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Shanna Skidmore, a business strategist, financial coach, and founder of the Blueprint Model, shares how a background in finance, psychology, and art led her to coaching creative entrepreneurs on business principles that help build profitable and sustainable businesses. In today’s interview, we discuss common money management pitfalls, tips for overcoming those mistakes, and how to price your services.
Shanna Skidmore is a business strategist and financial coach. Nicknamed the “dream-releaser” by her clients, she helps entrepreneurs make money doing what they love by building profitable & sustainable businesses. For the past 12 years she has been immersed in the world of small business development and finance. By studying patterns of success, she now coaches and consults with creative entrepreneurs on business principles she found to be key indicators of success. Her background in finance, psychology, and art have allowed her to marry the world of business and creativity. Her greatest joy is watching others transform their stories and build businesses & lives they love!
Check out Shanna’s free Focus Finder Quiz to find out where your business is in its life cycle.
A note about the transcript: The interviews are transcribed by an online app, and there may be errors in the transcription. While we do our best to correct errors—especially those that may change the meaning of what a speaker was trying to say—we do not catch every error. Thus we ask that people refer back to the audio/video for quotes. Also, please refer back to the audio/video if something is not clear in transcript; however, if you are hearing impaired, feel free to email us for clarifications.
Shanna: 00:07 This is different for everyone, right? I can’t tell everybody what it is, but there are some things, for me it was like, how can I get in the heads of the people I’m working with and if I can keep getting in your head and keep providing solutions, then I don’t have to just be in their face of the time. I can just do good work and let the referals come in. You know hopefully let the top keep growing, so that’s why I thought I’m going to go off social media and see what happens.
Davey: 00:37 Welcome to the Brands that Book show where we help creative businesses find more clients and build their brands. I’m your host, Davey Jones. Today’s guest is business strategists and financial coach Shanna Skidmore. She helps entrepreneurs make money doing what they love by building profitable and sustainable businesses. She’s even big nickname the dream releaser by her clients and her background in finance, psychology and art has allowed her to marry the worlds of business and creativity. Today she’s chatting with me about managing money coming in, money, pitfalls, and how to price your services.
Davey: 01:15 Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us on the show. I’ve been really excited for this interview. I know so many people that you’ve worked with and they all have just incredible things to say about you and the experience going through, you know, whatever it is, working with you personally are going through the blueprint model and I want to talk about all of that later in the interview, but I am so excited just to talk about money because I think we all get into business wanting to make money, but money can be difficult. Money can be difficult for all sorts of reasons, it can be hard to know when to save it, to spend it, what to spend it on. It can be hard to have a healthy perspective on money I think. And those are all things that you seem to tackle with people. So I’m excited to dig into that and just talk about how people can develop a healthy perspective around money, what they should be doing with their money when they first get started. Um, just so that they can, you know, live that life that they set out to live in their dreams as they started their business.
Shanna: 02:21 Right. Absolutely. So excited. Thanks for having me. I’m so honored to be here.
Davey: 02:26 Yeah. Cool. Well first I want to talk about your business to get started. How did you, how did you get into this? How did you start working with, because you work primarily with creative women and you have a background in finance and I also saw that you have a background in art as well. So how did you, how’d you get into this industry is starting to work with creative women.
Shanna: 02:26 Yeah, I stumbled into it.
Davey: 02:51 Um, it’s so funny how many people say that, you know, it’s so funny how many people are like, yeah, I stumbled into it.
Shanna: 03:00 Yeah. I feel like I never set out to do. I mean this is like a perfect career for me, but I didn’t know that. So quick background: I went to school for a business finance degree, and also a psychology degree and then I took every art class I ever could. So almost have an art degree as well, but I didn’t take art history so I never completed the Art degree. So I was like, who needs an Art degree right?, that’s so terrible. But I always say like, I felt like such a misfit puzzle. I never really knew how finance and psychology and art came together into one thing. And so right after college I started working in finance. I did that for five years and I did personal and business financial planning was a financial advisor for fortune 100 company. So I got married and about probably three months after we got married, my husband who also worked in finance at the time, I was like, if you ever meet him, you’ll know that’s not his personality to say like let’s talk about your money and sit down with people and it sounds like if you could do anything, what do you want to do? And he said I want to design and build airplanes. And that led us down this five year path of him going back to school and we moved to Atlanta for him to do that. And so I left my financial career because finances, just like having probably like a photography business, like you establish yourself oftentimes in a location and it can be challenging to move it. And so when I, when we moved to Atlanta, I was contacted by a venture capitalist firm, so like shark tank and uh, it wasn’t shark tank that would have been cool, but it was another venture capitalist firm. They were working with this startup fashion designer in Atlanta. And so they needed somebody to come in as the term controller that fancy word which is in operations and finance. So that’s what really got me into the creative world. And that was back in 2011. And I started seeing that there’s this true breakdown. I feel like, in the world of finance in the world of creativity. It’s like this dichotomy I guess, and there’s no overlap. And oftentimes most creative businesses are started by women and there’s a lot of intimidation there. Finance is a male dominated industry. And so I think I just became a bridge-builder between the world of finance and creativity and it brought all those– I always say I’m really like a money therapists, so that’s where the psychology comes in. And so it’s been really amazing. I’m so blessed and thankful for the way that the Lord’s blessed it. But since I’ve been doing that now at seven years, um, and so I was working one on one with clients that start with a fashion designer, then went into floral design and then it just started building. Now I’ve worked with, um, virtual assistance, interior designers. Every wedding industry you can ever think of professional, um, graphic design, brick and mortar stores, online shops. I mean this has been really cool to see how some simple financial teachings can really help my creative friends make money doing what they love and I’m just so thankful to get to do that.
