Get Lean In Your Business in 2016

Blab closed in August 2016, so we removed the video. You can still read the tips and strategies Melody and I discussed in this post.

This Blab was recorded live on New Year's Day on the Indie Business Blab channel. I hesitated to share it because there are times when the audio overlaps, resulting in either two people talking at once or blank stares while the audio catches up. Due to the fact that Blab is very new, it is kind of buggy, but it works well enough to have great live conversations. Even though it's weird at times, I thought the “get lean” advice Melody Bockelman and I shared was useful enough to post here so you could have access to it. If the video makes you crazy, just read the advice.

Indie Business Blab: Get Lean In Your Business in 2016

We were joined by several entrepreneurs who asked great questions about how to streamline their businesses for success. Here are some of the questions and answers I, Melody, ad our live guest callers discussed. Use the time stamps to skip to whatever content interests you most.

How to Get Lean in Your Business in 2016

  1. 0:00 to 6:38: Introduction

    Melody and I introduce ourselves and the short story behind this Blab, and we share some of our exciting plans for 2016.

  2. 6:38 to 17:23: Decide whether you are a hobbyist or a business owner

    Janie at Lucky Duck Soaps in Colorado makes handmade soaps with “fancy swirls.” Her husband has been very proactive about letting Janie know his opinion about how big her business should grow. Melody and I had some suggestions for how Janie can decide whether she wants to be a hobbyist or a business owner, and the steps she can take to clarify her direction going forward.

    This segment is a good reminder that, if you live with a spouse or significant other, you have to take their opinions and considerations into effect when starting and growing your business. Your business will affect the lives of everyone in your household, so they deserve to be able to express themselves. You may have to reach some tough compromises in some situations. I always say, “If mama is in business, everybody is in business.”

  3. 19:07 to 26:46: Streamline your product line

    Nikie at After the Rayne in Texas has been in business, off and on, for 18 years. She re-started things in 2015, and while she has retained a lot of her past customers, she is in many ways starting over.One of the things she is trying to do is stay lean and not “go crazy” like she did in the past.

    In this segment, Melody and I emphasize the importance of reigning in your creativity so you can market with specificity and focus, and there's a bit of discussion about using social media and text messaging to sell products.

  4. 30:10 to 36:15: Clarify your brand message

    Tonya, an Etsy team captain (sorry, we did not get Tonya's business name), is a new beauty business owner. She enjoyed a hugely successful holiday pop up event last month, and wants to know whether her messaging should focus on what is in her products, or on what is not in her products. Melody and I advised the importance of portraying a positive brand image and staying away from negativity as much as possible.

    Our joint recommendation is that Tonya focus more on the positive experience her customers will have when they use her products, and less on the ingredients.

    The two will sometimes be connected. For instance, part of the positive experience that goes along with using pure essential oils in a product is that the product does not contain synthetic fragrance oils. This is important to some people, and if they are your target market, you'll want to emphasize the essentials. But stay away from emphasizing what is not there, and invest most of your marketing resources on conveying the experience.

  5. 38:02 to 40:27: Focus on what brings home the bacon

    Melody shares great advice for Bindu in India, who is looking for advice on how to position her business to make the leap from manufacturing her products to outsourcing manufacturing. She has a launch approach that will help Bindu scale slowly and effectively, but without being overwhelmed, and while continuing to sell the products that are profitable now. This is a juggling act, but it's a necessary part f turning a corner like Bindu is doing now.

  6. 40:46 to 43:54: Create a business that suits your lifestyle goals

    In this segment, I share some of my best advice on combining your roles as Maker and business leader. It's so important to nurture and honor both aspects of your personality so you can build your business around your life, and not the other way around, and so your business can actually support your dream lifestyle.

  7. 43:54 to 51:20: Step into your leadership

    Maggie at Lalun Naturals makes a seasonal skin care line, and she had a question about whether she should rebrand her business while waiting for her trademark to be registered. There is a bit of confusion abut exactly what this question is, but Melody I narrowed it down to two things.

    First, it sounds like Maggie wants to keep her brand name, but just change up the packaging and/or branding while she's waiting for the trademark to be registered. The general advice we gave is to continue with the rebranding, as long as she is not changing her trademark.

    The second point we made is that, really, n one can answer this question for Maggie. She has to step into her leadership and decide what she wants to do, and then set dates and go for it. She may need coaching along the way, but only Maggie can decide whether to wait until after the trademark is registered to change things up or to change thing up now.

    It took us a while to get to it, but Melody's advice was spot on here, suggesting hat Maggie step back and get more clarity and really give yourself permission to design your life on your own terms. And we also recommend that Maggie consult a trademark attorney so she can get good legal advice on this important issue.

Toward the end, Melody highly recommends the book by Shonda Rhymes called The Year of Yes. You can get it here or in the Indie Business Book Store where you can also browse for other entrepreneurial and personal development books authored and/or recommended by me and other members of the Indie Business Network.


How did you like my first Blab? Were you able to get some good tips? Was it good to have to written summary so you didn't have to rely on the video recording? Should Melody and I do it again? Feel free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.