Posts in Business
Quitting your day job is a by-product of starting a business

I am so excited to talk to you about something that has been boggling my mind since I quit my day job back in March of 2016 to take my business on full-time.

It seems as if many people out there have this misconception that the goal to create a business is to be able to quit your day job and work for yourself full-time. It sounds like the ideal situation most aspiring business owners want to be in. They want to do what they love, make enough or more than enough money to fund their ideal lifestyle, and work on their own schedule while ditching the 9 to 5.

YES, quitting your job to pursue your business is a goal and maybe even a reason why you want to succeed in business so badly, but its not the only goal you should have when you start a business.

You should start your business because you want to offer a product or service that is better than anything you have seen.

You should start your business because you want to put something out into the world that has not been done yet.

You should start your business because you want to solve a problem.

You should start your business because you KNOW it is something people will want to pay for.

You should start your business because you will enjoy and appreciate the journey of starting your business regardless of the outcome.

A by-product of starting your business could be that you quit your day job because your business is becoming where you allocate the most time, the most energy, and all your resources.

A by-product of starting your business should be that it fulfills you more than your day job, gives you the financial stability you need, and a time schedule that works for you.

Do not romanticize the idea of quitting your day job and make that the reason why you want to start a business. To be honest, even when I had a business, actually two businesses, I still had two part-time jobs for 2 straight years. With four different streams of income, I knew I had so much more to learn before taking on my business full-time.

Tweet: Do not romanticize the idea of quitting your day job and make that the reason why you want to start a business. #buildyourservice

I was not running businesses because I was waiting around until my businesses replaced my part-time job income. I ran my businesses on the side because I wanted to solve problems, service my own clients, and feel fulfilled in my own work. I wanted to make my businesses the very best they can be without worrying about where my next paycheck was coming from. 

If you have an idea for a business or already have a business, I want you to brainstorm the idea and explore it. What makes you want to run your business? What market do you want to serve? What types of customers and clients do you want to have? What will your idea do? And how will your idea become a business you are truly proud of leaving your day job for?

Obsessed with helping you build a better business,

Zobia Alvi


P.S Do you love podcasts? or audio content? or awesome podcasts with exclusive audio content? Then take a listen to my podcast all about building a better business, finding your work and life balance, and where I share tools and tactics to building a business you love, Business by Design!

Get out of your head + keep moving

Today I wanted to talk to you about something I have seen many people who want to start businesses or grow their businesses do. They get stuck in their own heads. 

Maybe you are listening to too many voices telling you what the next best thing is, maybe you feel your ideas will not work or are not good enough, or maybe the thought of putting your ideas out there just scares you a little. 

That's okay. It happens to everyone. But, there is a problem when that happens often.

When you are stuck in your own head you build negativity around your goals, you fear putting your ideas out there, and you procrastinate and put off the date you want to build upon your idea further and further along.

If it happens often then you become stagnant. You do not grow any further towards your goals as you did when you first started. You lose sight of why you wanted to do it in the first place. It slowly, but surely becomes less important to you and it always sits in the backseat of your brain because you are not ready to act upon it.

If its important to you - If the end goal (whether that is to make extra money, achieve a level of financial freedom, doing what you love; etc) is important to you then STOP pushing it aside, do not let it stay stuck in your head, and do not fear failure. 

Break your goal into manageable steps and get to work. 

Get out of your head + keep moving!

Obsessed with helping you build a better business,

Zobia Alvi

Last post of 2016!

2016 is coming to an end and I don't know about you, but I am so excited to begin a new year and start working my way towards goals I was not able to accomplish this year. I can't wait to see what 2017 holds for me and my business and kiss 2016 goodbye! 

WARNING: There is lots of excitement in this post! 

Since this is the last post that I will be publishing until 2017, I decided to curate some awesome tools and resources from the year (from myself and other business owners alike) so that you can catch up and get ready to take 2017 head on as well! 

I will also be sharing all the new projects I hope to launch and update next year and how you can come along for the ride! 

Let's begin!

Free Podcasts:

Free Tools & Resources:

New & Upcoming

In 2017...

