As a creative entrepreneur, you want to bring your creativity and passion out into the world through your business. But let’s be real: getting your brand to grow isn’t an easy task — especially when you’re just starting or when you’re pivoting to something fresh.
In this solo episode, Diana breaks down 5 simple things that will ensure that you make waves with your creative business. It’s not about the hustle and grind — it’s about building a business that supports you living the life of your dreams. Diana dives into the five things you can do to make the start less rocky. These are real lessons from her lived experiences running a six-figure photography business and getting burnt out.
If you’re a creative entrepreneur feeling a little lost while pivoting or starting a business, get some clarity when you tune in to this episode!
👂 Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:
Diana’s story transitioning from a photographer to a business coach and why she made the shift.
The unmatched power of networking and collaboration, especially when getting started.
Ways you can bootstrap at the beginning of your business journey to get exposure.
Achieve the life, career, and clients you’ve always wanted (and fully deserve!). Join the waitlist for Camp Clarity opening this September!
Join the waitlist for the upcoming mastermind course, Ascend, this September!
Find your community with us when you join the waitlist for the DDC Community!
Use the code: DDC15 during your warm-up call for a Financial Gym referral.
Learn more about bookkeeping on the New Way Accounting Blog
More Pollen Episodes:
🎧 Episode Highlights
[01:47] Join Camp Clarity and Ascend
Camp Clarity and Ascend are Diana's signature programs. The waitlist is now open, and it will begin this September!
Camp Clarity is a 90-day program for creative entrepreneurs starting or rewiring their businesses.
Its three pillars are confidence, cash, and clients. The program will cover pretty much what you need to know about building a creative business.
Ascend is for entrepreneurs who are doing well on their business journey and are ready to expand.
This mastermind course brings together like-minded entrepreneurs into one space where everyone can help each other out.
[06:16] #1 Put Yourself Out There!
It’s time to put yourself out there on social and in the real world. Even during the early days, start spreading the word about your business.
Diana was showing up on social media, collaborating with people, and telling others when she first started what became a six-figure photography business.
She didn't realize that the more she talked about entrepreneurship, the more she was sowing seeds. These seeds pivoted her business towards coaching.
Start talking about your business and passion to start seeding your business.
Put up flyers, post online, and have conversations with the people around you about what you’re doing.
[12:13] #2 Do a Beta Round
Start building your portfolio to show you can provide a great service or product.
Without proof of what you can do, it's difficult for people to trust and hire you.
A portfolio helps create momentum, especially if you’re starting a business from scratch.
When Diana first started, she created connections and offered her service for discounted rates. In return, her clients saw the quality of her work and spread the news.
[15:14] Diana: “ Don't be afraid to just put it out there and see what happens because you're going to adjust and you're going to evolve, and people are going to have feedback. And that's how we get good.”
[15:23] #3 Network Your Butt Off
Start networking and building connections. You can do this online or through physical get-togethers with like-minded people.
Good networking is giving freely without expectation. In return, the people you meet will do the same.
Turn your competitors into collaborators.
[17:30] Diana: “Don't be afraid of your competition. Let them be collaborators.”
In the past, Diana has collaborated with Wini Lao, her direct competitor.
Wini became her first guest on Pollen. Their collaboration allowed Diana to get more gigs.
[18:34] #4 Have Separate Personal and Business Banking Accounts
Separate your banking accounts for personal and business use.
An LLC protects your personal finances from legal cases. However, this isn't necessary right away for low-risk businesses. Make sure your business works before you open one.
A second account or credit card purely for business can help you keep track of your related expenses. This makes managing your finances for taxes and more much easier.
Using a credit card can allow you to gain points and use them for travel. Just make sure to pay monthly to prevent the bill from growing too large.
Do your own bookkeeping if you can.
[23:18] #5 Get a Mentor
Having a mentor is a great resource when you're starting or pivoting your business.
A mentor can give you a new perspective and look at your business as a whole so that it can run smoothly and quickly.
Hiring one doesn't have to be expensive. There are good coaches out there looking to build their portfolios.
It's a great return on investment when you’re starting a business. With a mentor, you can gain personal growth, clarity, and improve your business.
[24:47] Diana: “[Mentorship is] usually a great ROI. And that doesn't always mean money but just growth in general, personal growth, clarity, more clients, more introductions, better systems.”
Find a community to put yourself out there, network, find mentors, and more.
😍 Enjoyed this Podcast on Starting a Business?