Davey: 06:04 Yeah. I would assume that even across the kinds of people that you work with, um, you probably see some common pitfalls, you know, because I think that really regardless of what you’re doing, you probably, whether you’re a floral designer, whether you’re a photographer, whatever, you probably run into similar issues, especially when you’re starting your business. My undergrad degree is in theology and then I have a master’s in multicultural education, which is–I feel like I’ve learned a ton from that and I’m so thankful for those degrees in those experiences because I don’t think God wastes anything. But uh, I don’t have a background in finance so dealing with that, dealing with taxes and things like that, it’s just, it is. So it’s overwhelming and intimidating to a certain extent. So going back to the beginning of your business, how did you– did you just find your first clients really based on word of mouth and when did you split off onto your own?
Shanna: 06:59 That’s a great question. So I worked for a fashion designer for about a year and I was actually employed that was basically employed by the venture capitalists, like an employee there. Um, and so I knew after about a year that I had done what I, my gifting is there and they just really needed them maintenance person and which is great. Um, but I’m not a maintenance person. I like to be challenged and it sounds like I just don’t know. I knew that there was something there, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. At that time there weren’t that I knew of a lot of like business coaching for creatives or consultants in the creative world that was totally unheard of. I mean there was like Marie Forleo I guess, but that’s kind of all that I knew and I didn’t even know much about her so I didn’t know how to do it. And I came home crying though, like every single day I was so just like, this is not, I’m not a job kind of person. I am an entrepreneur. And so one day my husband was just like, quit your job. And I was like, um seeing that we have to pay our bills and you’re in school that’s not really a possibility. But it’s funny, like many people that get into the creative worlds I had done flowers for my own wedding and for some friends and I had thought like it was something I was just curious about. Maybe I want to do flowers. I’ve always been a creative person and so I quit and I reached out to a floral designer in Atlanta and was like, can I just shadow you and it’s funny at the same time, most people don’t know this about my story, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I just reached out to her, but at the same time I was still. I also reached out to a venture capitalist firm and I was shadowing them. I applied to get my mba at Emory in Atlanta. Like I was just like throwing spaghetti on the wall. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do with my life, but I’m just going to look into all these curiosities. So I started doing flowers. I knew after two weddings I was not meant to be a wedding florist. That was not my deal, but it’s funny, the same thing started happening. We were at the second wedding, I was driving back with my friend amy who’s a floral designer and I was just like, why are we, at three in the morning, why are we doing breakdown. We’re driving back like I’m so tired. Was like, why don’t you have somebody break down these events? And she said to me, I don’t have money for that. And I’m just like that in my head, you know, I’m just like, that can’t cost more than hundred and fifty dollars, like how do you not have money to pay that person? And I just started asking these questions that come very naturally to me because I’m a money person and I always ask the questions, I’m not supposed to ask them: how much money do you make and do you really make money, you know? And so I started working with her and so I just like did flowers and did money and I did that for a year and a half in. Amy had such a big name in the creative industry. She was kind of like the original, the original players in the wedding world and that kind of fine art world and then people just started noticing. So really all my referrals were word of mouth. So I did that, started with her in 2012, but it wasn’t until the end of 2013 that I officially launched my business and that’s something I think I want to share with more people and I want more people to know that I did– I threw it all on the wall. I did anything somebody would pay me to do until I figured out what I felt like how to do this thing. And sometimes I think we often want to have a business plan and what I teach is a blue print business planning model, but it’s like sometimes you just have to do– and then you figure out the plan later. So that’s what I did for almost two years. I didn’t officially have a business, but then I got so many calls and emails, which I’m thankful for. I was like, I guess I should figure out what this is called and how to charge for it and what I do and what I don’t do. And so 2013 I officially launched.
Davey: 10:50 Yeah. It’s so funny for so many people the key to getting started is just to start and good for you. I mean, coming back from that, the wedding, you could have just been like, this isn’t for me and kind of shut your brain off there and not explore it any further, but then you start asking these questions and I’m sure for you that that’s the kind of stuff that’s life giving for you. And so what a perfect merge of all of your interests. So you start meeting with this first couple of clients, right? And as you start meeting with them, do you see right away like, hey, these are, these are a couple of problems that plague kind of all small businesses. Maybe we’re all creating small businesses when they’re getting started. Did you notice a trend or common characteristics there?
