Written by Liz Muroski
Living a dream that makes you a living. It’s an incredible feeling. To start with a vision and see it come into crystal clear focus. At first, it’s a thought you have in the shower or on a hike with your dog. Then, it becomes more tangible - a few pages inked in a notebook or keyed on your laptop. Before you know it, there you are, hanging an “Open For Business” sign from your very own front door, launching a website, serving actual customers. The hours, days, weeks, or even YEARS you spent nurturing that idea to then finally see it come to fruition is unlike anything you ever could’ve imagined. It’s the most rewarding experience of your life but, soon, you find it’s also the hardest.
You’re a small business owner. You work for yourself. People flood through those doors when you open up shop, they buy your products, or they book your services. You make dollar after dollar. You’re living the dream!
Then, before long, business feels bumpy, the hype cools down, and the competition heats up. People aren’t flooding through your doors, buying your products, or booking your services as much. The fear of uncertainty sets in. “What happened? I did my research, I took my time, I understand business, I have a website and the sign right there on the door. Where’d everyone go?”
It’s then that you realize growing a business is just as tough as it is rewarding. That success continually has to be earned because it’s not guaranteed. So, you do everything you can to get the word out, but still, business only ebbs and flows.
You wonder, “How do I keep my momentum?”
Fear starts to spur overwhelm. Now you’re frantically writing social media posts, buying ads, boosting posts, making posters, hiring help.
Then, it hits you. “If I can successfully start a business, I can successfully grow a business. If I want to stay on top, I need a concrete plan of action - a strategy. Now, where should I start?”
It was May when our idea to help heart-centered small business owners like this one took shape. My new friend Stephanie and I were sipping coffee. With our notes sprawled out on the porch of Java Bean Plantation, and on the brink of yet another Southern Pines summer, we both sensed a surge of potential for the small business community that was hard to ignore, and we said to ourselves, “Why wait for someone else to create this opportunity? We can do this. We should TOTALLY do this.” At that moment, our very own inked scribbles evolved into something of substance, and The Simplified Small Business Series came to life.
As entrepreneurs ourselves, we know the struggle all too well. The high flying feeling one month, the scary plummets the next. Then, there’s that bullying voice in your head that says things like “Growth? Impossible!” “Big money? Yeah, right.” “Long-term success? Ha, good luck with that!”
It was over that very cup of coffee that Stephanie and I decided it was time to break down those barriers for business owners and, instead, help them see beyond the constant ups and discouraging downs that far too often seem to stunt their growth and dull their shine. That’s why we went ahead and created a plan of action to help small business owners like us, embrace the struggle, welcome the wins, and stay on top as often as possible because, with the right strategy and a willingness to learn, it IS possible. Maybe it was the caffeine that kickstarted the journey that day but, either way, that’s when our vision came into crystal clear focus.
We’d create an online training program and share the most essential elements of organically growing a small business through, what we know best: branding and marketing, so that small business owners don’t always feel like they’re scrambling or experiencing sporadic success, especially when it comes to the most popular purchasing season of the year, Small Business Saturday and the holidays.
Over our years spent in the branding and marketing industries, combined with experiences from our own entrepreneurial pursuits and pitfalls, we knew the solution needed to take the form of an online educational opportunity because it would be one we could provide to small business owners, at scale, that would help them maximize their own success, on their own terms.
From the beginning, our mission in creating this program was simple: to keep it simple. So, we developed a series of professionally designed training modules and guided video tutorials where, for a one-time investment, business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds could learn the essentials of social media, branding, marketing, online and offline sales, and more all in one self-paced program. In it, they’d be able to track their progress, connect with the instructors, network and bounce ideas off of other small business owners, and they’d have access to it all, forever.
A digital suite of educational tools like this would help small business owners and entrepreneurs learn how to power up their profits and productivity so they could make more significant impacts on their customers and in their communities more often AND they could do it all from the comfort of their own homes or during those slow days at the shop or office. With a paid element, we knew we would encourage business owners to invest in taking inspired action and only attract those who were serious about maximizing their knowledge in order to maximize their growth, no matter their skill level or how long their doors have been open.
