Solopreneur Spotlight: Bri Crabtree on Adapting as a Professional Performer to COVID-19

Bri Crabtree is a professional circus performer. She juggles, unicycles, and entertains people of many different ages with silly antics. Typically, she performs at a variety of events. When COVID-19 hit, her work for the foreseeable future was cancelled. Bri quickly pivoted both her business tasks and personal finances to address this new challenge. Here are some of the insights she shared with me in a recent video interview.

Making Connections & Staying Connected

Bri told me that as soon COVID-19 began impacting her work, she started making personal connections and reaching out for opportunities. She also spoke about her social media strategy during this time. She told me she’s become more active on social media in order to maintain a presence in her clients’ minds. Through online offerings like her Silly Circus Show virtual parties, posts to her Instagram, Facebook, and her newly created Patreon account, she’s staying connected to fans. These accounts give her a chance to do a lot of behind the scenes work and show her clients what those processes look like. Making content like this also gives her more time to work on the many costuming, puppet-making, and other prop-related projects involved in her business. I loved this video from her costume closet!

Opening Income Streams & Applying for Aid

When Bri reached out to others looking for opportunities to make up for her lost work, she found solutions in the form of new income streams. She was offered a babysitting job and directed to a place where she could take paid surveys.

She also applied for aid in a couple different forms. She applied for unemployment early on, although she didn’t get good results. She also applied for EBT, and applied for and received a grant from the Bay Area Safety Net Fund.

Her new virtual party offerings, stickers, and her Patreon account are also new income streams that she has opened during COVID. All of this combined shows Bri’s flexible and diverse approach to adapting her business during this time.

Zeroing In

Bri talked about how important it was for her to “zero in” on essentials and pare down her budget. One thing that’s been particularly helpful is going out to eat less, and cooking more at home. She’s been buying staple foods in bulk, for economic reasons and to keep herself well-stocked. Many people are trying to stay focused on essentials right now. Bri and I worked to establish a comfortable spending plan for her life. Here’s some ideas on how to do that for yourself.

Keeping A Good Mindset

Maintaining a good mindset through these challenges has been key for Bri. Much like my interview with Jennifer Graham, Bri shared some specific things that have been helping her out. She’s been learning to play the ukulele (and sharing her progress!). She also works out four times a week, citing Ground Up Fitness Home Workouts as one of her favorite resources.To keep track of both of these projects, each day she uses a motivational sticker calendar.

Finally, she spoke to me about feeling financially confident during these challenging times, because of the work we’ve done together on her finances in the past. As a coach, it’s good to hear that work is paying off.

Flexible Thinking

The many ways Bri has adapted her business to the conditions of COVID-19 show a lot of flexible thinking. She problem-solved in a number of ways, from adapting her offerings to the digital realm, to pursuing income streams unrelated to her talents, to applying for aid and creating healthy routines for herself. Her new approaches to her business have not only kept her afloat, but also created new opportunities. The fact that she has created a Patreon and gotten to create more behind-the-scenes content for her clients is a wonderful use of her time. It allows her to work on those projects, and create more interest in her work.

You can watch our full video interview here. You can also follow Bri on her site, check out her Silly Circus Show, support her on Patreon, and see what she posts on Facebook and Instagram. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like the two I wrote about how Jennifer Graham, a photographer in the Bay Area, has adapted to COVID.

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Angela

Solopreneur Spotlight: Jennifer Graham on Adapting Her Photography Business During COVID-19

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Graham, a photographer and solopreneur, and we got to talk about how she’s adapted her business to COVID-19. Originally, her main income was in-person photoshoots. A week before shelter-in-place orders went into effect, she saw about $10,000 worth of shoots cancelled. Immediately, she began to think, “How am I gonna pivot?,” and I’m excited to share some of the strategies she came up with today!

Digital Assistance

Jennifer adapted to the quickly shifting atmosphere by adding some new offerings to her repertoire. The first one she told us about was an offering to help business owners organize their visual branding materials. She’s created an offering to cull, edit, and arrange the photos her clients already have to best convey their branding. Since this can all be done remotely, and there’s a huge incentive to ramp up digital presence for most businesses, this is a timely offer.