BOOK - I will be publishing my book which will essentially be a guide to honing in on your skills and talents, repurposing your professional and personal experiences, and putting it all together to pursue and launch your ideas - Click here to get notified of the book launch and enter to win a free copy!

COURSES - Despite all the delays and road bumps, I will finally be launching the DIY Business Plan and theKickstart Your Badass Online Business Program! Plus, I will be reworking the "How to Host Your Own Instagram Loop Giveaways Course" and might even create a couple new courses... ;)

PODCAST - Get ready for the remaining 9 episodes of season one of the Business by Design Podcast to be launched as well as season 2! I'll be taking questions from you guys and featuring you and your businesses in season 2. 

You can submit and voice record your questions by dialing 1-201-293-0138 and leaving me a voicemail with your name, business, and question! Or alternatively, respond to this e-mail. I'll be choosing questions and answering them on the podcast!

WEBINARS & WORKSHOPS - Throughout the year, I will be hosting several free webinars and workshops. All different, but focused around helping you build a better business! I'll be updating you guys when these happen!

LIVE EVENTS - Yes, live events all over the country will be taking place in 2017! I'll be hosting events in NYC with the Blog Guid crew where we'll do blog and business brunches and some fun meetups. There will also be live workshops and meetups throughout the U.S. in different cities that will be chosen at a later date. Want me to host a meetup in your city? Tweet me @ZobiaAlvi. 

PRODUCTS - Two new shops are opening up soon. By this time, you may have already heard about my pet bunny named Fluffy. He means the absolute world to me and his cute little face will be on t-shirts, phone cases, and other items pretty soon! Already bought fluffythebunny.co and can't wait to a build a small side business celebrating him! 

BEYOND THAT, I will be launching The Altitude Box, a subscription series to teach kids about entrepreneurship and helping them build real products and businesses from start to finish. 

OTHER PROJECTS - We Are Olympus, a project helping creatives find clients. Check it out here!

SOCIAL MEEDS (MEDIA) GOALS - This year I will be super active on Periscope, SnapChat, and Instagram Stories! Planning to do live stories on Instagram and expand to doing video on SnapChat along with regular Periscope videos. 

P.P.S Looking for some kickass freebies? Download the Kickstart Your Badass Online Business 90-Day Checklist here or Brainstorm Your Business Idea with this brainstorm and refine workbook!

And of course, Happy Holidays and a cheers to Happy New Year!

Hugs!

Obsessed with helping you build a successful business,

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The ULTIMATE list of tools and resources for creative entrepreneurs

With so much awesome content out there in various formats, whose to say which podcasts, courses, tools, and software works the best? No one. That's why I compiled a list of my absolute favorites! 

These tools and resources have been extremely helpful in my own business and some of these tools I use every single day so let's get to it! 

Podcasts WORTH Listening To

The Action Army Podcast (link) - I absolutely love this podcast! Jason Zook, the host of the podcast provides immense value and interesting perspectives on managing money, setting goals, and on helping you take action in your life and biz. 

Being Boss (link) - This is a quite popular podcast all about cultivating community and being boss at life and business. The two co-hosts in this podcast discuss topics ranging from working with clients to figuring out your systems and processes. They also have super cool guest hosts from time to time!

This is Your Life by Michael Hyatt (link) - Michael Hyatt has been such an inspiration to me and has really helped me define and create a life well-suited for me. Not only is this guy super wise in all things life and business, but he's super relatable! His podcast is also one of my favorites!

Online Marketing Made Easy by Amy Porterfield (link) - Amy Porterfield is also popular in the podcast and online business world, but you can definitely tell why from just one listen to her podcast. Amy provides SO MUCH value and delivers her ideas and creativity in all types of formats! Subscribe to this podcast for sure!

Business Boutique Podcast (link) - Although this podcast only has a handful of episodes, I love listening to Christy Wright's voice and hearing amazing entrepreneurial stories from business owners of all industries. 

