Celebrating one year of The Creative Business Coach!

I always tell my clients to celebrate their wins, because they are important milestones in our journey to success. And today it is my turn to celebrate something fabulous: The Creative Business Coach is ONE! One year ago I decided to launch my new venture to support creative entrepreneurs in their business, and it has been a blast! A lot has happened in just one year, and I am so grateful for all my followers, clients – and my family, who have been very supportive. What has been happening over the past twelve months, and what have I got planned for you next?

After moving to Spain from Scotland in 2018, I initially set up as a copywriter. Moving abroad without a job lined up means you have to reinvent yourself, and being a good writer and marketeer, this was an easy way to start earning money abroad. Still, it was pretty boring and lonely at times, to sit in my home office without any human contact, writing product descriptions for companies I had no affinity with. But it was income, and I felt I didn’t have a lot of choice living in Spain, so I just kept going. Then, in 2020, like so many other freelancers, I was hit by the lockdown blues and most clients cancelling jobs.

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Turning my passion and skills into a business

I suddenly sat at home with a lot of time to think, and after signing up to an online business course, I was encouraged to think more about what I really wanted to do in my life, and as a way to earn money. I was encouraged to dive into my inner world and dig out those talents, skills and gifts that I could start sharing with the world. I landed on creativity. I have always been a creative, from as long as I can remember, and spent my childhood drawing, painting, dancing and doing drama classes, followed by a life-long passion for singing and playing in bands. In my career I spent twenty years in marketing and communications jobs in the arts, always surrounded by other creatives.

I breathe creativity.

Combining this creativity with my marketing knowledge and entrepreneurial skills, felt like the natural next step. As a coach and mentor I wanted to help others bring out their own inner creativity and the confidence to shine, and create successful, sustainable businesses doing what they love most. The Creative Business Coach was born.

2021, in essence the first full year of my new business, has been a year of hard work, transformation, and many teachings. I have not just coached my first real clients this year, I have gone through a huge transformation myself. Entrepreneurship comes with a lot of personal development. Diving deeper into who I am as a human, what my purpose is on earth, what I want out of life. Therapy, retreats, books, plant medicine, and investing in a wonderful business coach myself, have all propelled me into the next chapter of my life. I am fully enjoying the journey, no matter how uncomfortable at times. It makes me feel very alive.

And this is what I tell my own clients all the time: growth comes with pain. Getting out of your comfort zone is not easy, and can feel horrible. But working on yourself, trusting in the process, and being fully open to what the universe has to offer you, is 100% worthwhile.

What I will be doing as The Creative Business Coach in 2022

First things first: let me list some of my major wins and ‘get out of my comfort zone’ achievements of 2021! You all know that starting a new business is hard, and this was the same for me. However, I made sure that although it was hard, I enjoyed the ride. These are some of the things I did:

  • Grew an audience from scratch, and created an online community on Facebook.
  • Decided to say no to copywriting clients who did not feel aligned anymore, and raise my prices for this service – it felt GOOD.
  • Started doing ‘lives’, in my own Facebook group and as a guest speaker (yes, I found them nerve wrecking too!).
  • Had professional brand photos taken (oh man, the difference they make!).
  • Designed and launched my first 7-week online marketing course. (a helluva lot of work, but a lot of fun!).
  • Delivered three keynote speaker gigs about joyful marketing, at online events internationally .
  • Did my first in-person talk in Spanish in front of a group of all-male business students of the university of Valencia (this one topped all of the fear-factor-stuff for sure!).
  • Decided to invest in a coach to help me in my personal and professional development
  • Signed my first 1-to-1 clients, with new people booking now each month (yay!).
  • Launched my free online group coaching clinic on every first Wednesday of the month.

So what will The Creative Business Coach look like in 2022? I will continue to offer 1-to-1 programs to clients who are ready to dive deep and bring out the best in themselves for 3 to 6 months. I will do the group coaching clinic once a month. I will also continue to write, offering value and inspiration, and explore where my stories and thinking will take me. Who knows, I will start writing a book!

valencia business coach
Photo by Jose Du00b4Alessandro on Pexels.com

No doubt I will organise a few courses or masterclasses on various topics throughout the year. And I am also exploring the possibility of holding creative (business) retreats, in-person, here in Spain. (Imagine this…a few days of working on yourself and your business, with group coaching, mindset, inner work and creativity workshops thrown in…good food and conversation with like-minded people, and all in an inspiring place…to come away with clarity and focus, and a lot of new ideas for your future. What do you think? Are you in?)

One of the insights I have had this year, is a very personal one. I discovered that I had left the inner artist behind in adolescence, like so many of us do, ending up choosing a ‘safer’ career, and working in an office. I want to bring her out more.

I don’t regret any of the choices I made, and am grateful for all the education and work experience I have gained since. Still, most of my adult life I have promoted and helped other creatives in their work, and not fully acknowledged my own potential as a creative being and artist. To build a truly sustainable, and joyful coaching business, I will therefore start dividing my time between coaching and developing my own creative practice.

I will continue playing in my band, have signed up for abstract painting classes, will keep on writing, and will be open to whatever else comes on my path that inspires me. Fueling my own creativity will help me to better help my clients too.

If anything, The Creative Business Coach will embark on a wonderful journey of serving others while staying true to her own inner artist. I am excited for whatever comes next!

Book a free call

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Case Study: helping a lawyer launch a quirky events business

Emily, in California, contacted me in September this year. A dream client; someone who is still stuck in the world of full-time work (she is a lawyer), but with her inner creativity eager to burst out, she was yearning to launch a quirky business of her own: Sweet Orange Adventures. A small business, based around a bright orange 1970s VW camper van, which Emily wants to offer as the perfect backdrop to unique events on the Californian beach. And Emily had a head full of ideas, but had no clue where to start. And she was very scared.

