Brand Strategy Business Branding Tips

Top 5 Epic Fails of 2020

Stephy Says 💋 if you are reading this, congratulations you have unlocked a new achievement 🎮🏆 ! You are now in level 12 of the twisted real life version of Jumanji.

I’m sure majority of you can agree that 2020 has definitely been one for the books. We have endured deaths, losses, & stress. It seems almost as if we have lost and failed ALL year.

Soooo, with that being said, let’s keep that same energy & keep the failure momentum going.

Just kidding, stop here. Unclench your teeth. Relax your shoulders. Stop shaking your leg. Inhale. Exhale. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Breathe.

Ok, now that you have sort of, kind of, maybe tried to relax. Let’s continue…

2020 is the year we spent most of the year masked & quarantined 😷 (*clearing my throat here*). This year relentlessly revealed the cracks in my business & unapologetically exposed me as a small business owner. 

Let’s review a recap of my top 5 2020 business fails!

Maybe, you can identify some of the same mistakes now while there is just enough time left in this year to create a strategy and revised approach for the 2021 business year.

Here goes nothing:

1. Poor Time Management

Out of 24 hours in the day, I may have squeezed in about 30 minutes to an hour to nurture my business. Honestly, what relationship do you know that can effectively grow & continue to successfully sustain from that little amount of time? How many times have you been in a relationship & heard, “you don’t ever have time for me?” Well, that little voice would be my business talking to me.

Confession time: I was presented with multiple opportunities to invest time & money into myself, my brand, & my business. Rather than revise a business plan, research competition, or evolve my brand, I napped. I snacked. I spent countless hours on TikTok (don’t judge me). I binged watched Criminal Minds on Netflix. I was “busy,” but doing nothing except wasting valuable hours that I could have been sending emails, networking, or marketing.

Needless to say, time was not of the essence for me, which resulted in me remaining stagnant for longer than I wanted to. 

Time was slipping away. The hours became days, days became weeks, weeks became months, and suddenly it’s December and the whole year is gone. I can’t believe I let time slip away.

After all, time is an illusion right? WRONG! Time is valuable, make it count! These are moments you can NEVER get back.

Ironically enough, I published a podcast episode titled, “New me, who dis?” with a list of ways to make the best use of your time during quarantine (turns out that I ended up doing the exact opposite).

I knew exactly how to fix my poor time management. All I had to do was prioritize and set deadlines–which leads me into my 2nd 2020 epic fail…

2. Dismissing Deadlines

Procrastinators unite! TOMORROW

            I would always make a point to buy a planner in the beginning of every year. This year was no different. When I first bought the planner, I organized my busy life as a business owner. I mean highlighters & sticky notes galore. I had different color pens to signify different types of projects, a color map, and key layout at the top of the planner. I meant business! Then I noticed that the colors in the planner slowly began decreasing. The sticky notes were fewer. The “to do” task list was short. I wasn’t writing reminders to myself, dates passed with so much of a blur that I couldn’t keep the days of the week straight. I promised clients I would research information & get back to them. Months later, there was still no text sent or phone call made. There was no excuse. This was just poor business.

            This was when I realized I needed to set deadlines. The thing about setting deadlines is that in order for them to be effective, they must be realistic & attainable. I failed miserably at this also.

I’m a procrastinator by nature. So in addition to deadlines, I needed to set reminders. If I don’t have deadlines, I’m not going to do it. That’s plain & simple.

Here’s where I failed.

I set deadlines, BUT because it was MY business, I dismissed them, postponed them, cancelled them, and rescheduled them until “I felt like it.” I was starting to use the word “eventually” a lot more than I needed to. This attitude set me up for failure most of the 2020 year.

 A light bulb hit me & it dawned on me that while working as an employee; I don’t get the opportunity to dismiss deadlines. Furthermore, I worked extra hard to make sure I completed the tasks before the deadline even arrived. This is the same work ethic, attitude, & investment I realized I needed to place into my own business.

Deadlines keep you focused. They hold you accountable. They make you responsible. They provide structure to a hectic and busy life or schedule.

 Deadlines may also add pressure and make you fee rushed. This is why deadlines should be attainable, evenly distributed to prevent you from being overwhelmed.