Starting a business or pivoting it to a new direction can be simple, but it sure isn't easy. Fortunately, these five simple things to do can make it easier along the way!
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Thanks for listening! Stay tuned to my website for more episode updates and other exciting programs and resources!
Diana Davis: You start putting yourself out there, start talking about it, whether it's on Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, or literally, in a coffee shop.
Welcome to Pollen, the ultimate podcast for creative entrepreneurs. My mission- to empower you to make more money doing what you love, work with dream clients, and turn your creative gifts into a thriving business without the burnout. I'm your host, Diana Davis, business coach, Gemini, manifesting generator, macho snob and full time nomad.
Here's the deal. I went from creating a six-figure photography business to helping amazing creative souls like you build your own empires. So I've been there, I get it. Whether you're an artist, designer, writer, yogi, or anything in between, this podcast is your treasure trove of inspiration. So grab your favorite notebook, maybe a matcha. And let's embark on this incredible adventure together.
Hi Pollen! Welcome to another solo episode. Something I've been wanting to dig into for a while because I coach so many people who are either starting new businesses or completely pivoting. So today, we're going to talk about the top five things to do when you're first starting your business or you're in a pivot. Cool. some of them are going to be more pivot worthy. Some of them are going to be more beginner-first things.
No matter where you are in your business, I encourage you to dig into this, because it's definitely going to help. We always need to go back to the drawing board. And just remember where we came from, and what actually worked in the beginning.
Before I dig into that, I want to let you know that Camp Clarity and Ascend are both starting in September. The waitlist is open, the link is in the show notes. I'm going to tell you a little bit about that because many of you might be new here. If you are, come say hi on the DMs. I'm getting so many people just from the podcast who have no idea who I am besides Pollen, which is so cool. It's working. The stuff is getting out there into the ether. It's so exciting.
So if you don't know what Camp Clarity is or Ascend is, they are my two signature programs. And Camp Clarity is a 90-day program for people creative entrepreneurs who are ready to either jumpstart their businesses, or they're ready to rewire their businesses. So whether you're just starting out, and this is a really good podcast for you, or you've been in business- three years, six years, ten years- but just things aren't clicking, and you really need to go back to the drawing board, Camp Clarity is for you.
Our three pillars for this are confidence, cash and clients. So we literally cover everything you need to know about building a creative business. Except for the skill set. I'm not going to teach you to be a good photographer or good ceramicist or a good yoga instructor. That part is up to you. But everything else as far as learning who you're talking to, messaging, how to sell, how to make selling more like an invitation and a party, taxes, money mindset, social media.
And by the way, when we go into social for me if you haven't listened to the last few episodes, it's actually about being social in general. For me, social is not only Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, but also sitting at a bar with someone and letting them know who you are and what you do. How do you actually spread the word and really get yourself out there with confidence, and you feel authentic, and you don't feel sleazy? We're working on that in Camp Clarity.
So then we go into the money mindset, taxes, all of that pricing, product suite, client workflow, who your dream clients are, and how to serve them. All of the above. It's literally all inclusive, build a business in Camp Clarity, 90 days, plus, the community is just fucking awesome. So that's Camp Clarity. Waitlist is open for it now. You have the opportunity to jump on that. For jumping on the waitlist, you get 500 bucks off. So do it. It's in the show notes.
Ascend is a little bit higher tier. I don't like the word levels. It's just if you're further along in your journey. If you're super clear with what you do, you feel really lit up by it, you're actually getting clients, you're making income. Maybe we're at 5k months, maybe we're at 10k months, maybe we're higher. And you are ready to expand. You're ready to start that podcast, to broaden your product suite, to write the book, to whatever that means for you. This is a mastermind, not a course, where you can come together with like-minded entrepreneurs and me as your coach. So you can expand further.
The analogy that I always use for Ascend is, if we're all on this crazy mountain adventure, someone in the room knows how to climb. Someone in the room knows how to build a bridge over the river. Someone in the room knows how to build a fire. Someone in the room knows how to pick the herbs out of the ground that you can eat that aren't poisonous. And that together, we get higher, we get further, we help each other. And that's what a mastermind is all about.
What's really fun about Ascend is it's not only a group, but you also get one-on-one coaching with me. So both of those will start in September. You're either one or the other. You're in one place or the other. If you are in a place where you are just unclear, Camp Clarity is for you. And if you're in a place where you're really fucking lit up by your business, but you're ready to go further, Ascend is going to be for you.
So feel free to DM me with any questions if you're not sure. But the links are in in the show notes. So join there.
