholeness.

4. Communicate and take ownership

Boundaries step on other people’s toes. It’s an uncomfortable truth. Your co- worker may not appreciate it when your decision is a “no.” Your friend may not like you skipping the park playdate because you (and your kids) need a restful afternoon at home. We will have to say no to some things, and that’s good. I’ve found that when we kindly but firmly communicate our boundaries with others, they eventually envy the freedom we’re giving ourselves.

5. The myth of obligation

When I feel needed, I still feel a strong obligation to give people my immediate “yes." In reality, most people’s needs can be met without me. When connection and intimacy become an obligation instead of a joy, something is off. Only I have the power to bind and release myself to obligations. Unless it’s moral or legal, I am the only one with the power to choose what stays and what goes.

6. You don't need an excuse. 

You can say no in a gentle way and leave it at that. You are not obligated to give an excuse unless you are choosing to bind that obligation onto yourself. Instead of feeling guilty about a no, rejoice in the sincerity and joy of your yes. 

7. Know who you are and who you are not. 

In order to have accurate expectations of ourselves, we need to know the reality of who are and who we aren’t. As a humans, we will fail at tasks and people and leadership at some point. So instead of despairing when we fail, let’s gently remind ourselves of who we are: flawed humans with a passion and purpose specific to us. When we know who we are, we can choose environments and set expectations where we will thrive, and give ourselves grace when we fail.

Drawing boundaries and protecting our vaults can be uncomfortable, but they ultimately bring us the freedom and space to enjoy who we are!


Elizabeth is a writer and creator of the Hope and Wholeness Blog. She’s a Louisiana girl but currently resides in the great state of Texas. Elizabeth is a seeker of Truth, a lover of freedom, and someone who brings joy and coffee into peoples’ lives. Join the Hope and Wholeness community at hopeandwholenessblog.com.

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stay in the loop /

Who is ready for another round of favorites? Here we go!

favorite #youbelong instagram posts / 

This week's favorites from the #youbelong instagram feed. If you aren't already, use the hashtag #youbelong on your posts so that we can check them out. Maybe you'll get featured! Get all the details on these lovely posts here. 

favorite resource / 

This post is full of wonderful info for all of us instagramers (and it has a little infographic too). Social Studio Shop is a great resource all around, so you should definitely be following them. 

favorite pin / 

We are big fans of Squarespace so we love this post on Christina Scalera's site about why she switched from WordPress to Squarespace. And did you know that Belong readers can get 10% off their Squarespace purchase with code BELONG? Click here and get going!

favorite freebie / 

This is so amazing, you guys! You have to go to the blog post and scroll down and tap the "download" button, but it's so worth it!



How to be the Hostess with the Mostest / Galentine's Edition

how to be the hostess with the mostest - galentine's day edition with the nook girls - valentine's day party for the girls

Who else loves the Galentine's Day trend? The idea of sharing the love with girlfriends warms my heart. And for all of you party lovers, what a great excuse to host a fun get-together. Whether it's a movie night in (or out), a dinner party, a dessert buffet or a brunch, reminding the ladies in your life how much they mean to you is brilliant.  I am thrilled to share this gorgeous party by The Nook Girls and hope it provides a little inspiration for your next girl-gathering. 

Galentine's Day with The Nook Girls - celebrate Valentine's Day with girlfriends like this gorgeous party with decorated sugar cookies, flowers, garlands and more

Recently, Rachel and Allison put together a styled shoot of their Galentine's Day party where they invited their blogger friends to enjoy cranberry ginger spritzers, strawberry trifles, chocolate covered marshmallows, and Southern Sugar Bakery's adorable cookies. Allison's home was styled and decorated with calligraphy pieces from Bridgett Lynette Designs, home pieces from Anthropologie, and pieces from Rachel and Allison's own collections.