Shanna: 11:32 Absolutely. So absolutely hands down. I felt like that’s when I was like, there’s something here I saw. Yeah, the patterns were always the same. Um, most and I’m sure a lot of people listening. Um, I would say like, why did you start your business? For most people in the creative industry, it was because they wanted to create whatever their art is or you know, they did again, like so many in the wedding industry, like they did paper goods for their own wedding then or now do paper goods. So I would say that creativity came first. The business came second. And so when I started seeing is that all of these amazing women had extremely beautiful talents. They were doing great building up their brand and brand awareness, but the patterns on the financial side and the business were the same. A lot of them had a lot of money coming in, but it went out just as fast. So nobody, –they weren’t holding onto any money. Amy, she’s very openly about her story, the floral designer, when I met her, she had sat down with a financial advisor just maybe a month before and he said, your business is bankrupt, you need to close it down. And because of that she had a ton of money coming in, but it went out just as fast. So that was the first thing I saw. The second was there was no understanding of cost, like what truly cost is and your business and in a creative world I think we talk a lot about price and we kind of look at everybody else’s price online and like, OK, I think this is a good number, but we don’t understand why the price is what it is. Price is all about cost and understanding time and cost. And so that’s what I saw with my fashion designer. That’s exactly what I saw with Amy, my floral designer and every under other industry. I started thinking that there is a pricing formula. There really is. And because we all have costs, we all have time and we all have to account for margin. So that was one thing. I saw another one which is even bigger now and we can totally talk about this is spinning wheels. Seeing people very unproductively spinning their wheels, like there’s a lot in entrepreneurship. There’s always something we can be doing. There’s always something, but it’s extremely hard to sift through all the good things we can do for the great things and I saw a lot of creative entrepreneurs like we’re just trying to do it all and we’re mostly multi-tasking, juggling many moms, so we’re working part time or side hustlers. They still have a full-time job and it’s like if all these things like nobody’s making much forward momentum because we’re trying to do so many things so that those were kind of three of the main first patterns that I was like, these are the same no matter what industry create a strategy and a process that can solve these things for every industry, and that’s what I did.
Davey: 14:28 Yeah. That’s fascinating because all three of those things, I’m just shaking my head like, yes, yes, I can totally see that. Maybe we’ve experienced some of those as well. Even going back to the very first one, all right, money coming in, a lot of money coming in and then money just going out. Do you see that there’s common places that that money goes out on? Like do people–Are People like just putting it back into their business or is it..?
Shanna: 14:28 Yeah.
Davey: 14:52 So what, what kind of tips do you give people in like, hey, you can’t just put all this back in your business, like some of the steps to go in your pocket maybe.
Shanna: 14:57 Yeah. Well I always say first. And I don’t know if I should say it because I probably should get in trouble for saying it, but I’m always like if you have a CPA that tells you that not paying taxes as a goal, like a good thing, like that should be your goal. Like you need to leave that CPA immediately.
Davey: 15:13 A good friend who’s a CPA who would say the exact same thing.
Shanna: 15:19 OK. So I’m not a CPA, I’ve been out of the finance broker in that capacity for a long time, but I say that because I think a lot of us operate under that mindset. And not seeing like your business money as your personal money. Every dollar that’s spent, I think just spending without intention and something actually I go back to my days in personal finance and for small business owners where I used to work in, you know, as a financial advisor, I used to always say what most people need more than anything else is a budget. And I think I was kind of make a joke, like budgets become a six letter curse word, especially to creative entrepreneurs because that feels like a no, it feels like oppressive. But so I turned that around and I call that a spending plan. We all need a plan for how we’re going to spend and it amazes me that most entrepreneurs that I work with don’t have it. They get this money in, but they’ve never like kind of earmarks where it goes. I think Dave Ramsey said like name every dollar. And I love that so much because that’s like, OK, you tell your money where to go. And nothing that’s really great. Like I have a house cleaner, I have money to get new clothes every three months. I have set aside dollars for that and now I have freedom to spend it and that’s what I love about having a spending plan and something I establish with every person work with. It’s like, where are your dollars going? Then you feel free from so much guilt and shame and especially for women who maybe aren’t contributing to their household and their spouses are like, what are you doing, you know, a great way. How can you contribute? And I think that’s where we find money they didn’t even realize they had.
Davey: 17:02 So in developing a budget I’m so thankful for Krista because I love thinking about those things–budgeting, where our finances are, where the money’s going. But Krista is the one that actually has the discipline to make sure that we are following that budget I know that we’ve used tools in the past to set our budget. Do you have a favorite, uh, money spending plan tool? And I love how you reframed that by the way.
Shanna: 17:24 Um, so no, actually I still am old school and pen to paper, so I wish I had brought it with me, but um, I did a few years ago, I thought it was crazy that business owners don’t spend time each year to plan for the next year. And so that’s something every single year in finance we did, we would get away with our little office and we would set all her goals and set our sales goal and all that stuff. And so I kind of carried that through and I started this thing called BluePrint retreat back in the day. Actually, here’s a funny story. The day I launched my website, I also launched Blueprint Retreat like I had 200 followers on instagram. Nobody knew who I was and what I’m going to do a workshop, it’s going to be great. But anyway, so I created this workbook though and I, that’s actually. So I still use on, it’s called my blueprint year now and I every single month, so right out my personnel budget I tried Mint, but electronically it was too much for me. So every year I sit down in a, it’s just an excel document or a google doc now and create our annual plan. So I know here’s the salary we’re going to pay ourselves and here’s all the ways that we’re gonna place this, we’re going to put that money either monthly or annually. So we do, we have budgets for travel clothes, you know, we have, Kyle my husband he likes to fly, so we have like a flying budget, so we have all that and then I just literally every single month write it out. I love that. That’s so helpful for me. Just to be like, OK, that bill was paid in check, check, check. And so I’m sorry, I don’t have a great software tool, but I’m just still old school. Pen to paper!
Davey: 19:05 What’s interesting about that and something that I think I just realized about myself in the last year is that I actually, um, maybe things just stick with me more when I write them down before, you know, I still, I love technology so I use plenty of it. Um, but even like goal planning, if I write down my to do list, let’s say, which I know to do’s and goals aren’t the same, but if I write down my to do list and then I put it into the APP that I use to track those to do’s for whatever reason, it sticks with me a little bit more. So I’m sure there’s something there that’s helpful about writing it down. Do you have, like, is this something that you’ve created that you share with others? Is there a place that somebody could purchase this or get access to it or attend to retreat and learn it?
