Wednesday Favorites: Jammin' to Podcasts

 Weekly link roundup to help your business grow and stay inspired

Happy Wednesday, y'all! I hope you recovered after the holiday weekend. I know I needed a ton of rest and lots of down time. This week, I'm just sticking to a few links that I found interesting, and the podcasts that I'm totally jamming to. Happy summer!

Sometimes we get in our own way. Anyone ever felt like that before?

Even though I'm loving being a lifestyle business, I'm also currently loving the new podcast from Ebay called Open for Business. They did an episode on hiring that was SO good.

In case you were wondering, powerful women don't have to be competitive.

I was so honored (and a little "hide-under-the-covers") to be profiled in the Bozeman Chronicle about being an entreprenuer. Check out the other awesome ladies in there.

Do you have your career goals in order like this little miss?

I basically love everything that is published on Get Bullish, but this post about creating the minimum viable product (aka the thing that people will DEFINITELY pay for) for your business had me all heart-eyed.

Your turn! What have you been eyeing this week?
 

#MontanaBoss Friday: Kathy Lockie from Lockie Photography

Happy Fourth of July weekend, boss! Let's lazily close out the week, chat with your co-workers (aka your pets) about your weekend plans, and hopefully close up shop juuuust a little early so that we can spend some time at the lake, on the river, or in the mountains.

Each Friday, we'll be doing a feature on an amazing creative business owner in the Big Sky State, so that we can all learn a little bit more about the struggle and the awesomeness of being a business owner. Click here to read other interviews with amazing women from around the state!

 
 Montana boss women talk about creating and growing their businesses in the Big Sky State.
 

Hey girl hey! Introduce yourself and tell us about your biz!

I'm Kathy Lockie from Lockie Photography. My husband Josh and I own and run a local photography business. We specialize in weddings, and split our time between Arizona and Montana (where we're from) so we can photograph them all year 'round!

How did you start your boss lady journey?

You know, my husband began Lockie Photography in 1999, so it's been around awhile. However, I started helping him run the business side of things in 2009, and joined him full-time in 2010. We now own and run Lockie Photography jointly, and both photograph all of our weddings together. He's the true creative and entrepreneurial visionary, I'm more of the get-things-done lady, so we make a great team!

Have you gone full-time with your business?

Yes, 100% full-time. It was a bit scary at first because I quit my other job two weeks before we got married, so it really was a sink or swim type of situation. However, I think taking that step from the very beginning of our partnership was important. It meant that we had a few very lean years, but it also forced us to get our act together and learn how to run our business in a sustainable way.

Okay, let's talk about the DNA behind Lockie Photography. Were you one of those women with entrepreneurship basically in your blood that we always hear about?

When I was in high school trying to decide what to study in college, my parents encouraged me to pursue an entrepreneurship degree. I told them I never wanted to own my own business, I'd prefer to work for other people. That didn't work out so well for me! In all honesty, my husband is the one with real entrepreneurial genes (every one of his immediate family members owns and runs their own business). I think I have just enough to be ok with the craziness of it all, but not enough that I would have wanted to start my own business without him as a partner.

 
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How do you build an income and a life through Lockie Photography?

We truly do specialize in weddings, so they make up about 90% of our yearly income. We also do some commercial work around Bozeman (real estate, homes, headshots).

What do you LOVE about being your own boss?

Flexibility. It's a wonderful beast. A beast because there aren't too many set-in-stone plans, so the schedule tends to change more than I'd like, but wonderful because it allows Josh and I to truly enjoy our life and maximize our time and experiences together as a couple.

What was your most expensive mistake?

We've been pretty fortunate to not have high overhead, but have definitely made some advertising decisions that cost a LOT of money for very little return. However, I don't necessarily regret those decisions because they've taught us a lot, and even if you can't see direct monetary results, advertising regularly means that you continue to push your name in front of people.

 
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What's the biggest misconception that women have around business ownership?

That there is a magic bullet. There is no magic bullet, there is only hard work, thinking outside the box, and taking advantage of opportunities instead of being afraid of them.

