We are so honored to have TSOS Chapel Hill speaker Lauren Hooker on the blog today! She’s a designer, business strategist, and creative entrepreneur who helps creatives transform their passion into a successful, profitable business. Today, she’s sharing a little peek into her “Strategic Goal Setting for the Creative” talk!

Why did you start your business?

Was it to turn a lifelong passion into your day job? Bring in a steady income? Stay at home with your children? Help others?

For most of us, our business stems from a creative passion. We love design, calligraphy, photography, nutrition, writing, styling, so we set out to pursue our trade full-time and work for ourselves.

And while passion usually gets you started, it isn’t enough to keep a business up and running. You have to have a plan.

If you read the biographies of some of the most successful business owners, you see pretty quickly that they go about things differently.

They take on business ventures in other fields and usually see a good amount of success, even if those ventures are completely outside the scope of what they’re known for, because they have a different mindset. They’re strategic, intentional, and set smart goals.

I’ve always been intrigued by Sir Richard Branson. His first business venture was a record business that he ran from a church in the 1960s. He also ran a magazine interviewing big-name celebrities – like Mick Jagger – and advertised popular records, and his business became an overnight success. He named the company “Virgin” (because he was a newbie to business) and sold records at prices that were considerably less than his competitors.

Virgin eventually became a brick and mortar shop, a record label, and a recording studio. But instead of keeping his ventures within the music industry, his business savvy eventually led to success in other industries as well.

He’s had an airline company (Virgin Atlantic Airways), a railway business (Virgin Train), a wireless company (Virgin Mobile), a space-tourism company (Virgin Galactic), and a comic/animation company (Virgin Comics), among others.

Am I encouraging you to be the next Richard Branson? Well, I’m not going to rule that out.

But even more so, I want to stress that while your trade is important and probably got you started in entrepreneurship, your mindset and strategy are crucial to finding success in business.

So how do you become more business-savvy? Here are 3 ways.

1  |  Steer clear of what everyone else is doing

Successful entrepreneurs are thinkers, creators, and initiators. They aren’t keen on doing that’s already been done before or following someone else’s lead.

Do you set goals for yourself based on what everyone else is already doing? Or are you willing to do go out on a limb and do something that hasn’t been seen before?

I’ll be honest and tell you that I struggled with this when I first started Elle & Company. It was very easy to get hung up on what everyone else was doing but very difficult to go in a different direction. There was also some fear in doing what I hadn’t seen anyone else in my field do before.

But it was a lot more liberating (and a little addicting) when I saw the results of my hard work and created a business that was distinctly mine.

If you’re relying too heavily on what’s already been done before, it will be easy for your business to blend in. But if you put in the extra work and creativity, your business will be the one that everyone else strives to emulate.

2  |  Dream on a bigger scale

Are you basing your standard of success off of what you’ve already seen in your field?

My original goals for Elle & Company were really low. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t set many goals at all because I was so focused on what others in my industry had been doing.

And then my business-minded husband, Jake, came on board and encouraged me to set my sights higher. And by higher, I mean that he encouraged me to set uncomfortable, seemingly-crazy/impossible goals that I would have never considered for myself.

The goals I now have for my business now expand to my personal brand and other industries outside of design. They may not be accomplished this month, this year, or this decade, but they’re on the radar and give me something to strive for.

So dream bigger. I don’t mean that in a fluffy, sappy way; I mean it in a sincere, attainable way.

Don’t set your sights low because you haven’t seen anyone else accomplish your idea before. Set your sights higher.

3  |  Set action steps

Once you’ve pushed yourself to set some big goals, sit down and outline practical steps that will help you achieve them.

Think about your big goal and create smaller goals to help you reach it. Work your way back from that goal and find ways to start working toward it today.

Your goals may seem lofty at the outset, but by creating action steps that you can implement this week, month, or year, you’ll make progress toward reaching them and actually bring them to fruition.

We are so excited to have Lauren Hooker share even more information on goal setting and branding in Chapel Hill! Be sure to check out the full curriculum and speaker line up on the Chapel Hill page! Don’t forget to visit our Instagram page to see how YOU can win a free seat.



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