Shanna: 19:48 So as of last year we made it available to all the people, all my students, the print model, but this year I’m redeveloping it because it really paired very much with the curriculum. Like it really wasn’t a standalone products. They have to at least understand my philosophy and how I do it. But now we’re working really hard this year to make it stand alone. So hopefully this fall it’ll be available.
Davey: 20:15 Let us know when that becomes available. So, uh, is there anything else about setting a budget that people should know? Just in terms of like where to start with all of that?
Shanna: 20:26 I think I might have to have two points. The first is I see a lot of people get really bogged down in the details of it. And sometimes I always say like, you want to make it specific enough where it’s meaningful but not so specific that you won’t follow it. So I feel like some people, I love the idea of naming every dollar, but we have a cash spending allowance. Second Point, we don’t track how much money goes towards groceries towards eating out. I don’t really care. I don’t, that’s way too detailed for me. But we have a monthly, we do, I mean, I’m sorry, weekly. We did $260 a week for Kyle and I. That gets anybody a reference point. We don’t have any children, so $260 a week, then that goes for all of our spending. If I want to go to target or something, you know, it’s just, that’s what we get. We also do personal, like I get money from that. It’s money that we don’t ask each other how that’s spent and I love that. I mean it’s like 10 bucks a week– I think we started like $5 a week and I’ll go to um, I used to go to the gas station and get myself a diet coke which I don’t drink anymore, which is sad, but which was good, but it doesn’t even matter how much it is. But. So that’s something I want to say. Don’t get so detailed that you won’t follow it. And we don’t track all– what I love about the cash, the weekly cash spending, um, if people are familiar with Dave Ramsey, I think we do it very differently with that. I’ve never actually even read the whole Dave Ramsey process is– total money makeover I think. I don’t know how all that works, but I do love having a weekly cash amount. So I always say I don’t care where it goes. I just care that only spend the $260 a week, so that’s really great for us. So I would say like, don’t get too bogged down in, in just like how much is coming in, where’s it going? And um, just have a plan.
Davey: 22:20 Yeah, I think one of the adjustments we made since college, I think right when we got married right out of college, we tried to be so specific about everything and that inevitably leads to failure and then inevitably leads to an argument and then it inevitably leads to just not doing it at all. So I 100 percent agree with that and that resonates with me for sure. So transitioning to point number two, you were talking about the pricing formula. I have a feeling that you’re going to solve a lot of people’s headaches right here. So how do you, how should a creative entrepreneur a price their services, what does that formula look like?
Shanna: 22:54 Yeah, so it’s kind of just, like I say, with the budget, I do a budget reverse. I start with your need first and then work backwards to yourself for what your salary is. OK. So I do price in the exact same way. I believe we can’t know anything about price until we know cost. And so the first recommendation I would make to everyone listening who’s like how– let me get this into like a story right when I worked with my fashion designers. She only worked with silks and silks are very extensive product. And so she would sell her shirts for almost some of them are almost $300. And so you would walk into that fashion designers shop, like how she not making profit, this shirt costs $300 and coming from somebody who like wore Walmart tennis shoes on my very first day how embarrassing. Um, yeah, no, I was just like, they’ve gotta be rolling in the money, right? So we always look at price and we think that it determines value and, or what somebody is making right? But what happened was I realized it was actually her cost was so high, even at $300 she never would have made profit. And that’s what I see with a lot of entrepreneurs, they’re spending so much. Price doesn’t really mean anything. And so when we compare it to other people’s price, then it really gets confusing because we don’t understand why they priced the way to do so. Let’s say first and foremost, sit down and figure out what your cost is. So that’s material costs, like say prefer photography. If there could film photography, if do you have an outsourced editor. What are the actual costs of travel costs? Do you have a second shooter? What are they like actual cost and then also how much time are you putting into it? This is one of the things we never think about because we’re doing it and we were like getting paid is secondary, right? It’s like if there’s left over I’ll pay myself, but we have to think like what if you couldn’t shoot that wedding? You would have to pay somebody to come in and do it. That should be calculated into your cost. And then once you understand your costs, I always add margin and the margin is that fancy financial word. It’s just leftover. And so it’s like that’s exactly my formula. Understand costs, use a multiplier to give yourself margin every time and then you get your price and what’s great about that. And then there’s this whole like and how do you spend it? But the margin is what goes to pay you as the business owner, not just the photographer but you as the business owner and all the overhead. What I see a lot is that people price just to cover their costs and they’re like OK. Or they’ll like price to cover the costs and then add a little bit and feel like they’re rolling in it. But the moment that they take on staff or they need to take on staff and they need to take on rent, they get more expenses then they have to like really, really increase their prices very quickly. And that becomes stressful. And so I try to teach the idea of pricing for profit even when it feels like a lot of money because that’s just ultimately how the business has to run. One day, most people will have a studio. One day, most people will have staff, whether it’s a virtual assistant or not, you have to price these things in the beginning. So it all starts with cost.
Davey: 26:18 So I think one of the most difficult parts of pricing, uh, and you mentioned it in that formula is pricing for time because you know, especially when you’re first getting started and you’re just grateful to pick up that first wedding or whatever and you’re thinking, and one of the things that we warn against is having an all day collection. As wedding photographers, we did that where we had like the unlimited collection and that was just absolutely miserable. Obviously did not value our time. How do you, how do you teach people to put a number on their time?
