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Nailing Your Business Card Game: Must-Have Elements for Maximum Impact

Nailing Your Business Card Game: Must-Have Elements for Maximum Impact

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Business cards. Can’t figure out what to put on ’em, can’t live without ’em.

Much like the frustration some of us have when we’re asked to submit a bio, the details you include on your business cards suffer the same stress. I’ve seen firsthand the impact a good one (and a really, really bad one if we’re being honest) can have for me and the impression I make when meeting with brands or networking with peers at events, conferences or on an airplane to a funeral (true story).

I wanted to take a minute to share some things I recommend you have on your business card as we venture into the 2023 conference season:

PUT YOUR FACE ON IT

Seriously. Think about the number of people you meet at a conference or mid-size event. It’s a lot of people. And unless you’re a cyborg super robot, you probably have a tricky time placing a face to a name when you’re back home or at the office, settling in to send out follow up messages. Get a snapshot of your face that embodies the type of experience this new contact will have when they visit your outlets.

INCLUDE A PHONE NUMBER

Believe it or not, people still enjoy talking on the phone. I know, I KNOW, RIGHT?! Now notice that I didn’t say “include your cell phone number”. You don’t have to do that. I promise. For a long time I carried two versions of my business card around with me; one with + one without the phone number. Inevitably they were doled out to people who needed my phone number but didn’t get it and vice versa. I personally use Google Voice number. You can forward the calls to your personal cell number to answer. There’s also a Google Voice app you can use to view voicemail transcripts and text messages (yep, they can text ya!). 

PUT YOUR LOCATION

We don’t need your full mailing address, but it’s a smart idea to place your major metropolitan area or state, province, or country. This gives the new contact a gentle courtesy that an 8am call from the east coast to someone in LA is DEFINITELY going straight to voicemail to be answered after a cup, or two, of coffee.

KEEP IT CLEAN

A simple, clean design is always going work. Always. You want the most important info front and center. The last thing you want to do is put too much style on it, losing your name, outlet links, etc in the shuffle of funkadelia. I highly recommend a white background and black for a majority of the text you choose to include. Spunk it up with maybe your name or your title in a color that fits the color scheme they’ll experience when they visit your site or social platforms.

My favorite place on the planet to get high-quality biz cards is MOO. If you’ve never used them before, enjoy 25% off your first order of cards. They have loads of options on size, shape, finish + paper type. 

Now get out there and ROCK your cards!

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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2023 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC

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Overindexed to Underwater: When Capacity Outweighs Capability and How to Regain Balance

Overindexed to Underwater: When Capability Outweighs Capacity and How to Regain Balance

Learnings from hitting the stop button in December & january

The end of the year is supposed to be a time of reflection, gratitude, and celebration. It is supposed to be a moment in time for me to look back at all that I accomplished. I welcomed the chance, as I always do, to participate in this exercise. What I didn’t expect were the circumstances or depth I would find myself in for two months. 

It was December 1st, the one year anniversary since launching House of Wise. I sat in my friend’s apartment in Brooklyn as we virtually celebrated with the rest of the team. There was much to celebrate. We achieved so much for a small team, in the midst of a global undoing, and young by anyone’s account of a company. After the birthday party, I found myself overcome with a sinking feeling as I made my way to the airport to head home. I chalked it up to standard issue travel stress, popped a gummy, and didn’t give it another thought.

Until it gave me another thought.

As I pulled into my driveway, an undeniable shift started. (That’s a lie. The shift started in early November, but I wouldn’t realize that for another couple of weeks.) I had a visceral reaction to what my mind, body, and soul could not make sense of. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling and it certainly wasn’t a clear feeling. It was simply a lot of feeling. All at once.

I text my founder the next day. I was completely burnt out. I needed time to rest, but I didn’t know what that looked like yet. Spoiler alert: one of the most powerful shifts for me has been defining a truly human-first culture at House of Wise with Amanda. That made what ended up being a two-month hiatus from work possible. I have no doubt about that.

Here are the top learnings when I started unwinding my internal jumble:

The Gratitude x Guilt collab no one asked for is real

I tend to make myself small because, by conventional perception, I have a great thing that others are struggling to find for themselves. “Why would I ever consider giving that up?” 

