The 4 Biggest Lessons I've Learned In My First 4 Weeks Of Business

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As I sat down at my desk this morning and looked at my to-do list, I couldn't believe two things: how lucky I am to have full days of client work, and that I've already been pursuing my business full-time for a whole month

If feels like just yesterday that I walked out of my office for the last time, just standing there for an idle moment in the parking lot muttering to myself, "Soak this little moment in. This is the moment you've waited for. Now, get in the car, turn up 'Roll Out (My Business)' by Ludacris on full blast and kick off the rest of your career." 

(Yes, that really happened). 

Over the last month I've learned a ton of valuable lessons about myself and my business, and today I want to share these lessons openly with you. These are honest words for my dear friends who are on the edge of taking the leap and need to know that it'll be OK; for my readers who aren't so sure if climbing the corporate ladder is for them; for fellow business owners who often feel isolated and overwhelmed by the journey. 
 

01. At times, I'm my own worst boss.

Have you ever had one of those bosses who was Miranda-Priestly-dragon-lady levels of domineering, constantly barking demands, throwing bits of criticism your way and picking your work apart on a daily basis?

No? Good, me neither. Not until I began working for me, at least.

Almost immediately, I noticed that my inner dialogue of harsh and negative self-talk escalated ten-fold when it came to my client work and getting things done. I believe in setting the bar high, meeting deadlines and providing quality work, which are all wonderful things, but I lost sight of what realistic goals were for any given workday. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to work 12-hour days without growing weary.

Since realizing this, I'm working on giving myself grace and starting fresh each workday. I'm working hard to silence my inner critic and talk her down with logic and reason. I'm continually reminding myself that I'm allowed to feel successful, happy and grateful for each little accomplishment along the way. I'm re-reading Jen Sincero's "You Are a Badass" to bolster my confidence and remember that I'm a human who needs to be kind to herself.


02. Digital nomadism is not for me.

In my first 4 weeks of full-time business ownership, I've been traveling 3 out of those 4 weeks. These were trips that had been planned since I was still working in my corporate role, and I told myself that I'd easily be able to transition to working remotely like a pro. 

Wrong!

Working from a bachelorette party in Nashville was hard. Working from the car en route to Colorado was hard. Working from my father-in-law's house was hard. Working from my parent's house in Atlanta was the hardest.

As much as I admire and respect digital nomads for their ability to travel the world while looking awesome on Instagram and rocking their business, I've quickly learned that in order for me to produce my best work I need an established home base. And for me? That's in my cozy office with my trusty desktop and laptop here to help me out.

In time I'm confident that I'll acclimate better to working while on the go, but for now, I'm reserving hardcore travel for when I'm able to take a true vacation day or two.


03. Dress for success.

I'm not going to lie: I was really looking forward to the life of yoga pants and comfy clothes day in and day out, and for my first week or two, I was rocking that life hard.

And then I had a meeting scheduled one day, and got dressed and ready early in the morning and began one of the most productive workdays I've ever had. The next day, I tried the same thing: hair and makeup done, full outfit on and shoes on before settling into my home office. Bam – more productivity. 

While I still opt for my go-to leggings from time to time, I've personally found that getting up and getting dressed and ready as I used to currently works best for me in terms of establishing a morning routine and feeling good about myself. Knowing that I could be ready to run out to an impromptu coffee meeting at the drop of a hat is a great feeling!


04. Be yourself, focus on you, and business will come. 

This is the biggest one for me. Prior to my last day at my corporate job, I was in a constant state of panic trying to figure out who I would be once I was pursuing my own business full-time. "What would I look like on social media now that I'm full-time? Should I blog differently? Do I need to redo my website?"

It was pure craziness.

Thankfully, I let all of those questions fall to the wayside and continued to carry on exactly the way that I had been on social media, serving my audience to the best of my ability while refraining from screaming, "HELLO, I'M A FULL-TIME BUSINESS OWNER NOW, HIRE ME PLEASE!"

And you know what? New business came in abundance, and I feel so blessed because of it. In the last month I've taken on three new clients who I adore dearly and can't wait to serve, all of which are definitely who I would call an ideal client.

I firmly believe that this would not have happened if I had deviated from who I truly am on social media, on this website and beyond. So, if you're out there and find yourself comparing your business to others in the industry and are wondering if you need to conform to look or sound more like them, the answer is a resounding no. Stay in your own lane, hone your brand voice and brand identity, and you will attract your people – people who you'll love working with. 

