How to Be More Productive as a New Entrepreneur

I looked up from my computer and thought to myself,

“Man, I should really be working.”

I glanced at the clock. Two hours had passed since I last looked at it.

It took me a second to process that in that time, I had written copy for the Market45 website (coming soon), drafted the agenda for an upcoming webinar and written captions for several days worth of Instagrams.

“Oh, so I was working.”

Has that ever happened to you?

You get so caught up in your work that you look up and realize your work didn’t actually feel like work?

It doesn’t happen every day. Sometimes it doesn’t even happen every week. But when it does happen, there’s something so satisfying about it.

It’s what productivity experts call the “flow state.”

(You may also know it as “being in the zone.”)

Psychologists describe the flow state as the most productive and creative state of mind in which to work.

Some even say it’s the secret to happiness.

Our goal as entrepreneurs, then, is to enter that flow state as often as possible so that we can create, design and build our businesses in a way that is not only efficient but also brings us joy.

I know, no pressure.

There are tips all over the internet from work performance experts who will tell you how to enter a flow state.

But most of that advice assumes you’re a top performance athlete or a top-level executive.

What if you’re hustling to build your fashion brand as a side job with limited hours in the day?

What do you do then?

Here are the four steps to being “in flow” when you’re a new entrepreneur.

(And because I think acronyms are funny, I’ve put one together so you can remember it: PACE)

1. Prioritize

When you first sit down to work — whether it’s on your computer or in the studio — focus on one task, and one task only. As you practice, you’ll be able to jump to other tasks without leaving the flow state but in the beginning, it’s important to prioritize.

In choosing your task, it should be something “long form.” In other words, it feels like an investment to sit down and complete it. Tasks that are long form are things like: writing the campaign page for your Kickstarter, or mapping out financial projections or designing next season’s collection.

When you complete the task it should feel like a significant accomplishment and take between 1.5-3 hours.

2. Ambience

For me, ambience is everything. You can’t enter a flow state with the TV on in the background or sitting in the parking lot waiting for your kids. You need to know you’ll have two hours of uninterrupted time in a space that feels good to be in.

Turn on music if you like, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle, put on your “writing sweater” — pick some sort of cue that tells your brain it’s time to get down to business.

3. Challenge

Challenge + Skill Set = Flow State. I didn’t come up with this — researchers say that the optimal way to enter a flow state is to present yourself with a challenging task that matches a capable skill set.

In other words, if you’re not tech savvy you’re probably not going to find your flow while trying to set up a Mailchimp account. If you’re not math-minded, then you’re not going to enter a flow state figuring out your production costs.

When you’re first experimenting with this you’ll want to purposely choose tasks that are the appropriate level of challenging.

4. Energy

Do not try to reach a flow state when you’re exhausted, grumpy, having a bad day, etc. The essence of being in flow requires positive energy — they go hand in hand. Don’t underestimate how important it is to get your energy levels up before you sit down.


Hey, look at that — I just wrote 700 words! I didn’t even realize it until now.

I must have found the PACE to just… flow…

; )

Your turn.

factory45 owner shannon

 


August’s Featured Sustainable Fashion Products

I mentioned last month that I’ll be featuring a series of sustainable fashion brands and products here and on Instagram.

This is all in an effort to help integrate more ethical and sustainable fashion into the multi-million dollar Instagram scene where, for the most part, fashion bloggers and “influencers” are touting fast fashion and cheap deals.

But it’s also in preparation for the upcoming launch of the newest Factory45 project:

Market45, an ethical fashion marketplace.

Featuring 20 invite-only brands that have launched through the Factory45 program, this online marketplace will be an easier way to shop sustainable and ethical fashion all in one place.

If you’d like to request early access for holiday shopping 2018, click here.

And then keep reading for August’s featured sustainable fashion products below:

VESTA STUDIO HALF MOON WRAP DRESS

VESTA STUDIO | HALF MOON WRAP DRESS

In 2017 Factory45’er Kendall Wilson launched Vesta Studio, a collection of 100% vegan womenswear.

Born out of a love of high quality, luxurious textiles — that are also cruelty-free and eco-friendly — Vesta Studio is inspired by the philosophy of “buying less, but better.”

Each piece is made one at a time to reduce waste, lessen sitting inventory and to offer an affordable price point to customers.

Vesta boasts “versatile clothing for a life of simple beauty,” and the Half Moon Wrap Dress has been exactly that for me.

