CAN I BUILD A SUCCESSFUL BIZ WEARING CAT EARS? Hell YES! [it’s called authentic branding, darling]
Let me be blunt (and frightfully English) – one didn’t leave the 9-5 world to then live under a straightjacket of style once self-employed.
“Dress smartly” they told me “no one will take you seriously”
“Remember to smile” Don’t swear” “wear neutral shades”
“For god’s sake Star, take down those semi-nude pix of you twirling your nipple tassels at Burlesque shows!!”
For a while I listened, I figured ‘they’ knew best, right?
If one thing remains true in marketing throughout the ages, it’s that…
“People buy from people”
That means people who buy from me, buy because of ME – the whole package warts and all (I have no warts btw, actually fuck I do – one weird one on my hand. Now you know).
If you stop yourself from being yourself, it means you’re not being authentic. If you’re not authentic how do you expect an audience to trust you and therefore buy from you?
As a successful biz babe of not one but 2 online 6 figure businesses I hereby give you permission to be 100% YOURSELF.
Even if that means cat ears, mermaid tails, blue hair, tattoos and swearing.
There’s only one YOU in the whole world so for the love of all that is unholy – cash in on being YOU
Let’s talk about haters & trolls. They’re the scariest part of the internet right? They can dim even the brightest of stars. I used to be TERRIFIED of getting haters, so much that I dulled my unique voice and opinions and became a bland copy of my vibrant self.
But UH OH I ended up in the ‘mediocre zone’ where no one really loved me or hated me.
I wasn’t being my real self and it showed. I held back on my strong opinions for fear of the arguments and vile trolling that would surely come my way – especially on YouTube.
But I LOVED vlogging! I wanted to do more of it and to reveal my true self.
Then I had an epiphany…
I hope this video about being hated online will help you find your real voice too. Don’t be afraid to shine online my darling! The world needs more tall sparkly poppies!
You’re just starting to get a following online and that’s so exciting right? Then ‘bam’ what happens? You get a full inbox crawling with people wanting to get free advice or to ‘pick your brain’.
This is very common and I have 3 awesome actions that you can take right NOW to stop it.
Firstly, know this. Don’t feel guilty about not answering these emails. No one can survive in business if they constantly gave free 1 to 1 advice all day long.
Here’s the deal. When someone emails you asking for help, they forget that a million others are also doing the same thing. They’re selfishly thinking that they are the only one asking. They’re WRONG.
Secondly, remind yourself of all the amazing free content you do give out via your blog, YouTube channel, newsletter, social media and Facebook groups.
If you’re a heart-centred entrepreneur like me – chances are about 50-70% of all content you create is given out freely in to the world.
That means you 100% DESERVE to then crack the wealth whip when it comes to offering your professional expertise 1 to 1.
As a gal with many years of knowledge, skills and experience I know that deserve to be paid when you want to ‘Pick My Brain‘. And so do you!
Ps if you’re having an inner struggle with selling or asking for money or believing that you deserve to be paid, I highly recommend Denise Duffield-Thomas’ program Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp.
What does the term ‘freedom lifestyle’ or ‘freedom business’ mean to you?
For me it means:
I get up when I want, no alarm clock, no one else’s deadlines other than my own.
Taking breaks when I want, enjoying lunch when I decide to and taking as long as I want.
No f*ckin name tags/door swipes!
Waking up on a hot day and having an outdoor adventure somewhere
Creating lovable authentic passive income products so I can earn money while I eat, sleep and play. (or Eat. Love. Pray. lol).
Working long hours when the ‘flow’ takes me and short hours when it doesn’t.
Having plenty of ‘thinking time’ to allow ideas to flow through me.
Connecting with people all over the world and enjoying it (without calling it ‘networking’).
Taking holidays/daytrips and knowing that my tribe is well-cared for because I can hop into a group and chat to them using just my phone.
Using technology to help me work smarter, not harder.
Getting more done in less time )cos no one is paying me by the hour and expecting me to fill those hours with faffy work).
Fricken’ enjoying myself, enjoying life and having a sense of purpose!
I went into self-employment to be free. I couldn’t stand one more day or minute even, of some bloated middle manager telling me how many minutes I was allocated daily to be allowed to be away from my desk to empty my bladder. I’ve lost count of the sh*tty jobs I’ve walked out on – only to find myself looking for another when the cash ran out.