She wasn’t so much scared of opening a business…but her main fear was what her family, friends and colleagues would say about it. She was scared of failure. Scared of making a fool of herself. And yes, launching a business means becoming visible. Online, and in real life. Also, coming from a traditional, corporate environment, and still working in a law firm, becoming a creative entrepreneur felt kinda…weird, and very out of her comfort zone. But her excitement won over her fear, and so she called me.

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Romantic date nights in the Californian sunset

I liked Emily and her quirky project from the first time we met, during a strategy call she booked through my website. We chatted about her idea on Zoom (she at 6am, I at 3pm! Oh, the joy of time zones!), had an immediate click, and I felt confident I could help her launch that wonderfully creative business. Of course, I am a huge fan of anything vintage and soulful, so this happy orange project was right up my street. This is what she initially came to me with;

  • She wanted to launch a small events business, using her recently bought vintage camper van. She had this vision of renting it out to either locals or tourists, not to drive in, but to use it as a backdrop for picnics or date nights. She also wanted to combine this with a fleet of rental bikes or e-bikes.
  • She had a vision of a beach front office with lounge chairs, and popsicles in a cooler (I love it!) for customers to relax in. The e-bikes parked out front.
  • In the future she wanted to have a team manage it, and then eventually sell off the business once successful.

After sifting through her head full of ideas, we settled on launching her business starting with one beautiful first offer: unique date nights on the beach, with a yummy picnic, board games, music and of course the cozy vintage camper van to snuggle in and watch the sun go down. Date nights for both older couples celebrating their anniversary, and wanting to relive the good old times in an original way, but also for young couples (celebrating their engagement or ‘babymoon’).

We decided on her target audience, her offer and her message: how could we tap into the emotions, memories, and particular needs of people looking for the ultimate date night? With what message could we attract them?

Together we created a launch strategy, and, all in a very short amount of time, Emily managed to organise a photo shoot to help her new business look amazing online, and she found two perfect couples to try out her offer and provide Trip Advisor testimonials in return. 

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Turning your mother into your cheerleader

Onto the next challenge: the fear factor. What will people think of me? To overcome her biggest fear of being judged by her own family, I suggested involving her own mother in the project, and invite her to test out her date night…

SAY WHAT?? YEP. Face that fear, baby.

I asked Emily: “What would your mother do if you gave her a great ‘Sweet Orange Adventure’ and invited her as your first guest? If you treated her and a friend to a delicious picnic in front of your van on the beach, and give them an amazing time? She could help you give some honest feedback, and be a trial customer, no?” After getting over the initial shock, Emily realised the potential. “Oh! She would become my biggest cheer leader!” she said. “She would tell everyone”. And indeed, my idea was not stupid at all, as her mother said yes, and was indeed way more positive about her business idea than Emily had expected.

Tweaking the message, creating a crystal clear offer

I then helped Emily to fine-tune her web copy to be crystal clear about what it is she offers and to whom. We also chose tag lines and logos to go on the back of the van, and decided on more places to promote her offer after the initial launch.

She took the leap and booked a prime spot for 3 months at the busy weekly ‘cars & coffee’ event held in her town, to park her camper van here, make herself better known in the area, and talk about her date nights to visitors. We decided on producing cute vintage inspired post cards to hand out to prospects (blank on the back, so you could invite your date and personalise your message!). Emily’s mother, now well on board and supportive of the project, sewed some colourful festive flags to hang around the pop-up roof tent.

creative business coach california

The business is still in its startup phase, but I am incredibly proud of Emily and how pro-active she has been in getting stuff done in such a short time, and most importantly, overcome those initial mind blocks that most new entrepreneurs encounter.

Emily is a prime example of someone who managed to turn a dream into a real life project, and I can’t wait to start working together again in the new year!

How about you? Are you still (California) dreamin’?

If you are ready to take the bull by the horns, like Emily, and launch or grow your own creative business, schedule a free call with me to find out how we can work together!

Why cookie-cutter style business coaching is not helpful for creatives

What you need is a tasty dough mix of creative thinking and marketing support

I am an artist at heart. Not even just at heart, I am an artist in my bones! Still, for most of my adult life, I have been supporting other artists and creatives as a marketing expert. I was a marketing manager and consultant for arts centres for years, and produced a zillion press releases, brochures, web texts and other material to shout about their fabulous offers, build their reputation, and up their sales. And now I am a business coach for creatives and small businesses. No, I am not a traditional business coach. I do not offer a cookie-cutter style program to support you in your business. So what makes me suitable for this work, then?

As a coach, I don’t ask standard questions. I don’t go through the same modules each time. I don’t even have the same worksheets for each client I work with. I work organically, and tune in to what my client needs. They are all different. This requires a creative mind.

I tap into their brains, and sift through the junk yard of ideas and projects up there. I understand the creative mind inside out, because I have one too. But I also possess 20 years of experience in marketing and communications, plus I know what it is to start up a brick and mortar business from scratch, on zero budget. And – having moved abroad twice – I know how to reinvent myself, and be resourceful, time and again. I combine all of this knowledge in my coaching programs. Oh – and I have a creative life beyond coaching. I am a singer-songwriter in a band. And next month I am going to brush up on my painting skills (excuse the pun), because I’d love to experiment with abstract art and large canvases.