 

Thank you to everyone who has been so kind to me in this last month of change, growth and lessons learned. I truly appreciate the comments, Instagram messages and emails – and I've kept all of them! If you're about to take the leap into your own business and have any questions, I want to hear from you and cheer you on.

 

Lucky To Live Here: Why I Love Living and Working in St. Louis

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This post is sponsored by Explore St. Louis and St. Louis Civic Pride. All opinions are my own.

It's time to be honest, friends. When my husband first found out that his job was relocating him to St. Louis, I had a few doubts: Why would I leave gorgeous Denver? What was the Midwest even like? Was there a thriving creative community in this city?

Despite my hesitation and fears, I landed a great job in St. Louis and made my move out to the city in February 2016. In the last year and a half that I've lived here, I've fallen more and more in love with this city, and I'm proud that I launched my business in St. Louis. 

Thinking about visiting St. Louis soon or moving to St. Louis yourself? Here are my top three reasons why I'm truly lucky to live here:
 

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Neighborhood charm is abundant.

If you know me, you know that I have a thing for historic houses and neighborhoods that exude character and vintage charm. Luckily, St. Louis is full of those! Before moving into our current home, I lived in an old schoolhouse that had been converted into industrial lofts, complete with original chalkboards in each residence. Now, I live in St. Louis' University City neighborhood, which is filled with adorable restored bungalows. I feel so inspired each time I step out of my house to take a walk around the block because of all of the historic architecture that surrounds me.
 

The creative community is thriving – big time!

I could go on and on about St. Louis' creative community, because it's just that great. Almost instantly, I began getting invites to networking events, creative conferences and coffee dates from fellow creatives in the city who had found me on Instagram, which was such a welcoming feeling. St. Louis is full of great spots for freelancers to work in, too, like Blueprint Coffee, RISE Collaborative Workspace and TechArtista, all of which are perfect spaces for co-working and networking. 
 

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Neighborhood restaurants are abundant.

Another thing that I love about living in the city? Its neighborhood restaurants! One of my favorites is Winslow's Home, which is just around the corner from my house. There's nothing that I love more than wrapping up a workday and taking a quick walk or drive over to Winslow's to enjoy their farm-to-table fare along with a fresh paloma. 

Thanks to Explore St. Louis for teaming up with me to highlight the #luckytolivehere contest. St. Louis friends: Share your favorite neighborhood experiences on social using the hashtags #LuckytoLiveHere and #ExploreStLouis for a chance to win some incredible prizes!

Why Styled Shoots Are A Win-Win for Creatives And Small Businesses

Styled shoot tips and tricks, how to host a styled shoot, styled shoots for photographers

All photos: Ashley Pieper Photography

For years, I've fawned over beautifully styled shoots on Pinterest. You know what I'm talking about: those idyllic photoshoots that are perfectly put together by photographers, vendors and bloggers in seamless harmony and look like they're straight out of a magazine.

But it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I actually attended a styled shoot, and it lived up to every expectation that I had.

Amanda of Feed Me With Amanda and Elena of Cheetah Talk y Mas invited me to their 'Just Because' Party on a beautiful, sun-filled Sunday and we had the best time getting to know each other better while chowing down on some delicious local eats created by Amanda herself.

Thinking about hosting or attending a styled shoot, but don't know the first thing about them? I'm breaking down why styled shoots are a win-win for creatives and small business, and how everyone benefits from the perfectly curated experience.

Styled shoot tips and tricks, how to host a styled shoot, styled shoots for photographers

Community is key.

As a small business owner, it's easy to feel isolated and alone sometimes – especially when my workdays typically entail only my two furry friend coworkers who don't yet know how to speak. Styled shoots allow fellow creatives to come together and learn more about each other, which is something I love. 

Over the course of the afternoon, I got to learn more about the lives and businesses of Amanda, Elena, Psyche of Economy of Style, Carmen of Front Row STL, Kristen of Gulush Threads and Ashley of Ashley Pieper Photography, which fired me up and reignited my passion for what I'm doing as a creative. It was so great chatting about what we do and how we can support each other – because community > competition. 

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Content is everything.