Galentine's Day with The Nook Girls - do Valentine's Day with your girlfriends using this gorgeous blush hued party as inspiration

Rachel and Allison were styled by Melissa de Leon Styling using Anthropologie's latest dresses and jewelry. They also were treated to hair and makeup at their favorite blow dry bar, Parlor Dry Bar in North Raleigh, which was the perfect relaxation after work and before the party. The other beautiful bloggers arrived to the party in their own styled outfits fit for a Valentine's soiree.

The evening was photographed by the very talented and graceful Ally Willix, a fine art wedding photographer based in Raleigh, NC.

Rachel and Allison's purpose and hope for this party was to treat and encourage the blogger community around them with inspiration and community. They often host others in their home, they would love to share with you: how to host an awesome party with limited time and money:

1. Create a Party Committee

So you don’t have time to plan out the entire party, or you're overwhelmed trying to plan a party, or you don’t want to spend a lot of money?? Form a party committee! It’s also way more fun when you plan with others. It is ten times easier to throw a party when you aren't doing it alone. Together we dreamed and brainstormed  different ideas until we landed on the best one, split up the food and decor, and set up and cleaned after together. I love having a party committee :). It makes being a host more enjoyable.

2. Make a List

Whether it’s just me or I have a committee, I create a google doc with lists of all the food, drinks, decor, and any other to-do’s so I stay organized and can assign to others in the committee. I also create an inspiration Pinterest board that supports our vision of the party to help us stay on target while we plan. I write a list of items I need, items I already have, and basically anything and everything I need to have/do so I make sure I don’t forget anything! Doing this also helps you to think through what you already have and can use so you don't waste money buying something you already have. 

3. Time to Prepare

If you work full-time and don't have much spare time for the party planning, then prepare a little bit each day the week leading up to the party. This makes the party prep much more relaxing and enjoyable, and it will give you plenty of time if you forget something or it isn’t going the way you planned. It’s also important to give yourself some time to remember and prep all the tiny details. I want to have everything, even the coffee ready to brew, before guests come over so I can enjoy being with the guests. This also helps me to not be stressed once people arrive because no one likes a stressed- out host! The host creates the atmosphere, so do whatever you need to enjoy setting up for your party.

4. Enjoy Your Party!

The party has started, so now it’s time to enjoy the party. The more you enjoy the party, the more your guests will also enjoy your party. Remember that hosting isn’t about YOU. It’s really an act of serving others. It is fun to serve and treat other. It brings me so much joy to see the guest having good conversation, enjoying the food, laughing, and staying late. It's about the people more than the food and decor, so focus on being present with you guests and they'll have a great time.

The Nook Girls

The Nook Girls, Rachel and Allison, are lifestyle bloggers in Raleigh, NC. They enjoy bringing bloggers together in their area to learn from each other and grow together as bloggers and social media influencers. 

Follow them on Instagram:

Bloggers and Stylists: @allisoncreagh and @rachiebarnes / Outfit styling: @melissadeleonstyling / Photographer: @allyandbobby / Clothes and home products: @anthro_raleigh / Hair and makeup: @parlornorthraleigh / Cookies: @southernsugarbakery  / Invitation and other calligraphy: @bridgettlynette 

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15 Movies for Valentine's Day at Home

15 movies for valentine's day at home.jpg

Yes, I own every single one of these movies and have watched them each several times. If you are like me and don't care for all the Valentine's Day hoopla and just want to watch a movie at home on the couch (with or without a significant other), here are my recommendations. 

What's even better, these are all available via Amazon and with quick shipping using Prime (does anyone love Prime as much as I do?). You can try Amazon Prime for free for 30 days to see how amazing it is.

Looking for a love with a little less laughter?

The Spectacular Now / About Time / Crazy Stupid Love / Silver Linings Playbook

Looking for love with tissues on the side?

Becoming Jane / Bright Star / One Day / Like Crazy

What are your romantic movie favorites? I'd love to hear!

