16: Setting Boundaries for Small Business Owners with Julie Cortes
Our Big 3 Takeaways
Train Your Clients
Train Your Friends & Family
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Meet Julie Cortes
Julie Cortés has learned the best tips and tricks for getting ahead as a ‘solopreneur.’ She is the founder of The Freelance Exchange—a professional trade organization that offers continuing education, mentorship, networking, social and promotional opportunities to those who are self-employed in the advertising/marketing industry, as well as a free resource for businesses and agencies to easily find the talent they need. Cortés created her own course, Freelancing 101, and teaches as an adjunct professor at the world-renowned Kansas City Art Institute. Recognized with awards dozens of times over for her work, leadership, volunteerism and community involvement, this freelance rockstar is regularly sought out for media interviews both locally and nationally. She brings the same savvy advice, best practices and industry standards to individuals and groups through coaching and public speaking.
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Transcripts are autogenerated and may contain typographical and grammar errors. This transcript is copyright©2021 Kimberly Beer and Cara Taylor Swift. DO NOT COPY in whole or part without written permission.
Open the Transcript
Hey business animals. It’s Kim here. Today’s interviewee is Julie Cortes and Julie is one of the most amazing individuals you will ever want to meet in mindset and mindset shifts. She has been a freelancer and an entrepreneur for a lot of years. And she has some great things to share with us today about how to get our mindset really on straight to be successful and not just successful out into the world but personally successful within ourselves making owning a business much more joyful and manageable for us and for our clients and our families and everyone in our personal ecosystem. When you listen today to the interview, I’d love for you to take away Julie’s big three points from this interview one that you need to train yourself as an entrepreneur, there are some things that you need to put into place to protect yourself and the way you do business. The second one is that you need to train your clients, your clients need to know how to do business with you. You know that old adage of you teach people how to treat you, that really makes a difference here so listen for that as well. And then finally, you need to train your friends and family if you are a solopreneur or you work from home and actually just anyone who owns a small business. Many times our friends and family can impose things upon us because they don’t always look at us as real businesses. The truth is we are and we need to train our friends and family how to treat us and Julie does a really good job of giving you some great takeaways that you can Institute in your own life in order to apply those big three principles have been listening to the interview.
Welcome to The Business Animal podcast saddle up for a gallop to the top of the animal industry where you’ll learn how to tame your wild business beast with tips, techniques, and tools that will take overwhelm to obedience school and have you wagging your tail with joy. And now your hosts Kim Beer and Cara Taylor Swift
Kimberly Beer 2:09
Hey there business animals It’s Kim with Be More Business
Cara Taylor Swift 2:12
and Cara Taylor Swift with Fast Horse Photography and today
Kimberly Beer 2:15
we’re going to talk about setting boundaries as a small business owner and a solopreneur and we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Julie Cortes I met Julie at a Score presentation. She’s one of my fellow score instructors. So she teaches about being a solopreneur with score and also she has some other really cool stuff. So I’m going to read her bio here real quick. Julie Cortes has learned the best tips and tricks for getting ahead as a solopreneur. She is the founder of the Freelance Exchange a professional trade organization that offers continuing education mentorship, networking, social and promotional opportunities to those who are self employed in the advertising and marketing industry as well as a free resource for businesses and agencies to easily find the talent that they need. Cortes created her own course freelancing 101 and teaches as an adjunct professor at the world renowned Kansas City Art Institute recognized with awards dozens of times over for her work leadership, volunteerism and community involvement. This freelance rock star who is bad ass, by the way, is regularly sought out for media interviews, both locally and nationally. She brings the same savvy advice, best practices and industry standards to individuals and groups through coaching and public speaking. Yeah. Welcome, Julie.
Cara Taylor Swift 3:33
Julie Cortes 3:34
Thanks so much for having me.
Kimberly Beer 3:36
Yeah. Tell me a little bit about the Freelance Exchange, because that’s been a big part of your life and your mission in life.
Julie Cortes 3:45
Yeah. So I was about five years into my solo career. And I just kind of looked around and I was like, I’ve got lots of challenges I bet my fellow freelancers do as well. Why don’t we get together and figure this out? And what started as a simple meetup with 20 people soon exploded into this beautiful community or collective, if you will, of self employed advertising and marketing individuals who came together for continuing education, mentorship, networking, social and promotional opportunities, what have you, and it just kind of blew up overnight? We’ve been doing it for 18 years now, believe it or not,
Cara Taylor Swift 4:24
Wow, congratulations. Thank
Julie Cortes 4:26
you. Yeah, it’s been going really strong. And I’m now trying to find the time and the energy to take it to other cities. But it’s been going really well both for the freelancers as well as the companies who use them because it provides this awesome, easy to use resource to find freelance talent.