Shanna: 26:51 I love that. I love that story so much Davey because I think often this is such a thing for creative entrepreneurs. We think if we give the moon, the client will realize we gave them the moon, it means more value, but in reality that’s just you, I mean, I’m sure you know, like over time you just see they don’t– oftentimes our clients don’t really value the fact that we’re spending all day with them and they don’t get it because that’s all they’ve ever known. So it’s just like you’re trying to give them this big bonus, but yet they don’t really realize it. And then there’s this bitterness that happens. The first thing I’d say is always, always, always know how much time goes into something. And a lot of creative entrepreneur really don’t. And I didn’t either. This is something I myself didn’t, didn’t know. And so I’m a big advocate of tracking time. I use it free app called toggl, t o g g l.
Davey: 27:51 So we brought on my sister. She’s working for us now and she uses a toggle to track your time.
Shanna: 27:56 It’s so great. No, that’s a whole different conversation. How do you track your time when you’re working on multiple projects? So we don’t get too, for everybody listening, don’t get too crazy on that, but we just need to know how much time actually goes into a project because it’s not the just the amount of time you were at the wedding. It’s the editing time, it’s the prep time, it’s packing your gear, it’s actually booking the client and, and so I think it’s really important to understand just even three projects from start to finish. How long does it take? And then I always say you actually are two different people. OK. So stick with me for a second. You are first, you wear two hats, and you should get paid for two hats. So the first hat is the photographer hat. The actual creative role that you’re doing and this when you’re starting out. I would say you need to kind of price your time as the amount it will cost you to replace yourself. So I get that that’s hard. Like nobody can paint that painting or shoot just like you. But if you had to hire someone probably $20, $30 an hour depending on location, could be up to $50. That’s where you kind of start as an hourly rate and you just need to know again, what is the cost, just like that worker bee has to be replaced. If you can’t do it right, and then you also should get paid later as the business owner and that comes in with the whole margin. So yeah, when you’re thinking about time, I think the biggest thing is understanding how much time goes into a project and then I just say calculate what it would cost you to actually hire somebody to replace that and start there.
Davey: 29:27 I wish somebody had told that to us when we first got started. For Real. I think it would have saved us a lot of, a lot of headaches when we first got started.
Shanna: 29:36 I think we think getting paid as a luxury and if there’s leftover money than we get it. But what we have to realize that maybe as the business owner that’s true, you know, it’s like maybe the business owner gets paid from leftover, but you always are doing the work and you have to get paid for that work.
Davey: 29:52 So the last thing that I want to talk about in this point is margin and what exactly margin means. There’s probably a bunch of people out there who are like, I don’t, you know, it sounds like Marjorie and uh, you know, I don’t know what that means. So can you unpack what that means.
Shanna 30:08 It’s like. Yeah, absolutely. I had a friend tell me one time, she was like, I, when you say margin, I think of Microsoft word like a setting on Microsoft word and I’m like, yeah that’s not it. Absolutely. Margin is a fancy financial term, but I just think of it as white space, the leftover. And you can think about this with your time, with your money, in all areas I say there should always be white space. Um, and so in finance, the margin is the difference between your price and your cost. So it’s the leftover amount. Um, there should be leftover because that money has been spent for overhead and salary and all those extra things that we think, again, sometimes as luxuries. And, and I say that margins should be 60 percent of your press. So if anybody is out there listening like, “give me the number!” I say 60 percent. I don’t even know how that happened. It’s funny. People ask me now like, did you come up with that? And I’m like, I guess I did thing, but I’ve been through 12 years of finance. I’ve now seen that work through every industry, creative industry in one way or another. The only time that that’s different for anybody listening who’s like that doesn’t work for me is usually in the art world or anybody that’s doing wholesale retail. Because in the art world there are galleries that typically already take 50 percent. So there, there’s just nothing you can do about that. But for most industries it’s about 40 percent costs 60 percent margin and that margin goes again to pay for salary and overhead and actual like money left in your business. But let’s not get in the weeds, but yeah, they’re just should be leftovers. And I would love to see people get to 60 percent. So if you price at $1000 is shouldn’t cost you more than $400.
Davey: 32:08 And what you’re saying about white space, I feel like this is the perfect transition. Just to pause because I want to get to a, you know, a problem number three that people often fall into, which is doing everything themselves or doing too much, but before we get there and you take a sabbatical…… (fade out) Hey friends we’re going to take a quick 60 second break so I can introduce you to one of my favorite companies and the sponsor of this episode: Show it. Show-it is a drag and drop website building platform created especially for photographers and creative entrepreneurs. It’s used by some of the biggest names in the creative industry from Amy Jordan Demos to Caitlin James, and it’s what we built our website on too. What’s awesome about show it is that it’s both powerful and easy to use. The intuitively designed website builder makes it easy to change colors, fonts, images, and objects. Finally, a website you can update on your own without having to hire a designer for every tiny change. It’s google friendly and you can design the desktop and mobile versions of your website side by side to ensure your website looks great on any device and you can even integrate a word press blog with your show at website, making it that much more powerful and guess what? They give you tons of free and premium professionally designed website templates to help you get started, but what makes show it such a special company is their customer support. They’re super responsive and are there to help every step of the way. You can even save 10 percent on an annual subscription by using the code btb show. For more information, check out the show notes and now back to our episode…. (fade in) Yeah, and what you’re saying about white space, I feel like this is the a perfect transition. Just to pause because I want to get to a, you know, a problem number three that people often fall into, which is doing everything themselves or doing too much, but before we get there–you take a sabbatical every year and so that, do you recommend that for everybody?
