I launched a special blog series to honor and champion other women in business. This is a companion service to a podcast that launched on October 1, 2020.
My intention is to share insights of lessons learned by businesswomen and also elevate their services to the greater community. The goal is to inform and inspire other women with ideas in order to empower them to grow their own business ventures.
Ramona Nichols of Inspired Creatives provides web design, branding identity, and digital marketing services. She designed my website! Inspired Creatives Studio exists to help small businesses realize their dreams. They handcraft marketing solutions that deliver big agency results to the small business owner.
1. How many years have you been in business?
Formally, I’ve been in business since 2012, but I’ve been building websites for people since around 2006.
2. Why did you pick this trade in particular?
I fell into technology very early on – way back when God was a boy. I didn’t go toward tech intentionally. If fact, I was totally put off by it. I guess you could say I was the accidental tourist. I got hired supporting techie nerds because I could type really fast and they couldn’t. Go figure. I was hired to help an accounting professor digitize his book. Then I worked with a physics professor assisting with documenting his research. I slowly began to realize I could make a career out of this tech stuff, and the rest is history.
3. What are the top three reasons why a business owner should invest in your service/product?
- We take the time to get to know you, your business, your “Why”.
- We uncover who your ideal client/customer is. We drill down to who REALLY needs and is actively looking for your solution?
- Our ultimate goal is to partner with you for the long haul. We believe websites are living entities. They need constant nurturing and tweaking. As your business goals shift and change, your website has to adapt to be effective and stay aligned with your bigger business picture. We want to be there to help you and your website stay on course.
4. If you could go back to your younger self, what kind of advice would you give yourself about your pursuit to create your own business?
I’d give my younger self a reality check. Realize that running a business is not sexy. It’s a greasy, grimy and dirty pursuit. You’re going to be in the trenches trying to kick butt, all while getting the crap beat out of you. You’re not going to be sitting on the beach sipping Pina coladas like the work-from-home ads imply. Get that out of your head. Get the right mindset. It’s just a matter of waking up everyday, putting your 2 feet on the floor, and then proceeding to put one foot in front of the other on a consistent basis. That’s what gets the job done. That’s what gets you to the summit. Nothing more.
5. If you could go 5 years in the future, what do you think your future self would share with you?
You’re doing it right. It may feel like you’re f’ing everything up, but keep pushing. You’ll get there.
6. Who influenced you – professionally?
I have to say, both professionally and personally, it is my mother, my grandmother, and my aunts who influenced me most. They were all strong Black women who each faced their own adversities. They weren’t given any golden tickets to get through life, but they managed to do what had to be done for themselves and their families with grace, dignity and poise. I pray everyday that I can do the same.
7. How do you keep your momentum going to keep a healthy pace as a business owner?
I stick to the basics. I try to eat right, get exercise, meditate, get to bed early and start my day early. I like to start my day doing 3 things – Read, meditate and journal. I try always to remember WHY I’m doing what I’m doing.
8. What advice would you share with someone who is thinking about, or just beginning, managing their own business?
Validate your idea. Find out, before you build anything, if there are people out there who are willing to pay for what you’re offering. Don’t spend months or even years building something you THINK people want. Just go out and ask – Hey, will you give me money for this idea/product/service? You’ll be surprised at the answers. Use those answers to adjust your product/service. If you don’t find interest in what you’re offering, go back to the drawing board.
9. What surprised you the most as a business owner?
You don’t shut off being a business owner. I never thought I’d miss being able to leave my work at 5pm. I know to stay sane you really do need to shut things off and power down the brain, but there’s always something rattling around in there. That’s the hardest to control, and came as quite a surprise.
10. How do you describe your entrepreneurial spirit?
Keeping curious. Continuously learning. Always listening.
11. How much time do you devote to professional development/learning each week or month?
A lot!! My motto is “Always be learning.” I’m proud that I made that commitment in my early 30’s, and haven’t slowed down yet. In fact, I have to be careful not to go down too many rabbit holes at one time. If I have to quantify it, I’d say almost 25% of my time is spent learning something new.
12. Any suggestions on resources: books, podcasts, online learning, blogs + tools (i.e. RemembertheMilk)?
The most impactful book I’ve read recently is Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Newport describes deep work as the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. The book validated for me that my getting lost in the “zone” and not coming up for air when tackling a project is a viable style of work.
I’m probably the only person on earth not listening to podcasts right now. I used to listen regularly on my walks, but I needed to get back to nature and return my walks to a daily meditation. I have however, popped into Brené Brown’s podcast – Unlocking Us, and I plan to check out Michelle Obama’s soon. And of course, I’m going to stay up-to-date with Broadband!
As far as online learning, I spend way too much time on Youtube tutorials. It helps me fulfill my “Always be learning” mandate;) Another really great source for courses that many may not be aware of is MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. Check out mooc.org and edx.org. These are actual courses with live lectures being broadcast from the likes of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and more. They’re totally free, if you can believe that. You can get certificates and degrees, but of course, there’s a fee for those. But hey, knowledge is knowledge in my book. Get it free and worry about a piece of paper later!
My favorite blog of all time is https://blog.doist.com/ . They’re the folks that created Todoist, the productivity tool based on the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology by David Allen. To that end, Todoist is one my favorite productivity tools for single-user projects.
Although I love Todoist with its simplicity and gorgeous User Interface, I recently found Clickup and I can’t get unstuck from it. It’s like Todoist on steriods. It’s made with teams in mind, but I think the solopreneur will find it useful too. If you’re like me, always on the hunt for that ideal project management tool, give Clickup a look-see. I’m on the free plan and haven’t been disappointed yet.
And for those of us who need a little help staying on track and motivation not to get distracted, I highly recommend the Pomodoro timing system – work 25 minutes, take a break for 5 minutes, after 4 rounds take a long 15 or 20 minute break. Times can be adjusted to suit your personal needs. The system is explained here by the creator – https://francescocirillo.com/ . There are a lot of Pomodoro apps out there, but my favorite that doubles as a basic todo list is Focus To-Do app (both for iPhone and Android).
And finally, if you want to track your water intake, check out the WaterLama app. It’s just too cute. Sorry, it may only be on iPhone -;(
13. Five things to know about you:
a. What is your favorite flower?
Star Lily or Gardenia. Both for their heavenly scents.
b. Coffee or tea?
Definitely both! Coffee in the morning. I have to have caffeine to get started. I then change to herbal tea in the afternoon and evening. I keep a cabinet full of herbal teas. Let me know what ails you. I’ve got a tea for that (and the explanation behind it;)
c. Tahiti or Paris?
I’d love to visit Paris, but it sounds like a “doing” vacation. Right now what I need is a “not doing nothing” retreat. So Tahiti it is!
d. Are you an intention setter or goal setter?
Intention – I write my intentions out every morning after I do my Morning Pages. I like to keep them to just 3 things that must be attended to that day.
14. Favorite quote?
“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want” – Zig Ziglar