‘Getting’ the creative mind is not something many business mentors do

Creative ideas, unique events, and people who think outside the box excite me. I love being part of their journey, and helping them succeed and achieve their goals. Often, my clients tell me that previous mentors or coaches they worked with, just didn’t seem to ‘get’ them. They would offer generic solutions and suggestions for their business, which would not be suitable at all. They didn’t seem to be understanding how they work, what a creative process looks like, and how different it often is to market a creative business from someone offering other types of services.

I listen to my clients. I use my intuition. And as a creative myself, I quickly gather what is going on in my client’s mind. I understand the excitement, the jumping from idea to idea, the self-doubts, and the drive to make the world a more beautiful place by offering something unique.

So what types of clients do I work with?

One of my clients is a visual artist in the Netherlands. With her I am working on prioritising her offers, figuring out where her true joy lies, and looking for new opportunities to sell her art. She has grown so much in confidence over the past few months, feeling a lot clearer about what she really wants to do, and also how much to charge for things. We have identified opportunities to sell, but also looked at ways to apply her art in different ways, beyond the picture frame.

Another one of my clients just now is a life and mindset coach in England. After taking some time to work out what her niche was, she finally settled down on helping primary school teachers. We have since been working together on her offer for schools, as well as 1-to-1 programs, and because of becoming more clear in her message each week, she is now attracting the right clients, mainly through LinkedIn (which we identified as the right platform for her). She is about to launch her new website, which no doubt boosts her business even more. She even got interviewed on local TV.

Her biggest win I’d say? Confidence and trust in herself and her abilities. She’s flying.

Another client is a startup event business, offering unique experiences on a Californian beach in a vintage camper van. With her I worked on identifying her niche and offer, and marketing the ultimate date night. In a very short amount of time, we managed to craft her offer, improve her web copy, get brand photos taken, flyers designed, and select the first few couples for the trials, to receive testimonials and create more photographic material to use in her marketing.

All of my clients are so, so different, but all so creative in their own right. I love supporting them, and together coming up with the best ideas and strategy to grow their business.

Photo by Matilda Wormwood on Pexels.com

So, no, I am not your average business and marketing coach. I am a bit quirky. But if you are a little quirky like me, and you are looking to grow your wonderful, creative business, I reckon we’re a good fit.

My offers

You can find more info about my coaching programs for small businesses on my services page. I offer 1-to-1 coaching programmes for creatives for 3 to 6 months for accountability and lasting transformation, but I also offer one-off Power Sessions of 90 minutes, where we dive deep, and we can sort out some of your urgent issues.

And if you’d like to know a bit more about me as a person beyond the coaching, here are some of the more unusual facts about me!

Quirky facts about me…

  • I am from the Netherlands originally, and emigrated twice: once for love (to Scotland), once for sun (Spain).
  • I am a singer and have been in bands for 25 years. My favourite singing style is the blues. My dream is to record a solo album with roots and folk music from all over the world.
  • I have had a lifestyle and decor blog for over 12 years, called Nina’s Apartment, which subsequently became the name of my vintage furniture shop, which I had for four years whilst in Scotland.
  • I hate cycling uphill. Probably something to do with my Dutch roots.
  • I am an enneagram type 7 and a Manifesting Generator in Human Design (look these tests up, they are fascinating!): basically, an ideas factory, positive mind, creative powerhouse, excited adventurer, and hungry for life. I can hardly keep up with myself sometimes 😅🙈
  • Despite being a singer on stage, I am not an extrovert. I am more like a social introvert: easy to get on with, sociable, and love hanging out with friends, but hate crowds and big parties, and need plenty of alone time to recharge.
  • I like pineapple on pizza.
  • I studied Art and Architecture history, and love old stuff. On Fridays I enjoy being a tour guide on a bicycle in Valencia (not uphill thankfully!), telling people stories about this beautiful city.

Do you like what you’ve read? Come and chat to me for 30-minutes on a free call, and let’s see how I can help your business grow. Book a call.

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You’re a fraud! No, you’re a fraud! Fighting the impostor syndrome

I know nothing. What do I have to offer? I am not as good as any of the others.

Look at them, and how well they are doing, I see their posts constantly. Not like me, struggling to make it all work. Here I am, staring out of the window of my office again, a deep sigh. Not knowing what to do next, even though I have jobs to finish. Am I even cut out for this running-your-own-business stuff? Maybe I should get a job. I’ll probably fail at this anyway, so I may as well. They’ll find out soon enough that I’m no good at this, and I don’t actually know what I’m doing. I’m a fraud, really.

Does this sound vaguely familiar?

We all have these voices in our head. Some of us more than others. The annoying inner voice of the impostor syndrome. Or Bitchy Betty, as I call her. Yes, I have this inner critic too at times, especially when I push myself out of my comfort zone. When I launch a new offer (what will people think of it?). Or when I am asked to speak in public (“I’ll stumble over my words, mess up, and everyone will laugh at me!”) Yep. We all go through this, I promise. Even the most famous pop stars have stage fright. It is a normal fight or flight response in our brain, a protection mechanism, trying to save us from disaster. But we have a choice whether or not we listen.

The truth is, your inner voice would wrap you up in cotton wool if you let her. And nothing would ever change or improve in your life. Adventures are waiting, and right now, you have to tell that voice to shut up and hide in the background for you to come out and shine.

What can you do to combat the impostor syndrome?

First of all: accept that it is a normal feeling. Everyone has it, and it won’t go away completely. But you can learn how to rewire your brain to recognise when your inner critic pops up, and see it for what it is: a scaremongering storyteller. There are a number of ways to fight the impostor syndrome and feel more confident as an entrepreneur and creative.