If community is key, content is everything. One of my favorite parts about attending the 'Just Because' Party styled shoot was the fact that we were all encouraged to take out our phone to shoot content for our own social media channels – which was great!

How often can you be in a room with others were it's 100% accepted (and encouraged!) to be Instagramming the whole thing? I mean, c'mon.

Ashley shot some amazing images – all of the images within this post, to be exact! – which I'll be able to share and tag in future social content for weeks to come. 

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Pour out some local love.

When it comes to successfully pulling off a styled shoot, let's not forget about the amazing vendors involved. Amanda and Elena worked tirelessly to secure some great props and take-home goodies from local St. Louis-based vendors. Everything from our place cards from On Three Designs, to jewelry from Collections by Joya, to succulent plants from Lokey Designs were local and perfectly curated to elevate the entire styled shoot.

Not only did I get to walk away with a gift bag of incredible products that I love, but I now get to happily share about these fantastic local vendors on my blog and social media channels! There's nothing that I enjoy more than gushing over and lifting up other women-owned businesses for their great creative work. 

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Have you ever attended or hosted a styled shoot in the past? What was your experience like? If not, what would your ideal styled shoot look like? I want to hear in the comments! 

'Just Because' Party vendors:

Host: event planner and recipes | @feedme_withamanda

Host: fashion and drinks | @cheetahtalkymas

Groceries | @luckysmarketrockhill

Desserts | @madebylia

Beer | @schlaflybeer

Soda | @fitzsrootbeer

Paper Goods | @onthreedesigns

Flowers | @snapdragonstudiostl

Plants | @lokeydesigns

Tattoos | @loveandlion

Ceramics | @facturegoods

Wooden Goods | @hananahjeannne

Venue | @bowoodfarms

Jewelry | @collectionsbyjoya

Dessert Table | @anewnature

Event Assistant | @emmalally

Guest bloggers | @economyofstyle @lindscholz @frontrowstl @gulushthreads

Photography | @ashleypieperphototgraphy

How I Structure Each Day Of My Creative Work Week (+ Free Weekly Planning Guide!)

Lindsay Scholz | Social media strategy and brand designer for businesses, creatives and bloggers.

I'm the type of person who lives and breathes by a to-do list. If I don't write down my tasks, appointments and calls, my day can quickly slip into one that's full of creativity – but structure? Not so much.

Preceding the first week of pursuing my business full-time, I sat down to make a game plan for what I would accomplish each day so that come Friday of each week, I could breathe a little easier and feel confident knowing that I worked as hard as I could and checked off all of my boxes for clients.

After years of working in different environments, I've finally found a system of planning out my week that works for me – and might just work for you, too! I'm sharing exactly how I structure my work week below, along with the same free printable that I use to structure my days.

Ready to get organized and take back your work week? Let's dive in! 


Monday: Reporting, Content Scheduling and Emails

When a new week rolls around, I like to dive right in and take care of all of the repeat tasks that I know are awaiting me in my office. With that in mind, I devote my Mondays to recurring tasks like client reporting, weekly social content scheduling (for myself and clients) and emails. I'm not talking just a few emails here and there – but getting down to inbox zero! Starting off the week on a strong note is important, and taking care of administrative tasks is a great way to clear the clutter.

Tuesday: Content Creation and Design

After a day full of admin tasks, it's time to get creative again. I currently devote Tuesdays to content creation for all of my clients' social media channels for the following week, and also plan out any upcoming blog or social media content for my own channels. I also begin to dive in to any branding projects on my plate, which means mood boards, logo concepts and experimenting with font pairings!

Wednesday: Content Delivery, Calls and Meetings

After wrapping up social content on Tuesday, I like to deliver the next week's content to my clients on Wednesday mornings. While I'm waiting for feedback and edits, I'll leave this middle-of-the-week day for a little human interaction – because let's face it, these days I'm talking to my dogs far too much! Client calls and in-person meetings with friends and potential new business are a great way to spend the rest of the afternoon, while also staying on top of emails.

Thursday: Finalize Content, Design Projects and Proposals

By Thursday, I usually receive social media content edits from clients so that content can be finalized and scheduled for the following week. If everything goes as planned, the same goes for design work, which can be finalized and packaged for delivery. Lastly, I send out all new business proposals to potential clients on Thursday, so that they have time to review the details over the weekend to come back with feedback or next steps on Monday.