Where would you like to be in the next year? The next five years?

It's a little difficult to manage and balance two separate marketplaces, so I'd really like to continue how to best organize and run our business in that area.

How would you define a Boss Lady?

A gal who is hard-working, teachable, confident, sees the best in those around her, and is willing to work past fear and take risks in order to move forward.

What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first year as a biz owner?

YEAR 1: It's ok to charge money.

YEAR 3: Clients will be happier if you don't try to just tell them what you think they want to hear up front and shoot yourself in the foot later.
 

Want to get in touch with Kathy? Check her out on her website. Send her an email and tell her how you found out about her (*cough* The #MontanaBoss feature *cough*)

(P.S. Want to share your story with other Montana business owners? Click here.)

How to Set Up an In-Person Accountability Group

Copy of Difference between Growing and Scaling.jpg

Whenever I tell the story about the moment that I realized I could grow and sustain myself by running my own event agency, I always talk about a little email I sent in January of 2015 to 10 women who I knew somewhat loosely.

It read:

Hey ladies!

I hope you all are doing so, so well and had wonderful holiday seasons.

I've mentioned this to a few of you, but a HUGE thing on my business project list is to have a real live group of entrepreneurial women in this little town of Bozeman that I can rely on, and in turn, who can rely on me. To come together to celebrate the HUGE, enormous wins. To feel safe and supported when you want to talk about the struggle (because when being a business owner, the struggle is REAL, y'all).

Each of you are doing monumental things in the Bozeman community. I am in awe of every single one of you. You all are creative and smart, produce beautiful things, create strong communities, inspire others to live well, and are so incredibly humble.

You are all a part of the dream team answer to that question "If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?"

So, I thought instead of dreaming I'd just ask you all: would you like to be a part of a group of women entrepreneurs in Bozeman with me? 

The goal would not be networking: there are already enough groups in Bozeman that do that sort of thing. The goal is to form strong friendships, a community of women who are hustling their buns off to live well, as a business owner. To sit down together once a month and celebrate our peaks and help each other through the troughs. Also, to drink wine, which is a good a reason as any to get together.

That said, I'd love to invite you all to a little wine + cheese gathering at my house on Thursday, January 22nd at 6:30pm. 

If you're interested, just reply back to me singularly (no need to mass email unless you want to) to let me know you're coming. If not, no pressure at all! I know you're still going to do wonderful, amazing things in the Bozeman community and I can't wait to watch it happen!

I look forward to seeing you all on January 22nd!

Best,

Lauren

I sent the email out, with very small expectations; not knowing if it would be well-received, but I thought at least a few people would be interested.

Turns out, everyone but one person came. And we've been meeting almost every month since then.

However, not everyone has the chops or the desire to set up an accountability group. Some people prefer to participate in an accountability group. Some people don't want the hassle of managing a group.

HOWEVER, an accountability group can work wonders for your network and for your business' growth. Here are the best tips that I've learned so that you can actually set up an accountability group that is intentional and grows your network.

Identify Diverse Members

Unless you're going for a "photographer's group" or a "designers group", I recommend being very, very intentional about the people that you choose for an accountability group. Try to pick some extraverts and some introverts. Choose people who have a different lens on business that the norm. Pick people who are friendly, nice, and not overly negative.

The one thing I will say is to try to keep everyone's scope of business within a year or two. Most individuals on a high-level want to learn from other peers, but if a member has been in business for 15 years, and everyone else has been in business one or two, it's going to create a difficult power dynamic that limits the growth of the person who has more experience.

Keep Groups Limited

The first group I started had 10 women, which I thought was small, but was in fact ENORMOUS. I recommend keeping groups limited to 6 or fewer to make sure everyone gets air time and feels heard and respected within your group settings.

That said, what if someone flakes out a bunch and never comes? Can you expand your group? Read on...

Set Ground Rules

These can come in two forms: ground rules for basic participation in the group and ground rules for discussion.