ACTUAL Productivity Apps

Canary (link) - Beautiful and easy e-mail sorting for all your e-mail accounts. Take back control of your e-mail with Canary. Available for iOS and Mac (FREE) 

Slack (link) - Over the past year, I have joined so many incredible communities that utilize Slack as a way of constant communication and its awesome. Available for most devices, PC, and Mac (FREE) 

Wunderlist (link) - Most people use CMS and project management tools such as Trello and Asana, but neither of tools really worked well for me. Behold Wunderlist, the best to-do list/note taking and project management tool yet! Available for all devices, PC, and Mac (FREE) 

Boomerang for Gmail (link) - This is technically not an app, but its the most important productivity tool for me. Its the secret to how I create customer relationships. This plugin for gmail helps me keep in contact with my clients, keep track of conversations, and send follow-ups with ease! (FREE) 

Software THAT Helps Me Do What I Do

FreshBooks* (link) - I used to be a mess with my business' finances until I discovered FreshBooks. This software has saved me SO much time and money! I cannot recommend it enough! FreshBooks is a cloud accounting software that helps you keep track of revenue and expenses, send out branded invoices, and has been proven to help you get paid faster. (Starting at $9.95/month - Get a FREE month with this link ) 

ConvertKit* (link) - MailChimp is great for automation, but ConvertKit is the best e-mail marketing service by far! Why?! Because the software was built for sending e-mails that convert into paying customers and awesome client relationships. You're reading this e-mail through ConvertKit right now! Industry leaders such as Mariah Coz, Emily Thompson, Kathleen Shannon, Pat Flynn, and Jason Zook use the same service as well! (Starting at $29.95/month)

HelloBonsai (link) - I sincerely could not do what I do without Bonsai. Bonsai takes care of all the contracts for my clients, my project proposals, and even becomes a portal for my clients and I to work together in. It has saved me so much time and effort drafting contracts, proposals, and commuting with my client. (Starting for FREE)

Acuity Scheduling* (link) - Syncing all your calendars and scheduling clients is a breeze with Acuity. Allow clients to schedule themselves, get reminders for all your appointments, and take back your free time with Acuity! (Starting at $10/month)

FlyWheel* (link) - If you're on the WordPress platform, FlyWheel is the most convenient hosting platform I have come across. They do free backups, data migration, and security monitoring! Plus, their customer service team is so friendly and hands on whenever you have a WordPress issue! The value and price is so affordable too! ($15/month)

Super AWESOME VALUABLE Online Courses

F*ck Yeah Funnels (link) - People ask me about sales funnels all the time. How do they work? How can I make money from them? The answer to all your sales funnel questions are answered in Mariah Coz's course all about funnels! 

ChimpEssentials* (link) - Setting up MailChimp can be challenging. There's so many things to set up like on boarding and segmenting subscribers, automation, and of course campaigns and reports! When I first started using MailChimp, all the bells and whistles made it harder for me to figure out what features to set up now and later. This easy to follow course helps you set up all things MailChimp. I highly recommend it! 

Courses that Convert (link) - Learn how to create awesome courses with an awesome course creator! Amy Porterfield does a great job showing you step by step how to launch courses that convert!

B - School (link) - Marie Forleo wants to show you how to make money and change the world! This 8-week program is for serious business owners who not only want to create stellar businesses, but also give back! 

I hope you enjoyed learning about the tools and resources that continue to help me conquer on the online space of business! If you have any suggestions of your own favorite resources, feel free to share! 

3 mistakes I made when starting my Web Development business

I wanted to share with you something I have been wanting to talk about for a while. Failure.

Most creative entrepreneurs do not talk about their failures. They share with you their achievements. They share with you their goals and successes. They share cold hard numbers of the profit and revenue they made. BUT they hardly ever speak towards what they did wrong before they found solutions that worked.

I want to talk to you about my failures. The 3 mistakes I made when I started my web development business.

I want to be honest with you and I want you to learn from my mistakes so that when you start your service based business, you do not make the mistakes I made.

I started my web development business officially in 2015. But I was running it for 3 years at this point behind the scenes, without a real business name.

I was a freelancer who designed websites and took on clients, ran everything in my freelance business from marketing to looking for clients to billing and book-keeping. I ran a business, but I did not tell people that I ran a web development business. That's mistake #1.

Mistake #1. Not acting like you run a service based business

I loved developing and designing websites, but I hated being called a freelancer. I was foolish and in 2012, I did not even realize I was running a business so I told people I was a web developer.

Here's why that was a mistake.

