Articles and Insights on Business and Entrepreneurship

Starting and owning a business is an amazing adventure, a ton of fun, a tremendous amount of hard work, and an ever-evolving journey. We learn new things every day, meet inspiring mentors and brilliant thought leaders, challenge ourselves to do and be more, and push ourselves harder than anyone we know.

Below you will find a collection of articles on owning and running a small business; first-hand insights on working from home and working with your spouse; advice, lessons learned, and stories from our day-to-day experiences in the small business trenches; and the best “nuggets” of inspiration and information we glean from events we attend, speakers we hear, books we read, and products we buy.

Prestige Conference: A WordPress Conference On Business

Prestige Conference 2014

A Premium WordPress Conference Focused On Business And Career

Taking place October 3-4, 2014 in Downtown Minneapolis and streamed live wherever you are, Prestige Conference is a new and intriguing addition to the WordPress conference ecosystem, including WordCamps and Pressnomics. Created by Josh Broton and Kiko Doran, the conference is hyper-focused on growing a business and building a career with WordPress.

First, let me say that I love WordCamps. They are positive, helpful, educational, fun events that pull local wordPress communities together. They give community members at all levels the opportunity to share their knowledge, give back, help others, build relationships, and improve their own skills — and with tracks/sessions on design, development, content, blogging, getting started, and business, there truly is something for everyone.

With that said, I do think there is space for additional WordPress centered events, especially those tailored to one specific subject like this one on building, and growing businesses, and cultivating careers in the WordPress community.

I look forward to seeing the landscape of additional hyper-focused WordPress-centered events evolve, and I am excited to experience the inaugural Prestige Conference.

Learn More About Prestige Conference 2014

Talking WordPress Business With Troy Dean of WP Elevation

WP Elevation Podcast Interviews Sacramento WordPress and Web Design Company Bourn Creative

Last week you may have noticed: no new blog posts! The Bourn Family headed out to Lake Tahoe for a week of hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, reading, and relaxing in gorgeous Lake Tahoe.

But now that we’re back, I wanted to share something awesome with you. Recently I was Interviewed by Troy Dean, an Australian WordPress consultant and Business Coach for WordPress companies for the WP Elevation Podcast.

At WordCamp Phoenix 2014, I attended Troy’s session on 101 Ways to Elevate Yourself and Demand Higher Fees (delivered via video) — and it was awesome. Troy’s view on business and marketing really aligns with ours at Bourn Creative. If you also own a WordPress related business, I highly recommend you check out his talk and the WP Elevation community.

You can watch the video of the interview, listen to the audio recording, or download the audio and save it to listen to later — just click the red button below!

WP Elevation Episode 35

Learn More About The Interview And Running A WordPress Business

Copyblogger Delivers A Content Buffet At Authority Intensive 2014 (#Authority2014)

Copyblogger Authority Intensive 2014 Recap

Throughout Authority Intensive, I shared some of the wisdom being shared by speakers and Copyblogger staff on Twitter, and received quite a few requests (and a threat) from friends to share my notes and what I learned at the event.

When I sat down to write my event recap post, it became quite clear that this event would need more than one post to do it justice.

Yesterday I published the first post about the event, pointing out the brilliant strategy behind the meals and parties that kept all of the attendees together, creating more networking opportunities, more new conversations, more connections being made, and more business being done.

Today I’m sharing the wisdom (and there is a lot) served up from the panels and keynote speakers throughout the event and tomorrow I’ll be name dropping like crazy and introducing you to some of the awesome people I met and hung out with.

Get All The Best Content Nuggets From Authority Intensive

Authority Intensive 2014: Create Raving Fans Without Content (#Authority2014)

Copyblogger Authority Intensive 2014 Strategy

I’ve been investing in attending professional events, conferences, seminars, and workshops since graduating from college and today attend at least 5 every year.

Now, I’m not talking about local networking events. I’m talking about plane rides, hotel stays, food budgets, and conferences tickets ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars (just for the ticket).

Overall, most of the events I have attended have been professional produced with big budgets — and most are pretty great. But, sometimes the speakers aren’t as great as you would have hoped, sometimes there is barely any time for networking, and sometimes the food is lackluster at best.

The latest event I attended was different — and in a good way.

Get The Inside Scoop On Copyblogger’s 2014 Authority Intensive

Where do you get your business advice?

Ali Brown Elevate Event Thrive Live 2013

I am a firm believer that no one knows everything about building and growing a business — at least I know I don’t!

In fact, most business owners and entrepreneurs (like me) start businesses not because they know how to run a business, but because they are exceptional at what they do and seize an opportunity.

In my experience, learning about business and how to run one effectively comes along the way

A few years into my business, I received a great piece of advice: Know the path you want to take and surround yourself with people who are farther down the path.