Ground rules for participation include rules that keep everyone accountable to their commitment. Perhaps it's a six-month trial period and if it goes well, then you can go forward and continue for one year. 

Set monthly meeting times and make sure you have one person facilitate and possibly a different person host each month. Have an incentive or a consequence if people skip 2 meetings in a row. Tell people that they need to host and facilitate at least once during the calendar year.

Make sure people take this commitment as seriously as you do, and try to manage their expectations as much as you possibly can.

Ground rules for discussion include deciding what you'll be talking about each month, setting a time limit for each person to chat about their specific take on the discussion point, and proactively creating a bit of structure to each event so everyone's needs are being met.

Some other ground rules that I like are these:

a) We're not here to fix each other's problems, we're just here to ask questions and be curious

b) You can suggest solutions, but sometimes people just want to be heard instead of being told what they should do

c) Be respectful of all experiences and ideas. Just because you don't agree, doesn't mean the point of view isn't valid.

Recognize Your Role as a Facilitator

As a facilitator, the truth is that you have to care a little bit more about the rest of the room because the bottom will drop out if you aren't the one setting the schedule, sending emails, and making sure people show up on the days of the facilitation.

One way to allow there to be more diversity in facilitation is to let other people facilitate or co-facilitate the discussion based on the goals of the group. This can go well or it can go poorly, but the important thing is that you can read your group. Are people frustrated? Maybe you step in and help steer the conversation. Are people having fun, but it's not the way you'd do it? That's okay; there's more than one way to skin a cat (unless you want control over every single detail, in which case, more power to you sister!) 

Okay your turn! Have you ever facilitated a small group or an accountability group? How did you come up with the idea? 

#MontanaBoss Friday: Tessa Burnett of Hattie Rex

 
 Boss Lady Tessa Burnett from Hattie Rex in Bozeman

Happy Friday, boss! A day of lazily closing out the week, chatting with your co-workers (aka your pets) about your weekend plans, and hopefully closing up shop juuuust a little early. Each Friday, we'll be doing a feature on an amazing creative business owner in the Big Sky State, so that we can all learn a little bit more about the struggle and the awesomeness of being a business owner. Click here to read other interviews with amazing women from around the state!

Hey girl hey! Introduce yourself and tell us about your biz!

I'm Tessa Burnett, owner of Hattie Rex. Hattie Rex creates personalized accessories for people and pets. We make custom metal jewelry and pet ID tags. I'm the owner/designer/artist.

How did you start your boss lady journey?

In 2007, I was a new mom to a rambunctious yellow lab named Pablo. Pablo had stolen my heart, and like all new moms, I wanted to give him the best life possible.

Which included getting him a proper ID tag.

But the problem was… all of the ID tags on the market were mass-produced, engraved by machine, and lacking the sentiment I felt my pup deserved. After all, he was only going to wear one piece of jewelry, so it had to be something worthy of his poster-dog status.

So I set out to make my own ID tag. I purchased a set of letter and number stamps online, some tin snips and a sheet of copper from the hardware store, and found an old ball-pein hammer at an antique store. I sat on my porch and hammered out my first dog tag on a cinderblock. It was terrible. But, never one to settle, I kept trying until Pablo had a legible, handmade dog tag.

I put the tags on an Etsy store and found I was the only person on the site selling handmade dog tags. I made tags for every dog I knew and started visiting more and more craft shows.

One day, a crazy person at a show asked me if I could put her daughter’s name and birthday on the tag instead of the suggested dog name and phone number. She wanted to put it on a chain and wear it as a necklace. I thought she had lost her mind, but I obliged… and quickly realized that there were other people who wanted the same thing.

Turns out, personalized jewelry is not just for the dogs.

Production of Hattie Rex jewelry for humans had begun, and my business soared. Before long, I was a full-time CEO, working in sweatpants out of the basement in my Rolla, Missouri home.

Today, I am located in the utopia of Bozeman, Montana. In my retail store, I’m able to meet face-to-face with my customers on a daily basis, helping them turn their ideas for custom jewelry and pet tags into a reality.