  1. Change the story
  2. Recognise, accept, and let go

creative business coach and mentor
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Change the story: celebrate how far you’ve come

Grab a note pad, and write down all of your self-limiting beliefs right now. Go on, do it.

All of the stories, get them out. From telling yourself you are not educated enough, don’t have the right certificates, not have an impressive CV, or not the right experience to show for it. The things you’ve done in your previous career were not very impressive, the projects you worked on were mainly completed by others. You were ‘just’ a (fill in the blank), you ‘only’ (fill in the blank), and you ‘are not really a’ (fill in the blank).

I bet you are coming up with heaps of junk. All kinds of stories in your head that you have been telling yourself for years, and have always somehow believed to be true. Stories that always pop up when you are embarking on something new that is slightly scary. Especially when you are making your new venture visible to others. You are not good enough. Not ready enough. Don’t even think that you would be able to make it a success. They will laugh at you.

Now. Change those stories.

On the next page of your note pad, try and rewrite those negative stories, now seeing them from a different angle. Put a positive spin on it, and try to see them as if they are someone else’s stories, not yours. How would you describe them then? For example, if you have written down that you haven’t got the right experience or CV to do what you are doing; look at it as if it is someone’s else’s CV: what makes this person brilliant at what they do? Formal certificates or not. How many people have you helped, and have told you that you are good at what you do? How many happy clients have you had so far? If you detach yourself a little, and make it less personal, as if you are describing a friend’s achievements, would you be as harsh as you are on yourself?

You are your own worst critic. If you had a friend telling you all their limiting self-beliefs, would you say to them:”Well yes, you are right – you are rubbish indeed, and if I were you, I wouldn’t even attempt it”. Or would you try and change your friend’s story, making them see it from a more positive angle? Make them feel more confident? Be that best friend for yourself.

creative business coach and mentor
Photo by Gary Barnes on Pexels.com

Recognise, accept, and let go

The other way to deal with impostor syndrome, is to accept that it exists. That doesn’t mean though that we have to accept it as the truth, and throw in the towel. Like with any form of anxiety, in order to make it go away, or at least become less of an issue, is to recognise these feelings for what they are: feelings. Feelings and intrusive thoughts. They are not the truth. They are your own fabricated fear-mongering stories, to protect you from harm. But there is no harm. The chances of things going wrong are likely a lot smaller than the chances of you turning it into a success.

We all have self-doubts, inner critics, and stories that we tell ourselves. They are a normal part of the human brain. But when these voices become too dominant, they can really put the brakes on our own development, and stop us going after our dreams. When we keep believing the stories in our heads, and think success, wealth, amazing businesses, and fantastic lives are just not ‘for the likes of us’, and only available to other people, who are somehow more capable than us, then that is exactly what we will achieve: nothing. Mindset is everything, and when you change the stories in your head, real transformation will happen.

So accept the inner critic, but don’t take her seriously. Because you are more than capable. You are more than ready. You are more than worth it to achieve anything you want in life. Stop keeping yourself small, and start believing in yourself. Follow that fire in your belly, not the voices in your head. Your passion is your compass.

business coach for creatives

Did this resonate with you? I work with ambitious creative entrepreneurs who are ready to put in the work and get real results and transformation in their business and life.

I only take on two new keen clients a month. To find out if you qualify, and if we are a good fit, book a free 30-minute call today to find out how I can help you.

10 creative ways to make money while living abroad

Live anywhere in the world while being your own boss, and earning money

How do you find work in Spain for English speakers? Or in Italy, France, or anywhere else you are planning to move to? Unless you are retired and are bringing a healthy pension, moving abroad means figuring out how to earn money to pay for your lifestyle. Some expats are able to work remotely for their employer overseas, but many expats who move to countries where the unemployment numbers are high, start up their own small business.

And why not? You are already brave, making the move abroad, so becoming an entrepreneur is really not that big a step.

I am Dutch, but moved abroad twice, once for love and once for the sunshine, and I managed to earn an income on both occasions. I moved to Valencia, Spain and was able to build a small business from scratch. First as a copywriter, now as a business coach. And I am a freelance tour guide too! There are possibilities, but you do have to look for them.

If you have a creative mind, skills that are in demand, and a pro-active attitude, the world really is your oyster. You can build a business and create the dream life you want, while living in the sun. I am not making this up. I am the living proof.

So what skills could you monetise as a small business abroad?

Grab a notebook and a pen, to start off with. Jot down ALL the skills, knowledge and passions you have, no matter how crazy they sound. Don’t just think what is on your CV, think beyond that. What are you good at? Organising parties? Vegan cooking? Grooming pets? What do people always pick your brains on? Whatever expertise you are holding in your head, there will be someone out there who you can help.

And any of those things can be turned into a little creative business. Or a big creative business! It can be in the form of passive income, like an e-book or an ever-green course, or perhaps you can offer in-person services locally. You could offer your services or products online, globally. It is all possible.

I have written a short e-book to help you get some ideas for making money abroad, and it is free to download. Do you want it? Here you go!


English speaking jobs spain

Solo entrepreneurs are not companies. Stop over-complicating things

As a creative business coach I am on a mission to keep business and marketing simple

As a business coach I work with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses, to help them get more clients. Most of them have one thing in common: fear. Fear of becoming visible through marketing and getting judged for it, fear of starting, fear of failing – but also fear of tech and being a business in itself. They over-complicate things in their head, start feeling overwhelmed, and then they freeze. They think they need to have it all 100% sorted, or else they can’t call themselves a business. They look at peers and competitors, and believe that everyone else has it all well organised and they are in a mess. So they procrastinate, panic, or even give up. Is that you? Today I am telling you to chill out, and listen. It ain’t that hard, really!