Shanna: 34:04 That’s such a great question. Yes, I do. Yeah, the answer. I’ve never been asked that point blank, but absolutely I do because I believe um, I think it was Henry David Thoreau said you can’t hear music and noise at the same time and I think for me, when you have your head down and you’re just doing all the things you have to do and especially now in our world it’s very like inundated with waste or are social media a lot of interaction with people. It becomes very hard to do like true deep work. I’m so absolutely I do and it’s transformed my business and I’m also, it’s just fun.
Davey: 34:04 Yeah I think rest just in generals is so important and one of the difficult transitions from being primarily wedding photographers to now the heart of our business is Davey and Krista, a custom branding and design, you know, everything that comes with that was that we would work all week and then potentially shoot a wedding and then so our weekend’s gone and you just feel drained when Monday comes along. But on weekends where we can actually rest, enjoy time with each other, go see friends, you know, Monday looks a lot different and the same is true I think from going on a long vacation. If you can get away, if you can get out of your office for two weeks. For me, I find that by the end of that two weeks, um, I’m rested but then also by day 11, 12, 13, 14, I’m actually looking forward to getting back in the office and tackling whatever projects that I have laid out and set before me. So I love that you take a, uh, sabbatical and that you’ve built a business that allows you to do that because your sabbatical is what, four to six weeks usually.
Shanna: 34:04 Yes, yes.
Davey: 36:05 Yeah. That’s incredible. And so to get to a point in your business where your business allows you to do that, I think it’s just a dream. So moving on, I do want to talk a little bit more about that, but moving on to that last point, you had mentioned that last pitfall is people just is taking on too much.
Shanna: 36:19 Yeah. Kind of spinning wheels, not knowing where to put their focus.
Davey: 36:23 So how do you deal with that with people?
Shanna: 36:25 Yeah. So, um, I would say like, I come from a numbers background, so I naturally go to numbers first, right? So a marketing person’s going to go to marketing first, a tech person, person’s going to go to technology first, I think, um, like your solutions here, right? So I don’t want to say this is the end all be all, but for me and most of my clients at this point I’ve worked with over a thousand entrepreneurs and I mean, I actually just really counted up, probably double that and have spoken to tens of thousands of people, which is pretty amazing. And what I’ve found is that there are some numbers to know. And I think that what I see a lot is um, that so often we’re focused on activity but we’re not focused on outcome. And so when I worked in finance, we, every single week we had a meeting with our office and we had to track like how many phone calls they made, how many meetings we had, how many “asks” we had. So we called it activity, right? So it’s like all this activity. And we reported every week our activity to our team. And so I always found that my activity was always lower than everybody else, but my outcomes were just about where everybody else or higher. And so I started thinking about how does this relate to the creative world and how can we find… I think there’s always that– I call them them the “should do’s” is everybody knows that we can just list them off, we should have an email list, we should post on social media three times a day at these segments. And we should, we should, we should blog, we should, we should, we should, we should, we get so caught up in the shoulds and we’re only one person. Most of us don’t have teams. And so it’s like how do we do all these things? So I started focusing on and how can you cut that clutter and focus on if you want to make money in your business, what are the things that make money, how can you book those 10 clients? And so I just started, I called the numbers to know, focusing on like your sales goal, what is your purpose this year? And when you know that, it allows you to say that’s a good thing, that’s not a great thing for me. Um, so for an example, one of those things for me was social media. Last year, about a year ago, I decided that I was going to take a year long break from instagram, facebook. I call calling my social media experiment. I documented the whole thing, just see what happened. Because I started realizing like this felt too important for my business and I’m not a marketing person. I’ve never been taught anything about marketing. So I love that your show is “Brands that book” because I don’t know anything about branding!
Davey: 39:05 I think it’s a testament to how much you’ve helped people and how much you’ve served people that people keep on talking about it and you still even not being on social media have an online presence whether you’re even aware of it.
Shanna: 39:14 I don’t know! And it’s so funny that I think this goes really well to this point, like there are some things and that’s different for everybody. So I don’t think this is different, but I can’t tell everybody what it is. But like there are some things for me and was like, how can I get in the heads of the people I’m working with and if I can keep getting in their head and keep providing solutions that don’t have to just like be in their face all the time, I can just do good work and let the refer hopefully let the top keep growing. So that’s why I thought I’m going to go on social media and see what happens at that time. It did not be brought into about 95 percent of the traffic to my websites. And that was a dumb idea, but it worked. And so I think for anybody listening, like you think the first thing, we can’t do it all. So if we can only do a few things really well, what are the things that are moving you towards your goals and towards that outcome you’re looking for? And sometimes that means giving up what other people say is a really good thing. Um, and I’ve just learned, like I said, I go off the grid six months at a time. I’m just like, I can’t handle it all. I haven’t written a newsletter in three months and I feel bad for that and I’m like, darn it, I could be doing so much more, but I’m just like, no, this is, I need to focus, and these are my priorities and that’s what I give my attention to.
Davey: 40:32 I feel like there is an analogy there. Even with money, you know, when we first started our business, I remember we got paid $400 for our first wedding and thought, wow, if we could only charge a thousand dollars and we could do 30 of them a year, we’re going to make $30,000. And we were so excited about that. And we have come so far since then. Now we are charging more than a thousand per wedding. But it’s funny– it’s so easy along the way to realize, you know, $30,000 a year, an extra $30,000 a year at one point would have been just so incredible. Right? But you just don’t notice as you surpass that, you know, all of a sudden it’s not enough anymore. And I think it’s easy, um, to get in that scarcity mindset like, oh, I just, I just need to go in and do more. Like how much of having a healthy money mindset do you think is psychological?