Today, I am still using that antique hammer to create personalized accessories for people and pets. Although the business has changed over the years, one thing remains the same: whether human or canine, Hattie Rex brings you home.

It reminds you of the promises you make to yourself, of who you are and who you aspire to be. It takes you to the places you love, the days that changed your life, and the people — and pets — who make it all worth it.

 Montana pendant, one of the most popular items at Hattie Rex

What did you do before you were a CEO?

I was a high-school Spanish teacher when I started making dog tags. By 2009, I had quit teaching to pursue a Master's Degree, but I still had a GTA position and I always intended to go back to teaching when I finished.

However, by the time I graduated, my little dog tag business had replaced a teacher's salary (it's not hard to do, unfortunately) and I decided to give it a go. I've been full-time for 6 years now.

Okay, let's talk about the DNA behind Hattie Rex. Were you one of those women with entrepreneurship basically in your blood that we always hear about?

I started making dog tags because I wanted a dog tag. I started a business because I wanted to make more money than I was making in my teaching job and the dog tags were an avenue for that.

I wouldn't say I was born to be an entrepreneur, but I will say that my DNA contains a decent amount of creativity and massive amount of persistence. One helped me start the business and the other never let me quit. (Editor's note: Me too! I wasn't a "born entrepreneur" but now I love it.)

 Boss lady jewelry by Hattie Rex in Montana

How do you build an income and a life through Hattie Rex?

In 2012 we opened our first retail location and in 2015 we moved to a larger spot. Currently, about 40% of our revenue comes from retail sales. 25% is from wholesale (we have over 75 retailers carrying our products across the US and Canada), 20% is online retail, and about 15% is a mixture of consignment and other ventures.

What is your favorite thing about being your own boss?

I love the flexibility and challenge of being my own boss. I love knowing that I'm responsible for my future, and I love seeing the results of my hard work. I love the work that I do. I don't know if I'd go through the struggles (and joys) of entrepreneurship if I wasn't in this field. It's worth it! 

What was your most expensive mistake?

I like to call them expensive lessons and I have many. Most recently, I've been analyzing the money that goes to people who help me -- mostly employees, but also photographers, web designers, etc. --- and realizing that in the past I haven't been as discerning as I now aim to be.

If I'm beating around the bush, or unwilling to have tough conversations just to save someone's feelings, I'm doing everyone a disservice. I'm learning, through practice and research, that you can have those conversations in a diplomatic way and have everyones' needs met.

 A dog tag made by Bozeman's own Tessa Burnett of Hattie Rex

What's the biggest misconception that women have around business ownership?

You'll have so much freedom and flexibility! You'll set your own hours! You'll enjoy unlimited vacation time! You'll be filthy rich in no time!

Where would you like to be in the next year? The next five years?

In the next year I'd love to have expanded my wholesale presence, developed a profitable retail avenue for Hattie Rex and other artists in the retail shop, and begin looking at expanding to another retail location.

In five years, I'd love to have multiple retail locations, each selling Hattie Rex plus other local artists' work. I'd love to have a production studio separate from the retail space and I'd love to break into the Japanese pet ID tag market.

How would you define a Boss Lady?

Boss Ladies are tenacious, supportive, and resourceful.

What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first year as a biz owner?

Year 1: This can be more than a fun little hobby. It's worth your time.
Year 3: Think bigger, but make sure you're taking time for you.

Want to get in touch with Tessa? Check her out on her website. Send her an email and tell her how you found out about her (*cough* The #MontanaBoss feature *cough*)

(P.S. Want to share your story with other Montana business owners? Click here.)

 

 

The Difference Between Growing and Scaling a Business (and why it matters)

 Why scaling is better than growing in your business

"Yea, but the thing is, I just really want to grow. I'm already at capacity with my current client load, so I need to hire someone else to help me grow."

This is a phrase that I hear all the time. In fact, this is a phrase that, before a few weeks ago, I said to myself constantly.

Growth.