Just because you have started your own business, and you call yourself a business owner, does not mean you have to think in corporate, business-y terms.

Some of my clients come to me asking for help with a business plan. “A business plan?” I ask. “What on earth do you need a business plan for?” Unless you are applying for a bank loan, the only thing a business plan is good for, is the bottom drawer. Nobody looks at it ever again.

A marketing plan, now, that is a different thing. You will need a marketing strategy to find clients and make sales. Not a business plan. This is what I mean by creative entrepreneurs over-complicating their lives, and creating chaos in their minds. If you feel you have to write a business plan before you even start trading, it may be another two years before you even get your first client. No need. Relax. Just start focusing on the actions.

You are not a big company. You are a small business. Perhaps a freelancer. Perhaps a creative studio with a small team. You can keep it simple. Promise. Outsource your accounts, for sure, but the rest should be pretty straight-forward. Simple does it.

coaching for creative professionals

What does a small business need to start up?

So what do you need, then? You need clarity and goals. Know what you want to achieve, and by when. If you know that, then you can create a strategy. How will you get where you want to be? By the way, even the word ‘strategy’ scares a lot of people. Stop using that word in that case. Strategy is just a big word for a plan.

Have you ever planned a holiday a few months in advance? Did you manage OK? Then you can also make a plan to reach your business goals. Nothing difficult. Just use common sense. You’re smart enough.

Decide where you want your business to be in 12 months, and then walk back in time. What steps do you need to take each month or week to reach those milestones? If you want to earn, say, 3k / month (or whatever is your ideal income) by this time next year, how does that translate in terms of sales? What do you need to sell each month to earn that? How many clients will you need? How will you find those additional clients? Break it down into small chunks, and you will start seeing the wood from the trees.

Photo by Alex Smith on Pexels.com

The key ingredients to a successful small business

Have it clear in your mind what you are offering, to whom you are offering this, and what your message is to your ideal clients. Clarity! You need to have those key ingredients absolutely clear. Once you know what you are selling, and who your ideal client is, you can tailor your message, and all your marketing activity will be so much easier. Whether it is Instagram posts, videos, email marketing, or blog posts, it all flows so much better if you know where you are heading with it. As a creative business coach and mentor, I help my clients with all of this in my coaching programs.

No more randomly shooting from the hip, but targeted communication. Your dream client will be able to recognise themselves instantly in your offer if you know how to tap into their problem, pain point, or emotions. Your job to find out what these are.

So no, you don’t need a business plan, excel sheets full of sales targets, nor pages full of complicated strategies. Running a business should be fun, joyful, and simple. You have a product, you need to find a buyer who needs that product. Know where the client hangs out on social media, try and get them on your email list, or sort out your SEO so they find you organically (eek, another scary thing? No, also pretty easy to sort out! Read this blog post about SEO).

Oh, and don’t forget to talk to your real-life network. As in real people, off-screen. Very useful, and you can’t beat some good old fashioned marketing by face-to-face networking. The more people know about your business, the more chances you have to get clients. Go for it. And remember; you are a brave go-getter already! You’ve got this.

Work with me

creative business mentor coach

If you want to work with me 1-to-1, I offer coaching programs for creatives and other small businesses.

Book a free call to find out more about my 1-to-1 coaching programs.

Why investing in your online business will help you grow faster

How much did you spend on starting up your online business?

Imagine opening a physical shop in your local town. You get the keys to the space, you are dead excited. But there is nothing in it. What do you need? Shelving, display units, and a counter, if you are running a retail business. Kitchen facilities and furniture, if it’s a cafe. And you need to decorate it of course. Bits and pieces, artwork on the wall, paint, wallpaper, maybe some bespoke joinery. And someone to fix the lighting. Add it all up, how much would you need to invest before the grand opening day? Thousands, probably even tens of thousands, if you include everything.

Today I want to talk to you about investing in your online business, and yourself. I know it all too well, I’ve been there myself, and I didn’t invest much in either my businesses or myself, for years. I did everything on a shoestring budget, all my startups, and I was pretty proud of it too. But was it a very wise decision? I managed to get the projects off the ground, for sure, but I also wasted a lot of time and energy on figuring stuff out myself, stuff someone with more expertise would have done way quicker, and better.

If you are serious about growing your online business, then investing is something that will pay off, no doubt about it. If you would open a physical shop, you’d probably even get a loan from the bank. Why do we regard the startup needs for online businesses so differently, just because we work on a laptop?

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Investing in your business means growing faster

Small business owners who operate online often have this idea that they don’t need to spend much to get started. And it is true in many ways. You can build a simple website yourself for very little, social media is free (costing just your time), and perhaps you have a few Pro subscriptions on Canva, Zoom and a few other apps. So basically, you run your business on very little money each month, and you are trying to get clients that way. What else do you need, right?

Yes, what else could you invest in, as an online business?

Outsourcing. Number one mistake most solo entrepreneurs and creatives make, is trying do do EVERYTHING themselves. From social media marketing to accounts, and from blogging to project admin. Are you good at all of those things? Really? Where do your strengths lie? What could you establish in a week, if you didn’t have to do the bookkeeping, for example? Or the Instagram posting?

Outsourcing as soon as you can, can help you grow much faster than you would on your own. Hiring a VA for a few hours each week to help you with admin or social media, already makes a difference. And outsourcing the headache that is your accounts and tax returns is a no-brainer.

So what else? Investing in yourself and your personal development is another thing that is well worth it. Signing up for extra training, online courses, buying books, hiring a business mentor. But also working on mindset and doing the inner work. Diving into entrepreneurship comes with a lot of mindset issues, which can really put the brakes on your growth as a small business. It is very common for new business owners to feel quite wobbly and insecure when they first start an you feel all eyes are on you.

