Business

6 reasons why you need to think big for your small business

6 reasons why you need to think big for your small business

Including MNFL Design I have started three small businesses. The first one was in 2009 in the US. Together with my friend and business partner we designed German inspired children’s wear and accessories. The second one was in Dubai in 2013 and again together with someone else we started importing and distributing high quality, leather children’s shoes from Portugal. And in 2015 I started MNFL Design.

Overall I’ve gone through a huge learning curve and made some big mistakes. I was also more or less serious about being an entrepreneur at different stage of my life. For example MNFL Design started very slowly and only after the birth of my fourth daughter I began to think big.

Over the year however I have come to the conclusion that it only makes sense to start a small business if you think big! You need to have big dreams and visions, otherwise you will never get where you (secretly) want to be.

However the first step you need to take is seriously ask yourself, and may be your partner, why you want to start this business. Do you want to start a proper business or is it more like a slightly bigger hobby?

If you decide you want to start a business you have to THINK big in order to BE big!

How to use Canva

How to use Canva

One of the questions I get asked most by previous clients is how they can use their branding and design their own graphics for let’s say social media without having to ask me all the time. Of course you can design nice graphics with powerpoint or keynote but it can be quite complicated sometimes. And today I  want to introduce you to a program called Canva, which is much easier to use!

Canva is a free online graphic design program, it is accessible to anyone and very user-friendly. It has lot’s of free templates and ready to use graphics as well as images. There are also some templates that cost money but they are very cheap. Of course it has some limitations in comparison to for example Adobe Illustrator but for a free tool for basic designs it is amazing.

Is your brand about you?

Is your brand about you?

The other day I listened to a very inspiring blog post by Jenna Kutcher (http://podcast.jennakutcher.com/) about branding and what the difference between a brand and a business is. The podcast was the perfect fit to a blog post I wrote earlier - Is your business about you? - But because of her podcast I went back and thought about personal branding again and I want to add a few things to my previous blog post. One very powerful sentence she used a lot, and that stuck to me was: a brand has a heart!

Let me explain this further to you!

Six tips to motivate yourself as a small business owner

Six tips to motivate yourself as a small business owner

As a small business owner and working alone, usually from home, it can be so hard to stay motivated if things don’t work out immediately as planned.

We start a business, we have fantastic ideas and want to get it all done immediately. So we start a blog or a website, we design a logo, we sell our first product or service and think it is all going so well. However a few weeks in the excitement of the new starts to fade away, all our friends have bought our products and now we need new customers and they are not coming. We try a little bit of social media marketing but it is hard, we continue blogging but nobody is reading our posts, we go to a market and not many people are looking at our products. There are so many things that can demotivate us. And there comes a point when we feel totally disappointed and are close to quitting.

I might have exaggerated a little bit but I still think we have experienced it all, this feeling of nothing is working and feeling demotivated.

Can you relate at all?  If you sometimes feel a low and need some motivation to keep going then read on! I have put together a list of my six favorite ways to motivate myself as a small business owner and working from home.

How to define your ideal customer

How to define your ideal customer

When my clients come to me and say they want a logo or a website, they usually have a great business idea and can tell me all about it and why it is so good and important. They have a lot of notes and even more ideas what to do and how to expand their future business. This is absolutely amazing and I ALWAYS love hearing all about it! I think venturing into a new business is so exciting and I could still sit for hours with my customers and talk about their idea.

However when I ask them about their target customer, who they want to sell their products or services to and why they should buy, the answer is usually relatively short. So in this blog post I first want to explain why it is so important to know your ideal customer and secondly how to define your ideal customer.

Personal branding - Is your business about you?

Personal branding - Is your business about you?

Is your business about you?

Well, the first answer that should come right into your mind is: no! It is about my customers! And serving my ideal customer or client. And yes you are totally right, of course your business is about your customer. And I keep saying that when I work with my clients for branding and web design. You want to attract your ideal customer with your brand and your website. But let me tell you a quick story:

During our summer holiday we always go to the same island and there we have friends who always took us to the same restaurant, we used to go there sometimes several times during our stay, until this year! Something has changed... and it was not the food. The food, the ambience, the location, the prices, it was all still the same and to be honest it was or is not better or worse than other places that are close by. BUT the head waitress has changed locations! And she was great - she was super friendly, knew everybody by name, she was super funny and always went the extra mile, even during stressful times. Every guest felt welcomed and had a good time, mainly because of her. She was the sole of this restaurant and why so many people returned over and over again. So this restaurant has lost it's sole and with her probably a lot of loyal customers.