It's a hallmark of a "successful" company. When you have your own office or retail store, a bunch of employees and more things to point to as assets for your business, there's a sense of satisfaction that builds. You're GROWING. You've GROWN.

But at the end of the day, growth can be misleading, even for the most savvy business people. If you're growing your labor force, but still serving clients 1:1, how much additional revenue are you actually bringing in PLUS now having to manage people?

Sometimes, people grow their companies and hire employees, but make less money overall. Which is totally fine! But the real metrics of business often lie within your profit margins and how profitable you are. If you grow, but are less profitable, is that the kind of business you want to run?

The answer could be yes (especially in the case of restaurants or retail stores or product sellers) because you're banking on the fact that it will take some time to get your business up and running, but once you do, you'll be able to scale (there's that word again) and ship out many, many pieces of your product or serve many, many people in your restaurant.

Scaling.

Now this is something I'm interested in. Scale is being able to create a product or service one time and then sell and manage it with very little effort on your part.

Writing a book is an example of a scaleable product.

Digital workbooks are an example of an extremely scaleable product.

A video course is an example of a scaleable product.

You put the labor into the product one-time, and then, as your audience grows and your customer base gets bigger, you can resell the product or service over and over again.

That's scale. And that's the kind of business we should all aim to run in order to actually make a decent living and, hey, maybe take a vacation every now and then?

Why it matters?

As you know, I'm a HUGE fan of being transparent about the numbers of your business. I want you to understand just how much money you're making versus how much time you're putting in.

With growth, you can put in a whole lot less time by hiring someone, but if their productivity is lower and you spend time managing them instead of selling your products or services, you're going to lose money on your investment initially.

Growing and scaling matter because, as business owners who bootstrap their way up the business ladder, there is a misconception that income can only happen by hiring more people. And that's just not true.

It comes with being creative about being a business owner, and diversifying the ways that you interact with your customers.

Six ideas about how to scale your business:

1. Create an online course where you teach people a specific skill set. You can serve 5 people or 500 people, as long as they have access to the internet. 

2. Write an e-book, or a real book that you can sell to your audience. Other than printing costs (if you go through a traditional printer), you can write a book once, and sell it continuously with no other work than admin.

3. Find other people that do what you do and refer clients to them and take a commission for managing the project or referring the project. This is known as an "agency style" business ownership. 

4. Create a membership site, and charge people to use the content. This is somewhat of the model for many membership organizations in the area that cost money to be a part of. Online, you have access to people all over the globe, so you have far more potential to capture new members.

5. Lease out space in your home or office building (if you own it), for more than your mortgage. This is an example of passive income, and if this is a place that you put your attention, it can scale exponentially, the more space you have.

6. Create a product or service, then reach out to other people with large audiences, promising them a commission on sales (50% if it's a digital product is good incentive). This is more of a marketing tool, but once you get the audience, it's possible to scale your products even more and charge for products and services at different price points to serve different aspects of your audience.

YOUR TURN! In what ways are you growing and scaling your business? What sort of business model do you fall into and how has that changed since you started your business?

 

How to Manage Your Projects When You're Overwhelmingly Busy

 Managing projects when you're overwhelmingly busy

The struggle of the freelance writer, classic entrepreneur, and handmade artist is that there are always seasons -- seasons like holiday season for product sellers, or summer fair season for artists, or engagement season for those in the wedding industry.

If there's one classic pain that we can all understand as small business owners it's the inability to know how to manage yourself when your life is overwhelmingly busy -- and then again when it's underwhelmingly quiet.

Before this year, I thought my busy seasons were spring and fall -- spring was onboarding for conference clients, and fall was actual execution and consulting around events.

But this year I'm noticing that, as I take on bigger and bigger clients, it's a full spring from April until Thanksgiving -- with very little breathing room. And then, December and January will come around and I'll be twiddling my thumbs again.

But how do we stay sane? How do we continue moving forward toward our goals when we know there is simply not enough time in the day to get everything done?