Kimberly Beer 4:42
Great. And yeah, and that’s something we definitely want to pass along to our listeners is that there is this pool of freelancers out there that they can draw up on when they need help with marketing or they need help with design. Talk to me for just a moment about what you You see as a freelancer or solopreneur, kind of how do you define that
Julie Cortes 5:04
I actually had to look that up this morning just by default, because somebody is like, I’m not a freelancer. I’m a sole proprietor. I’m a, you know, business owner. And I’m like, and so am I. Yeah, there’s so much for semantics here. But the actual definition is somebody who works with a multitude of clients and not one employer. So whatever you call it, it is what it is. It’s somebody who works for themselves. Somebody who doesn’t have a boss, will you do it yourself? But that’s a whole nother story, which I’m sure we’ll get into later. But yeah, you know, somebody who works for themselves, sets their own hours gets to decide who they work with, on what they work, where they work, what they wear to work, like so many awesome benefits.
Cara Taylor Swift 5:50
I think a lot of the folks that are our listeners, you know, the animal based business owners out there probably would define themselves that way as well. I mean, they’re working for themselves, or they’re working for a lot of different people. So that’s pretty incredible. What motivated you originally to become a freelancer, like what spurred you to become an entrepreneur,
Julie Cortes 6:07
I lost my job. That’s truth be told. Yeah.
Cara Taylor Swift 6:11
Well, hello, COVID in 2020. I mean, think about all the people out there right now that are starting up businesses for the very first time because they were laid off or they lost a job, or maybe they were working from home and kids start working a side hustle for the first time.
Julie Cortes 6:24
Yeah, absolutely. You know, it was one of those things. It was a very different time kind of coming out of the Mad Men era in advertising, which is my background. And you know, there weren’t a lot of female creatives out there. And unbeknownst to me at the time, I was going up against this stereotype of creative directors looking at me saying, Oh, she’s young and female, why should we even hire her and train her when all she’s going to do is run off, get married and have babies? And it was like, Oh, hello, yeah, thank you. I finally just decided, you know, what, if nobody’s gonna hire me screw this. I’m gonna go make my own career. And I did. I sat down, I wrote a business plan. I wrote a marketing plan. And off I went and never looked back once.
Kimberly Beer 7:05
Yeah. That’s awesome. That is awesome. And Julie is a very talented copywriter. That’s kind of where you went when you decided to freelance right was into copywriting. Sure. You
Julie Cortes 7:19
know, I went to school for advertising, I got my degree in journalism, with an emphasis in advertising, I’ve always been really good at writing, communicating, speaking, those kind of things. And so it was just a natural path for me and I got out of school, and I was working on the corporate side of things first for a corporate marketing department, then finally got my big break and moved over to the ad agency side. And, and was only there a few months before, you know, the whole last one and first one out kind of thing. And, and then I was just like, Alright, I’m not finding what I want. I’m not finding anything that’s a good fit. So I’m just gonna go do it on my own. So I built my business, my copywriting business, which has been around for 23 years now, you know, working with ad agencies who need an extra hand working with corporate marketing departments who need a fresh look, working with small businesses who don’t have in house staff, you know, or even startup businesses who can’t afford ad agencies. So yeah, that’s kind of been my mainstay for 23 years is the copywriting side of things, writing advertising, marketing materials, whether it’s brochures or websites or TV commercials or videos, what
Kimberly Beer 8:23
have you. TV commercials are always fun. I’ve gotten the privilege of getting to do creative on a couple of those in my career, and I always have a blast with them. Julie, I sat through your presentation at one of the places where we both spoke, which was Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is a phenomenon that happens in November and Kansas City where both Julia and I live our It was very involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week, but it’s everywhere. So for those of you who are small business owners, I encourage you to seek that out. But in your presentation, I sat and listened to you and I have been in business for myself for going on 30 years now. And I learned things in your presentation about how to better conduct myself even being a solopreneur with a lot of experience. And that’s what we would really love for you to share today are what are some tips that people can use to set good boundaries and to show up as professional for their business? So I’m gonna let you launch into some good advice around that. Sure. So
Julie Cortes 9:25
what you probably remember from that presentation, and this has kind of been my shtick all along the way is like there’s a three step training process that essentially goes into play, you’ve got to first train yourself, then you train your clients. And then last but not least, you can’t forget, you’ve got to train your family and friends. And so the biggest thing, the biggest part of this whole equation is training yourself because you can’t train anybody else if you’re not training.
Kimberly Beer 9:49
Cara Taylor Swift 9:50
Let me guess the unruly side is probably training your family and children right? Well, sure, of course.
Julie Cortes 9:59
That’s what half You’re always ready. But But you’ve got to be able to come up with these rules and policies and whatnot that you adhere to, you have to believe them first before you ask anybody else to do the same thing. So the biggest component, like I said, is the train yourself part. So many people get into business wanting to do their craft, whatever it is, is it photography? Is it writing? Is it design? What have you, that’s great. You know, your craft, you can do it well, but do you know how to run a business? So they get into this position? Where, okay, yes, I’m gonna go start a writing business or a photography business. And then they’re like, Oh, I don’t know what I’m doing.
Cara Taylor Swift 10:36
Right? It’s more than just the creative side and the doing the work side? There’s a lot more to it.