I wore this dress when I was seven months pregnant, and I’ve continued wearing it in the months after giving birth. It’s incredibly comfortable, very flattering (if I do say so myself), and I absolutely love the drape, texture and color of the fabric.

You can shop the Half Moon Wrap Dress, as well as pre-orders for the new collection here.


BOOB DESIGN ‘CHARI-TEE’ MOTHER

BOOB DESIGN | ‘CHARI-TEE’ MOTHER

I was first introduced to BOOB Design when my web designer gifted me with one of their maternity shirts for my birthday last year.

The Scandinavian company puts sustainability at the forefront of their business model, and I ended up purchasing several other maternity garments throughout the course of my pregnancy.

The thing that sets BOOB above and beyond other maternity wear (besides their fabrics and manufacturing) is that almost all of their garments convert into nursing wear.

So when BOOB reached out to ask if I’d be apart of their “Chari-Tee” campaign I jumped at the chance.

For every one of these tops sold, they donate 5 percent of proceeds to Every Mother Counts, a non-profit dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother, everywhere.

You can shop the ‘Chari-Tee’ and other sustainable maternity and nursing wear here.


GOOD ON YOU ETHICAL SHOPPING APP

GOOD ON YOU | ETHICAL SHOPPING APP

So, this isn’t a sustainable fashion product you can wear but it’s an amazing product you can use the next time you ask yourself: “How do I know if a brand is ethical?”

Good On You is an ethical shopping app that rates over 2,000 brands so that you know exactly where they stand in ethics and sustainability.

The app uses a five-star rating system to assess the sourcing practices of each retailer or brand using the following labels: “We Avoid,” “Not Good Enough,” “It’s a Start,” “Good” and “Great.”

If you’re just starting out in your ethical fashion journey, this is a great tool to keep in the palm of your hand.

You can download the Good On You app and install the desktop plug-in here.


To see the rest of August’s featured products, come on over to Instagram by clicking here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. I am not an affiliate of any of these brands and do not receive any financial gain if you make a purchase. My only goal to bring more sustainable and ethical fashion options to your wardrobe.

sustainable fashion

How to Stand Out as a Sustainable Fashion Brand

Last week I was on “workcation” with my family in Croatia.

And one day, while we were driving on the winding island roads of Hvar, I saw a sign for a restaurant that caught my eye.

(This isn’t the first time that’s happened.)

The sign for the restaurant said:

Mostly homemade food.”

I looked at my husband and said, “Well, you have to appreciate their honesty…”

And then it got me thinking about the sustainable fashion world — and all of the new brands launching with sustainability at the forefront of their business models.

The good news is that in the past 10 years the term “sustainable fashion” has become more and more recognizable and well known.

The bad news is that the term is now often overused and sometimes even greenwashed.

Companies claim to be “a sustainable fashion brand,” but they use it as an overarching brand mark instead of explaining exactly how their company implements sustainability into their supply chain.

There’s really no such thing as “perfectly sustainable,” and I see red flags anytime a brand claims to be so.

With many of you being the future of this industry, I’d encourage you to think more deeply about the words you use to describe your sustainable fashion brand.

Because I think we can do better.

Yes, there are words like “conscious,” “socially-driven,” “eco” and “ethical” but how can you describe your brand’s ethos in a way that stands out from the rest?

And even more so, in a way that is transparent and honest?

One way is by getting specific.

Think about the words that your target customer cares about. Sift through the phrases that would peak their interest.

Because the truth is,

A sign for “homemade food” wouldn’t have caught my attention.

My mind would have just categorized it as another cute local restaurant.

Adding the word “mostly” not only piqued my curiosity but made me feel trust.

I knew that if I went into that restaurant to eat, I would know exactly which items on the menu were homemade and which ones weren’t.

And that same thought process can be applied to your own customers.

Because ultimately, that’s what they want to feel. A customer who cares enough to seek out sustainable fashion wants to be able to trust you.

To trust that what they’re buying is mostly sustainable.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


research stage

3 Tips for Dealing with Information Overload

A few weeks ago, while I was talking with new designers at TexWorld, someone said something that stuck with me:

“I’m feeling overwhelmed by information overload. I’ve been doing research for months and months, but at what point is it enough? At what point do I stop researching and start ‘doing’?”

You’ve probably heard the statistic — it’s something along the lines of how the average person in 2018 consumes more information in a day than a person in the 1800s consumed in their whole life.

We are bombarded with advice, opinions, facts, stats, experts, gurus, advertisements and the like.