In other words:

  • Find the people who have achieved what you want to achieve and learn from them.
  • Find out what they did wrong and what they did right; what worked and what didn’t work; what they wish they had done differently.
  • Find a mentor or mastermind group who can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction when you need it.

Learn where I go for business advice and how I find the right coach, mentor, or mastermind group

Not Enough Clients? You’re Probably Networking In The Wrong Place

Feast Or Famine Networking

Recently I was being interviewed about owning a design business and how we have successfully built a brand and grown the business (and the profits) year after year.

About halfway through the interview the conversation turned to clients and client attraction — how to get clients, where to find clients, and how to keep clients — and inevitably we started discussing networking.

After all, no one can hire you, buy from you, or learn from you if they don’t know you exist

So you must market your business, get out from behind your computer, and network with others. You must share with other people what you do!

The problem is that a lot of business owners, especially designers view networking as not-working, and believe that if you are not working, you’re are not getting paid. So instead they sit behind their computers working and tweeting, and waiting for someone to hire them.

But the reality is that networking is the cornerstone of growing a successful business. Through networking you can expand your network, build strong relationships, find strategic partners, find clients, grow as a business owner, and more.

Learn why some business owners who are actively networking still don’t have enough clients

Same Tools, Same Strategy, Different Result

Differentiate Yourself By Being You

I see it happen over and over: A coach or expert sells “how they did it” or their process for achieving results. A business owner wanting to achieve the same results hires them to learn how they did it. The business owner learns tactics, uses the same tools, and applies the same strategy… yet they don’t achieve the same results.

In many cases, they don’t even come close to achieving the same success. Why is that? Why can you do everything exactly the same and not enjoy the same success?

There is one major difference that wasn’t accounted for

You are not them! The person, the expert, the history, the experience, the story, the brand, the positioning, the relationships — the person at the center of everything is different.

So while you can use the same tools and the same strategy, and you can achieve the same results, you can’t just copy a cookie cutter formula. You must adjust your approach and customize it to fit you, your brand, and your business.

How Strong Brand Positioning Can Eliminate Competition and Grow A Community

How to take a real vacation (tech-free), even if you own a business

How to Detach from Business, Unplug, and Take a Tech-free Vacation

Entrepreneurs and business owners are the hardest working, most dedicated and committed people I know.

With a vision in mind, and a goal ahead, they do whatever it takes to achieve success, often sacrificing their own personal well being along the way and never taking a break or a vacation to recharge, refuel, re-energize, reinvigorate…

I used to be that business owner. In the first few years of my business, I worked 14-16+ hours a day, at least 6 days a week, and I NEVER took a vacation — because I didn’t think I could.

Then when my team grew and I grew as a business owner

I began to take vacations, but the weeks leading up to the vacations, and the week after returning were so awful, that I often wondered if it was worth it. Plus I often pulled multiple all-nighters to finish everything before leaving, so I was exhausted and cranky the first few days of the trips!

And, if I am really going to be honest, my vacations weren’t really vacations, as I took my computer with me to check email and work if I needed to (which I always did).

Learn the Mindset Shifts and Actions Needed to Take a Real Vacation from Your Business

Step-by-Step, How to Close The Sale During an Enrollment Conversation

How to Close the Sale During a Discovery Session

Our clients may hire us to design their brand, create a killer WordPress website, and design and map out an online strategy — But more often than not, we end up consulting on much more than branding and website strategy.

During our initial discovery phase, we ask our clients A LOT of questions and require that a lot of decisions be made — that’s where the consulting comes in.

One area our clients have a lot of questions about is ironically, how to close the sale when speaking to new prospects AFTER the site has generated the lead — which is good, because it means they are confident we’ll deliver a site that does its job.

These conversations — referred to as sales conversations, enrollment conversations, discovery sessions, free strategy sessions, get acquainted sessions, complimentary consultations — are uncomfortable for many business owners because they don’t know what to say, what to ask, what order to present information, etc. As a result, they talk too much and feel like they are being too salesy, they don’t make a strong enough connection, or they never ask for the sale.

This past week, after walking a client through a sample sales conversation step-by-step, she shared with me how helpful the process was and how much clarity and confidence she felt she gained from no longer having to “wing it” on her calls.

And she suggested that I share it on our blog so you could benefit too! So…

Learn how to close the sale during your next enrollment conversation, step-by-step

One Profound Question That Can Drastically Improve Your Marketing

Improve Your Benefits-Based Marketing With This One QuestionI’ll bet you started your business to follow a passion, to do something you love, or to create your own future.

And yet, marketing is what you find yourself wrapped up in all the time.

After all, you need leads, clients, and customers, and no one can hire you, buy from you, or learn from you if they don’t know that you exist!

Why Marketing Is So Hard

You’re good at what you do. You know it. In fact, you’re brilliant at what you do. But unfortunately, for most of us marketing isn’t what you do best.

Learn the one question that will make marketing with benefits easy