All right, let's dig into the top five things to do when you're first starting your business or you're in a pivot. And what I'm going to say might sound really, like no brainer. But it is so so important. So we're gonna first start out with talking about putting yourself out there.
I'm running around with Camp Clarity right now. And we're digging into social media after we've figured out, who we are, why we do what we do, who we're actually talking to, do we need to niche down or not, all of the above. It's time to put ourselves out there on social.
And a lot of the people in Camp Clarity are like, well, ‘I don't exactly know what my product or service entails. I don't know that I'm going to be doing a photo shoot for one hour with 20 selects for 550 bucks. I'm not positive of those details yet so I'm going to wait.’
And oh my god, I cannot tell you enough how that is not the way to go. Even if you do not know what your products and services are down to like a dollar amount or the details, it is so important to sow the seeds of your business as early as you can.
My little story. I was a photographer and graphic designer, and I was showing up on Instagram the minute I got laid off from the magazine world. And I started putting my photography out there. Started really collaborating with people. Started to tell people what I did, because I didn't have a choice.
It was either you're not going to make money, and you have to leave New York City, or you got to get another job, or you got to put yourself out there and try to make it happen. Right? A fire lit under your ass is the best motivation, I got to say getting laid off, the best.
So I started to share. I started to put it out there. I started to have conversations with people. So that led to a six-figure photography business in year one which was a wild, which was mind-blowing to me that that was even possible. And I wasn't charging enough. And I was burning out and I was doing too much. I could have made even more. Right? And had more of a life.
But then the real secret here that I didn't even know I was doing. I didn't even know I was doing it. And you can know you're doing it. You can purposefully plant your seeds. I was planting seeds that I didn't even know I was planting. I was talking about entrepreneurship, like crazy.
I wasn't talking about what kind of lens I was using. I was talking about how I was building my photography business. I was talking about collaboration over competition. I was talking about pricing and about taxes and about money mindset and programs I was using.
And then all of a sudden, I started to be asked a lot of mentorship kind of questions. ‘Hey, Diana, can you go over my client workflow?’ ‘Hey, Diana, how do you quit your job? How do you set up your systems? What do you how do you deal with that in a mindset sort of way?’ And I started slowly moving towards coaching.
And then the pandemic hit, which gave me a lot of space and time. And I was able to launch the strategy sessions, which is a point we're gonna get to in a second as a strategy for when you first start your business or you're pivoting. But I was able to launch these strategy sessions and start to really bank off of what I had already planted.
The seeds I had already put into the ground that I wasn't even really realizing it was like ‘Oh yeah, here's some things I'm gonna plant but I didn't know is going to be butternut squash.’ We love a garden analogy. Am I right? Am I right?
So if you can start talking, which you can. It’s not an if. If you can start talking about your business and about the things you are passionate about, the direction you think you might be going. For example, we have a chef. We actually have a couple of chefs, we have a bread baker, and a postpartum chef who specializes in meals for moms, but does all sorts of things, right?
So we have those people in camp clarity right now. And they might not have their product suite nailed down yet. But I am like, you need to start sharing about food, you need to start sharing about the process, you need to start sharing so people are not surprised when you're like, ‘Hey, I have this package. I have this meal prep package. Or I'm selling this bread starter or whatever that looks like for you.’
Maybe you're teaching an online bread course to people, right? Like hello, sourdough was a thing during COVID, it can be a thing again. So if you are sharing that stuff, people are not going to be surprised when you finally launch the thing. So it is so important to start seeding your business, even if you're not super clear on what it all looks like yet. And if you're not super clear, you should be in Camp Clarity, right? For real.
So that's number one. Start putting yourself out there, start talking about it. Whether it's on Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, or literally, in a coffee shop. If you've listened to past episodes about getting off social in a strategic sort of way where you're not just putting yourself out there on the internet, but you're also literally pinning a flyer to a corkboard in a coffee shop. Like start that kind of stuff. When you're having conversations at a party. You talk about what you're doing, like you're already doing it, so they are not surprised.
Number two, we've already mentioned it, I highly recommend doing some sort of beta round. Beta sessions, beta shoots, collaboration, market research style. Okay? Start building your portfolio. And it doesn't matter whether you're a creativity coach, which we have at Camp Clarity, a bread baker, or a ceramicist. Right? You start building things to build your portfolio.