It’s enough to cause decision paralysis for even the most confident, decisive and organized of people.

Then there are the rest of us, grasping at which direction to take, which advice to listen to and which research to follow.

And I’m here to tell you,

You can probably stop.

Stop researching. And start implementing.

Because doing is the best research you’re ever going to get.

That’s when you’re going to find what works for you and your brand — instead of what works for someone else.

Is it important to use the guidance of the people who have been there before?

Of course. (I teach a whole fashion program based on that sole concept.)

But for as many articles you read, podcasts you listen to, courses you take and networking events you go to, you have to make sure you’re taking action at the same time.

So, what do you do?

  1. Pick one teacher to start. Maybe it’s Jane from Fashion Brain Academy. Maybe it’s Nicole from Startup Fashion. Maybe it’s Syama from Scaling Retail. Or maybe it’s me. But you don’t need all the experts. Pick someone you trust, someone’s style that jives with how you like to learn, and a personality you connect with.
  2. Implement while you learn. Again, make sure you’re taking action on the new information you’re absorbing. Binders and folders and colored coordinated labels are fun, but those aren’t moving the needle. Choose one thing every day that will move your business forward or get you closer to launch.
  3. Notice if you’re using “research” as a way to procrastinate. If you think you’ve done too much Googling, then you probably have. Step away from the search bar.

And above all, remember, you’re not going to get it all right. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to follow the wrong advice, you’re going to feel paralyzed by all of the decisions you have to make.

But that’s okay.

Because the best entrepreneurs know that when one road dead-ends, you can always reroute.

For better or for worse, there will always be another road to follow.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

sustainable fashion

July’s Featured Sustainable Fashion Products

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know that I’ve been rolling out a new project in collaboration with Boston photographer Joyelle West.

Each month I’m featuring a series of sustainable fashion brands — some that were past Factory45’ers — and others that I wear, use and love.

This is all in an effort to help integrate more ethical and sustainable fashion into the multi-million dollar Instagram scene where, for the most part, fashion bloggers and “influencers” are touting fast fashion and cheap deals.

As part of this project, I’ll send out monthly emails to highlight some of the brands that I’ve featured, as well as the stories behind them.

(If you’re a sustainable fashion brand that would like to be featured in this project, you can get in touch with me at shannon@factory45.co)

So, without further ado, here are the July products:

SOTELA | REMY DRESS

In 2016 Factory45’er Hanna Baror-Padilla launched Sotela, a body-positive womenswear brand, with a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign.

In the past two years, she’s grown a loyal customer base by championing body appreciation, natural beauty and focusing on fit rather than size labels (the brand never references small, medium or large).

All Sotela garments are made of eco-friendly fabrics that have minimal environmental impact, such as tencel and modal. And every piece is handmade from start to finish in their California studio.

Hanna recently announced that she’s opening her own LA-based factory so that Sotela will operate under a vertically-integrated production model. And the factory will manufacture for other independent brands with similar business values.

My favorite thing about the Remy Dress (pictured above) is the button-down front that is breastfeeding-friendly. This dress is my go-to when I’m out with the baby and need to look put together.

You can shop the Remy Dress and the newly launched Sand Collection here.


VETTA | THE SHIFT DRESS

VETTA is another Factory45 brand that was founded by Cara Bartlett in 2016. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Cara launched “The Ultimate Capsule Collection | 5 Pieces = 30 Outfits” and raised nearly $90,000 to fund her first production run.

Since then, VETTA has gone on to release five more capsule collections in colors and styles that can be mixed and matched to make an easier, more thoughtful wardrobe.

The woven garments are sewn by a family-owned factory in New York City and the sweaters are knitted by a production partner in Los Angeles that runs on 70% solar power.

VETTA has been featured by Vogue Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Who What Wear, The Wall Street Journal and has won the Sak’s Fifth Avenue Emerging Designer Showcase.

My favorite thing about The Shift Dress is the versatility of creating multiple outfits. As pictured above, it can be worn as a dress or you can unbutton the top from the skirt so the top can be worn alone.

You can shop The Shift Dress and all of the past capsule collections here.


NISOLO | SMOKING SHOE

I’ve been wearing Nisolo footwear since the brand first launched in October 2011. Back then it was a lot harder to find ethically-made shoes than it was to find clothing.

Nisolos are handcrafted by artisans with a lifetime of experience in shoemaking, having been raised in the center of the shoemaking capital of Peru. According to the company’s impact report each shoemaker earns 27% higher than fair trade wage requirements, as well as health care and a safe working environment.