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What You Should Post on Instagram


As a small business owner, and social media consultant, I know how frustrating it is to constantly come up with fresh and interesting content for Instagram (along with all of your other social platforms). Some of you may live in a perfectly styled home with furnishings and decor that matches your business, so taking photos that are on-brand is easy. And what about the captions? To many, writing eloquently on the fly is an effortless task. The rest of us may find ourselves in a dimly lit apartment that is less than desirable for gram-worthy photos, and we can’t think of anything to write other than “look at this picture I took". So how do we fill our feeds with attractive and cohesive images and engagement-worthy captions? Here are my 5 tips for what to post on Instagram.

what to post on instagram with brit chandler of the inspired editorial on the belong magazine blog for female entrepreneurs, bloggers and women in the social media realm - lady boss, businesswomen

1. About You

Please introduce yourself to your audience. If I could pick one piece of advice that has stuck with me through my years in the creative industry, it's that people buy from people. Show your followers the authentic you. This could include headshots or images of you working on your craft, a snap of your workspace, or shots of your favorite things (your go-to morning beverage, a shot of your journal, etc). If you are a locally-based business, support and promote other small businesses by visiting them and sharing photos, with a caption about why you love their business. This not only gives you content for your social feeds, but it also opens up the door for networking with local businesses that may share your target market.

2. Sneak Peeks

This concept piggy backs on my last tip, but also gives you the opportunity to get people excited about things that are happening in your business, like an upcoming product launch. Sneak a shot of a new painting you are working on, or a new fabric that you just bought for your winter line. Have yo u been building a lifestyle photography portfolio to offer in-home sessions soon? Share what is “coming soon”, so when it arrives, your audience is already informed about it, and more likely to make a purchase.

3. Products & Services

If you sell products, I highly suggest taking styled photos of them. Showcase your products used in the context they are intended for. Do you make baby accessories? Style a flat lay image with other cute baby goods, or find a baby to model your products and take some lifestyle shots. If you offer a service like wedding planning, share images taken at your latest event. This is a great opportunity to hype your business and what you have to offer.

4. Tips & Helpful Resources

No matter who your target audience is, you have an expertise that can help them in some way. Are you a graphic designer? Give tips for curating a recognizable brand. Do you own a wedding venue? Share 3 tips for a more streamlined wedding day. You have an extensive knowledge base, and by sharing that, you are helping your audience build trust in you and your business.

5. Customer Generated Content

This is something that I often see businesses, big and small, not taking advantage of. Do you have a product that customers can’t help but share a photo of? Do you have a hashtag that is constantly being used for great Instagram posts? Reach out to those who have purchased a product or engaged with your business, and ask them if you can share their post. Be sure to tag and thank them in the caption. Another way to gene rate customer content is by sharing testimonials (or even kind comments from an email). I always recommend asking for permission to share prior to posting, but typically happy clients love to support you and your business!

Each of these tips opens up a world of Instagram post options. Take out a pen and paper, and jot down any ideas that popped in your head when reading this article. What are some tips you could share? How can you get creative with some sneak peeks? What information can you share about yourself that your audience will love? Once you get in the habit of noticing opportunities to share with your audience, it will become a natural part of your business. What is your go-to content for sharing on Instagram? Let us know in the comments!

Brit Chandler is the founder of The Inspired Editorial, and is a past marketing coordinator and social media strategist for creative companies. Her passion is talking marketing strategies with creative business owners. She has two wild boys, and is located in Lancaster, PA.

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How to Powerfully Use Your Words


One wintery Saturday afternoon found me cleaning our basement storage room. There were boxes of papers to sort, bins of holiday decorations to shuffle, and other assorted items that needed to be neatly realigned on the shelves. I’d estimated it would take me an hour or so to tidy up the space. Except I hadn’t factored in one thing.


The items I straightened and stacked weren’t spectacular; they were the common articles found in many basements and garages. But the fragrance of precious memories clung to them. Memories of events that changed my life. Memories of people who touched my heart. My cleaning pace slowed significantly. Some items I happened across made me chuckle out loud. Others brought a twinge of longing and sadness. All were sweet to my soul.

