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So many people are starting a freelance business or side hustle of some sort these days, and we get questions almost weekly about how to set a business up, what steps to follow, and what things you need to know. Over the last week alone, we've gone over the basics with three people! So, we thought - it's time to dish the details. 

 

This isn't a post about knowing your audience, marketing to the right people, or putting together an operations budget - more on those details later. This is a post about the legal and logistical things you need to consider and do in order to have a real, live business. What will your business name be? Should you incorporate? Do you need insurance? What is GST? How will people pay you? 

 

There's a lot to consider but we have you covered. Whether you are launching the next big thing or setting up a small side hustle, the answers to your questions and the things you need to consider are in this guide. Download the SMRT Women Quick Start Guide for our basic primer on how to get started.

 

Caveat - we live in Whitehorse, Yukon so the steps that follow are relevant to our City. However, the basic steps apply anywhere in Canada. I recommend speaking with your local chamber of commerce or City permitting office to make sure you've crossed all of your "T"s and dotted all of your "i"s.  This article is not a substitute for legal or financial advice. Please make sure you talk to a lawyer or accountant and talk to Government of Canada, your provincial/territorial business and your local municipal government as needed to make sure you have followed all the appropriate steps.

 

SMRT POP UPS and SMRT WOMEN makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article and we will not be liable for any errors, omissions or delays in this information or losses, damages or injuries, arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The user must verify their own facts.

 

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You’ve worked hard to birth your business and now you are thinking about birthing a baby. What’s a gal to do. There's lots to think about, no one way to do it, and - as I experienced - a fair amount of fear. I’m not quite through maternity leave yet - baby is eight months - but I’m creating my back to work plan and thought it was time to share some things I’ve learned so far.

Tip #1 - There is such a thing as Special EI for the Self-Employed - Sign Up for It NOW!!

When I was in the stages of asking myself how this whole maternity thing would work I was panicked because I thought I would be on my own. This meant somehow squirrelling away an extra 30K BEFORE having baby. HA!. Thankfully I ran into a friend who learned the hard way that there IS such a thing. The catch is that you must sign up for and pay into special EI for 12 months BEFORE the baby arrives.

So if having a baby is on the table. Get your ass covered. Also, special EI covers things like needing to take time off work to caregive for loved ones and other special circumstances. So it’s worth it.

Get all the details here

 

Tip #2 - Figure out what you plan to do with the ranch (a.k.a your biz)

Turns out it’s not super easy to shut-down and restart a business - depending on what you do and how far into it you are. For me, I have a host of subscriptions that run my business every month and while I would barely use them over the course of my mat leave - shutting down my Quickbooks account and my CRM just didn’t make sense. That meant when we did the money planning for maternity for our family we had to calculate what my ongoing business expenses would be even though I was not making any revenue. I paired down everything I could, and we budgeted for it.

Make sure to ask yourself...

  • Which services or expenses can I cancel during my maternity leave?
  • Which services or expenses will I need access to?
  • What is the cost of shutting everything down and starting back up on the other side
  • Will I be continuing to process income while on leave or am I not planning on making any money at all?

The rules shift regularly so make sure you talk to Canada Revenue Agency and the EI office but it is possible to make some income to cover your expenses. If you make a profit they will deduct your EI earnings dollar for dollar.

I personally shut down. I wrapped up all my contracts about a month before baby came. And I’m now at about 8 months trying to lay the groundwork for getting back to work. This means doing some grant writing now and other things to make sure there is revenue waiting for me when the EI tap turns off. In an ideal world, I would also have some savings to tide me over.

 

Tip #3 - Plan for the worst - make the best of the good days

You never know what the world post-baby will look like. In my mind, I pictured mostly blissful days with a brood of kids playing house and not really going back to work until they were all at school. Turns out though you don’t do a lot of crafting and playing house with babies under 1. So while I so enjoy my cuddle and floor time I actually spend more time out of the house working on my business than anticipated - with many thanks to regular visits from grandma and grandpa.

 

That being said my wee struggled with reflux for a long time and we weren’t “out of the woods” till about 5 months or so. Some of us have babies who sleep all day, others don’t. If you plan to be on your butt with a baby sleeping or nursing on you 24 hours a day and it’s less than that YAY you can celebrate and relax or if you are neurotic like me - get shit done.

 

Some weeks you will have so much spaciousness to get things done, and some days you will be holding a crying baby all day. When you are prepared for the worst a good day is a blessing that you can roll with. I didn't think I would work on my biz this much but doing so allows me social time, a baby break, a connection to me and things I love doing and a sense of personal worth - because some days you are in tears at the thought that your only use in this world is changing diapers and doing laundry.