Julie Cortes 10:40
Yes, absolutely. So number one part of training yourself is of course, getting the education that you need, like, Don’t be so arrogant that you think you know it all. Because you certainly don’t know it all on even after 23 years on still learning things to this day, right. And things change every single day. Right, Kimberly, like, there was no social media when we started. There weren’t websites like what’s going on. So things change all the time. So number one is to get educated. Number two is to set policies in place for your business, you are the boss, which is great. That means you get to dictate the rules such as, you know, how does your business operate?
Do you, when you first get a client? You know, what’s your onboarding process look like? You know, do you go through a discovery call? Do you make up a creative brief, then do you do your estimate? Do you ask for a deposit? Yes, yes, you do. And then then what is the payment terms look like? You know, do you have them sign a contract? Once you get your deposit? Then is payment complete? Or do 30 days after you send the invoice? What happens if they don’t pay on time? What happens if they don’t pay it all? Because unfortunately, it does happen. And so we have to be prepared for that, right? So you go through this whole training process of setting up these, these policies for yourself, and you essentially have to become a badass. Because if nobody’s going to enforce the rules, then you’re going to be like walked all over.
Cara Taylor Swift 12:04
No, it’s so true that professionalizing your business is huge. And I think sometimes, especially if you’re in a creative field, or in an animal field, perhaps where you’re working from your barn. Like I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the idea of doing the work of what you want to do like that, the fun side of it to some extent, like working with the animals or working on your creative side of it, but you forget that you have to you have to professionalize it as well, you know, really bringing that business side of it in. And I think that unfortunately, for a lot of new business owners comes not first, but come second or third,
Julie Cortes 12:37
right. And a whole part of that comes down to mindset, you know, you’ve got to be in the right mindset in order to have a successful business. And there’s the saying that goes, you know, treat your business like a business, not like a hobby. And so we have to wrap our heads around that concept and stay true to that day in and day out. That means even getting up out of bed and going to work on the days that you don’t feel like going to work, you still have a job to do. Right? That means going to work and being in your office working on your business, if not in your business. Even on the days where you have no paid work coming in the door, there’s always work to be done. Right. So you’ve got to get yourself in that mindset. And I realize it’s difficult, especially for the people who are just starting out perhaps maybe who just lost their jobs or they’re struggling with the pandemic, you know, and rebounding. From that I get that there’s this whole like depression component to it, I get that motivation may be lacking. But you know, who’s going to be your biggest cheerleader, it’s going to be you. It’s got to be you. And so, you know, I have found over the years just certain tips and tricks that really helped me when it comes to mindset such as setting office hours for myself, quite honestly, I know that I’m supposed to be either working on my business or in my business between the hours of nine to five. So that means even if there’s no work to be done paid work, again, there’s always work to be done. But even if there’s no paid work coming in the door, I know I could be working on new business development, I could be working on self promotion, I could be cleaning up my desktop. Whether that’s my physical desktop or the desktop on my computer, there’s always something to be done. I could be getting caught up on financial matters are prepping for taxes, today’s tech study, right? You don’t want to be caught at the end there. Oh, you know, you want to be prepared. You want to be prepared at all times. So that’s one charge I’ve had is to set office hours for myself. Number two is when you get up out of bed like make your bed and I know that sounds like so silly and so easy to deal with so many people don’t do it. And then you know, here we are on a cold dark, dreary day and it’s like oh, I want to go take a nap. Oh wait I can because I’m my own boss. Well that just simply by making your bed that will help you not crawl back into bed well, it’ll just kind of tell your brain you know what that part of my day is over with and I won’t go back to it until it’s nighttime plus bonus you’ve already you know accomplished something for the day day you you can check that off your to do list
Cara Taylor Swift 15:00
Sometimes you need those little check marks that you can end the day saying I did these things. I might not have done anything giant today or brought in a bunch of money today, but I did these things and I accomplished something and you need those little things, sometimes
Julie Cortes 15:12
little things. Absolutely. And so, you know, then I typically ask my students or my speaking audience, you know, I’ll
ask, okay, well, what’s the first thing that I want you to do first thing in the morning? I can’t really you’ve heard this already. So Cara, if I were to ask you, aside from making your bed, what’s the first thing I want you to do? When you get up in the morning? What would you say?
Cara Taylor Swift 15:31
I’m gonna say something like eat a good breakfast or get dressed?
Julie Cortes 15:35
Yeah, there you go. Of course breakfast. Absolutely. Make sure you get your energy going for the day. But yes, get dressed. I mean, how many of us self employed people are like I work from home. I’m not seeing any clients. Today, I can shuffle down the hall to my office coffee in hand wearing my bunny slippers. Right? Yeah.
Cara Taylor Swift 15:54
Sometimes guilty, sometimes guilty? For sure.