This will make more sense if we got real for a second. Where I’ve gotten to on this point is a byproduct of healing and growing from prior workplace traumas – gaslighting, pay disparity, executive ego. I need to share the triggers that shock my system into “fight or flight” mode and how the responses have progressed from always fight > exhausted/unhappy> always flight > firm & forthcoming.

I understand more clearly now that the risk is the same whether I “always flight” or stay put and ask for change. That said, choosing the latter presents two opportunities: 1) for me to advocate for my needs and interests and 2) giving other parties the chance to support that advocacy. Choice. It always comes down to choice – making them and offering them.

The truth here is that the way I spend the time I have each day should be fulfilling my needs. Some hobbies, jobs, or relationships will be a one-stop-shop for meeting all of my needs. My truth is that I need multiple sources and instead of feeling guilty or ashamed of that, I am embracing and exploring how that comes to life.

Capabilities will always outweigh capacity

You will always be able to do more. We’re not one-dimensional, we don’t fit into one box, we are multi-hyphenates. It is up to us to fiercely protect this balance. Being able to is not the same as being inspired to.

For example, I am excellent at programming conditional logic. However, I’d rather spend my time visualizing a human experience that would benefit from a process that was programmed with conditional logic. Both are my superpowers. The latter makes me want to strut a bit more in my cape and leotard is all.

Minor mentality difference, major emotional difference.

"I am the sole architect of the height from which I fall."

Understanding the blueprint of life

Trauma-informed patterns are natural self-protections. Healing from these experiences is ongoing work. By giving my career-related traumas space to make me uncomfortable, I am starting to unlock what has been my own limiting beliefs about my potential.

My pattern is to compensate now for the toxic devaluing dynamics of prior leaders by over-indexing and under-advocating for my skills and talents. Helping others is a core driver of mine, but moderation is my shortcoming. When I don’t champion for what I can contribute, I fall hard in frustration and blame, building resentment. The facts? I’m the one who disrespected myself the most.

I am the sole architect of the height from which I fall.

I have the power to renovate the floor plan of my patterns. I can knock out walls and create new hallways where I once was stuck walking through a bathroom to get to the kitchen table. In order to make these changes, I need to build up my toolkit. 

It becomes obvious when you hit the stop button to see that you don’t have what you need to knock down the walls or rip out the carpet. That you’ve been doing the landlord’s special and simply painting over the outlets and calling yourself updated. I don’t know if you’ve tried to plug something you need to use into a painted-over outlet in a rental, but it does not work. And if it does, it is not well and certainly not for long.

Going now and pausing often

I am wildly grateful for the full stop of December. and January. I acknowledge that I am very privileged to have a life circumstance that allowed me to not worry about meeting basic human needs while I introspected. What I did will not be an option for everyone.

Creating a new pace is critical. The binary cadence of life, especially in American culture, is dangerous. The narrative is either “hustle hard” or “rest easy”. I prefer a tender chugging along – to go at a manageable pace and not be pressured to slam on the brakes when it becomes too much. I hope for the very same recalibration for you.

It will take time, but time is our most valuable asset. Let’s do this together.

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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2022 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC

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How to build a budget for your small business

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps

How to build a budget for your small business in 6 steps

The following post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you become a Bench customer at no additional cost to you.

If a goal without a plan is just a wish, then a small business without a budget is just a side hustle.

Having a well-thought out budget is the key to reaching your short and long-term business goals. It gives you an opportunity to plan how you’ll spend your money in the future, and can help you spot issues with your finances straight away—and, ahem, not two days before your bills come due.

New to all this? Here’s a six-step plan for building a small business budget from Bench, your friendly expert bookkeeping advisors.

What is a small business budget?

Your small business budget is a monthly, quarterly, or annual projection of your business finances. 

It should outline all operating costs needed to run your business and give a clear overview of expected revenue and expenses. It tells you:

  • How much money you plan to spend to run your business
  • How much money you expect to generate from sales
  • How much money you hope to have left over after each month

That last one is important. One of the biggest benefits of having a realistic budget for your small business is the insight it provides for planning future investments. 

Summarizing your business financials also helps you recognize and eliminate wasteful or ineffective spending to streamline your business operations. 

Basically, it’s a way to plan for the future, rather than taking things day-by-day.