If you're a solo entrepreneur, or you feel like you have too many things on your plate today, I'm going to give you my best suggestions on how to clear away the crap, and really get things done.

#1 Create ACTION STEPS, not just a To Do List

The number one thing that takes away our concentration and attention is not knowing exactly what our next steps are for any piece of any puzzle. A lot of times, we come out of meetings with clients or customers (or ourselves!) and we have a vague idea of what we need to do, but we don't actually have the next real-time step to take.

When I work with my event clients, I'm ALL about action steps. Sometimes, people want to see an entire project plan from soup to nuts so that they know what exactly they're looking at. However, I've found that creating a high-level overview with specific actions is enough. Most people can't look at a piece of paper and realize how that translates into an entire project. So, less is more in this case.

 My Asana project management desktop...pretty huh?

My Asana project management desktop...pretty huh?

What IS awesome is action steps. So, whenever you hang up a phone call, you should send an IMMEDIATE follow up email to your client and to yourself that has the next action step for both them and you.

This may sound like drivel, but when you have 100 balls in the air, breaking down the projects into immediate steps is going to be so much less overwhelming, and it will give your brain the chance to let go of managing those balls-in-the-air, and give you the mental space to ACTUALLY tick things off the list?

#2 Know that your clients won't be mad with a pre-emptive apologetic email

SO MUCH of the internal stress I create for myself is based on my clients' perceived notion of how well I am doing on their behalf (which is usually pretty dang good, or else I'd be far out of business). 

The truth is, we all overestimate the amount of work we can do and often, our clients are busy enough that all they need is an update on our progress.

When you're feeling stressed, it's easy to  let emails go unanswered and clients waiting for files. However, I find that the progress check-in emails are much easier to answer with an honest assessment about where you are in the process.

Some clients may be upset, but in my experience, the quicker emails are returned and the more the client feels like you're actually working on their project, the better the relationship stays, even if deadlines need to be moved (we all need deadlines moved sometimes).

#3 Go full speed at the things that are the most important

We all have the tendency to be perfectionists, right? Which is great for our clients who have a very high expectation, but can also shoot us in the foot when we're trying to actually ship things out and get things done.

When I'm really busy with client work I throw all of my weight at the most important things. Sometimes, if I have time, I'll market myself and keeping a blog presence (hence this post right here) and participate in networking events (because you know I love networking events!).

But the bottom line is that, the busier you are, the less you can take on that's not absolutely crucial.

My project management system helps me with that, because I can gauge my energy and say "Okay, well these 5 things HAVE to get done today, but right now, I only have energy for this one thing." Which means I can go full speed at that one thing for an hour or two, and feel accomplished when it's done.

#4 Mix administrative tasks and brain-heavy tasks

We all have tasks that totally take up way too much brain space. Blogging is one of those for me, unless I haven't been writing in a while. But if I have a very email-heavy day, I can't even think about writing a blog post, which means I need to write a post in the morning, and then do some planning tasks or make phone calls or organize tasks in the afternoon.

Find out what your "brain-heavy tasks" are and limit them to one or two per day. Beyond that, it's a win, as long as you can do your administrative tasks and stay on track.

Your turn! What are your tips for staying calm under all the work pressure during your busy season? 

#MontanaBoss Friday: Tori Pintar of Tori Pintar Photography

Happy Friday, boss! A day of lazily closing out the week, chatting with your co-workers (aka your pets) about your weekend plans, and hopefully closing up shop juuuust a little early. Each Friday, we'll be doing a feature on an amazing creative business owner in the Big Sky State, so that we can all learn a little bit more about the struggle and the awesomeness of being a business owner. Click here to read other interviews with amazing women from around the state!

 Tori Pintar from Tori Pintar Photography

Tori Pintar from Tori Pintar Photography

Hey girl hey! Introduce yourself and tell us about your biz!

Hi! I'm Tori Pintar of Tori Pintar Photography. I'm a Wedding photographer for couples who break the rules because they want a wedding that reflects who they are and the love they have for one another AND the love they have for those dearest to them. For the moms and dads that are rule breakers and raising future rule breakers I also love to spend a morning with them capturing real, chaotic and beautiful family life.