 

Tip# 4 - Let Yourself and your Business be Flexible

You already know it - this is such a moment of transition and change. You can’t make decisions for future you - so don’t try to. This is a moment to rest, to digest and to let yourself and your business evolve. On the other side of delivery, I find I am really struggling with work that has hardcore deadlines - because inevitably the week I have to get that grant application in its the week we are teething, going through a developmental leap or just clingy.

 

My inner elastic band - you know the one I could stretch and stretch and stretch when I did things last minute is now no longer so elastic. I am WAY more attuned to how that low level worry in the back of my mind about if I am going to get something done is not so low level. It actually works as a tensor that shortens my elastic even more. The result is that I am quicker to anger, more prone to frustration and way less empathic of my child’s tears. I become the mommy I don’t like being. I think things I don’t want to think - my mental health goes out the window in a heartbeat.

 

The beautiful thing about owning a business is you get to make it what it is. Take this time to readjust to what is truly important to you. Rethink your business goals, maybe even rethink your passion, and allow yourself the space to change it all, or keep the course. It's yours to mould and create. 

 

Tip #5 - Run your business from your phone

You will spend countless hours in the dark in the rocking chair scrolling through Facebook. If you can run your business from your phone you will be one kick-ass mama. Moments of inspiration will channel through google docs on your phone as you lie in the dark with a baby on the breast. Or you can look at cat videos to relieve your stress and fatigue. You do you girl.  

 

The bottom line is you can’t predict any of it. Motherhood is a hardcore lesson in humility and going with the flow. So allow yourself to be surprised where it takes you - trying to control everything, as I have learned, only results in tears.


Much love

Sofia and Baby Mira


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When Self-Doubt rears its head

Being an entrepreneur requires non-stop belief in yourself. While every one of us had to find enough of that belief to even take the leap to start our own business, sometimes it can feel like that fountain of belief is wavering, sputtering, or even has a block.

 

It’s totally common that at times you’re going to doubt yourself. And when it comes to promoting yourself and your business, that self doubt can feel overwhelming.

 

This shows up in a lot of small ways - ways that you might not recognize. It might seem that suddenly you can’t find even a spare moment to create a social media post. Or like suddenly you’re procrastinating nonstop and just NOT planning your launch event or building your website or emailing those suppliers who were interested in your product.

Overcoming Self Doubt so you can Rock Your Business

This self doubt and the anxiety that goes with it are big culprits in keeping you from achieving your business dreams - whether that’s to launch a business, promote it, or grow it.

 

Very few entrepreneurs are living their lives free of this. But, that doesn’t meet that you can’t overcome it and rock your business and rock your marketing of your business. How you overcome it is by really knowing your business and your audience.

 

When you are prepared with this knowledge, it can be used to quiet self doubt while also helping you to create and promote a business is a better more meaningful way.

 

This knowledge can take you from feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing to being confident in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

 

Here are the three areas of knowledge that you need to shed self doubt and move forward with confidence:

 

  1. Understand that you are solving a problem
    What a great and successful business DOES is SOLVE A PROBLEM. You are offering something that makes your customers’ lives easier. Something that eliminates a problem that they have.When you nail down the problem you are solving, and how you are doing it in a way that no one else is doing it, you can feel confident in that knowledge.
  2. Know your audience
    Knowing the problem you are solving and feeling that confidence in your business offering and marketing starts with really knowing your audience.Using your audience as a guide will also help you to stop comparing yourself to other businesses - a big cause of self-doubt. With your rock solid knowledge of your audience guiding your business decisions, it won’t matter what other businesses are doing because you will know that what YOU are doing is right for YOUR audience.
  3. Know your why
    Being clear on your vision for your business will help guide you through moments of doubt. A clear vision allows you to focus your energy and quiet the distractions. A clear vision is the foundation. It helps ground you when self doubt starts to set in and you are feeling lost.

 

Self doubt is an inevitable part of being an entrepreneur. When it gets overwhelming, and when it starts to have a paralyzing effect, just know that you are not alone and go back to your vision, audience, and business problem to overcome the doubt.

 


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Ever felt like your business was running you instead of the other way around?

 

You know - like your working way more hours than you want to doing stuff that doesn't feel that fun sometimes, or like when you just feel like you are a hot mess all over the place.

 

Yeah - that's a thing.

 

We've got some help. Check out the video for a quick and dirty scheduling exercise designed to get you thinking about the life you want to live and how you can design your business to give you the freedom you crave. Cause that's part of why you started your own business in the first place no?

 

 

Before we forget, here is a FREE downloadable worksheet to walk you through the activity.