All of the leather is sourced as a byproduct of the meat industry, which means that the leftover hides are being used instead of wasted. It also means that no animals were killed for the sole purpose of creating the shoes.

Nisolo is committed to a transparent supply chain by introducing each of their factory partners in detail and publishing an annual impact report that can be read here.

My favorite thing about the Smoking Shoe is how high quality it is. I knew as soon as they arrived in the mail that I would be able to wear them forever. It was a timeless investment purchase that I could feel good about.

You can shop the Smoking Shoe and other Nisolos here.


To see the rest of July’s featured products, come on over to Instagram by clicking here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. I am not an affiliate of any of these brands and do not receive any financial gain if you make a purchase. My only goal to bring more sustainable and ethical fashion options to your wardrobe.

what to expect

What to Expect from Factory45 in 2018

Every year, June feels like January. It’s the month that truly feels like the “new year” for me.

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was first starting out was to create a schedule and plan for my business that I wanted to follow.

Schools start in September. Corporations end their fiscal year in December. Well, Factory45 starts in June.

Because, hey, I’m the boss and I get to decide.

(Also, good advice: You don’t have to follow other people’s rules.)

With that said, I’ve been looking towards the coming months and planning for the year with a refreshed spring in my step — it’s a wonder what warm weather will do…

So, here’s what’s going on and what you can expect:

FACTORY45

Last week I onboarded this year’s entrepreneurs for the 2018 program of Factory45! This is my fifth year and sixth cohort to come through the accelerator program and every year the caliber of applicants gets more and more impressive.

The majority of my time and focus for the remainder of 2018 will be focused on helping them build their businesses. And I’ll be sharing more about what they’re all working on in the coming months.

PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT

For the next six months, I’m teaming up with Joyelle West, one of Boston’s most talented photographers for a project that I’ve been thinking about for over a year now. Through our collaboration, I’ll be sharing, promoting and showcasing Factory45 products, as well as other sustainable and ethical brands, on Instagram.

You’ll be able to follow along here.

THE MARKETPLACE

The photography project will lead up to the launch of the first-ever… drum roll… Factory45 Marketplace! (Name to be determined.) I am SO excited about this and it’s been long overdue to have an online store to sell some of the Factory45 brands that have launched through the program.

I’ll be sharing more about the process of creating the marketplace with my web designer, Emily Belyea Creative, and you can expect it to be live for holiday season 2018.

TEXWORLD

Thanks to my pal Nicole of StartUp Fashion, I was invited back to TexWorld USA this year to speak on a panel about funding your fashion startup.

I’ll be in New York City for the independent designer meetup, as well as the panel, on July 23-24.

Designers and startups can register to attend for FREE here.

THE CROWDFUNDING FACTORY

Speaking of funding your fashion startup, this topic is my bread and butter. I love teaching low-barrier-to-entry ways of raising money so that you don’t have to go into debt to start your own company.

Throughout the year, I’ll spontaneously open enrollment to my other course, The Crowdfunding Factory, that teaches you how to fund your fashion brand through pre-sales and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.

If you don’t have money in the bank to pay for your first production run, I created this course for you.


Between all of that, I’ll be over here doing my mom thing! Baby Lohr turned five months this week, and I’m trying to soak in these early days (as sleep deprived as they may be!)

Wishing all of you a wonderful start to the summer (or winter, depending on which hemisphere you’re in!)

I’ll be back next week with more free startup advice, entrepreneurial musings and the like : )

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

Where to Start

What To Do When You “Don’t Know Where to Start”

“I don’t even know where to start,” I thought to myself.

It was three weeks before my maternity leave was ending, and I was looking at a calendar next to my to-do list.

Pack for Cape Town, finish the baby’s daycare applications, schedule a photoshoot, hire someone to run digital ads, get a haircut for the first time in six months…

I had a million things to do with half the time to do them and everything felt like a priority.

Sound familiar?

Whether we’re really busy or starting something new or feeling pulled in a bunch of different directions, it’s normal to feel a sense of paralysis.

And the statement that most often comes up is:

I don’t even know where to start.

I know you know what I’m talking about because one of the most common questions I’m asked is:

Where do I start?

I get email after email from people who have an idea for a clothing line or product but they don’t know how to make it happen.

How do I know what fabric I need?
How do I create sketches if I can’t draw?
How do I organize all of my ideas? And which one should I choose?