SO GOING BACK TO MY INITIAL QUESTION. IS YOUR BUSINESS ABOUT YOU?

What is branding? And why is branding so important?

What is branding? And why is branding so important?

“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.”

Steve Forbes

A lot of clients come to me and say they are starting their own company and they need a logo. What they don’t realize is that they don’t only need a logo and may be a website, they need to build a brand. But what is branding and why is branding important?

How to keep track of your work hours using Toggl

How to keep track of your work hours using Toggl

For my previous businesses I never kept track of any time. I just worked as much as I could and until a project or design was finished. I always had my dedicated work hours and made a plan like I wrote about in my previous blog post. But I did not know how long each task took me.

And I did the same when I started MNFL-Design. I kind of jumped around each day and had no idea how long it took me to design a logo or how long I needed to set up wordpress for a client. I also struggled with how I should price my services. So it was actually my dad who intervened and told me to write down my hours so that I would get an idea how long each task took me. Like that I would be able to find adequate prices and organize my days and projects better.

However I did not have the time to start an excel spreadsheet and write down all my projects and times. So, guess what, he did it for me! I know, super nice, right?!

Everyday I would scribble down the time I worked on something and at the end of the day I would send him an email and he had his proper excel spreadsheet with filters etc where he recorded everything. From time to time he would send me an overview asking if I knew that I had already spend so many hours on a single project but got only paid this much? I was very surprised and knew I had either spend too much time going back and forth on a certain design or I priced myself too low.

It was very actually very helpful and for my start up phase it gave me a good idea about how much time I needed for all my projects and helped me a lot with my pricing.

Why I started my own business and the story behind MNFL Design

Why I started my own business and the story behind MNFL Design

I have touched this topic in a previous blog and now I wanted to share a little bit more about why I started MNFL-Design and why I love working from home.

My parents are both self-employed. My dad has his own business and is very innovative and never afraid to test new things and my mom has worked as a freelance journalist for almost as long as I can remember. So I grew up in a house where being your own boss was always a big topic. And somehow there was always this certainty of being my own boss one day.

My dream was actually to become a fashion designer but thinking I cannot draw and going with the safer option I studied business studies at university. I thought it would be a good base for anything and also for my own business at some stage. I was right in that sense but overall I didn't like it and it was not for me. Luckily for my first job I started working for a big German company and after some time I worked as a buyer for sports wear which I absolutely loved. Also I am so happy that I got the opportunity later to take many, many different classes in different countries in fashion, graphic and interior design.

Anyway, life doesn't always take you straight down the road, it takes some turns until you reach your goals.

Planning your day as a freelancer

Planning your day as a freelancer

Planning your day when you are working alone and from home can be very difficult! This complete freedom can actually be quite challenging. I get you, I have been there, or I am still there every day. Everybody is different and everybody works best at different times of the day. Some people prefer to work under pressure and some can't handle pressure. Some people prefer to work from home and some prefer to go out to a cafe or somewhere else.

As I only have certain hours a day to work – while my kids are in school – I need to have quite a strict schedule and little distraction in order to get everything done. I have also worked from home for many years now under different circumstances and I have tried many things. So for myself I found out that I am most productive when I am in my office, door closed, I have all my things around me and there is almost no distraction, meaning I don't get the door bell, my phone is on silent and there are no other people around me. Also I like a bit of pressure, but that was the same in my normal office job :-)

However because of my busy afternoons with my kids I do get to talk to other people a lot and I do get a lot of distraction. For some of you that might be different because you work alone all day and that means you need some time to interact with other humans as well, so you might prefer to work in a coffee shop instead.

Everybody is different!

Pro's and Con's of the life of a freelancer

Pro's and Con's of the life of a freelancer

Are you thinking of starting your own business and work from home? Do you want to start working as a freelancer but are not quite sure yet? May be you have to start freelancing because of external circumstances? Or may be you are a new mom and have decided to work from home now?

There are so many reasons why people want to start working from home and as I have done it for many years now I thought I would share some pro's and con's with you.

I actually started working from home because I had to. I was always working for a big company and was very happy there. In 2007 my husband and I moved to America for his job. I quit my full time job and was suddenly completely free and without real plans. After I had explored our new home town, joined the gym, drank a lot of Starbucks coffee with my one and only friend there and learned how to iron really well while watching the whole series of “sex and the city”, I actually had to make a plan of what I want to do. I had to make a choice wether I wanted to start working full time for a company again or did I want to start my own business?