Eventually my CV (resume) was more like the potted history of a bum, than sleek calling card. The Universe took a stand and stopped sending me jobs. It was time.
I cried when I got evicted (again) yet somehow I knew this was all a test, preparation to make sure I wouldn’t run back to the security blanket of another temp job to resent.
2 years ago I launched my first biz after completing a free local biz course (while I was living in a tent!).With a short time I was making life-changing income and I moved from my tent to a 1-bedroom apartment, then 2 years later a 4-bedroomed house in the countryside.
Thank goodness the guiding forces made me take that leap! And as I joyfully launch my 2nd freedom business I see that I have already gone into 5 figures within 2 weeks. Now I know the truth: you can enjoy freedom & an bountiful income.
My goblet of rock – runneth over. Thanks for believing in me.
With the ebook market bursting at the seams it does feel that the standard passive income advice is to ‘knock out an ebook and get it onto Amazon’. But the truth is there’s no such thing as a perfect passive income product and nothing (and certainly not an ebook) can be just ‘knocked out’.
Both ebooks and ecourses can take a considerable amount of time and effort (not to mention blood and tears!).
Let me tell you my book and ebook publishing story.
In 2008 my very first ‘proper’ book (ie not self-published) The Holistic Beauty Book was published by Green Books. Phew I thought, I’m now a published author – let the money start rolling in.
Ha. Ha. Ha. Nothing is THAT simple.
The fact is that my £12.95 book (with matching ebook on Kindle) took 4 long years of hard work and gave me just £1000 a year in royalties (I get 12% of the sale price).
Bear in mind that the publishers take the biggest cut because they take all the financial risk plus they have a massive sales team who market your book constantly. My book is still in all the mainstream high-street bookshops and there was a lot of press and TV exposure for the first 2 years.
4 years, 33,000 words, 2 extra stone in weight and no sleep for the last 2 months leading up to deadline. And I get £1000 a year.
Compare this to when I launched my first ecourse.
The ecourse had roughly the same amount of words, took less time to write (because I mined my book for a lot of it) and because it sold for £250 it became an instant 4 figure income for me.
As I become more proficient at writing ecourses, I stumbled across this truth: Less Is More.
Teaching a skill is best done in small bite sized chunks using plenty of multimedia. Therefore each module of an ecourse need only be a short video and short worksheet.
It gradually dawned on me that ecourses actually contain LESS word count than a book and for good reason. We read books to… read. But we buy ecourses to learn and learning doesn’t usually take place by reading but by doing actionable steps. Actions are best taught via video and worksheets.
|Huge word count (200-300 pages for average book)||Low word count. Quick to make videos and PDFs|
|Usually sells for low cost. Physical books = $10-$20 and ebooks for Kindle are anything from $1-$6 PDF ebooks on websites are often $10-$20||The sky is the limit with pricing. Quick ecourses are often between $47-$147 with more indepth courses going for several hundred pounds/dollars. It’s not uncommon to see ecourses at $250-$500
|Profit margin can vary as Amazon take a cut. Self-hosted ebooks can be 100% profit||Usually all profit unless you decide to host through a 3rd party site like Udemy. Most ecourses are self-hosted though.|
|A full sized book/ebook of 20k-30k words can take a very long time to write – many months.||A video based ecourse with worksheets can take just days or weeks.|
|You need to sell in high-volume to earn a full-time wage, this means lots more marketing. Ranking in Amazon can take a LOT of effort.||You only need a few sales each month to make a full-time income, less marketing is needed.|
There are obviously exceptions
Ebook whizkids that make 6 figure incomes from ebooks do exist but they are in short supply and you have to be super-dedicated to earn that kind of cash from a low-cost product like an ebook.
But if you just compare the amount of actual ‘stuff’ (content) to income – ecourses are the clear winner. You can sell them for TONS more money and they can take less effort to make.
To me ecourses are the best choice by far for anyone starting out to make passive income streams. They embody my personally philosophy of High-Income, Less Effort – which is really what passive income is all about.
After all what is the point of launching a product if you then have to spend 10 hours a day marketing it.
Ebooks = work harder.
Ecourses = work smarter
For as long as I can remember. At least the whole of my adult life, I’ve been an eco-warrior(ess).
From being an angry vegan or going on CND marches, to living in tipis and buying dusty lentils via a food cooperative.
I’ve been that girl who lived without plumbing, gas and electricity for years.