Julie Cortes 15:57
Right? Absolutely. That’s the joy of being self employed is that you can do that, which is wonderful. But should you do that? That’s the question of the hour, right. And honestly, for me, what I have found is I am so much more productive. When I am dressed and ready to go to work. If you typically wear a T shirt and jeans, just put a blazer on over your T shirt, you know, put on some makeup, if that’s what you do, you know, do your hair, if that’s what you do, not only it will be great for your mindset and your productivity. But hey, if somebody wants to jump on a video call, like in half an hour, boom, you’re ready. You’re ready to go. So you know, I feel like that’s super helpful, you know, or if somebody wants to meet in person, once we get out of this pandemic, and we can meet in person, Hey, can you meet me this afternoon? Yeah. Or in an hour? Gosh, I don’t know, can I get ready in an hour? Can I get downtown in an hour? You know, all these questions would race through your head. So you know, you’re just kind of want to avoid that by being prepared at all times.
Cara Taylor Swift 16:50
I love that. And I think I’ve talked about this on the show before but I have mentioned about back before I worked from home, there was for a long time kind of a stereotype I think around people that worked from home, like people would have a hard time admitting that they work from home or sharing that with people because it didn’t feel like a legitimate work, space or job if you didn’t actually, like get in a car and drive to a brick and mortar business. But I feel like that has shifted so much over the years. And the mentality of it, though, is like when you set yourself up to be professional and to be motivated and to have good standards from the beginning. So you can start your workday out really well. I think that helps with that whole perception both from the and the outside world. But also, if you struggle with that at all internally, you know, you’re getting yourself motivated, you’re getting yourself moving and you’re being professional in your business.
Kimberly Beer 17:40
Well in so many of us like a lot of small business owners suffer from imposter syndrome, where they sometimes don’t feel like they’re the person that’s professional and a lot of times the small business is going up against somebody who’s a bigger business and maybe has a little bit more firepower it might seem like and the the crazy part is and I learned this the hard way in my own business is if I get up and I dress even if it’s just nice clean jeans and a nice top and put on makeup and make sure my hair is brushed. I am just much more professional and I don’t feel like an imposter. I feel like I belong in my office and I belong in my business. And that’s a big, big deal when you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner. So yeah, I I totally agree with this tip. I don’t make my bed. I’m gonna be honest, I am I’m a horrible bed maker. But I do get up and clean my bed up every morning and make sure I look look nice to come into my office. I may not be like professional like go downtown ready, but I am ready to meet my animal based business owners because this is what they expect. Right? Right. Right. So
Julie Cortes 18:51
to be fair, you know, I don’t throw all the fancy throw pillows on my bed or anything like that I just pulled the covers happened to me. That’s good. I’m passing my dog off of my pillow. So
Kimberly Beer 19:03
there you go.
Julie Cortes 19:05
You brought up an excellent point about working from home and and another tip I would bring up would be you know, have a dedicated office space a dedicated workspace again when people first get started out so many of them just take their laptop and will go lounge anywhere they can that seems comfy. You know, here’s a comfy chair. Here’s my bed. Here’s the couch, whatever, which is great. Yes, you had the flexibility to do that. But will you be as productive compared to if you were sitting in an office at your desk sitting upright, chances are you won’t. So I think that’s an excellent point. Have a dedicated office space even if it’s a kitchen table or dining room table just have someplace where you know you can go and sit upright to start your day.
Cara Taylor Swift 19:44
Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. And I am and I don’t know Kim, you have an office don’t you? I you always are in the same Yeah,
Kimberly Beer 19:50
I have a dedicated room. Yeah.
Cara Taylor Swift 19:53
So I have a I have a studio space in my it’s in my house but it has a separate entrance and separate bathroom and I can close the door and get away. But one of the things that I hope we’re not moving into too quickly, but one of the things I’d like to ask you and talk to you about is I struggle a lot with setting boundaries in my business. And part of that is with just in general, my personality is such that I’m kind of a people pleaser. And if someone messages me and off hours, my goal is like to get to them as soon as possible. And I have had to struggle with that a little bit. But the other side is the fact that my office, my studio is in my home. And I have a seven, almost eight year old. And I have you know, my husband, who’s here as well, a lot of times, and there are a lot of times where, for me walking into the office is hopping down the staircase, and I’m in my office. And it’s real difficult for me to set boundaries with my family, around my work time and with clients around work time. Can you speak a little bit to that and maybe give us some tips for those of us that are kind of like me and crappy with boundaries.