Instead of zooming in on one thing to tackle first, they find themselves paralyzed by the overwhelm of everything else.

And they end up doing nothing.

The thing is, starting a clothing company is a lot more straightforward than people think. And so much of the process can be tackled by…

Simplifying.

That means when you think you should be doing more you should actually be doing less.

And over the next three weeks, I’m going to prove that to you.

If you have dreams of launching a fashion business I’m going to show you how you can simplify and start.

I’m going to walk you through the first THREE steps you need to take to start your company.

And the best part is, each of these three steps will take no longer than an hour to do. (Actually, each one will probably take less than 30 minutes!)

My goal here, and the goal of the Factory45 program, is to make “I don’t know where to start” obsolete.

My goal is to show you that “knowing where to start” is a lot easier than you think.

Next week I’m going to send the very first step to my subscribers. You can sign up here to get it in your inbox.

(It will be especially helpful if you’re one of those people who “can’t draw.”)

Talk soon,

 

factory45 owner shannon

 



 

shannon Lohr factory45 maternity leave

On Maternity Leave Until April 11th!

Happy 2018! I hope everyone had a joyous and stress-free holiday season.

I spent much of December making (semi-successful) attempts at vegan baking, listening to way too much holiday music (guilty pleasure) and putting the finishing touches on my biggest creative project to date…

Making a human!

Our estimated due date is January 16th – keeping our fingers crossed we don’t have a blizzard baby! – so this is a quick note to let you know I’ll be on maternity leave until April 11th.

For the next three months, most of my time will be focused on spending quality time with Baby Lohr, so you won’t see as much of me on Instagram and there won’t be any new content on the Factory45 blog.

I will, however, be sending out a “Best Of” email series of the most-read / most-loved Factory45 blog posts from the past three years. If you subscribe here, I’ll pop into your inbox once a week with startup inspiration and advice.

For many of you, these will be posts that you’ve never read before so I hope you enjoy them (they’re also my personal favorites).

Once I return from maternity leave on April 11th, there will be brand new content and we’ll start to gear up for the 2018 program of Factory45!

Applications will open on Wednesday, May 15th so if you’re hoping to launch your clothing company with Factory45 this year, make sure to mark your calendar.

*This date includes international entrepreneurs who want to apply to Factory45 Global.*

If you have questions, I’ll periodically be checking email until baby’s arrival so send ‘em over : )

I’m wishing you all a productive and exciting start to the new year and look forward to reconnecting with you in the spring!

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. And no, we don’t know what we’re having! Almost all of our family and friends think it’s going to be a boy, though… (the old wives tales are endless!)

Photo credit: Joni Lohr

How to Do Less So You Can Be More

Back in 2014 I was nominated to The Wall Street Journal’s “Women of Note.”

With the recognition came the opportunity to be interviewed in their newsletter, and this was one of the questions they asked:

Name something you believe every woman should know how to do.

My answer?

“Live on a wardrobe of 33 items or less…

The average woman wears 20 percent of her closet, which means the vast majority of what we buy is never worn or is wasted. The best thing I ever did for my productivity and my sanity was aspire to become a minimalist. Joining Project 333 is a really great place to start.”

I later heard from the editor that my suggestion sparked a “Project 333” frenzy among women in the WSJ offices. Imagine that ; )

If you’re not familiar with Project 333 it was started by my friend Courtney Carver of the Be More With Less blog. It’s a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 garments or less for 3 months.

Courtney’s work has been featured by media outlets around the world (The Today Show, O Magazine, BBC) and through her blog, courses and in-person tours, she teaches people how living with less can lead to richer and more fulfilling lives.

As entrepreneurs, we are often on a quest for more. As Courtney says, we give into pressure every day to work more, own more, and do more.

If you find yourself constantly stuck in a hamster wheel, striving for more but never feeling like you’re actually getting anywhere, Courtney’s latest work was written for you.

Her new book, Soulful Simplicity, shows us how to pursue practical minimalism so we can create more with less.

And for entrepreneurs like us, having more space to focus on what’s most important is everything.

This isn’t a book about decluttering your “stuff” (although you may be tempted to do that). It’s a book about going deeper.

It’s about establishing daily habits around what matters and shifting your focus away from what doesn’t.

And who doesn’t need more of that in their lives?