I’ve worn hemp and bamboo. Used only weird clay to wash my hair. Gathered meals from hedges. Boycotted shaving and supermarkets.
Being ‘uber green’ has been part of my identity for 20 years.
But there comes a point when no matter what you do, you’ll never be green enough.
You live in a tipi up a mountain? Pah, this dude lives in a cave and never even wears shoes.
You’re vegan? ha, I’m fruitarian!
You still buy from shops? Urgh, we make everything ourselves even our own furniture.
And so on. You get the picture.
Once I made the decision to become an entrepreneur and launch my own business, it became somewhat necessary to cast off some of this old lifestyle. For one thing I needed electricity to run my computer.
Fast forward a few years and here I am, a successful business woman living in a large country house and driving an actual planet-murdering car of all things.
But here is where things get funky.
I upgraded my toilet roll.
I’ve always bought recycled toilet roll.
But I never realised how rough it is compared to non-recycled, and after 20 years of ‘roughing it’ (pardon the pun) I want something soft and silky for a change.
I finally gave in and bought non-recycled toilet roll (from FSC managed forests) but I feel so guilty.
Considering that I buy tons of books (made from paper) and have wooden furniture (made from trees) – it seems crazy that I’m so fixated on toilet paper.
The fact of the matter is, do I not believe that I deserve better toilet roll? Should I be destined to forever use rough paper on my most sensitive body parts?
On the eco-scale, I’ve been pretty much off the charts compared to most Westerners – is it not time to just give myself a break and allow one little small non-eco luxury?
I believe so. I think it’s time I ditched some of my joy-sabotaging beliefs. I think it’s time I had soft toilet roll goddamit.
What’s your ‘toilet roll’ Achilles heel that is holding you back from experiencing the best in life?
I often get emails that ask for me to work for free; speaking, teaching, writing, you name it.
Yesterday, another of these kinda emails landed in my inbox. The idea being that the event was low-key and they just wanted awesome people to share their skills.
There’s nothing wrong with asking people to provide input for free. In fact, it’s how many ‘newbies’ get to launch themselves.
But in this particular case, I was asked to teach a practical skill – one that I’ve spent 20 years becoming an expert in. I was asked to teach free natural skincare workshops. And I’m no newbie.
Change that yes to a NO!
2-3 years ago I would’ve said yes.
1 year ago I may have at least guiltily given it some thought.
Today it look all of a nanosecond to think ‘hell no, I don’t work for free’.
The thing is dear heart, it just ain’t good business sense.
I run a business. The life-blood of any business is cash-flow right? Free gigs don’t give you any cash-flow and worse they may even be bleeding you dry.
Let’s look at how this one free gig could seriously injure my cash-flow
1. The event is far away- about a 14 hour round trip. that’s gonna be a fair whack of petrol.(£60-£80)
2. It is a weekend event, with only camping (which I hate) plus I need to be able to safely store all the materials for my workshops – this would mean staying off-site at a hotel for 3 days (approx £300 for a fairly standard B & B
3. I will lose 4 days of work being away for the weekend plus 2 days of travel.
4. Teaching natural skincare involves a materials cost to me for all the ingredients and bottles/jars. this usually equates to at least £10 per person per hour. Last workshop I taught at an outdoor event had 20 people and it lasted 2 hours. This event is asking for several 1 hour workshops. so that’s 4 hours over 2 days – and if 20 people at each that could cost = £800 in materials.
5. I’d have to eat out for at least 2 meals per day as well as snacks and drinks. At outdoor events this can be very expensive. (perhaps £20-£30 a day. That’s 4 days including my 2 days of travel = £80-£120
So the cost to me of running a free workshop is going to be at least £1240-£1300
Holy Spreadsheets, how much?
Keep in mind I haven’t at any point even accounted for my own teaching fees which last year were £125 per hour (and they want 4 hours)
That’s another £500 on top.
So now we’re looking at around £1800 – that will come from MY bank account to fund a FREE workshop.
You can see why some of us who have been in biz a while can actually get quite angry when asked to work for free.
It’s not free if YOU are having to fund it.
Like with hard drugs; just say no! Or speak to my homegirl Denise Lucky Bitch for some ass-kickin’ money talk.
ps There are times when it is beneficial to work for free. High-powered speaking gigs – where I’ll be seen by the right target audience for my work – are always worth it. You have to weigh it up and do the maths. Free gigs need to be looked at from a business strategy point of view. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers recently did an awesome video about this–> Should You Ever Work For Free? the answer may surprise you.
