Taking Risks Vs Being Reckless

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I speak a lot about jumping in feet first, launching and learning and making mistakes to grow your business, but the truth of the matter is you can’t always lead with your heart. You have to weigh up the pros and cons of each major decision that you make so that you don’t end up losing it all.

While I am a firm believer in trusting your gut, I would never encourage anybody to do things with wild abandon. Don’t quit your day job until your baby business can cover your bills, have a plan and a back up plan, and make those big choices based on fact, not whimsy.

But the reality is that if you do nothing, you’ll gain nothing. There is always an element of risk when it comes to striking out on your own. It is essential if you want to move forward, do something different and stand out against your competitors. Risk is actually one of the very best, if not scariest, ways to expand our knowledge, offerings and confidence.

So how can you make sure you’re making good risky choices, not one that will destroy your business?

The difference is forward-planning. Having goals to work towards, projecting your income and having quantifiable ideas will all help keep you on track. I started this blog in 2007 but I didn’t quit my day job until 2011. As someone who struggles with patience this was immensely difficult for me! I wanted to strike out on my own as soon as I’d made my first £100! If it was up to me I’d have jumped in right away and figured it all out as I went along.

Luckily Gareth is the yin to my yang. He’s a lot more risk averse than me. He wants to make sure all the possibilities are planned out before making any decisions. It takes him forever to do anything (which, yes, does drive me crazy!) but he always seems to make the right choices in the end.

For example it took him about six months to choose our new television because he had to get the very best one for the very best price. If it was me I would have walked into one shop and picked out the first one I saw. It would probably have ended up being too big, tinny sounding and with a crappy picture display… but because of Gareth’s research and forward-planning the one we now have is awesome.

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On Mistakes, Friendships and Not Going it Alone

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Being your own boss is the most wonderful thing. Since launching Rock n Roll Bride in 2007 I’ve discovered a LOT about myself, the wedding industry and running a business. But if there’s one lesson I learnt faster than anything else, it was that I couldn’t do everything myself. For example, I could have spent hours wrestling with Photoshop to come up with a design for my site, or I could work a little harder on the things I am better at so I can pay my designer to do it for me.

However, to me, even more vital than learning to outsource, was finding those people I could trust to help or advise me on a more personal level. These are the people that you know will always have your back and your best interests at heart. Without them in your corner, running your own business will be a million times harder.

I kept Rock n Roll Bride a secret from ‘the real world’ until the end of 2008. Gareth and I got married that April and I was completely embarrassed to be still obsessed with weddings after our own big day was over. At this point, the blog was nothing more than a hobby anyway, I didn’t feel the need to make a big deal about it offline. Then, about a year in, I made my first big mistake. I was trying to install Google Analytics on the site (I am NOT technical AT ALL by the way!) and somehow managed to delete the whole thing!

ARGH!

So I went to Gareth and shamefully admitted that I had this secret blog… about weddings… that I’d somehow managed to delete. Despite his techy prowess, there was no way for him to magically bring the obliterated site back, but he offered to help me start over. We signed up with WordPress.org, bought rocknrollbride.com and I began again.

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The Blogcademy: Live from Vancouver!

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This morning I hosted an hour long Q&A livestream with my Blogcademy babes from our Vancouver apartment. We recorded the whole thing, so if you want to re-watch it in your own time, or you weren’t able to tune in live, you can right now!

If you’ve ever wondered how to grow your blog readership, what our favourite Photoshop tools are, or what the best ways to keep your social media active are, then press play on the video below. We answered all these questions – and way more!

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The Seven Secrets of Making Money Online

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We’ve all seen them, those business coaches promising that they can make you rich. Swearing that for the measly sum of (insert number with way too many zeros on the end here) they can turn your business around by showing you their top secret techniques that will make your pockets bulge with excess cash. They brag about their seven figure incomes, their thousands of happy clients, their giant mansions and the exotic vacations they take at every opportunity.

Don’t be fooled my friends.

Let’s keep it real for a second – even if you did the exact same things, at the exact same time, you’d never get the same results as someone else. There are just too many variables.

So let’s cut the crap. Here are the REAL secrets of making money online:

1. Work harder than everyone else

The reality is that there is no escaping having to put in a truckload of work if you want to make a living from your own business. I am genuinely amazed when I hear of people who want to start their own online empire because they think it will be an easy way to make a passive income. Too many people want to believe that there are shortcuts in life. They want to jump ahead to the (expected) riches without actually working their asses off for it.

Those overnight successes that we seem to hear about all the time are the exceptions, not the rule (and even then they’ve probably been working bloody hard doing something before anyone ever heard of them). We lap these stories up though because it’s much more exciting to hear about the start up that made £100,000 in one day, or the developer that made millions from their first app, than the author that struggled to sell 100 copies of their book or the blogger than had to quit because they couldn’t pay their rent.