Five months later, here we are, teaching tons of small business owners across the U.S. the true value of doing it yourself when it comes to strategy so they can learn to enjoy the journey, even when the going gets tough. The best part? It’s become so much more than an educational program. The Simplified Small Business Series is a community of empowered entrepreneurs, hardworking hands, big hearts, and multi-passionate do-it-yourselfers who are proactively elevating their success so they can continually set their dreams on fire.
How do they do it?
First, they make an investment to better their business by becoming members of The Simplified Small Business Series. Then, as soon as they enroll, they work their way through the simple step-by-step curriculum:
- Module 1: How to Clearly Define Your Mission, Customer and Communications to Plan like a Pro
- Module 2: How to Attract an Audience, Excite Customers and Maximize Sales Using the Web
- Module 3: How to Generate Offline Exposure and Make the Most of Local Opportunities
- Module 4: How to Stay on Track and Position Your Business for Continued Success
...and take full advantage of the provided resources and networking opportunities:
- A downloadable workbook [20+ pages] to help members track progress and take action as they make their way through each module.
- 13 Guided Video Tutorials on topics like How to Hashtag, Creating Beautifully Branded Social Media Graphics, Email Marketing, Content Creation, Social Media Management, Organization, Time Saving Techniques and more.
- Exclusive access to a members-only Facebook group so they can continually network and interact with other members, as well as with the instructors.
And, as a means to further strengthen the foundation of small business in our own community, Moore County residents enrolled in The Simplified Small Business Series also get additional bonuses and discounts on services like corporate photography, videography, advertising, and printing from the array of amazing local vendors we partnered with for the program.
Since we opened enrollment in September 2018, we’ve welcomed small business owners and entrepreneurs from all walks of life including boutique and shop owners, service providers, coaches, bloggers, interior designers, handymen, craft brewers, chefs, jewelry makers, nutritionists, and even a traveling zoo! This program is so versatile because we didn’t design it for just one type of business owner. We designed it for all the passionate business owners who are doing what they love and willing to go the extra mile in order to succeed on purpose. Anyone wanting to invest in this program as a means to nurture their passion, whatever that may be, is welcome. That doesn't mean you have to just be a retailer or brick and mortar business. It's designed for ALL small businesses and entrepreneurs who are trying to make a living from living their dream.
And, Stephanie and I? Well, she’s the graphic designer and strategic brain behind Pine & Pixels, a digital branding studio based in Pinehurst, NC. She believes that any business can be successful when equipped with a clear message and a relevant design strategy. She is passionate about helping small businesses share their story through visuals. And, me? I’m a brand strategist and digital marketing coach, also based in Pinehurst, NC. As a guiding light for small businesses, I help brands shine on and offline all across the U.S. With my business, LizMuroskiMedia.com, my mission is to educate and empower small business owners with big hearts so they can fearlessly bring their dreams to life.
You can see why this program was such a passion project for us.
Now, if you’re looking for the bottom line, it’s this: there’s always going to be struggles as a small business owner, but it’s the effort you continually put forth, despite those battles, that keeps you winning.
You can get those customers flooding through your doors, sell those products, or those services you worked so hard to build. You can create the content, buy the ads, boost the posts, make the posters, and hire the help, but you have to do so strategically, with intention. You don’t have to know it all or do it all to be successful. You don’t always have to serve up big, game-changing ideas to keep business thriving. Success is a series of small wins when you take meaningful action every day - that’s the essence of working for your dream. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a helping hand or two to guide you through.
The Simplified Small Business Series Fall 2018 enrollment is now open, but only for a limited time. To learn more about the program, enroll and immediately boost your business, visit simplifiedsmallbiz.com and follow the program chatter on social media via @simplifiedsmallbiz and #SmallBizMadeSimple.