Friday: Social Engagement, Writing and Pitching 

Ah, Friday – the most free day of the week! I like to leave Fridays more fluid, with most of my client work finalized for the week. This day is devoted to ramping up social media engagement on my own channels, completing any outstanding freelance writing before deadline and also pitching contributed content ideas to some of my favorite online magazines and blogs. On this day of the week, I can opt for a change of scenery and work out of a coffeeshop or communal space to finish out the week strong.


No matter where you work or what season it may be in your career, it's never too late to begin planning and living out your ideal work week. I'm sharing a starting point with you below, where you can grab the exact printable that I use to plan out my own week. What would the perfect five days of productivity and meaningful work look like to you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! 

The Journey to Pursuing My Business Full-Time, Finally! (AKA, The Blog Post That's Been Years in the Making)

Lindsay Scholz | St. Louis graphic design, web design and social media management. 

As I write this, I’m basking in my first day of full-time self-employment. This day has been a long time coming and it’s something that I’ve wished, planned and prayed for for as long as I can remember.

This is the day that I can finally say: “I’m Lindsay Scholz, and I’m a full-time social strategy and brand designer.”

But getting here didn’t happen overnight, and I feel that it’s my duty to be transparent in sharing my journey to creative entrepreneurship – from its humble beginnings to now – and all of the lessons, wins and hurdles that have presented themselves along the way.

This post is for you: the ones who are hiding behind ill-fitting job titles and stifling offices; the ones who are yearning to breathe life into the creative work that matters – not just the work that looks good on paper. The ones who stay up into the wee hours of the morning to put their passion projects to bed; the ones who tuck away their secret notebooks full of business plans and someday-strategies while working toward someone else’s dream.

So, are you with me? First, I need to take you back to where it began!
 

The Year Was 1994

Ah, the year of new Rugrats episodes after dinner each night and when getting Silly Putty stuck in – and, eventually, cut out of – my hair was the biggest of my concerns. It was also the year that my little 3-year-old soul was like, “Hey, you! This is something that interests you. Go do it.”

At the time, my mom was a Mary Kay consultant. I watched her host product parties, market herself and build a team, and to me, that was the greatest thing. As family legend would have it, one day I came down from my room ready for preschool, armed with a lunchbox. This puzzled my mom, since I only attended half-day preschool and arrived back home before lunch.

“What’s in your lunchbox, Lindsay? You don’t need to bring that to school.”

“My Mary Kay. My samples for school.”

Thus, a little marketer was born.
 

Growing up...

As I grew older, I found myself drawn to creative hobbies: writing being my greatest outlet. Around the same time, Myspace was huge and you could find me spending endless hours designing and customizing my profile with HTML code (with tons of Fall Out Boy pictures, of course). I was absolutely fascinated by the fact that a string of letters and symbols could create something beautiful. Little did I realize that this was a legit skill set to possess.

In high school, I took an interest in photography and launched my first freelance business venture offering photo sessions to classmates, family friends and local bands. I taught myself Photoshop, marketed myself on Myspace and Flickr (yes, my profile still exists!) and was fortunate to pick up some business to add to my portfolio.

I’m so grateful for these messy, awkward, creative years that allowed me to try new, artful things with little to no risk. Because these years are the ones that planted the seed in my mind: “What if I could work for myself? What would that look like?”
 

College

Once I arrived at college, everything seemed to mentally fall into place: I was going to work hard, be the "best" (whatever that even means) and jet off to New York City to pursue a career in magazine journalism as soon as I graduated. I declared my major in journalism and never looked back, holding the steadfast confidence that this was the path for me.

I became involved with my campus newspaper sophomore year as a staff writer, reported and wrote day in and day out, and by the time I was a senior I had earned the coveted title of editor-in-chief. As EIC, I loved being able to lead a team and shape the way that we shared news with the student body.


"I had strived and studied and achieved and missed out on a ton of sleep, but still wound up leaving college asking myself, “Is this it?”'


I left college graduating at the top of my class, with all of the awards, accolades and with a glitzy PR internship in Atlanta to look forward to – but for some reason, I still felt hollow. I had strived and studied and achieved and missed out on a ton of sleep, but still wound up leaving college asking myself, “Is this it?”
 

