The Tahoe Truckee Earth Day Festival has had the pleasure of working with Sara Zimmerman for multiple years now on both the web and print aspects of our marketing campaigns. Sara is an organized and creative person, who has elevated the Festival's promotional design and really captured the look we are going for. She is a skilled, dependable and easy to work with designer; who took on everything we needed and completed it on schedule with great results. Her ability to pull everything together, just the way we wanted it was more than impressive.
I would like to thank Sara for the outstanding effort she has committed to our project and would fully recommend Sara for any design work that needs to be done.
David GreenleafTahoe Truckee Earth Day Committee Member
"I hired Sara to help create a brand, logo and visual concept for my new small business, Tahoe Golf Tech, and she was great to work with and produced amazing products. I looked around at various graphic designers in the local region and found that Sara was the most punctual to respond and created modern and appealing designs. I will use Sara in the future to help with my web presence and assist in expanding my reach via SEO and an online store. She is more than an artist. She helps you determine what your company is and what you want it to become. I would highly recommend Sara to any person or company looking for a creative, dependable and high-quality producing graphic designer."
An entrepreneur is someone who starts, organizes or manages a business and takes on financial risk to invest in their idea. However, an entrepreneur is so much more. An entrepreneur:
can work from 8 to 5 on weekdays, but often works weekends, nights, and while on vacation.
takes on the responsibility of getting everything organized and running. When business stops, it is your responsibility to find and mend the broken link.
is constantly looking at ways to improve the success of their business
needs to be highly organized, good at making lists and prioritizing, needs to learn to delegate, and needs to feel comfortable hiring and firing personnel.
needs the support from friends, family, and or/community during the start up or hard times.
needs to learn how to balance work an life, while assigning times for both despite distractions.
needs to be familiar with a computer, know how to use a database and mailing list, use spreadsheets, have a word processing program, and learn to do internet research.
needs to have financial resources or the means to get started, whether through personal investment or through funding sources. If personal, does it risk all of your assets and leverage your home or only a small percentage of liquid assets?
needs to have a office space, either in commercial or industrial space, or a spot in the home with either a door or a separator (and can your family or roommate learn not to bother you when you are in that space?)
needs to be self motivated to find leads and go after the sale
needs to be okay removing ego, ask for help when needed, and know when to call it quits.
Do you have these attributes or can you learn to adopt them?
Understanding What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur
Start up businesses require all of these attributes where businesses who have been open for many years may allow you to depend on other select people in select positions.
Watch your friends who are employees. Every week they know when they will be working and exactly how much they can depend on receiving for their services. In a new start up business, an entrepreneur can make an educated guess about what they may make that week or month, but it is never definite. You may get that call you are waiting for on a Saturday morning or may be $3K short this month, requiring extra attention. Can you stomach that roller coaster?
Facing Your Fears
In reviewing what it takes to get started, do you notice any fears arising? What are they? Make a list of these fears and examine how relevant and valid they are?
Look at each fear and work through it. Is the fear something that is based on something that you can easily work through or is does it raise the hair on the back of your neck and bring on a stress headache? If the fear is debilitating, get some professional help to work through it. If you ignore it, it will most likely surface again and again later in your business. It’s best to learn how to deal with it in the beginning.
Once you have gone through these exercises and all signs point to moving forward, you embark on your real journey. Your next steps are exciting, maybe scary, and somewhat overwhelming at the same time.
Up, Up and Away: Taking the Leap
Now you have a firm business idea, but what to do first?
Accept you will be Challenged
First, breathe and accept that this will be one of the toughest and most trying periods in your life. You will be doing both your normal routine AND heaps more work in the same amount of time. Do not make other engagements, such as agree to host a bridal shower. Do not chose to launch your business prior to a move, birth of a child, or a wedding. Notify your friends and family that you will be stressed and that you will need help. Communicate to any employees or subcontractors when they can expect to hear from you. You will need days to breathe and days for yourself. You will have to fight the “shoulds” and carve out some time for yourself and your family and/or friends each week, if not each day. You are not a machine, even though your mind may work like one. You will need to turn off your phone and your computer. You will do better if you take breaks because you will refill your well of inspiration and reenergize.
"I used to get so into my work that I would lean into my computer, breathe shallowly and quick, and work so fast that I wouldn’t even notice the hours moving by. I would only stop when I needed to use the bathroom and would then rush back to work. I eventually gave myself daily headaches and other ergonomically-challenged and stress-induced problems.