Top 5 benefits to self-employment
People start their own businesses or go freelance for a variety of reasons, and it’s not always about money. In a recent business course I attended the workshop leaders made the assumption that the main reason that people start their own businesses is to make money.
I disagreed, for me it was about freedom and flexibility. I prefer to have lots of free time rather than lots of money, in fact I have left well-paid jobs in the past as I simply got bored and annoyed that most of my waking hours belonged to someone else.
Your motivations may be different again, hopefully I’ve covered at least one of them with these top 5 (top 5 according to me, that is)
Benefit #1 Flexibility
Most people do not enjoy the ‘9-5’ grind. I was one of them. Even when it was ‘8-4’ or ‘5-9’ or any repetitive block of daily hours. I simply can’t stand having to do my work between the exact same hours every single day, ad nauseum. In order to break the monotony I would leave jobs and start new ones with alarming regularity; sometimes lasting just weeks at a new job. My CV looked like a rambling novel called ‘The potted work history of befuddled bum’. As time went on it was harder for me to even secure employment due to my terrible CV plus it took less and less time for me to get bored in the routine; what used to take up to 3 months would now only take about 3 days. Less than a week in, I was already feeling restless and bored. It’s no surprise that the job I lasted the longest in (a shocking 1.8 years!) had flexitime
Finally in my 30s I just had to admit to myself, I hated the inflexibility of working for anyone else. It wasn’t laziness, I love to work really hard. I just didn’t like such a strict time-based routine, I wanted the freedom to work long hours one day when the creative urge struck, then to throttle back on other days when I felt like reading in bed all day. Now I am self-employed I get to do exactly that. Some days I will easily put in a good 12 hour stint and really love it, on other days I go for long walks and refresh my brain. Some days I start work at 12 or even 3pm. Other mornings I awake full of new ideas and start much earlier. I get a lot more done because I now follow my natural work patterns and not an externalised corporate version.
Benefit #2 Wealth
When we work for a company we are paid by the hour, it could be minimum wage or an OK amount, however it will never match up to the sort of income you can achieve by going it alone, why? When you sell your life (hours =life) by a fixed hourly rate you will remain on an income which is fixed, the only way to earn more is to work longer days/more hours – but there is an obvious limit, there are only so many hours in the day, and out of those hours there are only so many you can use to work in. Nature is working against you there. You can request a pay rise of course, but if you’re paid hourly or on a fixed salary there is still very little you can do to really grow your personal wealth.
Working for yourself, on the other hand, places no limits on your income. I do not pay myself an hourly rate and I charge per project. They pay for the service I offer and not for how many hours it takes. Sometimes projects can take longer than expected, but sometimes they are much shorter. If I am selling a a digital product like an ebook, the same amount of work is being resold over and over again, the earnings being far beyond what I could’ve got if someone had paid me by the hour to write the ebook.
These days I charge what I believe my knowledge and skills are worth, regardless of hours. This gives me flexibility in both hours and earnings. Sometimes I may only earn £20 an hour and other days it may be £200 an hour. Either way, even at the bottom end of that scale I still get to earn much more than when I had a fixed wage based on hours worked.
Benefit #3 Versatility
Despite spending my twenties ‘job hopping’ I still found that each job was a straight-jacketed role where my day to day work activities were restricted down to the bare minimum. As I worked in admin quite often, I would spend 8 hours staring at a computer database and answering emails. When I worked in telesales I would be glued to a screen and a headset, reading a tepid sales script word for word, hour by hour, day by day. Oh the boredom! Jobs like these are the employment version of factory farming, you are hardwired into your ‘workspace’ and production is analysed hourly.
It’s inhumane! People are incredibly creative, clever and adaptable and yet we’ve compartmentalised jobs down to the nth degree in favour of unending war cry of efficiency. We’ve done to the office what MacDonalds did to chefs. One chops, one fries and another adds the garnish in a robotic factory-line version of a kitchen. It’s nothing short of intellectual slavery.
When you break the shackles and become an entrepreneur, you become all things and all roles in your business. One day I am teacher, the next I am a writer, on Mondays I am the head of marketing and on Fridays I am the Financial Director. One day I am taking a long business lunch with a mentor and another I am developing a new product for on of my online businesses. Today, I am blogger. It is almost impossible to get bored when you’re self-employed, there are just too many tasks and too many hats to wear. It’s like playing dress-ups but with a grown up twist.
