365 SMALL BUSINESS PROFILES:
NAKITA POPE, CHIEF CHICK OF BRANDING CHICKS
SMBProfiles: What prompted you to become an entrepreneur? How did you get started in this particular business?
Pope: I’ve had a freelance business off and on in addition to full-time work for over 10 years. What prompted the birth of Branding Chicks is that I realized that after having contributed to running other companies and the additional skills I’d learned over the years, I had something to offer on a larger scale.
SMBProfiles: Are you full-time or part-time in your business? How many hours per-week do you work on or in your company?
Pope: I am definitely full-time with my business. I teach Graphic Design, Branding and Strategy several hours a week as well, but on average I spend 40-50 hours a week on building Branding Chicks.
SMBProfiles: How did you acquire funding for the initial start-up costs for your business and what was the process like?
Pope: I didn’t obtain funding from any of the traditional sources. I had a little in my savings and had recently separated from a job, so I took a leap of faith with the savings I had.
SMBProfiles: A long the way, what mistakes did you make?
Pope: The first time I went out on my own as NeoIndigo Fine Art & Design, I approached it as a freelancer instead of as a business. That approach didn’t allow for growth.
SMBProfiles: At any point, has the plan/strategy of your business changed?
Pope: Yes. When I decided to go out on my own again, my skill set had grown and that required a rebrand on my part. Branding Chicks is the remix of NeoIndigo Fine Art & Design, in that I had a more focused target market and I was able to provide more services. That also shifted my marketing plan and go-to-market strategy.
SMBProfiles: Looking back, what 3 tips would you give entrepreneurs starting a business in your industry?
- Do something you’re passionate about. Being an entrepreneur can be difficult and often has no vacation days. To be committed to something to that level and be able to sustain that commitment, you have to love it!
- For other marketing businesses out there, remember that small businesses need you even when they think they don’t.Your expertise could mean the difference between your business being a mom and pop shop or a million dollar business.
- Outsource the things that you can.Being an entrepreneur of any kind means that you do everything whether you want to or not. It is helpful to start to identify the things you can enlist some help with once your plate gets full. It helps to prioritize and focus on the things that only you have the skills to do.
SMBProfiles: What are some free/low cost resources you use in your business and would recommend to others?
Pope: I am an avid reader, so I tend to read lots of business books and inspirational books. Books are definitely not free, but having a Kindle has really allowed me to buy and read more books because the digital versions are less expensive than the printed versions. I also use several apps and websites that are free in my business that help me do business on the fly such as:
- Evernote (for taking notes, bookmarking websites, cataloging photos, etc.)
- Dropbox (file storage and sharing)
- Hootsuite (managing and scheduling of all of my social media)
- Zite (app that allows me to compile the most recent articles and blogs about subjects that are relevant to my business)
- Kindle app (allows you to read digital books whether you have a Kindle or not)
The other thing I would suggest is the Small Business Administration office and Chamber of Commerce in your city. They have numerous resources for entrepreneurs and they are often free.
SMBProfiles: What popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with or what is the worst piece of business advice you’ve received?
Pope: I don’t totally disagree with start-ups looking for venture capital, but I don’t think it is for every business. Often entrepreneurs don’t realize that some venture capitalists want input into how the business is run. My suggestion would be to do research as much as possible about ALL types of funding and go with the one that is the best fit for you and your business.
SMBProfiles: Is this your only business? Do you have additional businesses?
Pope: Yes, this is my only business.
SMBProfiles: What is next for your company?
Pope: I’ve declared 2013 as a year of growth for Branding Chicks. I am looking forward to developing partnerships with other businesses that serve women-owned businesses and using my expertise to teach others. Hopefully that will include speaking engagements and developing materials and resources for other women who own businesses.
CREATIVITY + GREAT HEALTH = FIERCE LIVING WOMEN
I love the Digital Sisterhood Month theme of Creativity + Great Health = Fierce Living Women. It’s something that resonates with me in a very real way, because I see the relationship between the two everyday in my life. In my heart I am an artist and creator, among other things. I’m blessed that part of my creative outlet IS my and people actually PAY me to do it! When I picked up my first box of crayons I never imagined that I would be able to do the thing that made my heart happy for the rest of my life. Although being creative is what I do for a living, no matter what you’re doing, you can bring creativity to it. But, you have to be healthy in order to have that metaphorical clean slate for creativity to show up.
There are so many aspects of your health. In my experience, being able to keep a sense of balance in my life is what creates the mental wellbeing that allows me to live, create, work, and love powerfully. As a soloprenuer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with my endless list of things to do…. especially when I wear all of the hats.
However, creating and maintaining that balance is important and necessary for me. It’s what keeps me sane and when I feel most like myself. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I am the only one that can create that balance for myself. My mental health is not nearly as important to anyone else as it is to me, so I had to find ways to keep the joy in my work and my life. On those long lists of to-dos?….are also fun things. Yes. I make it an actual task that gets checked off on my list. Whether it’s a pedicure, a call to someone I love that I haven’t spoken to in a while, or to draw something just because I want to, it goes on the list! That way, I actually get to see the balance I’m creating for myself in a very tangible way daily.
When I neglect to do it, I notice the difference in how I deal with my clients, how inspired I am, and ultimately how FIERCE I am. Maybe my method won’t work for you, but I encourage you to look for ways to take care of yourself not only mentally, but physically. We as women have a tendency to take care of everyone but ourselves, but it’s that commitment to being powerfully whole that can allow you to have even more to give and more to create!