 

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Self-promotion is not a four-letter word

 

Do you struggle to describe to people exactly what you do? Does the thought of telling others about your accomplishments make you cringe? Do you worry that someone is going to pull back the curtain and reveal you as a fraud at any time?

 

You are not alone! Many many women struggle to self-promote effectively. It’s like we are allergic to it. So much so that it tops the list of career blocks for women across all industries.

 

And yet, self-promotion is a critical skill - in landing that great contract, in selling your product, in building a community of champions who are connected to what you do and the impact you are trying to make in the world. We have to be visible for our businesses to succeed. Customers can’t buy what they can’t see.

 

We've pulled together our four top tips for singing your own praises to promote yourself AND your business:

  1. Notice moments of pride and success. Did a client praise your work? Did you rock that contract? Collect these and save them...Make your own "I've SO got this!" scrapbook for a rainy self-doubt-y day!
  2. Focus on the facts - what are some of the awesome things you accomplished? Did you handle a difficult situation with tact and ease? Did you sell a bunch of your product? Did you help someone achieve their goals?
  3. Share your passion - speak to the why of your business. Do you love helping people feel healthier so they can have their best lives? Do you love feeding people delicious foods that light up their tastebuds? Do you love helping people tell their story through photos?
  4. Frame it in terms of what you did for your client. Were they super lost when it came to healthy eating and why they were so tired all the time, and with just some small manageable tweaks to their diet they are now waking up bright eyed every morning ready to take on life?!

 

Remember: People want to hear your story. They want to know what you're up to and what it is that energizes you. So tell them! There's no "ick" in owning the facts of what you did, what it achieved, and why you loved doing it!

 


 

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How you schedule your day can make all the difference to your success - both in terms of productivity, and in how much you enjoy being your own boss. One of the amazing benefits of running your own business is the flexibility of creating a schedule that allows you to live the life you want. Today we are going to share our experiences and ideas for creating the ideal schedule.

 

One of the big aha moments for us was realizing that our schedules don't necessarily look the same every day. This is one of the great benefits of running your own business - the flexibility to go with the flow of your day-to-day.

 

Some days you're in the zone or running an event and work till 10pm or even 1am. Or maybe you'll need to run errands in the middle of the day. Or you might find that you work best and most productively when you stay up all night - but then you beat yourself up for not kicking your days off at 9am.

 

The trick is - pay attention to what you're doing not when you're doing it. If you're getting everything done, and you're meeting your deadlines, then don't beat yourself up for working an unconventional schedule.

 

It can be hard to shed the 9-5 mentality when you’ve done it for so long, but working for yourself means giving yourself permission to do just that.

 


 

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You’ve written a blog post - now what?

 

Imagine that you’ve just published your latest blog post, and you’re super excited to share it with your target audience.

 

Well unfortunately, just because it’s out there, doesn’t mean that people know about it, or that they are excited to spend their time reading it.

 

There are some steps you can take while writing your post to improve its chances of getting seen. And, what you do after publishing a blog post is just as important as the post itself when it comes to getting noticed and drawing your ideal customers to your site.

 

In this video, Selene is going to be walking you through 10 essential steps to follow before, during, and after every single blog post you write.

 

Before we forget, here is a FREE downloadable checklist that you can take with you as a reminder of these steps after watching this video.

 

free download blog checklist for seo

 


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When planning marketing activities for your business, it’s really helpful to understand what worked and what didn’t during the previous period. This type of review should most definitely be done at the end of each year, but is also very helpful to do each quarter - when planning for your business, creating your marketing roadmap on a quarterly (3 month) business can really help you break it down and properly prepare and plan what's to come.

 

This short video will help you evaluate your past year's activities so that you can focus the next year's efforts without wasting time, money, and energy. You can use the same system/process if you are doing a quarterly review or a mid-year review!

 


 

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This vid is all about one of our FAVOURITE tools when it comes to rocking your content marketing. It's going to help you pump out superstar social media content that's on point and on brand every. single. time.

 

One of the biggest challenges our small business clients talk to us about is struggling to create content for their blogs, newsletters, and social media channels. It can be incredibly difficult to consistently create content, let alone create quality content that connects with your audience.

 

In this video, Selene shares a tool that is a serious game changer when it comes to keeping your content flowing, on brand, and on point with your audience. It’s a tool that we use for all of our social media clients. It’s called a content calendar.

 

Watch the video to learn more about content calendars: what they are, WHY they are so AWESOME, and how to use them to rock YOUR content.

 

Oh and then download our FREE content calendar template so you can do your own after this mini tutorial.

 


 

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