Step 1: Estimate your revenue

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Your estimated revenue is the amount you expect to make from the sale of goods or services you provide.

While it may be tempting to base your budget on what you dream of taking in, looking at your business’s past performance is a better strategy, trust us.

If your business is established: If you’ve been working on your business for a while, use your sales figures from the previous year’s books as well as any new sources of business income you plan on generating in the budget period to estimate future revenue. 

If you’re new to the market: If you’re in start-up mode and don’t have historical books, looking for industry averages can give you an idea of what your business could take in month to month. (You can always revisit and adjust later once you know what your business actually makes.)

At Bench, no matter where your initial forecasts come from, we recommend keeping clean, well-organized books as you go along. This is especially true if your business is seasonal or has an unpredictable sales cycle.

Step 2: Outline your fixed costs

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Fixed costs are small business expenses that don’t change over time. 

Think about the things you pay for no matter how much you make each month like rent, computer equipment, payroll, insurance, administration fees, or bookkeeping services (as long as you use a service with a flat monthly fee—like Bench).

Knowing the total amount of fixed costs per month will help you understand your non-negotiable monthly commitments and let you know how much extra money you have available for discretionary spending or new investments. 

This information might also help you calculate: 

  • What your business needs to earn to be profitable
  • The amount of cash you’ll need on hand
  • How much cash reserve you’ll need for leaner months

Step 3: Determine your variable costs

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps

Variable costs include the prices of raw materials, labor, and distribution related to the products or services you sell. 

These costs grow alongside your production volume. Think packaging, hourly wages, commission, or credit card transaction fees. So if it costs $12 to produce your patented air pods holder, when you double your production, you may also double your variable costs.

Knowing your variable costs allows you to:

  • Determine how much to charge for your product or service 
  • Calculate the break-even point of your product or service 
  • Find ways to cut down on costs and increase your profit margin

(See, your trusty budget helped you do all that!)

Step 4: Establish your cash flow

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Unlike revenue, your cash flow is the amount of money coming in and going out of your business. 

Have cash on hand: Paying your fixed and variable expenses without going into debt is the foundation of growing your business. Without it, you won’t be able to afford to pay for necessities and your business will suffer.

See the bigger picture: Comparing the total amount of incoming cash with outgoing expenses is an easy way to understand your overall profitability. From there, you can decide whether you need to trim, tweak, or expand your small business budget.

In order to get the information you need to accurately calculate your spending, we suggest (surprise, surprise) keeping good records that let you track your earning and spending over time.

Step 5: Figure out one-off expenses

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

You’ve sorted out fixed costs, variable costs, and cash flow. But there’s one more budgetary item to make your small business operation almost foolproof: the back-up fund. 

When your laptop dies suddenly or you need to hire someone to fix the staff kombucha bar, squirreling away a bit of cash for unexpected expenses can go a long way toward protecting your business.

Step 6: Keep your finances on track

How to Build a Budget for your Small Business in 6 Steps
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

Most successful business owners know that a budget is only as good as the data it’s based on. Keeping accurate and up-to-date records takes work, but the insight you gain into your business is priceless.

As your business grows it might make sense to hand time-consuming tasks like bookkeeping over to the pros. From bookkeeping to banking, Bench makes budgeting a breeze.

Expert bookkeeping: Your Bench team will organize all business transactions, prepare financial statements, and keep your books up to date and squeaky clean.

Financial reporting: Your Bench income statement, balance sheet, and visual reports provide crystal-clear data on the health of your business, and let you see opportunities for growth.

Year-round tax support: Come tax time, your dedicated Bench team can take care of everything to make your tax filing simple and stress-free.

Put simply, it’s the all-in-one financial toolkit your business can count on.

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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2020 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC

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Strengths over Specialties

Strengths Over Specialties: How to Increase Client Retention
Strengths Over Specialties: How to increase your client retention

As a creative agency owner, I’ve been asked this exact question quite often: “What do you specialize in?”

Despite the grammatical incorrectness of ending the question with a preposition, I always answer with a question of my own: “Can you tell me what your business’ speciality?”

I used to respond with something along the lines of doing pretty much everything which resulted in a reaction along the lines of telling this prospect or new contact that I murdered their dearest loved one and they were my next target. An understandable response, but not the slightest bit of what I was trying to evoke.