THEY thought I was running a hobby.

"How cute?" they said. "You make websites, let me see some of your work. ... That's nice... I have a friend who needs a website... you want to make it for him?"

Of course I agreed the very first time this happened. How on earth did I not see that me being a hobbyist web developer would mean I WOULD NOT get paid?! Silly me. What am I doing? Running a business?

YES I AM. At this point I had not taken it seriously for what it was. I was a business owner.

I provided high quality service, developed beautiful websites, and provided customer service at a startup friendly price. I owned a web development business.

Takeaway: Value yourself and what you're doing. If you run a business as a photographer then you own a photography business. If you run a business writing copy for clients then you own a copy-writing service business.

Putting value in what you do and giving prospect clients a way to distinguish you as an established service and resource to do business with a way to make yourself look established is vital if you want to be recognized and of course, get paid like a boss!

Mistake #2. Not managing your money early on

Again, I was foolish. I kept books and all my receipts and invoices, but I never managed my money.

I had never understood how much money I was truly making.

What my expenses actually looked like.

AND of course what my bottom line was (that's profit)!

All of this as you may probably know is important. Managing your money is important. Being able to understand what your profit is at the end of the day and how much money you're putting back into your business is very important.

Why didn't I manage my money?

It leads back to my first mistake. I didn't know I was running a business.

I was always excited every time I made a sale or was paid by a client, but I didn't document it as much as I documented my expenses.

I had recipes and invoices saved in several different folders on my computer. I had no idea what the total amount of expenses were. I had no idea what the total amount of revenue was.

Takeaway: Keep track of every transaction. No matter how big or small. Track every expense. Track every sale. Track every invoice.

THEN keep track of all the totals. How much revenue are you making? How much are you spending in expenses? And whats left over?

REMEMBER: Revenue - Expenses = Profit

Mistake #3. Not understanding what my audience and target market was

Someone please tell me why I was completely out of my mind in 2012?!

YES, I had no clue what my ideal client looked like let alone what audience I was serving.

Not knowing my target market led to many other issues in the early stages of my business.

I went through several clients who were not a good fit for me.

I was not able to create a step by step system for on-boarding clients because each client was different.

Every time I acquired a new client, I had to set up a new way of on-boarding them, invoicing them, and figure out new ways to work and communicate with them.

This wasted lots of time and energy. Its as if every time I acquired a client, I had to run my business according to them.

DO NOT DO THIS. Understand and be specific about the audience you are serving. If you serve creative entrepreneurs, be explicit about how your process and services serve only them. If you serve fashion bloggers, make sure your business distinctly reaches fashion bloggers with how your business runs to the services you offer.

Takeaway: Be specific about who you are serving early on. The sooner you decide this, the sooner you will be able WOW your clients with your amazing targeted business!

I want to teach you more about how to run your service based business or even how to take your idea and turn it into a service based business. Do you want to learn more?

If so, I'm hosting a webinar where I'll be teaching you how to build, package, and launch your service based business! It's totally free to attend and super valuable to miss!

It takes place on June 16th at 2PM EDT. I hope to see you there live! BUT if you cannot make it live, by signing up for a seat you'll get the chance to view the replay!

Sign up for the webinar BELOW!

Can't wait to hear your business ideas!

Zobia

3 Ways to Use Instagram to Grow Your Blog or Business
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Instagram has been around for quite some years now, but it has been being used as a marketing tool as of late. People use their Instagram accounts to not only make personal connections with their customers and clients, but to acquire new customers, clients, and blog readers.

It seems one of the first things people do these days to figure out what kind of blog, business, or person you are is by looking to Instagram profile. It has become essential for your customers, clients, or readers to browse through your Instagram presence so here are 3 Ways to Use Instagram to Grow Your Blog or Business and make that impression count.

Create a theme for your photos.

This is something I have seen a lot of successful Instagram accounts do. They use the same filters, same background colors, same fonts, and even the same type of subjects in their photos to create a particular feel for their account. This is completely intentional and they plan these photos ahead of time because they want to make sure their the photo fits in with their theme and the asthetic of their Instagram account.

A few bloggers in a Facebook group I am a part of questioned why "staging" their photos is more effective than randomly posting photos from their everyday lives and I have an answer.