Shanna: 41:34 Always. Yeah, every, every amount of it. And so I love how you said that because “enough” is a moving target and I think the only way to feel content is to stop the target and to say like this is my goal and with that goal, I am doing x, Y, and Z and that is enough. And enough is my favorite word. And I think enough has somehow gotten a negative connotation. Like it’s enough, like I survived like I am surviving. I don’t think of it that way at all. I think enough is like this is our need, this is what we have to have. And it’s doing all these things. Because one thing I don’t think anybody’s really talking about until you get to that point is like, enough is a moving target. I used to think, I mean, I remember praying every single month like I don’t know how we’re going to make our bills this month, like, but somehow it always came through, you know, Kyle and I– he used to work at the airport and he would get to, he worked at like a private airport, so they would give tips and that was how we bought our groceries and now we have have been so blessed financially. I’m just so thankful for that. But it’s funny, I still think OK, I could do this and I could do that and I have all of these ideas. And ideas are great. But it’s like, what is the trade off? And um, sometimes we have to say like, this is enough because that gives us freedom. It gives me freedom to not go pursue all of those things at once and just be exhausted. My friend told me the other day, she was watching an interview with Martha Stewart and she had a quote that I’m just holding onto. Martha Stewart at the time was 75 years old and this person said to the interviewer, said to Martha like, um, you should do this or when are you going to do that? Or something like that. And again, 75. And she said there’s always more time for that. And I was just like, yes, like, that is such beautiful freedom. Like I think in our very constant, very moving world we think if we don’t do it now, we’re never going to get to do it. I still think that way. But what gives me peace is like we have enough, we have enough right now I could stop working for the rest of the year and that’s what gives me freedom to get to do that. And it’s like, but I will never be content if I don’t let that be enough.
Davey: 43:50 And I think that following, listening to the, you know, the advice that you, that you preach, you know, actually writing things down, setting a budget really takes away some of that anxiety because we have sales goals for sure for Davey and Krista, you know, we have goals around that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, if there was a near miss or there’s a mess I can look at our budget and say, Hey, well, you know, we’re paying our bills. We could pay our mortgage, we have a roof over our head. And so actually writing those things down and actually spending the time, even though that money just, you can be overwhelming, taking the time to go through that kind of stuff. Definitely curves the anxiety. You know, when you get in that mindset of I don’t have enough look at what everybody else is doing. They seem to be making so much more money or whatever lies that you’re thinking.
Shanna: 44:44 It’s so much freedom. I think it’s freedom to know, to me, I would say you need to know at least your bare minimum. I do a need, a want and what I call, no bounds list. So a need, want, and no bounds. And I set goals that way, which is really cool to be an entrepreneur and be like, if we do this, we can do that. But what’s wonderful and what’s beautiful is if I need to rest, I feel OK with that because I know what we need. And I love how you said that like we’re very intentional with the way we spend. I think if I can leave everybody with nothing else, I want to say wealth is not about how much money you make, it’s about how you spend the money you make. And um, when you know that it gives a lot of freedom to rest and say like we can pay our bill was. I know how we’re going to do that. And in a lot you don’t have to strive so hard.
Davey: 45:29 That’s awesome. I’m so excited for people to hear that. So, uh, two, two scenarios I want to talk about real quick. If somebody is starting a business or they’re in the beginning phases, maybe they’re still working a full time nine to five in the corporate world but they have this interest in floral design or whatever it is. Where should they start with money?
Shanna: 45:53 I think the biggest is I’m always surprised to know how many new business owners or all of us, all of us who don’t have a sales goal. And a sales goal is just saying like, how much do I want to sell this month, this quarter, this year? Um, so for anybody that’s new, I think this is a really great place to start because it gives you a target to shoot for. And it’s like, OK, if I want to make $10,000 this year and I’m charging a thousand dollars a wedding, I need a book 10 weddings, how can I find 10 people that I can work with? It breaks down something that feels daunting into something that’s more bite size and feel like, OK, I know I can get one client off my list. OK and now I’ve booked two and now three, and so knowing– especially for trying to leave a job– knowing what is the number that allows you to leave and oftentimes I want to challenge people. It’s not always the money you’re making. That’s a big misconception. But what do you need to leave, what do you have to have, and then how do you start there because just like for us, you know, it took me almost two years to really start my business and I’m so thankful I did everything and anything I could to make that money. But I knew what we had to have it and that’s a really important thing. I think it’s like, haha, like a little workout class, so like you can do anything for 30 seconds, right? It’s like if, you know when the end is, you can keep pushing to til you get there. So we kind of make that target, I guess.
Davey: 47:25 Yeah. Amy Jordan said something similar about when they were working towards, leaving their business. They knew there was going to be a season of hustle. They knew, uh, not leaving their business, I’m sorry, as they were starting their business and they were leaving their teaching positions, they knew there was going to be a season of hustle, but they knew that it was temporary and they had a very clear plan of what it would take for them to go full time in that business. And I think that made all the difference in it. And as I interview different people, you know, those people with a plan– like that –they seem to reach their goals. They seem to get out of that, you know, working at nine to five and that side hustle at the same time faster and faster. And the second scenario, I want to talk about somebody who has a business, you know, maybe they’re in that situation and they have a lot of money coming in and a lot of money going out and they just feel like it’s hectic. They can’t do it on their own. What are their resources they can turn to to get their stuff together so that they’re not anxious about money or worrying about whether their business is going to be in business next month or next year?