How did you start your boss lady journey?

Accidentally. You might laugh at that, but really. I didn't realize I'd crossed the threshold of self-employed and entrepreneurship until I'd been all in for six or nine months, maybe even a year.

Specifically, people who cared about me helped to create opportunities for me to pursue my passion as a business. They'd noticed just how much I loved taking photographs of people and how fascinated I was with the creativity in the wedding industry and two key things happened.

A friend who did event planning connected me with a couple who couldn't afford photography in a traditional sense and they hired inexperienced me. I pulled an all-nighter to make a slideshow in iPhoto of my 'portfolio' paired with terrible, sappy music to get the job.

On the day, I worked 15 hours for $300.00 and I loved every minute of it. I thought that was so much money!

Then, my uncle connected me to Kene Sperry of Eye in the Sky Photography. This is when serendipity really stepped in, because for the first time, Kene was looking to expand and add a studio manager and possible associate photographer. I worked for free for him that summer to make sure I was the person he hired.

Getting my first paid job was huge, because the idea of being paid to do something I loved seemed impossible and something that 'other' people do. Teaming up with Kene, I found an incredible mentor, learned so much about business and realized that I wanted to run my own, and being a business owner was just as exciting and fulfilling as the photography.

Have you gone full-time with your business?

I pursued payment for my wedding photography services because it felt like the only option for me. Photography was my passion. I was living, breathing and sleeping it.

Fortunately, I found out that I also really liked being a boss lady. Building a brand and a service and experience driven business was fascinating to me and presented constant challenges that kept me on my toes.

At some point, I transitioned mentally from I need to do this passion project to I'm going to build a successful business and life doing something I love. I was hooked by the self-employment beast, but I still hadn't taken complete ownership.

After about two and a half years since I'd made my first $300, I hired a business coach. I was scared to break away from Eye in the Sky and sad to leave such a great team, but deep down I knew that I had to take the reigns and complete responsibility of my business.

Kene and I both knew it and we mutually decided I'd become full time Tori Pintar Photography about two and a half years ago.

How do you build an income and a life through Tori Pintar Photography?

Each calendar year I photograph 15-20 weddings and about 15 families. I will occasionally take on other projects for past clients and local community members that range from event photography to portraits at the school if they're the right fit for me or I need the additional income.

What do you LOVE about being your own boss?

The responsibility.

As much as I'm sometimes terrified that it's all me, I love that I have moments where I look at the clothes hanging in my closet, some of which are actually kind of nice now, and I think I bought those with the money that I--painstakingly at times--made.

Or I recently, joined a wine club, something five or even one year ago would have been impossible. And while it only costs about $200 a year, it feels like such a big deal that I was able to make that happen with out any sort of traditional employment. My family is fairly conservative in a lot of ways, and I've always been the walking to the beat of her own drum member, so I've found huge empowerment in living a life that feels authentic to me but still being able to successfully (at times) adult.

I get bored easily. I couldn't live in southern California anymore for a lot of reasons, but the perfect 80 degree days in December and May and October are high up there on the list. That consistent weather was just so boring to me!

Being a boss lady, I wake up challenged almost every day. The possibilities of what we can do with our businesses, the directions we can take them, the changes we can make, simultaneously excite and overwhelm me.

As the years in business increase, I'm getting more sunk in to the excitement however, because I've also realized that the endless possibilities and choices we make for our businesses most are not permanent. It's ok to test something out and not have it work out or to have something start as an orange and turn into a watermelon. This shift in mindset makes me ecstatic about all the things I can do with my business!

What was your most expensive mistake?

Hiring someone to manage my SEO and not managing them and their progress. I paid them a small fortune for almost a year and I'm on page 5 for my keywords and I'm one of two wedding photographers who reside in Big Sky physically and my website doesn't come up on page one for Big Sky Wedding Photographers.