I, naturally, quickly discovered that being apt to achieve and execute solutions for many of a client’s needs is not best translated when you claim your agency does “pretty much everything”. No matter the level of confidence or follow-up explanation, the trepidation is already the foundation and there’s not very far to go beyond the idea that the one thing I’m good at is saving my ass by talking my way out of something. A business approach that works, for a time, for some, but not my bag, baby.

Instead, I’ve switched it up to something more conversational and educational. The success of my creative agency is based on being able to accurately and concisely understand two major things about my client: 

What do they do well?
What are they unable to do?

Being armed with the reality of what they are unable to do, allows me the opportunity to share with them what I do, that will help them to stay focused on what they do well. Instead of asking a series of rapid-fire questions about needing video, social media management, remote administrative support, email marketing strategies, copywriting, digital ads, graphic design, or the handful of other things I am capable of, I’m able to narrow that down to explaining my capability for the most pressing, top of mind pain points they’re currently struggling with in their organization.

Once we solve those initial problems together, we move on to the next and I get the opportunity to step in to handle them or, my favorite of all things, refer them to someone in my network whom I trust and respect who will be able to instead

When your business model is productized

We all know the sales and advertising practice of productizing. In the event you do not, productizing is presenting a universal service in an audience targeted way. Making or developing a service into a product.

Let’s look at an example really quick. Say you offer social media management as a service to clients, but the whole of your clients are not industry specific. You would then speak directly to whomever you were looking to attract with design and copy that speaks directly to what they will be looking for like “Social Media Management for Boat Dealers” or, hopefully, something more snappy and catchy.

Now for me and mine, we are precisely this type of agency. Non-industry specific and strengths over specialities in our body of clientele. This makes things both exciting and challenging. Our business model is productization through and through. Everything that we can offer to someone who is interested in using our agency to elevate their in-house efforts is customized particularly to their industry.

I’ve found that it’s less of a challenge to be exceptionally knowledgable about the tasks and roles I will potentially be charged with than it is for me to spend my time narrowing my opportunities by learning decades worth of ins and outs for only one industry. I’m anomalously fortunate to have an aptitude as one who retains information at incredible rates. Yes, this means I’ll remember someone’s pet’s birthday after speaking with them for 45 seconds, but it also means that when it is necessary for me to create or execute a strategy for an industry I am unfamiliar with, I can learn what is needed for me to do my job and do it well. 

I urge you if you are considering or debating the idea of narrowing a marketing service agency down to only having single-industry clients to instead spend some time looking at your aptitude for learning about varied industries as the need or interest arises for you in your business. 

I personally do not subscribe to the idea that marketers are only capable of marketing well if they are singularly specialized. I unsubscribed from that school of thought after 10+ years of firsthand experience. Luckily for you, you don’t have to spend the next decade thinking that’s the only way to do it well. You’re welcome. 

Why strength > specialty?

That leads me to explaining why I focus on maintaining strength in my personal endeavors as well as my agency.

One of my main redeeming qualities, aside from my obviously charming sense of humor, is my versatility. I am a highly organized individual and business owner who knows that at the drop of a hat, gear-switching comes with the territory of doing important work in the world. It’s a great and motivating feeling to know that you are capable of being relied upon to step in or step up in situations outside of your “defined role”. I am a firm believer in the idea that asserting and offering yourself in areas of need that you know you have a strength is the most effective way to show that you’re able to execute said things. I love a good resume, portfolio, or performance report as much as the next guy. It’s the most analytical way to assess the past performance of some one or some thing. What though does that do for us in the moment? 

When a need is pressing? Or an idea is born and you’re in the very early stages of exploring that idea?

Well, not much.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily keep a rolodex of my network of peers’ resumes on my phone to quickly search and reference. Instead I rely on where I’ve experienced character strengths. Sometimes those strengths can be easily translated to the need at hand because they exist in a very parallel way. Other times, it’s so much more about what I’ve been exposed to that has had a strengthening effect.

In closing, I offer you this nugget to noodle…

Where do you see your career when you see beyond specialty?
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Jessi Sanfilippo © 2020 All Rights Reserved All Wrongs Reserved Too | Developed by Up Top Agency, LLC