Deadlines made me feel like I was watching the shot clock. But….Life is not a race! Right?Sike! That is complete BS! Everything about life is a race. As adults, we constantly have to race the clock: alarm clock, time clock, biological clock, etc. We race against age because at certain ages our biological clocks start ticking. We race against traffic. We even race for parking spots lol. Life comes with all kinds of races: political races, cultural races, relationship status races, educational races, etc. There’s always something to do or somewhere to be by a certain time.

The great part about the race of life is this: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a slow & steady race, but we have a way of adding extra stress & overloading ourselves without any structure or boundaries.

  This brings me to my next failure…

3. I Never Said No

            I constantly overloaded myself with projects, tasks, and “to do’s” that I could’ve easily delegated or avoided all together. I had a problem saying no. Maybe, it was due in part to the pandemic, and it increased my empathy & sympathy. I don’t know, but whatever it was, the results were the same. I overextended myself to the point of exhaustion. Emails were sent with bare minimum details. Projects were done half-heartedly just for the sake of saying they were completed.

  I was pouring from an empty cup and expecting the quality to be the same as a full cup. I learned rather quickly, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” It’s okay to say no, respectfully. It’s okay to be unavailable. It’s okay to take a mental break. It’s okay to refer to another business if your schedule is overwhelming.

Saying yes do often quickly brought my next epic fail to my attention…

4. One Man Band

          I cannot do it all by myself. I have a huge fear of revealing my thoughts, ideas, and upcoming projects with others due to some fraudulent “friends” in the past snatching my ideas & passing them off as their own. This caused some self diagnosed form of PTSD in my business mind. People are a trip to say the least, and you really see their true colors once you become a business owner. The cut throat & back stabbing made me selfish to the point that I didn’t share anything with anyone until after it was over & the move had been made.     

            The problem with this approach is when building a business; you have to be open to building a team. Moreover, you have to trust people. This was my biggest barrier. You have to trust them with your ideas, your business, your reputation, your personal life, and your brand. In short, you have to build a family.

Take Chadwick Boseman for example. He was a part of a team that he could trust with him life, even until death. This is the type of team business owners need. Kicking it old school here but, there is no I in team.

 After overextending myself, I I was not octomom with 8 arms, & I had to come to the reality that there was no possible way that I could successfully run a business single handedly. I had to have a circle of friends to assist me in making my dreams become a reality.

I had consumed myself with scheduling appointments, writing projects, conducting interviews, hosting podcasts, working full time, marketing, branding, and standing frontlines as an “essential worker” during the pandemic. I was becoming burnt out when the simplest answer was always available –ASK FOR HELP.

Knowing when to ask for help is vital to business growth.

My 5th & final epic fail was this…

5. Stop & Go

Along with my other business characteristic flaws, being inconsistent is another one. I have a bad case of stop & go. I would have sporadic bursts of energy where I felt like Superwoman and could whirl through clients’ needs without so much of a blink; followed by days or weeks of no umph or enthusiasm at all.

For weeks I would plow through projects without breaking a sweat & then not have the desire to want to do anything else until the burst of energy was back.

The inconsistent led to a roller coaster of peaks & valleys in my insights. My charts & reports were confusing to look at because of the audience inconsistencies, but who could I blame? My audience responded to me. They arrived when I arrived, & when I abandoned my business, they did too.

As a business owner, consistency is key. The commitment to service consumers consistently must outweigh the lack of enthusiasm. Consistency is a what drives sales, analytics, insights, & traffic to your business.

Trust me, I know how hectic life can be, & there are times that consistency just isn’t possible. If this occurs, inform your supports & consumers so they are aware. My other mistake was inconsistency without informing. People are more willing to support what they understand. I learned quickly that inconsistency can come across as unprofessional. Stay strong! If you need a mental break, let your people know so there will be no gray area or misconception that you are wishy washy.

This concludes my therapy session 😁

Let’s quickly recap what we have learned!

1. Manage time wisely.

2. Set attainable deadlines.

3. No is not a bad word.

4. Ask for help.

5. Keep going!

As you can see, 2020 showed me my flaws. I embraced them whole heartedly & have already started developing a strategy to keep me from making the same mistakes in the next year.

After reading this post, I hope you are doing the same!

Stephy Says 💋 as always, LIKE, COMMENT, SHARE, & SUBSCRIBE

Happy reading!