2. Make sacrifices

Oh yeah, sacrifice. That’s a big one. I genuinely think the majority of people don’t realise just how many if them they’re going to have to make if they want to run their own business.

You have to be obsessed to the point of madness with it. You have to want to do it so badly that there is no other viable option for you. You’ll have to get up early, go to bed late and say no to way more invitations than you’d like to. You’ll have months when you can only afford to eat beans on toast, and you might need to work two jobs for years before the business can support itself.

Sounds depressing, but you won’t care, because you’ll want to make your business a success more than any of those other things.

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3. Forget about the glamour

I feel so incredibly blessed that I get to do something I love and get paid for it. I’ve also been presented with some truly amazing opportunities since starting this blog, all of which are beyond my wildest dreams of how I thought my life would turn out. I’ve been featured in magazines, interviewed on the TV, published my own magazine, and flown all over the world to talk about something I am truly passionate about.

But like everyone, I only share the highlights. My day to day life is not that exciting. Most of my time is spent writing content, replying to emails, sitting alone in my office, drinking tea, still wearing yesterday’s underwear…

I love what I do, but it’s important to keep some perspective. Even the most successful entrepreneurs spend most of their time doing normal, boring things.

4. Don’t get too comfortable

As your business grows it can be easy to get complacent. Your time begins to split between doing things to keep your customers happy, and coming up with new ideas to grow. If these ideas end up being super successful, you might eventually get to a stage where you no longer feel the need to implement new marketing techniques or bring out new products. This is where the cracks can start to appear.

Especially if you’re in the wedding industry, which is not only a seasonal but constantly refreshing market (aka your customers get married and then no longer want to buy anything from you) it is vital that you don’t get lazy or complacent. All it can take is one weak year for you to drop off people’s radar. You are only as good as your last job. Never forget that.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others

Comparison is the thief of joy and all that… and this never as true as when you conduct a lot of your business online. It is waaaaay too easy to look too closely at what your competitors are doing, to stalk them on social media and feel bad about yourself when they do something amazing. WE ALL DO IT.

You need to remember that their successes are not your failures. You can co-exist. It is vital (for your own sanity) to work on improving and differentiating your offerings instead of focusing how you can compete with them. It’s just not a very healthy mindset to be in.

When you start to feel that green eyed monster creeping in – stop. Shut down your browser and step away from the computer. Nothing good can ever come from spending all your precious energy focusing on what someone else is doing.

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Positive Peer Pressure

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When you’re a teenager, peer pressure sucks. That constant squeeze from your peers to act the same, think the same, be the same as them. It forces you to fit in, to conform, to not be your own weird ‘n wonderful self.

As an impressionable, confidence-lacking 14 year old, peer pressure can define you. It can make you take up smoking (yep), start drinking (er… yep), sneak out of class and lie to your parents (yep, er… yep!) I think we can all look back on those times and realise that peer pressure was actually just a form of bullying, dressed up with a more socially acceptable name. And bullying sucks. Period.

Then suddenly, you’re an adult. If you’re anything like me, you quickly realised how stupid it was to want to be the same as everyone else, and how marching to the beat of your own weird-ass drum is a much more attractive option. After all, it’s what make you, you. You’re more confident in your own skin, and much happier doing things that make you jump for joy, rather than trying to please other people.

But for a lot of us, the peer pressure remains. However in adulthood, with our new-found self-awareness, it can actually be a really positive thing. Peer pressure is more likely to encourage you to push outside of your comfort zone and improve yourself, rather than make you want to take up a questionable or addictive habit.

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Confetti Explosions at The Blogcademy, Chicago

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A little known fact about me is that I was a huge nerd at school. I think people assume that I must have been one of the rebellious ones, hanging out behind bike sheds and bunking off classes, but actually, I was super well behaved. It wasn’t until I hit 15, discovered rock music and boys that didn’t resemble pre-pubescent gremlins, that I became a bit more of a wild child!

Since then, I’ve pretty much exclusively attracted a more rebellious crowd, and that isn’t just limited to brides that read my wedding content. At The Blogcademy workshops, seemingly wherever we were in the world, the girls in attendance definitely err on the alternative and quirky side.

So you can imagine my surprise when, in Chicago, we were met with the most well behaved class we’ve ever experienced! They actually threw us off a bit at first. They were so quiet and polite I started to worry that they weren’t having a good time. But, after getting to know them all on a one-to-one basis throughout the weekend, I soon came to realise that they weren’t that different to our usual crowd. They were one of the sweetest, kindest bunch of babes we’ve ever had. In actual fact they were a lot more like me than I first realised: eager to learn and just wanting to soak up everything and anything that they could during our time together.

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Many, many, many notes were taken (SO STUDIOUS!)

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