You have your ideas and your first few clients, perhaps, but without guidance and accountability, it can quickly become very overwhelming and chaotic in your head. And then we haven’t even mentioned the loneliness that comes with being a solo entrepreneur or freelancer.

small business mentor
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You spend a lot of time by yourself, and any self-limiting beliefs, every week. How will you overcome these startup struggles, without anyone to support you? It is very hard to get your business where you want it to be, without any help. Investing in a mentor or coach, or joining a business support group, is a smart investment.

Now, I would say that, wouldn’t I, being a coach for small businesses? But I would not say this to you, if I did not believe in it, or if I hadn’t put the money where my mouth is. Whereas I failed to invest enough in my physical shop in the past, to have it really take off and earn me a good income, I invested thousands in my current business, and it is now paying off. How? Because not only did I learn a whole heap of new skills through the training, memberships and courses I invested in, I grew as a person. I have loved every minute of this entrepreneurial journey since becoming a business mentor and coach.

Investing in yourself is a gift that lasts a lifetime

By investing in myself, I have not only been able to grow my business and learn how to attract clients, I have grown as a person. And that, for me, has been the biggest return on investment. When you start working with a mentor or coach, you feel supported, inspired, and pushed out of your comfort zone at times. It has helped me gain valuable insights about myself as a person, and as a business owner; and to really tune in to what is important to me. My values, my niche, my message, my offer.

I mean, you can invest in the fanciest laptop or iPhone for your business… but nothing gives you the mental boost like having someone by your side who helps you to believe in yourself. That beats any gadget.

Who are you, and what brings you joy? What do you find hard, and why do you struggle with these things? Those things are very difficult to fully understand when just working on your own. And the more I learn, the more I am able to integrate the teachings into my own practice as a coach, but also as a friend, a mother and a partner. It is a holistic investment, really, and it’s been the best thing I have done for myself.

If you are thinking of working with a coach or mentor who is specialised in helping small businesses and creatives to attract more clients, book a free call with me to see if we are a good fit.

small business mentor coach

Simple SEO for small businesses. This is how you attract more clients via your website

Read on! There’s a free download in this post!

When you start Googling the term SEO, you’ll quickly find yourself lost in a long list of websites all telling you what to do, how to do this, the newest trends in the field of SEO, and why you should hire some expensive fancy agency to improve your website for you. I mean, who wants that headache, trawling through all that? Exactly.

I just want to bust that myth right here: SEO is not rocket science.

It means nothing else that making sure your website contains the right keywords and phrases so that potential clients find your business in the search engines when they type in their query. Agencies make it look all super technical, and when you have to believe the web results, SEO is done mainly by men in suits looking very important, who deal with this kind of sh*t. Nope. I have recently woven in plenty of relevant keywords and phrases into my website, and within weeks I attracted clients from Hawaii, simply because they found me in Google. You can do this too. So how do you start?

Psst, if you want to skip the reading, and dive straight in, go and download this freebie!

seo tips for small business

Making your website found in search engines is essential if you want to market your business outside of social media. We all know that social media is very temperamental, your posts don’t get shown half the time, and if tomorrow Facebook and Instagram would cease to exist, you would have lost all of your followers on there. It is therefore important to not put all your eggs in one basket, but promote your offer on other platforms too, such as your email list – and your own website.

How to rank high in Google as a small business

But the world wide web is ginormous, and competition is fierce. If you are a photographer, for example, how on earth do you stand out from the crowd and get found in the search engines?

The key is in…the keywords. Keywords and key phrases are nothing else than the things your ideal client (the person you want to come to your website) types into Google, or similar search engines. They have a problem, or want to find out something, and they search for it online. What do they type in?

One of the first tips for SEO is therefore: don’t use jargon, use the words your client would use when searching online. Keep it simple, and crawl into the mind of your audience. What are they going through, what problem do they have, what are they interested in? Try and rank for those terms.

Of course, if you are location-based, you don’t have to try and attract clients on the other side of the world. What you then do, is using your location, your area, and your state or province in the keywords and phrases, in combination with whatever it is that you offer. Wedding photograher in (location), for example. Or English yoga teacher in Valencia. You make your search terms a little more specific, and detailed, so you increase your chances to be found by the right people, who are looking exactly for what you offer.

business coach for designers
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Find that sweet spot in your SEO keyword selection

The more niche you go, the more your ideal client will be able to find you. Don’t go too niche either, however. You want to stay clear of the big boys and huge competition, but if nobody uses the keywords and phrases you have included in your website content, then there will be no traffic either. So try and find that sweet spot. Niche, but a big enough niche so enough people are looking for those terms.

And add more content than just the Home page and your About. Blog posts are the ideal way to boost your SEO for your small business. Blogs are also a fabulous way to add value to your website, position yourself as an authority in your industry, and offer quality information to your readers and potential clients. But think outside the box too. Just because you are a small travel business, that does not mean that you only talk about your next package deals on offer.

Talking only about yourself in your blog posts quickly gets boring. See your blog as a magazine: what are you going to talk about this week, or month that is of interest to your ideal client? A small travel business, for example, could share itineraries of the location they are in, top tips on what to bring on their holiday, or books and novels to read about this destination. Possibilities are endless, really.