Educational Offering

Jennifer’s also created offering called Lights, Camera, Action!, which offers the client help with staging and lighting at-home photos, shoots, zoom calls, you name it. Another relevant way to adapt to these digital times, this offer is also a way for her business to recoup some income while practicing social distancing. In addition to this offering, she’s also been offering short tips and tricks videos on her Instagram feed.

Distance Shoots

Since our interview, Jennifer has started to offer Family Porch Portraits, which comply with social distancing and donate 50% of their proceeds to local charities. This offering combines the need for physical distance with the opportunity for people to give back to the community, something that’s very important right now. I love the way she adapted her services to be so specific to the conditions of shelter in place, while still getting to do what she loves.

Working on the Business, Not In It

During our interview, Jennifer spoke about how, with the removal of regular photoshoots from her calendar, she’s had more time to work on her business, rather than just in it. Rather than simply doing shoot after shoot, she’s had room to pause and think about what she’s creating through her business. This is a rare opportunity for solopreneurs to reflect, and I appreciated that she mentioned this as one of her priorities. I’d recommend doing some introspection on your business, if you haven’t been able to yet!

You can watch the full video interview with Jennifer here, and you can visit her website and Facebook page to learn more about what she’s doing. Her adjusted offerings are great examples to follow for solopreneurs, and I’m glad to be able to share them with you all. She also had some great insights on dealing with the shelter in place from an emotional perspective, so we’ll discuss that next week.

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Angela

Why You Need to Consider Your Hourly Wage As a Business Owner

Have you paused to consider what hourly wage your business pays you? This might not seem important – maybe you think that as long as you have your bills paid, you’re all set.

Why Think About Your Wage?

The thing is, this is really about pricing your products appropriately. First you need to understand your money why, or why you earn the money you take in from your business.  This will help you understand if your current prices can really sustain the goals that you have financially. You can learn how to set informed income goals here. Once you understand what your income target is, you can work backwards and see how much of your product or service you would need to produce and sell in order to make that income. The next step is to see whether that’s realistic. 

The Cost of Low Prices

Look around at what other people in your industry are selling their product for. If you’re giving your goods away because they’re priced so low, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Remember, selling more doesn’t mean you’re necessarily making more. You aren’t making money, you’re reducing the value of what you do in the eyes of the buyers and you’re making your industry fellows unhappy.

Consider Your Time

When you are considering how to price your product you may take into account the cost of supplies, transportation, and other materials. However, you must also take into account the cost of your time. If you were working for someone else and getting paid, you would receive an hourly wage, so consider that just as important in your own business. If you hired someone to help you with production, you’d need to pay them an hourly wage too. If you’re planning to scale up a business you’ll need to be able to hire other people and your prices need to be able to sustain that.

Another thing for product-based businesses to consider when looking at your pricing is your interest in wholesaling. When selling wholesale, you will typically  sell at 50% of your retail price. If, at this price, you’re not covering your costs, labor and making a profit that supports your financial goals, you need to raise your prices. 

I hope these thoughts of mine have helped you consider how taking your hourly wage into account can help you accurately price your products and meet your income goals. If you’re interested in learning and thinking more about pricing formulas, I encourage you to check out my interview with Megan Auman. Our talk, plus my articles on how artists define their own success and how business skills and artistic sense can coexist, are great resources for anyone with a creative business looking to tinker with their profit model. Enjoy!

 

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Angela

Photo: JOSHUA COLEMAN

Artists Define Their Own Business Success

Artists Define Their Own Business Success: At Peace With Money

Have you ever noticed that a lot of business advice focuses on how to get wealthy, fast? It’s as if many people view business as a pathway to the motherlode, and little else. But not everyone wants to be the CEO of the next Fortune 500 company. And that’s ok! It just means we need to turn somewhere else for our business advice.

The conversation I had with Megan Auman a few weeks ago was all about another kind of business mindset – seeing your business as a way to sustain your artistic pursuits. Instead of the end goal being amassing the world’s wealth in your bank account, Megan talked about small business as a strategy for fueling an artist’s livelihood. Here are a couple of my favorite points she raised during our chat.