It's fun to post photos from your personal life to share with friends, but often those photos seem to get attention from your circle of friends and family. A "staged" photo on the other hand - a photo that is planned to fit your particular theme will resonate with far more of your followers then just your circle of friends and family.

Here's my rule of thumb: If you post every day, throw in a wild card or two from your personal life in a week and if you post a few times a week, post one wild card. This way you're connecting with your friends, family, and giving your followers posts that resonate with your brand or business.

Use up to THREE hashtags in your photos.

Repeat after me. I will not EVER use more than three hashtags.

People have this perception that by loading up your captions with every hashtag that comes to mind will allow more people to find your Instagram posts. Not true. In this case, it's definitely better to look for quality rather than quantity. So instead of making up hashtags like #atmygrandmashousehavingdinner and piling it in between other useless hashtags, how about searching keywords that fit your image and looking for which hashtags have been used most frequently and picking from those?

Plus, by using hashtags of relevance to your photos, people will land on your Instagram page, then hop on over to your blog or business and that means more business and more readers!

Join an Instagram loop giveaway.

This is a great way to meet other bloggers, business owners, and acquire customers, clients, and readers. If you don't know what an Instagram loop giveaway is, here's a brief explanation.

An Instagram loop giveaway is a giveaway solely hosted on Instagram where blogs/businesses who have Instagram accounts, post the same giveaway image at the same time. People then enter the giveaway by liking the photo and following that person and then continue following a series of accounts which will lead them back to where they started. 

It's a lot of fun for the hosts and easy for everyone to enter! Plus, you get a ton of Instagram followers!

I have done a few giveaways before and they ran pretty successfully. I have gained 1,000 loyal followers and am super excited to be hosting more Instagram loop giveaways in the future! You can sign up to be notified when new giveaway opportunities are available as well as find out everything you need to know about

Instagram Loop giveaways here. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any Instagram tips of your own, please share!

Reflections on Small Businesses and Corporate Franchises
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I have taken quite a few entrepreneurship classes over the past year. In high school, I took a class that spoke towards all aspects of entrepreneurship and I loved it. I was set on becoming an entrepreneur. My first semester of college I took two different entrepreneurship courses. One class focused on the type of a person an entrepreneur must be and how to spark imagination and creativity and act upon it. It was awesome! It expanding my knowledge on what entrepreneurship really is. The other course took ideas and turned them into proven business concepts. These courses excited me and motivated me to become the entrepreneur I want to be.

The other day, I was grabbing a latte at a Dunkin' Donuts near the train station after work. I've stopped by this location several times and every day I see the same employees with a smile on their face while serving customers with respect and I see customers returning the positive gratitude as well.      

I frequent many coffee shops, but this one felt special. I realized how more often than not, those that work in retail, fast food chains, and corporate franchises, either put up a front to seem positive and courteous or stay within their company's means without going the extra mile for customers. I understand it though, each location no matter what the company sells probably gets thousands of customers a day and going the extra mile for every single one, every single time must be hard.

But, when I realized how well this coffee franchise was doing in this location, I reflected on corporate franchises. What inspires these employees to exude a love and respect for their job that leaves each customer genuinely happy? They seem to be working even harder than other franchises to make a brand that is not even theirs more memorable without a reward.

In the entrepreneurship course that explored topics between the type of person an entrepreneur must be, our class had a discussion on what it means to be autotelic. From it's dictionary definition, having an autotelic mindset means to find a purpose within itself.

It's a hard concept to grasp and implement in one's life. Like anything, it takes practice to master.

Putting yourself in the mindset to feel as if you are fulfilling a purpose in everything you do keeps you mentally positive and determined to generate outstanding results.

When you own a small business and need to play all roles within the business; customer service, salesman, marketer, promotor, and the face of the company, it is very challenging to find purpose in everything you have to do to keep your business up and running and your clientele genuinely satisfied.

You have to work hard and it won't pay off until the very end.

My point is sometimes we don't focus on the wonderful energy people put into starting a small business or running a corporate franchise. It's not easy to feel purposeful in such competitive industry.

The next time you are served with a genuine smile and great customer service, remember to thank them for doing a great job!