Free e-book download: Simple SEO for small businesses

I have created a mini masterclass, or e-book, on SEO, which I am giving away for free. I take you through a number of lessons on what to think about when improving your own website, and it even has a blog template included.

seo tips for small business

The day I discovered that I was my own worst boss

A story about mindset and how you need to clear out the demons

I had a very powerful call with my own coach not long ago. I love having those weekly calls with someone who has been in my shoes, helps me grow as a business owner, and holds me accountable. Whilst we were talking, we discovered I still had some self-limiting beliefs (like everyone does!), and she asked me where I thought these came from. I know from my own work with clients, that many of them fear judgement from family and friends. But I realised, that it was not my loved ones and dear ones who I was afraid of; but that I had other demons haunting me. Memories of people that were holding me back from stepping into my true power. Or were they?

The mind is a funny thing. And what you tell yourself is often only partly true, or even a complete and utter lie. What narratives are you still keeping alive right now, that you fully believe in? And why do you regard these stories as true?

Stories are thoughts made up by someone – usually yourself, and put in your head. Thoughts are nothing else than energy and information. The information, in turn, is fed and fabricated by experiences and memories from your past. The things that have shaped you. But memories become muddled and vague and usually start to lead a life of their own as years go by.

Monsters in your head become bigger and more real, the more attention you give them. What is the truth? What is the reality you are creating for yourself?

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When certain things keep popping up, they are a message

“Who are these people you feel judged by?” my coach asked me on the call. They weren’t my parents, as they are very supportive. My friends are also generally interested in what I do, and don’t judge me. So who were the demons that came up? I knew. Ex-bosses from the past. I wrote a blog post about one of them already, not long ago, so it obviously was something that needed my attention – yet again. It was the memory of their words and attitudes toward me that was still running through me, and kept popping up. Why now? What was going on? What was the message?

I am 42 now, and generally a very confident, positive person, who doesn’t dwell much on the past. But I am on a continuous journey, just like you, and learn about myself every day. Old phrases from a long lost past like: “We hired you for too much money”, “You are not someone with a lot of depth”, and belittling the word ‘marketing’, as if it doesn’t belong in the creative world, were still somewhere deep in my subconscious, and I clearly needed to deal with them, once and for all.

You are not worthy and other BS

As I told these stories to my coach, she listened (she is good at that), scribbled down some notes, and then looked back at me. “Nina”, she said, “You still have a horrible boss right now, don’t you?” I looked at her puzzled. What did she mean? I don’t have a boss anymore, I am self-employed. And then it hit me. God darn. Bull’s eye.

I have always been my own worst boss.

None of these memories, words, and hurtful comments still had anything to do with the people who had once delivered them. The messengers were just that: messengers. They carried no other meaning any longer. Things that hurt you, or haunt you, are the things that are already within yourself. They are reflections of your own demons and limiting self-beliefs. I was my ex-bosses. Both of them. And I was not being very kind to myself at all.

The memories of my ex-bosses were bubbling up to the surface more than once this year, because I was going through an important period of growth. And when you grow, old beliefs will do anything to try and hold you back. Reminding you of all the things that could go wrong, and why you’re not worthy of success. But if you look at them closely, those old stories are trying to tell you that it is time to let go and move on. Because nobody’s judgement will affect you, really, if you truly believe in yourself.

When you are embarking on something new, like starting your own business, be aware of those inner voices that make you doubt yourself. The demons that pop up. The fear of judgement. Don’t give them power.

Who are you fearing? Whose voices are they? Are those people really that spiteful? Why would they care so much about your failure or success? Who is really judging your bravery, your courage, your creativity, and your zest for life? Who tells you that you are not worthy?

Them? Or is it really you, who is judging yourself?

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The ‘I am just’ stories that get stuck down with superglue

I recalled going to an opening night of an art exhibition one night, at my old work place, and talking to my ex-boss, many years after I had left my job. By then, I had already opened my own vintage furniture shop, and had just won an actual award for my creative contribution to the local area. What an achievement, right? My ex-boss congratulated me at first, but then sniggered when he heard it was an award given out by a local magazine. Obviously a lot less impressive in his eyes. Or in mine?

For many years, especially in my twenties and thirties, I did not feel I had a ‘proper’ career, like people had in law, or in corporate jobs. I wouldn’t even call myself a professional, despite already stacking up an impressive amount of years in marketing, copywriting and PR. I was enjoying the jobs I was involved in, doing the creative work that fired me up, but I never thought it was as important as other people’s jobs. Probably also something to do with the low wages in the cultural sector.

So, “I was just working in the arts”, “I was just doing the PR”, “I was just selling vintage furniture”, “I was just working part-time as marketing manager”, and laughing at my “so-called-career”. I really was my own worst boss, unkind, depreciating and always pushing myself to the limit. Appearing pretty confident on the outside, but keeping myself very small inside.

These kinds of beliefs are so incredibly common, especially among creatives. Maybe you are even nodding your head right now. Yep, you’re thinking you’re a fraud too. We talk ourselves down, think others are doing a way better job, and because of these beliefs we freeze. Big dreams stay just that. Dreams. We undercharge because we believe we ‘first need more experience’. We over-deliver, because we look for validation from the outside. We are scared of judgement, fear negative reviews, only think in ‘what-ifs’.

So we keep doing what we do, and don’t go up the ladder of success. Not because we are not capable, because we are. But because our demons tell us it is safer to not risk it, or we may be ridiculed – so why stick your head above the parapet?

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List all your negative beliefs….and then tell yourself the opposite, positive story

So I started listing all of my self-limiting beliefs, and stories about my career, past jobs, and achievements. It was such a good exercise, I can really recommend it. It clearly exposes how you quickly down-play any of your achievements. I wrote for example that I believed that I “had never had any significant success in marketing the arts centres I once worked for, because visitor numbers had never gone up much, despite my efforts.” Holy moly, woman, that is a pretty negative way of talking about your work!