Kimberly Beer 20:56
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Julie Cortes 21:28
Sure. Absolutely. Well, again, remember, step one is training yourself. So if you have office hours, you’ve got to keep those office hours and that means not working evenings, weekends, holidays, what have you. Oh,
Cara Taylor Swift 21:40
so it goes the other way too. Hmm. So it’s not just during office hours? It’s not working when you’re not. Okay. Got it? Yeah,
Julie Cortes 21:47
it’s it starts with you. Now. I mean, that’s not to say don’t ever go into your office, you know, evenings and weekends, you know, I find, you know, if I’m running behind on a project, if it’s my fault or whatever, then absolutely, then I’ll work evenings and weekends to get caught up. But otherwise, if if a client is demanding my attention after hours, then we have a whole nother situation here. Right. And first of all, I consider what my relationship is with the client. Is it something that is truly an emergency? Or can it Wait, but you know, the other thing is, you have to have that work life separation, or else if you’re just gonna get burnt out, right. So I mean, it is essential to have those office hours to say, Okay, I’m done at five o’clock, and I will address this at eight o’clock tomorrow morning, or whenever you get into the office, right? So it’s essential you train yourself first and then you turn your clients if need be, you can always set up like your voicemail to say, you know, thanks for calling, my whatever my company is, I’ll return your phone call. When I get back in the office between these hours, you can have automated emails, you know, if your clients are expecting a response, then I think most people today are like, Oh, you know, if she doesn’t respond until the next business day, I think they’re okay with it. But you know, sometimes clients will even call you late at night, you know, and so thankfully, there’s caller ID and you can
Cara Taylor Swift 23:05
now today, and with technology, it’s like you’re almost expected to be accessible at all times between our cell phones and messenger and voicemail and email. I mean, there’s 1000 ways people can contact us
Julie Cortes 23:17
there is but you do not have to be accessible 24 seven, in fact, if somebody calls me out of the blue today, even if I know who they are, chances are I’m not going to answer the phone because that’s not scheduled onto my calendar. Right? I have to keep track of my time I have to be very focused and a felt I’m working on another project and a different client calls and we weren’t scheduled to talk then they’re gonna they’re just gonna have to wait. They’re gonna have to leave a message and I’ll call him back when it’s convenient for me or I’ll shoot him an email with my calendar like and be like, Hey, can you find some time on my calendar to talk now when it comes to family? That’s a whole nother ballgame? Sure, you know and kids and of themselves bring another factor to it now my husband and I both work from home as well but we have separate offices and we just have this subtle clue to one another that if the door is shut don’t come knock it right don’t come bothering me whatsoever. That sounded dirty but I was
Kimberly Beer 24:12
putting a sock on the door hand
Julie Cortes 24:18
some people have been notified little Do Not Disturb signs, you know, like from the hotels, they put them on the outside of the door even just a little sticky note, hey, mom’s busy, you know, come back and deal with me later. So I think the spouse or a partner or roommate would probably be easier to train than a young one. Absolutely. If it’s as simple as closing the door to keep kids or pets or you know a significant others out then you can certainly try that now, with real little ones. I understand. They can’t read they don’t understand. Yeah. So, you know, what can you do? Can you schedule a time for yourself to work, you know, based upon their schedules when they’re at school or when they’re napping, right or do Can you bring in help for you know, go send them to daycare or bring in a nanny or, or your next door neighbor who can come, you know, watch the kids for a while, there’s got to, again, you’ve got to train yourself first that you do have to work. And you know, if they’re old enough to understand, hey, listen, mommy’s got to work for the next couple hours. So you go busy yourself, do your homework, do you know, go watch cartoons, whatever it is that can distract them? You know? Absolutely.
Cara Taylor Swift 25:21
I think the flip side of that, too, is that, you know, when it’s family time, that it’s family time. And, you know, I had a, I had a rough weekend, this weekend, I worked and I worked and I worked after working a full five days, and then you know, I shot all weekend, and then I had clients this weekend. And so it was a really long weekend. So I think, for me, it’s like the flip side has to be just as important as setting the off time boundaries, you know, with the clients, and then that’s my family’s time. And I need to protect that as hard as I protect the work hour time. So I think for listeners at home, you know, those boundaries are important, and you don’t have to answer the phone. And you know, and you got to protect both sides of that time. They’re both valuable.
Julie Cortes 26:01
Yeah, you know, it’s just like, when you go to take a vacation, you know, how many of us self employed folks are guilty of taking our laptops with us? You know, answering emails, answering phones, yeah. Right. But we deserve that vacation time, why? Why should we not get that. Whereas if we had a full time job, it would be the same thing. I am guilty of taking my laptop with me. But try as I might, you know, I try and only check my email maybe once a day, you know, when I’m on vacation, I really I really try and have that work life separation.
Cara Taylor Swift 26:28
So along the same lines, and Kim, I know you probably want to get in here at some point, but I have a lot of questions. So the other the other question? Well, I think, um, so you guys are going to probably all think I need to have some kind of like business counseling after this. But this question, it comes up a lot, because I and I’ve seen I’ve been in rooms with other photographers, you know, when we’re having these conversations, and someone will get an inquiry. And there’s this urgency to respond, like to stop everything you’re doing and respond as soon as possible, because there’s this fear of losing the business. Because, you know, in the photography world, for example, there’s a lot of us out there, and you can google five names, and then go down the list and leave messages for everybody. And sometimes it feels like the first person to get back is the one that’s going to get the job right. So do you have any advice to kind of quell some of that? Sure,
Julie Cortes 27:20
you know, I wouldn’t set some sort of deadline for yourself, you know, whatever industry, you’re in whatever seems appropriate, you know, will you respond to absolutely everything within two hours, within five hours, within 24 hours, whatever it is, that’s up to you. Now, if you’re worried about not getting a particular project, because you’re afraid that the client is going to just go with the first person who responds, then the client isn’t doing their due diligence, they’re not interviewing several people, they’re not looking at different candidates, probably
Cara Taylor Swift 27:49
not a great choice for you anyway, right.