Shanna: 48:29 Yeah. Well, first of all, I like feel very called to help that person, so I’m, you know, I hope over the next few years to continue making resources. I think that there aren’t a ton of great resources. This is why I’m one of the reasons I’m so passionate about this. I don’t think there’s a lot of resources out there that talk to us, that talked to people that are creative. Maybe have a different goal with money and business, but I would say the very first thing I would say is awareness is the key to change. And so if you really don’t know where your money’s going then I just encourage people to print off their bank statements for the last three months and just sit down and take a look. Because oftentimes I’ve done this for years with my clients and many times at starbucks. So everyone listening is lucky. I’m not taking you to starbucks. There’s a lot of tears and a lot of “why, how did that make so much money and not keep any of it?” and I think the biggest is just look where your money is going and then say like, is that where I want it to go? Do I want to spend–I spent a thousand dollars in a month on eating out $500 on starbucks. And I was like, um, that’s crazy. Love, love a good starbucks, but nobody needs that much coffee. Just like there are little tweaks you can make just to say like, where do you want your money to go? And there’s probably a lot more opportunity there to hold on to it than we think, um, so just take a look.
Davey: 50:08 You teach about all this stuff, right? You know, you have the blueprint model. What are the, what are the different aspects of that? If somebody’s saying, if somebody is listening to this and they’re like, I need that in my life and business right now, how do they get connected with you? What are the different? What are the various forms? I know you have a retreat. Do you have a course that people can go through?
Shanna: 50:33 Yeah, so all that I offer right now as we speak, but hopefully will change soon. All that I offer right now is the blueprint model and the blueprint model is a 12 week coaching program and it’s in January every single year and it’s basically a strategy program based on my philosophy about business, which is business built for life. It’s the idea of understanding our finances from a perspective that most people that I work with don’t want to build multimillion dollar empires. They want to make six figures and go home and be with their kids. So it’s kind of that philosophy about business and it works through three stages. It talks about the strategy of our business, like what do you want your business to be like? Because I think that’s really important and a step most people don’t think through. All of our businesses aren’t going to look the same because we have different goals and so it’s like the strategy business. Then I talk about systems and operations where we really sift through that clutter and then the last is all my philosophy about money and you get, I created a financial tool kit with how do you track your income, how do you understand where you’re spending, creating a spending plan, sales call, all that stuff. So that’s what I do every single year. And then every year I have a conference for the students called blueprint summit and that’s in November. Um, but I would actually love, Davey I would love is anybody can go to my website, Shannaskidmore.com and email me what are their biggest pain points about money? Because I would, I don’t think there’s a lot of financial education for creative entrepreneurs and I would love to, as a former financial advisor, start talking more about that. So what I want to know is it personal? Is it business? is holding on to your cash? Is it creating a spending plan? What are their pain points? And then I would hopefully get to solve some of those needs and in the next few months or next year. Um, but, and I think that other person would maybe be Christie, Wright? I think, I don’t know Christie, but um, I think she does work with primarily women owned small businesses as well. So she’s a Dave Ramsey person and she could be a great resource as well right now since I don’t have anything right now.
Davey: 52:40 there is a great tool on your website, right? That people can go on. It’s a quiz. Tell us about that. Yes.
Shanna: 52:44 OK. So it’s a quiz called the focus finder and my goal and with that was– I get emails basically daily. I don’t right now do one on one coaching because I have hundreds, 500 students right now, which is crazy. So I’m pretty full and so I don’t do any one on one coaching and um, the reason is I wanted to create a baseline that everybody is. I was getting the same question, so go through the blueprint model then we can coach. So I was like, how can I coach people without getting on the phone with them? So I developed this quiz with my brand designer and website developer. And we developed this quiz so it’s five questions and it determines your stage in business. And from there it gives you the three things you need to be doing right now in your business. So it’s called the focus finder because it sifts through all the really good things and it tells you the three essential things you have to do in your business, whether you’re a dreamer. So I call in the weeds or the hustler, the growth mode. So this is the person who is wanting to scale up, build their team. And then the last one is a scale out phase out. So this is the person who’s built, done it, and now needs an exit strategy. So there’s four phases and it tells you like, OK, based on these five questions, where, what phase you’re in and here are the three essential things that you should do next. And so it’s kind of my way of coaching and I’ve had hundreds, thousands of people take it at this point. And um, it’s really cool because they get this whole life laid out all the resources, blog posts, some free stuff and purchasing stuff. Like it’s really great.
Davey: 54:17 Awesome. And so you also blog, you post a blog posts fairly regularly. Um, so that’s definitely a resource for people to check out, head on over to your website. That sounds like the best way to learn more about you. And I think, you know, if you are struggling with something financially, then taking you up on that offer to email you, you know, do it, you know, so that, so that the best possible resources are created for the specific issues that you are you are facing right now. I want to thank you so much for taking the time to share your expertise. I am so excited for people to listen to this interview because I think it was just full of practical, practical advice that I wish I knew back when we were first getting started back in 2010. So thank you so much for joining us.
Shanna: 55:04 Yeah, thank you so much for asking me it was awesome to spend time with you.
Davey: 55:09 Thanks for listening to the brands that book podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing to the podcast on itunes and leaving a review. So that others are more likely to find it. For show notes and other resources visit DaveyandKrista.com
Next Episode: Becky & Jesse Morquecho – Moving the Needle in Your Business
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