I gently folded the ivory lace dress my daughter wore for her baby dedication at church many years ago. My mother bought it for her and continues to dote on her grandchildren, picking up special gifts and treats for them. She has a knack for making others feel loved.

I whisper a prayer of thankfulness every time I remember my mom.

A hand-sewn stuffed rabbit sat perched on a corner shelf. My college roommate Kelly lovingly crafted it for my daughter when she was young. For over two decades, Kelly has been a thoughtful friend who never forgets my birthday.

I feel so noticed and loved every time I remember my friend Kelly.

I found an old key on a greyed leather key chain. Turning the key chain over I saw a simple word scrawled across the back: pool. Our former neighbor, a widow and retired schoolteacher, had an in-ground swimming pool, and we did not. Without children or grandkids nearby, she gave us a key so our young family could take a dip any time we wished.

A smile dances across my face every time I remember Mrs. B.

Memories surrounded me as I sorted through yearbooks and photo albums. Old friends. Precious relatives. Former coworkers. Pieces of my past. So many of these dear folks played a part in my life. Remembering them brought me pure joy. And yes—also a few tears to my eyes.

All these people have impacted my life. Their encouragement, advice, and sometimes mere presence were blessings to me. But so many times, I fail to tell them so.

I imagine you too have people who make your heart smile with delight when you remember them. It really doesn’t take that much time to briefly step out of our daily routine and devote a moment or two to send a handwritten note to someone about whom we would say, “Gratitude swells in my heart every time I remember you.” Expressing thankfulness brings contentment, and contentment brings peace—peace in knowing how the many people with whom we’ve crossed paths were designed to help make us who we are today.

how to powerfully use your words with karen ehman on the belong magazine blog

So here is a challenge. Will you carve out some time today to use your words to encourage—to intentionally bless others? It really is very easy. Someone is waiting to hear how thankful you are for them. It might just make their day. And yours.

Love Prompts

So, do this simple gesture. Grab a pen and notecard. (Remember them?) Use any of these prompts to get you started on jotting a handwritten note to a loved one in your life. For some, the statement stands alone. For others, elaborate on the thought that is given. Your words are sure to cheer and encourage the recipient!

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Friend

My favorite thing about our friendship is …

The best time I ever had with you was when …

I am with you all the way.

The character quality I most in admire in you is …

My favorite way to spend time with you is …

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Parent

I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you before, but thank you for …

A wonderful memory I have of my childhood is …

I admire your strength.

How can I help you?

I am proud of you for …

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Spouse

I trust your judgment.

I’m glad I married you.

Here is what I appreciate most about you …

I am with you.

Being married to you has taught me …

Five Powerful Phrases to Speak to Your Child

You can do it.

A happy memory I have of when you were younger is …

I am confident you can make good choices.

Being your mom has taught me …

One quality I admire in you is...

All day long we see words; we are inundated with language.

Most often this comes in the form of electronic words streaming across a screen. We read tweets. We scroll through Facebook statuses. We read memos and answer emails. We work our way through our favorite blogs. But very seldom do we get an old-fashioned, handwritten sentiment delivered to our mailbox.

So just who in your life might be waiting to receive helpful, healing, and hopeful words from you? Don’t limit it to just family members. Are there others? Coworkers, the people with whom you share an office space? Neighbors? Committee members? Even the “necessary people” in your life?

Necessary people are the ones who help us do life. The postal worker. The doctor or dentist. The person who does our nails or colors our hair. Why, even the garbage collector!

Each day you encounter many people, either face-to-face or perhaps online. If you aspire to be a person who reaches out and speaks life to at least one soul each day, I guarantee your words will not only cheer them…

They will also change you.

Are you ready? Grab a pen. Wield your words in a way that works wonders. Use them to build, not to break; to bless, not to badger; to encourage, not to embitter; to praise, not to pounce.

Speak life. Impart grace.

How will you use your words for good today?

Karen Ehman is a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and New York Times bestselling author. Described as profoundly practical, engagingly funny and downright real, her passion is to help women to live their priorities and love their lives as they serve God and others.