Julie Cortes 27:53
100%, it’s just like those clients, you know, here in the advertising world, they’ll go to Fiverr or Upwork, or something like that. And they’re just looking for the lowest bidder. And it’s like, do you want quality? Or do you want crap work? You know, and calling it done? Yeah, absolutely, I would just, you know, give yourself a deadline. If it Hey, you know, I’ll get back to this person by the end of the day, then you don’t have to drop what you’re doing, you can still focus on what it is at hand, and you know, whatever is right in front of your face at the time and give that, you know, the due diligence of your attention, you know, and then you can get back to the other thing later. And I don’t feel like you have to feel guilty about that.
Kimberly Beer 28:27
No, you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t. And on that it Cara you should be using that Ferrari have a CRM system you have realistically, here’s my two cents on that, because I don’t return phone calls right away. I am busy. I usually have a jam packed calendar. And I’m sorry, I’m gonna get back to you when I get back to you. But I do have I do like to set expectations. And I will tell people, like, if you send me an automated message on Facebook, it generally says I don’t always check this. If you need immediate assistance. Here’s my phone number. Here’s this, here’s my calendaring link, so you can grab an appointment with me, but using automations to set expectations with people. I think that’s only fair from a business owners perspective. I think it’s fair to your clients to say, Hey, I returned phone calls during this time in this time. And if you’ve contacted me outside of those hours, I will be on it as soon as I possibly can. I want your business. And I think from a consumer perspective, I appreciate businesses who do that. And I’ll tell you I carry that further. I abide by something Julie recommends, which I think is important. I’m pretty sure she’s going to talk about it which is having a contract with my regular customers and written into and I don’t call it a contract. I call it a letter of agreement, because I think that’s more palatable. I don’t even make them sign it. I just want them to go over it point by point and in that letter of agreement, it says my office hours are Blah to dah to Blah to day on these specific If you contact me outside those hours, I will respond to you during those hours. And I don’t have any pushback from it. That’s fantastic. Go ahead and let you talk. I went ahead and stalled part of this. Now I I’m
Julie Cortes 30:14
absolutely 100% on board here, I love contracts. I know they’re scary at first, both for the self employed individual as well as the client who’s signing up. But at the end of the day, again, you want to train yourself first, like this is business, it’s nothing personal contracts are so essential. And they help define expectations for both parties, you know, so if you position it as, hey, listen, this is a win win for both of us, I want to make sure that we’re on the same wavelength going into this. So there’s no questions down the road, I feel like that helps make it a little bit more palatable as well. And I agree with you cam, I I’ve stopped calling it a contract, depending on who it is I’m talking to if it’s a big corporation, and they’re used to contracts, I’ll call it a contract, right. But if it’s a smaller business, that would be like, it was scary, you know, legal document, then I call it a working agreement. And I feel like that works just as well. But I do make them sign it. My attorney taught me well. It essentially just states everything, you know, that’s gonna happen with the project, what the expectations are, what the deadlines are. And then I for me, what’s most important is payment terms. Because for whatever reason, people seem to think that they can get away with either not paying the self employed, or not paying them on time, pardon my French, but that’s just BS. We are service providers, it’s no different than if you know, you’re paying your utility bill, you know, or your electricity, but whatever, you know, that comes in your visa bill. Like we have standards. So again, you train yourself, when are your payments do standard policy, I would say is 30 days, right? 30 days after receiving an invoice, some people do 15, some people 45, whatever it is, just make sure you have some sort of policy, and then you have to dictate what will happen if they don’t pay on time. So like, legally, we can we are entitled to charge a late fee every 30 days that payment is not paid. However, it’s not a lot. And we can’t make up the rules on this. So at least here in Kansas and Missouri, I think it’s nationwide anyway and in the United States, but we are legally entitled to charge a 1.5% late fee every 30 days. So I guess yeah, yeah, it’s not a lot. But it’s the principle of it. And of course, yeah, not everybody’s going to pay it. But then you can decide if you want to work with them again in the future. Right? Do they respect you enough to pay on time in my industry on the advertising side there, there are ad agencies out there who are like, oh, we’re not going to pay you until we get paid by our clients. And it’s like, no, that’s not how it works. I’m not a financial lending institution. Right, you’re gonna pay me when my invoice is full stop.