Benefit #4 Making a difference
When you’re just a tiny cog in a giant machine, it’s really hard to have that ‘feel good factor’. For a start the company you work for may be horribly unethical (MacDonalds, Nestle etc) which in itself is a good reason to break out (if you’re chasing the feel good vibes). But even if you work for a nice company, you’re still a cog. If you’re happy to be a cog in an industry that does some good then great, but perhaps for other’s it’s not enough. Personally, I have a passion for making a real difference to people’s lives and I enjoy being on the frontline for that. I am the sort of person that prefers to buy a homeless man dinner rather than donate to a faceless charity that tells me they’ve brought dinners to homeless people.
If you to get your hands dirty and love the warm fuzzy feeling inside for being able to make a difference to people, to animals or to the planet as a whole – you need to stop being a cog. Get out there and be the light that you are, get out and really make a difference in the world.
Benefit #5 Personal fulfilment
We all have aspirations and I am no different. I grew up in poverty and my family even suffered homelessness twice. We’ve been so poor that we had to wait for the tide to go out so we could pick mussels for dinner. (luckily I was a child and not yet vegetarian!). I didn’t really like school much, I am not a fan of strict rules and learning silly things just to pass exams. I Felt that life was an adventure and I loved to create. Despite having a decent brain I left school at 16 with mediocre GCSEs and no real clue of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I spent my twenties travelling and going to festivals (in between the terrible jobs) and endlessly studying anything to do with health and nutrition. I also made skincare products from the age of 16 and knew I wanted to do something along these lines but I had no clue about the correct path to get there.
Every time I took on another low-paid job just to get by, I would experience sadness that I wasn’t fulfilling my life purpose. I felt I had so much to offer the world and yet because the mainstream job market does not really offer much for a ‘natural-skincare-maker-artist-nutritionist-health-writer’ I just ended up stuck as a cog in these corporate machines that I detested.
When I finally found the courage to take the leap into self-employment, it was like opening a door to a whole new life. Because I was now doing something that used my talents, skills and passion – every day was fulfilling. Even when, in the beginning, I made hardly any money it was still amazing to just have that freedom to unleash my ambition. Every day brings a new challenge and a new way for me to grow as a person. Looking back I can see now, how some of those awful jobs have actually served me well; telesales made me confident dealing with strangers over the phone and with the concept of selling, administrative jobs gave me office skills, time management and organisation, working in my flexi-time science job taught me about research. Unemployment made me humble and grateful for the simple pleasures in life. Perhaps I was on the right path after all, I just took a while to get there.
Onwards and upwards!
Sick of being poor? I was too
I spent years not charging what I was really worth because deep down I held beliefs about money that came from both society and my poor background. I suffered with ‘poverty consciousness’ brought about by having lack of money throughout my upbringing and reinforced by the people that surrounded me through my adult life. Despite my open mind that understood that we create the life we want, my deep-seated beliefs would sabotage my good intentions. At the heart of it I guess I felt the same as my mum does when she says things like “People like us never get out from under”.
Despite being a published author, a respected expert who received many calls from TV show producers and journalists and an entrepreneur with 2 unique businesses based on 18 years of practise – I found myself in a cold sweat every time the rent was due.
It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone. I KNEW how to be skint, I don’t know how to be wealthy.
If you’re in the position I used to be, hard-working but forever lacking in cash-flow, you may have deeply rooted poverty consciousness. You can change your belief systems and open the financial floodgates if you give it some effort. It does require some work but results can happen very quickly if you are CONSISTENT.
I created my own ‘Abundance Manifesto’ which I pinned up at home to help me change my poverty consciousness record. I also invested in Denise Duffield Thomas’ Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp (which I still use, am still a part of and highly recommend!)
My original 2013 Abundance Manifesto (got the braces and the car within 3-6 months!)
You offer a unique gift to the world and you deserve to be paid abundantly for that.
Star Khechara is a Passive Income Business Strategist & Ecourse Expert. She is also a published author, founder of an international skincare formulation school and creator of the amazing 5-week program: Ecourse Bootcamp. Star is an avid traveller, adventurer, skater and hoola hooper (and certified online biz geek!). She puts the fun into funds!