Karen writes for Encouragement for Today online devotions that bring God’s peace, perspective, and purpose to over four million women daily. She has authored ten books including the popular LET. IT. GO: How to Stop Running the Show & Start Walking in Faith and New York Times bestseller Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It and When to Say Nothing at All. Both include a companion DVD Bible study designed for group or individual use.

She has co-authored two books just for moms with Ruth Schwenk of The Better Mom - Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe and Why We All Need to Knock It Off and the newly released ECPA best-seller Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus. She is also the Speaker Track Director of Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference and a teaching staff member of their writers' training site COMPEL.


connect with Karen on:

Twitter: Karen_Ehman / Facebook: Karen Ehman / Pinterest: karenehmanp31 / Instagram: KarenEhman / website: www.karenehman.com / Proverbs 31 Ministries: www.proverbs31.org

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How to Style Food & Still Life Photographs››


I find that many creative business owners fall into their endeavors through a series of events all dictated by following one passion at a time. Almost 7 years ago, that is what happened to me.

how to style food and still life photographs with life created on the belong magazine blog - female entrepreneurs, photographers, women in business, product photos and shots

In 2009 I was experiencing the birth of my first daughter and my husband being deployed. I had my point and shoot camera and a newly-opened ETSY shop selling random sewn items, and paper invitations. (We can write another entire post about brand focus later... HA!)

I remember being so nervous about convincing brides that my invitations were worthy of their special day. What birthday themes could I create on paper? What items would I need to make them "legit" and worth a decent price? After I had made the items in my shop, the big struggle came. Besides sourcing all of my supplies and hand-making everything, I had to make these things communicate the 3 vital things: quality, value and purpose.

How do I show those in a picture? How do I compete among the see of images online already?

Granted, in 2009, Instagram wasn't the beast it is today. Blogs were still being discovered and the digital DSLR camera boom was in the baby stages.

During nap times I used my fold-up Walmart TV tray and the pink Olympus point and shoot camera my husband had bought me before he left. Turning a product I had created into a beautiful subject in a 2-D format was proving to be more difficult than I had thought. Little did I know, future years would teach me so many things to do and not do when trying to take pictures of a variety of products on my own at home. Now I have photographed anything from restaurant dishes, cupcakes, cakes and cookies to bed sheets, wedding stationery, candles, flowers and crafting supplies. All of these opportunities led me to writing my ebook all about shooting your own small business photography!

Let's talk about ways you can make you own photos for your business a success at home!

First Considerations

I soon learned that some shoots of products took a bit of planning. I wanted to style my shots according to the product, so determining the extra items needed in my product shots was essential. Remembering the product needed to be the "main event" of the shot, each invitation had a different style and bride I was trying to attract. All pictures need to be properly exposed, not blurry and have good composition, but also:


My first consideration is always where the light will be. What lighting style do you need for your shoot? Are you going for dark and moody or light and airy? Tour your home, even outdoors. Read the direction of the light. When shooting your products, beware of other considerations like the scene set around your product, the coordination of colors you are shooting, and also the shot list of images you will be needing. Having a list of these expected shots and details beforehand helps your shoot to be a success. Stay away from shooting around walls or objects that have bold colors that can color-cast onto your subject...even your clothing can do this!


Any product shots you take at home need to exhibit your style, or the style of the client who hired you, and attract the target customer.

Along the way in running your business, you will find the things that work and don't work for you. Maybe you like a dark and moody style vs a light or airy style. Perhaps you like to shoot from one specific angle...whatever it is, identify your style and brand trends. Stick to those with your product shots, always practicing and growing your style. What colors do you involve? What does your audience love about you?


All of my images are as "true" as they can be, meaning I don't fake a lot of ingredients in my food shots, and I like to show real life situations for the products. When it comes to editing, I keep my images with a clean edit, not covering them with a bunch of filters or changing the colors. Especially with food and product photography, you want your images to be as real and true as possible. If you find yourself needing more flexibility in your images, shoot further back giving you some open space where you can add text later! Also consider shooting a set-up in both a vertical and horizontal format so you have choice later.