Here’s some of what the book will teach you:

  • How to figure out what you believe. This is something that’s easy to forget in our everyday lives but matters more than you think.
  • How to identify your “wake-up”calls. For Courtney, it was a diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which she talks more about in the book.
  • How to define your “why.” I’ve talked about the “why” behind your business before here. In Soulful Simplicity, Courtney takes you deeper into the “why” behind your life.
  • How to let the monkey off the chain. In other words, how to stop trying to control everything.
  • How to consider fewer ends. This means reframing your approach to making ends meet. The fewer the ends the better.

Soulful Simplicity is now available through your preferred book vendor here.

Give yourself permission to cozy up, clear out the mental clutter and re-focus on what will fulfill you in the year ahead.

I’ll be right there with you,

 

factory45 owner shannon

5 Tools to Help You Run a Smoother, Easier Fashion Business

December is one of my favorite months of the year as a business owner.

And it’s not because of the holiday shopping or smells of pine and cinnamon or waking up to the first snowfall.

We’re getting to that time of year when many of us stop to reflect on how we’re running our businesses, our goals for the new year, and what we can do to make operations more efficient.

While I’ll definitely spend December doing that, this month is also an opportunity to appreciate what’s already working well — including the tools that made things run smoother than years past.

Those top 5 tools are what I want to share with you today:

asana

1.) ASANA

There is no better friend to an entrepreneur than a to-do list. Nope, not even your accountant. I’ve been using Asana since 2013 and it is the peanut butter to my jelly – I really don’t know what I would do without it.

If you don’t have some sort of organized checklist of top priority tasks assigned to due dates, then please get Asana in your life. It’s accessible from both your desktop and phone and it’s super intuitive and easy to use.

planoly

2.) PLANOLY

I’ve written about Planoly before when I shared my best Instagram hacks — this is definitely one of them.

For $9/month, Planoly is an app that allows you to create an editorial calendar for your Instagram posts. You can move images around to see how they’ll appear in grid format, write your captions ahead of time, and set a reminder on your phone that notifies you when to post.

If you’re starting or running a fashion brand in this day and age, then you must have a thoughtful visual representation on Instagram. And Planoly makes it easier to do that.

edgar

3.) EDGAR

Edgar is a bit on the pricey side but honestly, it’s worth every penny.

If you already use a social media scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer, you know how it works. You schedule your social media posts for Facebook or Twitter and then it posts for you.

The problem is, once that blog post, guest post or media feature is published, you have to schedule it again. And if there’s anything we know about social media these days, it’s that it’s not enough to simply publish something once.

Edgar is the social media scheduling tool that manages itself. Instead of publishing your post once, it saves it and recycles it at a later date. It is the social media gift that keeps on giving and makes those frustrating Facebook algorithms that much easier to deal with.

I’ve been using it since it launched in 2014 and will never go back.

Shopify

4.) SHOPIFY

If you sell anything online, Shopify is the e-commerce platform that I recommend above all others.

Comparing it to anything else is like comparing brass to gold — nothing against brass, but other e-commerce sites lack the lustre and shine that Shopify can offer an online store.

Beyond the benefit of how easy it is to build your site, my favorite thing about Shopify is the app library that you can use for free or at a very low cost. If there’s anything you need to customize or implement that your template doesn’t already offer, then they probably have an app for it.

I also love the personal support you can get from the “Shopify Experts” if you’re really not tech savvy. And then there’s the ease of managing the back-end of your shipping and fulfillment…

I could clearly go on, but I won’t… Shopify. Use it.

VAology5.) UPWORK / A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I *really* don’t know what I would do without my assistant, Erika of VAology, and I hired her through Upwork.

It took me a while (like two years) to hire someone that I could trust with the tasks I needed to outsource and she was worth the wait. If there’s something Erika doesn’t know how to do, then she figures it out — and that’s exactly what you want out of someone you hire.

When you get to the point of having some disposable business income, make a list of all of the tasks that take time out of your day but someone else could easily do. For me, that meant first hiring Erika to put my blog posts up on WordPress and format and schedule my email campaigns.

As our working relationship grew, I gave her new tasks that freed up my time to create, plan and spend more time focused on my entrepreneurs in Factory45.

A jack-of-all-trades assistant is the first hire I recommend making and you can easily research, vet and interview prospective candidates through Upwork.

(Also, Erika’s team is currently taking on new clients. They’re based in the U.S. and speak English as a first language. You can fill out their intake form here.)


And last but not least, here are the runners up to my top five: Google Drive and LastPass.

Happy planning, scheduling and outsourcing,

 

factory45 owner shannon