Find Advice that Speaks to Your Vision

So much business advice speaks to people who want to run a million dollar company. Megan indicated that the prevalence of this point of view in business circles could often be hurting artists or driving them away from business altogether. For this reason, it is so important that we start talking about different goals and models for business.

In my last post, I mentioned that artists often want to spend more time doing their creative work, and the best path towards making that time is to make more money! Even if artists don’t want to be a CEO at a computer all day, there is still an incentive to run a profitable business. The key is finding voices who understand and respect what artists need.

The Profit First model and Megan’s courses are two great resources for an alternative view of business. Rather than seeing business as a race to amass capital, both sources look at business as a way of meeting the owner’s needs and sustaining the work they enjoy doing.

Business Automation

While we were talking, Megan brought up the 4-Hour Work Week, the hugely popular book by Tim Ferriss. She mentioned how the book highly encourages business automation, so that business owners can spend more time lounging on the beach. Business automation can also be a great tool for artists and makers, according to Megan. However, instead of beach bumming, artists can use the time freed up by automation to spend more time working in the studio, doing the things they really love.

Artists Define their Own Success: At Peace With MoneyOverall, Megan stressed the importance of understanding what you really want from your business and your life, and structuring it to include more of what you want. Whether this is more time in the studio, more time with your family, or less time spent on certain tasks, automation helps creatives focus on the work they really want to be doing. I have written a little bit about how automation can also be great for your finances, have a look if you like!

I hope you enjoyed these nuggets of wisdom from our conversation. If you haven’t already, definitely check out the full interview posted on Facebook. Megan is a wonderful person with lots of good insights into creative business, which you can look into here. And of course, please don’t hesitate to schedule a call with me if you’d like to talk more about Profit First and setting up your business to meet your needs and desires.

Angela

Image Source: Joshua Coleman

How to Financially Survive Holiday Inventory Prep

Inventory and Cashflow During the Holidays: At Peace With Money

The holiday season is fast approaching, with Halloween on the way this week. With this season comes the time forstocking up your inventory. You want to make sure you have plenty of product available for when shopping season begins! The challenge of this time of year is that you want to build up your inventory while still having cashflow. That is, manage your financial responsibilities while increasing your spending on supplies. This can be a difficult balancing act for solopreneurs, so I’ve made a quick list of tips to get you through your holiday prep safe and financially sound!

Holiday Inventory Prep Tips

  • If you’re taking orders, consider securing a deposit from your customer so you can pay for the supplies before production.

 

  • Buy wholesale! Make sure you’re not paying sales tax for materials your plan to resell. This will likely require that you obtain a resellers permit for your state, so be sure to check. Negotiate the best terms with your suppliers. Can you get a discount for buying in bulk?  Will they give you net 30 or even net 60 payment terms, meaning you can receive the items now but not have to pay for them until later? If you find yourself feeling nervous about asking these things of your suppliers, please check out my article on rejection therapy for a little inspiration, then pick up the phone and stick up for your business!
  • Increase the dollar amount of each sale. For example, when I ran my jewelry business, I was able to do this by selling sets of jewelry. I would sell a pendant combined with a pair of earrings, making it easier for customers to make the decision to spend more money at my business. Even though I gave a small discount, I still increased my sales, and my profit!

Manage Cashflow and Inventory: At Peace With Money

  • Do you know your best-selling item? Make sure you have plenty on hand for the holidays! This will increase profits come shopping time.
  • When it’s all over, use a portion of your profit account to celebrate. You’ve worked hard during the holiday season. Make sure you reward yourself. To learn more about a profit account, I recommend downloading the first 5 chapters of the Profit First book on my website.

If you have more questions about balancing inventory and cashflow, don’t hesitate to schedule a discovery call with me! 

If you want to read more about the issues of inventory vs. cash flow, I recommend checking out my articles “Why Selling More Doesn’t Mean Making More” and “The Stages of Financially Growing a Business.”

Angela

 

Image Sources: Drew Beamer , Annie Spratt