With more shooting, you will find your favorite spot in your house, your go-to props, and some styling tricks that work for you. Just by practicing, you can learn so much! Get it as right in camera as you can, so you have less work to do when you get to your computer.

Stephanie is a mom of 3 living in Arizona. She owns a professional photography + photo styling business that helps provide small businesses with photography support. Her primary job is being a mom, but loves that her "other job" lets her be creative and meet so many other creative ladies all over the US. Find her at Life Created

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16 Things You Need in Pantone's Color of the Year / Greenery

It seems that "emerald" was just a few years ago, so I was pleasantly surprised to see "greenery" chosen as Pantone's Color of the Year 2017. It's happy and fresh and lively. And here are a few finds that I think you have to have that happen to be in the right color.

15 things you need in pantone color of the year 2017 greenery - belong magazine blog

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Finding Contentment When Wanderlust Hits You Square in the Face.


Disclaimer: I am a struggling twenty-something trying to figure out what it means to live in contentment. I do not by any means have this mastered; the words that follow are a glimpse into my process and what I’ve learned along the way.

finding contentment when wanderlust hits you square in the face

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘idol’? Perhaps it’s a golden statue, or money, or getting married. Maybe it’s an artist or songwriter or something less tangible, like your job or education. Whatever the case, our culture is ripe with idolatry, whether we admit it or not.

How many of you are guilty of spending hours on social media wishing you could experience, have or be what your friends are posting? I’d be the first to raise my hand. It’s called coveting. And it affects us like poison. We live in a wanderlust driven culture, which idolizes traveling, experiences, and squeezing life out of every little thing that promises pleasure.

Sometimes I feel as though I’m entering a freaking minefield when I open my social media feed as jealousy creeps up in my heart and I can’t seem to shake the longing to just go and escape my current reality. But I’ve learned that if I chase this feeling I’m only left wanting more, disappointed that I’ve reached the end without feeling full or satisfied.

This past summer I traveled all over Europe. I went to volunteer with refugees, but also because the explorer inside of me wanted to experience the world. I came face to face with the harsh reality that the world is a really dark place desperately in need of Light. Oftentimes I am guilty of thinking the world is one big magical playground and if I’m not escaping my current reality, then I’m missing out.

I’ve learned that no matter where I go, I can’t outrun the process, nor can I escape what’s happening within. Even if I were travel halfway across the world, I’d still be carrying my own baggage with me.

The truth is that wanderlust promises what it can’t deliver.

One of the best things I’ve practiced when overcome with wanderlust and jealousy is gratitude. It sounds simple, but thankfulness shifts the atmosphere - both internally and externally. When I choose to start listing all the things I’m thankful for, my eyes suddenly turn from myself to those around me and I realize my life is such a gift, especially in contrast to those I spent serving this summer.

You see, something happens when you choose to give your life away to others. Aside from gratitude, it may be the most powerful tool to finding contentment. It forces us to shift perspectives and get out of ourselves - something I need more often than not.

The next time you scroll through your feed and wish you could be somewhere else, try stopping and listing five things you’re thankful for. Look for opportunities to serve in your community, even if it’s as simple as serving a hot meal to someone in need. Finding true contentment requires effort; it’s a fight. But it opens our eyes to truly see what’s in front of us and take advantage of what life offers now, not ten years down the road.

At heart, Tori is a modern day pioneer, social entrepreneur, and creative thought leader. She works as a strategic writer and storyteller and believes we were each made to give our lives away and to come alive as we learn to invest in those around us. You can often find her dreaming and writing up something new on her back porch with a cup of coffee in hand. Join her conversation about wholehearted living on her blog at www.torischaulis.com.

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If You Cannot Find Your Brand Identity, How Will People Find Your Brand?