After paying for endless massages, acupuncture and chiropractic appointments trying to correct my aches and pains, I finally realized I could make positive changes in my body by altering my patterns. But I didn’t know what to do. Additionally, it was really hard for me to justify taking a break.
My husband then mentioned to me how happy I look after every hike, bike or run and suggested I take a 30 minute break to go exercise. I fought him at first, but after I exercised a few times during the day, I was amazed at how much more productive I was when I returned and how much better I felt. (This is a documented time of when he was 100% right ." - Sara Zimmerman, Entrepreneur Bee
If you don’t work with your spouse or want to hear him/her make suggestions, stay motivated to set alarms on your computer, your phone or get an egg timer. This will allow you to work hard without having to pay partial attention to when your break or next appointment is scheduled.
Make Some Space
If you have the resources to rent an office space in a commercial setting right away, spend some time arranging it in the most productive way possible. If you are working on your funding sources or will be working from home, carve out a space where you can have a door or a separator of some sort. You need to be able to make a visual boundary between you and your work, as well as your work from your family or roommates. Working in the living room confuses people- they assume you are available for discussions and you will soon find yourself working when it is time to sit down for dinner.
Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices. – Betsy Jacobson
Maintaing the work-life balance means having the will power and determination to work during work hours and stop when work hours are over. It means learning to say no because it is not time to work, even if you know you need to finish a project. It means scheduling the extra hours to get the project done, but also putting the same importance on family life and/or recreation time. However, keeping a balance gets more challenging when you are an entrepreneur, especially one working out of the home.
Example: Self Employed at Home
Working at home for yourself provides more challenges than working in an office with hours and expectations set by someone else.
Set Work Hours:
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” - Charles Buxton
To work at home, it requires a very determined personality type that can set and keep work hours (such as 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, or Tuesday through Friday 9 to 3, etc). There is no one saying you need to work other than you. Therefore, if you find yourself being easily sidetracked by home projects or the call of playing outdoors, working at home may not be your cup of tea.
Set Work Space:
Second, you need a space set aside for work during work time. It doesn't have to be a fancy office- it can even be a table in a corner. But it needs to be set aside for work as well as have a means to closing it off from work. An agreement about this space needs to be made between you and housemates or family members: when you are in your work space, you are not to be disturbed. The same goes, when you are out of your workspace, you are not to be working. A door or even a curtain that can be pulled closed can help make this boundary more visible. If you don't have that, then even having a blanket that covers your worktable after work hours will keep it hid from you so you can't sneak in a few minutes between dinner and dishes.
Set Digital Work Boundaries:
In this day of technology where emails can demand your attention at any given moment, it is important to extend your work hours to your mobile devices. Yes, you may want to sneak a peak at your phone after work hours are over just to see if your big account has been accepted. However, the more you can train yourself to turn off after work and NOT check your emails, the more your family members and housemates will respect the time you set aside for work hours (and the more you will get out of your own work hours). If you are always working, then it will be harder to get uninterrupted work hours during the day. Furthermore, if you never stop working, then you never have time to revive and to be the other roles you have as parent, child, sibling, friend, etc.
More resources about Maintaining a Work-life Balance
Sharon Oakley creates rugs and other beautiful fiber arts for herself. She contacted me when she came across my Creative Heart art piece, asking if she could use it as inspiration for a pillow she wanted to make.
Sharon took the Creative Heart, and "hooked" the design, making it into a 12" pillow with recycled contents. The background is made from raw fleece, recycled wool clothing, silk fabric (torn into strips), and yarn reclaimed from sweaters found at her local used clothing store. This beautiful pillow also includes various hand spun yarns and kid mohair. Nice work, Sharon!
Below (left) is the Creative Heart piece; below (right is the final piece).
If you are inspired by a piece of my work and want to create something for personal use, please contact me.
Here's a new testimonial from Howling Dogs Bike and Ski (thanks, Kimberly!):
"I can’t speak highly enough of Sara and her ability to work with me to help design Howling Dogs Bike and Ski logo and website. She is incredibly knowledgeable, intuitive and creative. I can’t put a price on her insights, advice, and most importantly her holistic approach to the entire process because she gives so much more than advertised. Sara’s enthusiasm, motivation and organizational skills are rare qualities. She is a gem and I would highly recommend her." ~ Kimberly Kaznowski, HowlingDogsBikeandSki.com