Cara Taylor Swift 32:50
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Kimberly Beer 33:36
Even though we’re talking a lot in these instances, the examples that we’re giving our marketing and advertising type businesses that work by a project or like photography that work by a project, this same principle applies to you if you’re a dog groomer it applies to you, if you’re an animal massage therapist, it applies to you if you’re a horse trainer in particular, it applies to you no matter what you need to have a document in writing that sets expectations for you for your client, what they’re going to do, what you’re going to do, and the ramifications if those things are not done, so that people go into that business relationship with a very clear cut path that they’re going to walk down. Trust me on this you will because I skirt this every once in a while because I’m that people pleaser like Cara who’s like, Oh, I want to do the project. And we’re going to do it really quick. And I’m not going to bother with it with the letter of agreement. Don’t be me. Every single time if you do that, even if it’s just part of your like you have a new client for your chiropractic business where you’re working on horses, you know, go over with them. This is what I’m going to do. This is what I expect. I expect payment to be rendered before the service or immediately after these are the payment methods that we take chiropractic is something that requires some routine adjustments. This is what I recommend for your animal, on and on. And then no one can come back and claim that you didn’t tell them or you know, and hand them a printed document. It’s not expensive to print those off. Okay, off my high horse now off my soapbox. But my high horse has good chiropractic care. Did you have something you wanted to ask? No, I’m
Cara Taylor Swift 35:23
just loving this. You guys just keep rolling with it. I’m loving it. I mean, it’s all stuff that’s on the forefront of my mind all the time. So I’m loving this
Julie Cortes 35:30
Good, good. Yeah, you know, contracts are super essential. But again, so are having those policies in place such as, you know, charging a late fee charging deposits. What happens if somebody wants you to drop what you’re doing and rush their project, once you do a rush project, right, you know, I charge a rush fee. Typically, it’s time and a half, if I’m charging hourly, or it’s double the estimate, if I’m charging by the project, and my personal policy is, and somebody wants me to work, same day, overnight, over a weekend or over a holiday, I charge that rush fee. Most of the time when clients come to me with a rush project, it’s I have that scene in my head of what what is it the lack of preparation on your behalf does not constitute an emergency on mine. Right. And again, I have, I have my office hours in place, I work until five o’clock, and then anything after that, if you are going to demand my time, demand my attention during my personal time when I could be spending it with friends, family, what have you, then I’m going to charge you extra, right, that’s just the way it goes. And you know, unfortunately, clients don’t always understand this, and they’re welcome to go elsewhere. Absolutely. So again, it’s just one of those things that you know, you train yourself first, then you train your clients, you put it in writing, and then there’s no questions down the road.
Kimberly Beer 36:40
And if you set good expectations, you don’t run into problems. And you can go have a joyful life and know that the people you’re serving respect you and appreciate you and are getting the full piece of you because I don’t know about you. But when a client eats into my personal time, I don’t have 100% of me showing up creatively as a creative I don’t, I just don’t have as much of me showing up if I feel like I’m being put up on to do something outside of hours. And maybe that’s a little selfish, but it’s just the way it goes, I got to be in a certain mindset. And it’s difficult to do, if you feel like somebody is taking advantage of you, for those of you who are purchasing services from a freelancer or solopreneur, you will get a lot more out of that person. If they are at their their best. And they’re focused on what they’re doing. And if it’s in the middle of the night, and an emergency, I just am not as focused.
Julie Cortes 37:38
I had one client who had come to me, you know, several weeks before he needed this project completed. And I think he wanted me to write a PowerPoint presentation or something for him that he was supposed to be given a pitch you know, to try and get new business. And he came to me and Anna designer, we sat down we have our download meeting, right, our discovery meeting, whatever you want to call it. And he says, Okay, what do you need for me in order, you know, to get this off the ground, I was like, okay, you know, I need A, B, and C. This is what I need from you before I can even start writing this thing. I don’t know your business, right? I knew when the pitch was supposed to happen. And I’m waiting, and I’m waiting and following up with them. I’m not hearing anything. And then the night before the pitch, guess who comes knocking on my door wanting me to drop what I’m doing to get his stuff done the night before he had at least two weeks to get me the stuff. And so I said to him, I said, Well, I’m happy to drop what I’m doing on the personal side of things and burn the midnight oil for you and do this but you know, a rush fee is going to be encouraged. Well, he did not like that. Like he flipped a lid. And I said okay, well, you can go find somebody else.
Last minute. Yeah. You know,
what is that all lack of preparation on your behalf does not constitute an emergency on mine. And if it does, you’re going to get charged for it. And I was much nicer about it, you know, in my email back to him. But he was not happy. But to add insult to injury on top of this, like it was a holiday as well. He wanted me to drop what I was doing on a holiday the night before burn the midnight oil for him and he wasn’t willing to pay extra for and I was like No, no, no. That’s not how this works. Now, do you think we ever worked with each other again in the future? No. But that’s okay. I don’t want to work with somebody like that.
Kimberly Beer 39:19
No, no, no, no, you’re not a machine. You don’t just like put a coin in and outcomes creativity. There’s a process there’s a certain level that the clients have to meet. And and again, I think setting expectations is a big part of that. I’ve harped on that enough. I know for Cara too. You have a profession where people will sometimes show up in your doorstep and need something immediately. How have you been handling that in your business?