Business Branding Tips

Build A Brand

Stephy Says 💋 , if your brand was present in a room before you arrived, what word would be used to describe it? How do people know you? What do people know you for? Think about it. Your brand is your introduction. Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. What your brand says about you adds value even your absence.

I’ll rewind for a second and give you this one abbreviated but vital statement. One of the most misused words in business are marketing & branding. The brief difference between the two is this: Branding is who you are. Marketing is what you do. (Don’t worry, we will review this in another blog post or YouTube webinar).

If you have never visited Stephy Says 💋 before, welcome! I’m happy to have you join me. Please stay for a while (hint, hint: SUBSCRIBE. please & thanks!)

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, let’s talk about why you’re really here. You want to know what I have to say about —branding.

By definition, branding is “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.” But Stephy Says 💋, YOU are your brand. Everything you are & everything you do is your brand. Your brand should appeal to the senses & mind; what people see, hear, think, or even feel.

Brands can be created by way of one or multiple things: logos, jingles, mottos, taglines, or characters (mascots).

What is a brand? And why is it so important?

  • Your brand is:
    ✔️your identification.
    ✔️your reputation
    ✔️your testimony
    ✔️your credentials
    ✔️your reference

Your brand is what clients or consumers use to set you apart from competitors. It paints the picture for consumers of what they can expect from you & can easily provide information about you before they meet you.

When I wrote my mission statement & vision, I wanted my brand to be known by 3 words: Engage. Empower. Impact. This is how I want to be introduced, even if I am not in the room. I want individuals to vouch for my services & attest to the statement that I engage with others by empowering their brand & impacting their lives. Besides this, whenever someone sees a pair of red lips, I want them to think about Stephy Says 💋.

Ok, you’ve heard my branding terms or keywords. Let’s talk about yours. In order for your brand to grasp the attention of consumers & capture their interest, you have to think BOLDLY!

Be creative. Be concise. Be conscientious. Your wording is everything!

This would be a good moment to think about the brands you already know. You can probably complete this branding exercise with little or no help from me:

•Nike- Just Do It.
•Subway- Eat Fresh.
•CoverGirl- Easy, breezy, beautiful, CoverGirl

While considering wording, also be mindful of typography. Is your business more professional? Consider using a font with “feet,” such as Times New Roman. For a business related to children or youth, maybe a fun font such as Comic Sans MS could be used. If your brand is more formal, try Lobster.

It probably goes unnoticed by wording & typography is one of the 1st layers to branding. Take a peek at the image below for examples of these typography styles.

Aside from wording, another vital component of branding you must consider is COLORS! Think of all the colors you see & what emotions or thoughts that they create inside of you. What picture do you want to paint for your future customers & clients? Do you want to create feelings of optimism & hope? Maybe, yellow is a perfect color for you. Another example of the use of colors would be a brand using the color blue which may evoke feelings of calmness & peacefulness. What colors do you use for your brand? Click here to see a chart of colors & its correlated emotions.

Now, move on to the next order of business. Just a small recap: we have talked about wording & colors. Let’s add more building blocks to #buildabrand.

The next element you need in branding is packaging & presentation. Most sales & increase of clients occur because the product is appealing to the eye. Think about a caterer & the importance of the food presentation on a plate. How many times have we been upset at fast food restaurants because our food “doesn’t look like the picture.” If the food placed sloppily, your Yelp review of the brand may be negative. Another example poor branding is McDonald’s. Even if the food was stellar, they are mostly associated with a flaw. What are they known for? “The ice cream machine is down.” That common occurrence devalues their brand.

Keys to #buildabrand

The key to branding is:
Consistency (how often do you make yourself known?)

Communication (how often do you speak with or to consumers?)

Knowledge of your audience (who are you appealing to)

Exposure (multiple platforms to reach multiple geographic locations)

Evolving (how have you leveled up? How much growth have you seen?)

Competitiveness (how can you be better than your competition?)

Passion (do you really love who you are as brand?)

I’m hopeful that this post has been time well spent & informative. While this post may have been the abridged version of branding, it should be able to provide building blocks in your business. A solid foundation is the only way to build a fortified business.

Want to hear more? Be sure to listen to the Stephy Says 💋 Show!

Webinar coming soon! Subscribe to my YouTube channel, it’ll be posted there.

Happy branding! As always, LIKE, SHARE, COMMENT, & SUBSCRIBE