Then on the opposite page, I tried to see it through a different set of glasses, and I wrote:

“I have increased (online) visibility and the national reputation of both arts centres significantly, through consistent, powerful marketing, which helped them to boost their image in the industry, and attract continuous funding. I kept attracting visitors, despite the challenging physical locations of both arts centres (one down a dark city alleyway; the other in the middle of the countryside), and despite their programming not being much aligned with the general conservative taste of the local, ageing, population.”

Right, now we’re talking!

You see how the same story can be told in two different ways? It depends from which angle you look at it.

And what about that award I won? I won a freakin’ award, for goodness’ sake! All by myself! Because I built a business from the ground, with my own money, with my own bare hands, while holding a baby, and then another one, while running an actual, physical shop, in the middle of nowhere, and organising a string of successful creative events that inspired many. There. Take that, you inner critic.

What about you? What are the stories you can dig up about yourself today, that you keep telling yourself? What are you down-playing? How can you change those stories, show yourself some self-love and appreciation, giving the events and achievements the glory they deserve?

Get your journal out right now, and jot it all down. It helps, I tell you! I bet you’ll see some patterns there, and gain insights. And I bet you too are your own worst boss right now. Telling yourself to work harder, that you are not good enough, and that you are not worthy.

Let’s show some compassion to that inner boss, and tell her that you’ve got this. She was only trying to guide you, but was acting like a bull in a china shop. Forgive her. You can change this now. You are only at the beginning of your incredible journey as an entrepreneur, and you are learning so much. You don’t need to have it all figured out from day one. You are doing so much better than you think you are. Keep going, you are worthy!

Did this story resonate? You can work with me 1-to-1, to battle your demons and build your business. Book a free call to get to know me.

Treasure-hunting and digging for diamonds. My creative coaching style.

Why not offering a cookie-cutter coaching program is perfect for solo entrepreneurs

When I first started my coaching business, I was figuring out what kind of coach I was, or wanted to be. I was new to the coaching industry, and even though I knew I had tons of marketing experience and business skills to share with my clients, I was seeking guidance on how to this coaching stuff right. “Doing it right“, in fact, became a bit of an obsession, and I looked at my peers in the industry for ideas. Of course, I made mistake number one right there: don’t think you need to be like your competitors, in order to be successful. Nope.

I now know that my coaching style is very unique, and nothing like anyone else’s. I don’t offer a cookie-cutter service, and I that is my USP.

Of course, there are certain things ALL coaches do. Listening being one of them. If you are not a good listener, don’t become a coach. Asking open questions is another one of the standard ingredients in any coaching program. But becoming a good coach, or in fact any good entrepreneur, has a lot more to do with making the most of your own strengths and talents, and finding your own style and approach. And in my case, those are not particularly standard. I don’t have the word ‘creative’ in my business name for nothing, right?

I love working with clients, whether it is long-term, or during a fruitful power session of 90 minutes. And over time, I discovered what I am really good at: treasure hunting.

Now I knew that I was a good treasure-hunter when I had my vintage furniture store, back in Scotland, years ago. I’d go to a flea market or a garage sale to look for stock, and be overwhelmed by the amount of junk and chaos in front of me. And then I’d start sifting.

Oh, that’s a great find! And look at this unique shiny thing here! What could I use that for? What story does it tell?

small business coaching services
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Sifting through the chaos

It’s not that different when I start working with a client nowadays. I use the same skill set! They usually come to me with a very chaotic brain and too many ideas and projects. It’s a jumble sale in their head. They need that treasure-hunter to go up there and find those hidden diamonds that we can then start polishing.

One by one, the treasures, stories and wonderful unique talents will appear.

When I am on a call with a client, I am curious, and go on a fact-finding mission. Digging for diamonds, diving for pearls! I want to know what makes them tick, what makes them scared, what holds them back. A lot of people think that I just help clients put a marketing plan together, and tell them how to find clients. It is so much more than that.

Learning how to create a marketing strategy is something you can find all over the internet. Yes, we will look at this too, of course, but a good business coach will make you grow as a person, not just get your sales up. To build a sustainable, joyful business, I approach it holistically and creatively.

So I ask questions, and they tell me their story. I listen. I ask more. I collect their brain waves, their stories, and their thoughts. And then, usually towards the end of a session, I reflect back, and bring some clarity. My intuition and creative brain kick into action, and guide me to make sense of it all. And more often than not, it is something my client did not see coming.

My feedback and coaching on a certain topic can be in the form of a fabulous creative idea they had never thought of themselves. But it can also be an underlying issue, that is actually the true cause for their struggle.

Sometimes clients get emotional. That is OK. After all, I am here to help them become the person they want to be. And if there is rubbish in the way, we got to do some cleaning first.

small business coaching services

Leaving space for new ideas and creativity

Solo entrepreneurs require a very different style of business coaching than a larger company. I am not some kind of corporate, purely sales-driven, brand strategy focused marketing consultant. I am a creative entrepreneur, with a ton of marketing and copywriting experience, a lot of energy, and a fun personality.

My small business coaching services are intuitive, follow a client’s flow and individual needs, and leave plenty of space for new things and a lot of creativity. Therefore, my approach suits those quirky small businesses who are trying to figure it all out in their first few years. I don’t like to limit myself, let alone my clients, to a standard coaching structure, that quickly becomes rigid and boring.

If you choose to work with me, I want you to look forward to our weekly calls, not see them as another chore or homework on your list. Business is supposed to be fun, and I want us to have fun, while working towards your goals.

Curious about my programs? Check them out here, or book a free call to chat with me directly.