Cara Taylor Swift 39:48
I tend to get more like late night inquiries like people are online surfing the web and they need to know an answer to something really quick or I’ll have people that I’ve shot for in the past that suddenly need something for a project or they need it for an advertisement or they need it for something, they just have to post. And it’s like, I really need this, like right now. And either it’s something that has been edited, and it’s just, it’s in the office, and I have to find the time to get whatever I’m doing, I have to stop and get down there and handle it. Or it’s something that I’m just in my process, I’m having to interrupt that process to get something done quicker. And it’s always a balance, you know, trying to determine, you know, do I know this person? Is this something that could have been prevented? Do I have the ability to do this right now with the other expectations that are out there for my other clients? And it’s always a balance. And you know, it kind of makes me think about, you know, you mentioned earlier the idea of burnout, and how, especially when you’re working from like a home office, or you’re a solopreneur we’re in you’re kind of everything is on you, to some extent, do you have any recommendations on small business owners, especially those of us in the animal and an animal based industry, you’re trying to keep productivity high, but our burnout rates low? So we’re trying to meet all those needs, but keep our burnout rates low? Do you have any advice for that, based on your experience, you know, it
Julie Cortes 41:07
comes down to mindset, you know, and if you set these hours for yourself, and you know, even if you don’t get everything done that you wanted to get done the day before, it’s okay, you know, like, give yourself some permission to go on to the next day. I feel like that’s totally okay. The other thing is, too, is like, there’s got to be something to be said for self care, right? You’ve got to take care of yourself and your mental and your emotional well being and with that comes, you know, proper rest, proper diet, proper exercise, like all of these things that tend to go by the wayside when we get too busy and too invested in our work. So you’ve just got to remember to keep doing these things. And, you know, oh, yes, that chocolate cake sounds amazing for breakfast, but should I be eating.
But, you know, for me,
I realized what I’m gonna say is like, the last thing people want to hear, but for me, exercise has turned everything around physical activity has done me so much good. Not only, you know, from from a physical appearance point of view, but like internally as well, you know, my cholesterol has gone down, my blood pressure has gone down, like there’s so many excellent benefits to just simple cardio exercise. And then on top of that, I feel like I can handle stress so much better. I feel like I don’t get as irritated or frustrated anymore. And and quite honestly, if there was any cloud of depression, you know, hanging on in my brain here, like just doing some cardio activity, it totally releases that, like, you know, you get these endorphins, these feel good chemicals, right? And you’re like, Whoa, so if you can set aside some time to do that and make it a priority, I feel like you’re just gonna be miles above the rest.
Cara Taylor Swift 42:41
I think that’s probably one of the biggest things is that making it a priority piece, like adding it to your to do list, like as a serious part of it, because I think the first thing that happens when you have a to do list of my along is the first things that go are the components around self care most of the time, and I’m definitely like Kim can tell you I’m always the one that’s like, oh, self care, yeah. Or Oh, you know, like, you know, the Fufu things, you know, to, to being successful. But I’m always the first one to be like, I can deal with that later. But the truth is, is that self care, I think you’re absolutely on target with that.
Kimberly Beer 43:15
Julie Cortes 43:17
even if it’s keeping a journal, you know, or meditating or yoga, or praying or walking your dogs, like whatever brings you peace and comfort and gets you away from that working mindset. I feel like that’s just going to help, you know, corral things in for you and help you be better balanced and better focused in the long run.
Kimberly Beer 43:36
And for animal based business owners, many times you get into this profession, because you’re very passionate about animals, right? They’re your safe space. They’re the thing in your life that is always there for you. They’re your anti depressant in many cases. And then you get into a business where you’re so focused on what you’re doing. Maybe you’re a horse trainer or massage therapist, I’ll go with the horse trainer example. Like horse trainers, then they’re riding clients, horses, and then all of a sudden what they loved and their escape now has become their business. And I know this happens to artists too, and happened to me as an artist. Now you you have your profession and your escape are kind of all mixed and mingled in together and you forget how to love what you do. And that is a form of self care. You know, as a horse trainer, if you want to just go on a trail ride on your own private horse and gawk and birds. Go ahead. I mean, you’ve got to take time for yourself. And sometimes that means something that may look like you’re working, but you do it with a different mindset that you’re just out there to have fun. And it’s that for me as an artist that came out as an I need to be able to create art that’s just for me and I have this weird thing I photograph skulls and flowers together. I absolutely love it. It has an salutely no value to anyone but me. And you know what? That’s okay. I’m good with that. self care, self care? Um, Julie, why don’t you give us a little bit like, where can people if they want to learn more find out more about you? Where can they find out more about you? Sure,
Julie Cortes 45:24
you can go to my website at JulieCortes.com. That’s Cortes with an S at the end, as in Sam, and I’m on all the social media at KC copy diva. I intend to put out a lot of free tips on self employment on Instagram on Twitter, even on my Facebook business page. So yeah. Oh, and I have a YouTube channel as well. So come find me Julie Cortes Freelance Rockstar on YouTube. And get all the goodies there. Nice.
Cara Taylor Swift 45:52
She’s got a great blog too. Oh, if you’re on her website, by the blog and look at some of the great articles that she has. I highly recommend them. I’ve enjoyed picking through several of them. Thank you.
Kimberly Beer 46:02
Nice. Julie, thank you so much for being a guest with us today. We have learned a lot and I know that there’s probably a lot more that we can cover around this subject. But I think it’s so important for us as small business owners to be conscientious about how we walk through the world as small business owners and thank you so much for your wisdom today.
Julie Cortes 46:23
Sure thing. Thanks for having me.
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