"Personal Branding is all about your unique promise of value and what you bring to the table. It’s (also) about getting your potential clients to choose you as the only solution to their problem."
– Dr. Sarah David

Defining your brand is so important. You want to be the solution to their problem. Whether you offer a product, perform a service or write a blog, your potential client, customer or follower needs to be able to connect to your brand immediately.

You have a very limited amount of time to get them to resonate with you and everything about you. Actually, about 20 seconds. When you are starting a new business or trying to revamp yours, there is so much to do. Your website, name, logos, products, mission statements, etc. Every day I work with female entrepreneurs to help them do just that, connect with their audience in a meaningful and intentional way.

if you cannot find your brand identity, how will people find your brand - belong magazine blog - female entrepreneurs, lady boss, women in business, small business branding

Let’s talk about five ways you can start developing your brand right now, so you can grab your ideal customer’s interest at first glance.

1. Define your core business values.

Stay true to yourself and do not try to be someone or something you are not. Your readers and potential clients want you to be transparent and genuine. If you are an introvert with a low-key business, do not try to make your brand loud with neon colors and crazy font. Match your brand to who and what you are. Be believable and transparent.

2. Note your big picture.

Your short and long term business and life goals are imperative. Do not just jump into something without taking the time to plan it out. Knowing these dreams and goals will help you with your branding and your message. You cannot chase a moving target so give yourself something to work for.

3. Start small.

It is okay to keep things simple at first, as long as what you do take on makes the most sense at the time for your business. You can always add on later as you become more confident and secure in your brand.

4. Get it right the first time.

It is okay to start small, but let’s make sure that what you do is needed and in line with your brand. The most critical areas of focus would be your niche, ideal client, your why and your message. If you can sell that within 20 seconds of someone landing on your home page, then you are golden! Use some emotion in your tagline, draw them in with your message. make them fall in love with you instantly!

5. Your name.

This tip should probably be listed first. Your brand and your business, what will you call it? Can the chosen name withstand the test of time? It needs to. Your name, website, and branding have to be relevant and real. All of this may take some time to pin down. If you are a service based business then using your name would be the wise recommendation. That is why you see a lot of people using their full name as their brand. It is evident, it is you, and it makes sense. Products and blogs are different and may require a lot of creativity to pin down the perfect name. Just make sure it is short and relevant.

Some of my favorite brands describe all of the tips above. They POP, they grab you, and you feel a connection right away. Here are some examples of my absolute favorite websites and brands that embody all of the points we have discussed today.

Nikki Ellegde Brown nails it at Nikkie Lledgebrown

Stock photos and membership site Haute Chocolate

Love this one, the colors, the message and more wonderlass

Who doesn't love Chip and Joanna? Love their simple boutique website Magnolia Market

Fem City has a direct message! Femcity

Very simple and easy message to fall for right away at Elle and Company Design

Megan Martin has a sweet and easy to follow website at Megan Martin

All of these brands speak clearly and directly to YOU, their ideal client. The colors, the format and the messaging of the brand is prominent. So where do you stand with your brand and business? Take some time to reflect and make changes where needed. And remember that selling your business within the first 20 seconds is critical to gaining and keeping customers and followers!

Vanessa is the CEO and founder of Vanessa Kromer Female Entrepreneur Life and Success Coaching. As a certified life and success coach, Vanessa helps hundreds of women tackle their goals and dream big daily. She is a fashion-forward self-made entrepreneur who loves to motivate and encourage other women to succeed and crush goals. She is a born leader and speaker with an energetic and fun personality! In addition to individual and group coaching, she uses her coaching skills as the Divisional Merchandise Manager for Chloe + Isabel NYC, where she leads, manages, and trains hundreds of women. Vanessa has a gift for bringing out the qualities deep inside the women she works with, qualities they did not even know existed. She is known for the ultimate in positive reinforcement, yet transparent coaching. Her genuine care for her clients and her level of professionalism keeps her customers coming back for more. Vanessa is very involved in ministry and charity work during her free time. She also enjoys styling jewelry. Vanessa is always seeking new and innovative ways to build her brand, including ways to help encourage other leaders and entrepreneurs.

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