I tricked myself with the game of being 'busy' into thinking I didn't have time to mitigate this situation or manage my SEO another so I hoped it would just get better.

Really I was just avoiding the tough confrontation of firing them and sharing my truthful experience with a fellow business owner and admitting I had wasted so much money. I've made similar financial mistakes because of 'being' busy but I've found I'm often just avoiding something that is confusing to me which then turns into fear of the unknown and inaction. Taxes are a good example!

What's the biggest misconception that women have around business ownership?

That you're going to wake up on day one and have this beautiful routine where you run in the morning, make a nice breakfast, have a cup of tea, work for eight productive uninterrupted hours with maybe a long lunch in there and then finish for the day and mentally leave your 'work' behind you.

And when you fail at this, that there is something wrong with you and you should beat yourself up about it. Figuring out your working life, routine and habits is one of the biggest challenges to being self-employed.

No one can tell you exactly how to do this. There is no secret formula. Which is both amazing and frustrating. You literally get to build every piece of what your day to day life looks like (yay!) and you literally have to figure out through trial and error, a lot of tears and days in your pajamas with teeth you haven't brushed at 3pm what every piece of your day to day looks like.

Where would you like to be in the next year? The next five years?

With more boxes on my to do list and project list checked off.

I'm on a mission this year to finish things. My mantra is done is better than perfect! Perfection has been halting me in my tracks so I'm trying to just do. Each day I want to accomplish more little things by letting go of so much of the minutiae.

For example a Facebook post that might have taken 15 minutes, now takes 5. In the grander project scheme of things, I have a list of ideas I've wanted to make happen in my business, some of them going on 4 years now, I'd love to look back and have accomplished or at least tried out 3-5 of those.

When I think about five years, I hope I've attempted and completed some really big projects. I have one I'm in the brainstorming stages of now and it's a personal project but it could create some financial/business opportunities in the future. Right now, I'm doing it just for me and I want to keep the focus that way but I know the personal project connects to my core values and passions which will have long term benefits.

What one piece of advice would you give yourself in your first year as a biz owner?

Year One: Don't be afraid to try out a lot things and see what works for you. You don't have to get it right the first or 15th time. Just pick somewhere to start and start even if it is just baby steps. Those steps add up. I promise.

Year Three: Stop working all the time! Go outside. Make a date to hang out with friends and keep it no matter what. Life is both short and long. Short so make the most of it with the people you love but long in that if you don't do this one project today or this month, you have time do it next month. Friends, life, love, joy, you need those to be your best boss lady self.

Want to get in touch with Tori? Check her out on her website. Send her an email and tell her how you found out about her (*cough* The #MontanaBoss feature *cough*)

(P.S. Want to share your story with other Montana business owners? Click here.)

Wednesday Links: Investing for Women, Hidden Facebook Inboxes, and Other Wednesday Spiciness

 On money, growing a business the hard way, and networking like a rockstar

On Monday, I wrote ALL THE WORDS about why blogging has been so hard for me recently. And so, today, I'm going to simply share as many business articles as I can about being a badass business owner (and maybe one about blogging) for your reading and time-wasting pleasure. Enjoy!

My girl Ashlyn rounded up some links of how to be an AMAZING networker (which is like, my favorite topic to talk about ever). Save this one for right before a big conference or event you're heading to.

Don't we all love a good female CEO who built her company into a powerhouse? Jessica Alba's story is so fascinating to me.

This store in Dillon, MT is doing amazing things for ex-cons. 

You know all those people that are like "I totally messaged you on Facebook!" and you're all "huh?" This is why.

You know what's not all that fun? Saving for your business. You know what is fun? Not having panic attacks that you don't have enough capital left to make it through the month. Here's a good way to save for work/life expenses.

Speaking of money, women are woefully behind men in understanding investing and finances. This platform makes it easier for women to invest toward target goals.

Podcasts aren't huge in my life, but whenever I travel (which has been a LOT lately), I binge on podcasts. My favorite? Startup, Planet Money, and Being Boss.

What are your favorite podcasts? And what have you been reading this week?