My 20s (AKA a blur of years)

The last four years since graduating college have been an absolute blur. At 26, I never would've believed that I'd experience so much life change in less years than I can count on one hand. 

Career-wise: I didn’t move to New York City, and I didn’t land a job with a fashion magazine – and that's OK. I began picking up freelance copywriting, design and social media clients. My former blog, That Working Girl, grew and received press recognition from USA Today and The Huffington Post. I landed and got laid off from my first ad agency job. I blindly worked for another ad agency, although I wasn’t passionate about the advertising industry (what?!). I moved to Colorado from Atlanta without a job in place. I accepted a marketing job that allowed me to grow my design and digital marketing skills like never before. I moved again – this time, to St. Louis. I accepted my first corporate role helping manage social media for a national, household-name retail brand.


"The last four years since graduating college have been an absolute blur. At 26, I never would've believed that I'd experience so much life change." 


Life-wise: I found my first Atlanta apartment and lived solo. I began my first serious, long-distance relationship. I moved from Atlanta to Denver with only the belongings that would fit in my car. I learned what it was like to navigate a new city and make new friends on my own. I moved from Denver to St. Louis for my husband. Then, we got engaged, we got married, we bought a house – all in a year.

All the while, the question was still burning: “What if I could work for myself? What would that look like?"
 

The Realization

It wasn't until 2016 that it became clear to me: I was on a linear career path that looked great on paper, but it wasn't well-suited for me. All these years, I had silenced my inner voice and intuition in exchange for more money, more responsibility, more notoriety and a more "impressive" LinkedIn title. My quest to be the "best" only left me feeling broken and exhausted.

For a while, I was able to carry these heavy realizations around with me and ignore them a little more – until they wouldn't stand to be silenced any longer.

I'll never forget the day that I had my first panic attack in a morning meeting at my corporate job. Per usual, I was drifting in and out of listening and mentally milling over my list of side hustle client to-dos that would have to wait until after 5 p.m. All of a sudden, my heart sped up to the point that I felt it would burst, I broke out in a sweat and lost all feeling in my limbs. I looked around, half-praying that no one would notice how I was inwardly losing it, half-praying that someone would help me

Similar symptoms of anxiety and depression would continue to hit me throughout the course of the year. From that point on, I made a promise to myself: I was going to work hard at my 9-to-5, but work even harder to build up my business after-hours.


"I made a promise to myself: I was going to work hard at my 9-to-5, but work even harder to build my business after-hours."


In January of this year I made the difficult decision to say goodbye to my former website, That Working Girl, and launched LindsayScholz.com. I nailed down my focus and made the decision to offer packages for the freelance work requests that most frequently made their way across my desk: graphic design and social media strategy. I established my LLC. I created revenue streams and met my personal savings goal. I worked – hard. I began taking on clients who I adore with visions and values for their businesses that mirror my own and booked out Q3 of 2017.

And three days ago, I walked out of my job for the last time into the radiant midday sunlight and felt more like myself than I have in years.
 

So, what's next? 

My first day fully invested in my business has been a bit like Christmas. I woke up much earlier than I used to and began my workday at 7:30 a.m. to get everything in order for my clients and set myself up for a productive week. I have lunch meetings and calls scheduled through the rest of the month – I feel real again.

If you've found yourself at the end of this blog post and have read it in its entirety: thank you. I've been waiting to share this chapter of story for so long, and I hope it's helped you in your own career journey, if only a bit.

Here are a few things that I'll be working on over the next few months in addition to working with my awesome clients, to better serve my audience and help encourage others toward living their best, most creative lives: 

• More helpful blog content - look forward to fresh and educational blog content on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week touching on everything from design best practices to how the heck you can legally set up your own business. 

• Resource shop - I'm working to launch my online resource shop that will be full of helpful tools for designers and social strategists. I'm talking styled templates, product mock-ups and more! 

• The Creative Year Podcast - this is the big one! I'll be launching The Creative Year Podcast to share all of my first 365 days in business with you all. The wins, the fails, the hard lessons – all of it, uncensored. Being in business is a journey and it's meant to be shared. Launching in October! 


Have you ever considered launching your own business, or may be afraid to? Feeling lost in your own story? I know that feeling all too well. If you can relate – or just want to talk – I'd love to hear from you. Comment below or email me at hello@lindsayscholz.com!