You start asking people, ‘hey, could I just have you try my bread? Could I give you five loaves and you give it to five people with my business card?’ That's all. That's it.’ Could we have a phone call? And could I just talk to you about where you're at, in your creativity journey? Could I offer you a free session, could we do a photo shoot, in exchange for you posting about me.
This is how we start the momentum. If we have no proof of what we can do, it's very rare, it's not impossible, but it's very rare that people are going to trust us and hire us and pay us money. So I love you all.
And I'm so here for the confidence and also pricing your work at its worth. But I'm not gonna pay you $10,000 to coach me, or do a photoshoot, if I don't see some proof that you're good at it. Right? Like, let's just get real. Let's get real. We have to get our hands dirty. We have to bootstrap it a little bit.
When I first started photography on my own. Like I'd been doing photography since I was 16. But really went out on my own. I started tapping every person I knew in the wellness industry, I started hanging out with those people. And I started saying, ‘Hey, I would love to do a shoot for you at a discounted rate.’ And at that time, it was like an hour for 180 bucks, which was nothing.
It helped me a lot, but it was nothing for what they got, for the value of what they got. But it let them realize, Wow, she's really good at that I want to work with her again, or I'm going to talk about her. I'm gonna post about her. And then the news spreads and the web happens.
If you want another strategy, go back to the episode with Ben Easter, how he built his coaching business just on market research calls. I'm not even going to say it here. I'm gonna let you go listen to that because it's epic.
Really, don't be afraid to do the collaboration shoot in exchange for putting your name out there. Don't be afraid to run around of a group coaching program at half the price in exchange for testimonials and feedback. Don't be afraid to launch a membership for three months to make sure it all fits at a beta price. Don't be afraid to just put it out there and see what happens. Because you're going to adjust and you're going to evolve, and people are going to have feedback. And that's how we get good. Right?
So third thing that is most important, is network your little heinie off. It is so crucial. I will say that we are also working on an official community where you can come and meet other creative entrepreneurs.
You can be in a space where you can meet your copywriter, where you can meet your new designer, where you can meet your next business partner, where you can meet your next client. We're working on that. So hop on the waitlist for that too. It's at the bottom, we're just exploding with things going on. It's like Leo season right? We’re on fire.
So networking, getting in Zoom rooms, getting in in real life rooms, going to retreats, building connections. Our retreats, just to give you examples. There are people making businesses together from the Greece retreat that did not know each other before Greece in May, right? It's so possible, you never know who you're gonna meet. But the thing about networking is, it's not just about showing up. It's about following up. It's about letting yourself give.
I was talking to a client the other day about kind of more of the stuffy networking vibe, which we all know, right? Or the corporate version. But how a lot of really seasoned networking people are really good at just going up and saying, ‘Hey, Diana, I'm so and so. And this is what I do. How can I help you? Who can I introduce you to? What can I do for you?’ Right?
And if you give freely without expectation, most likely the other person on the other end of the line is going to go ‘What can I do for you?’ And then by God, if you follow up and actually make it happen, holy shit. You're going to be the go-to person you're going to be top of mind. And just good karma, right?
Collaborate with people, have coffee, you never know. The other thing, you know, and I've mentioned this several times, but don't be afraid of your competition. Let them be collaborators. Wini Lao was our first guest ever on the Pollen podcast. Go back and listen to her story. She is one of my dear friends in New York City. We literally were direct competitions as photographers, and you know what we did? We got coffee. We got coffee and talked about it. This wasn't even when I was drinking matcha yet. Probably had an anxiety attack later from the caffeine.
We got coffee. We talked about it. We discussed how we could be collaborators and in community with each other. And guess what, I got so many gigs from her when she couldn't be there. When she had other things going on. She's like, here, shoot for Adidas here shoot for, you know, all these amazing brands in New York City. And I did the same for her. And if we went like ‘Oh, but she's my competition,’ we would have lost out on a lot of that opportunity. So thanks, Wini, if you're listening. Alright, so networking, huge.
Fourth thing I'm gonna say, that is very tactical and I love talking about money.
Separate accounts. Separate banking accounts. Oh my gosh, y'all as entrepreneurs, you have so many write-offs and so many expenses. So many things can contribute to your business, as expenses and write-offs. Make sure right away that you are doing separate accounts. So open a separate credit card for your business. Even if you don't have an LLC.
Notice, LLC is not even on the list as first things you should do when starting a business. Because in my opinion, you should make sure your business works before you open an LLC. And you don't really have to have one for a while. Unless you're like it's more of a total liability situation. It's a legal entity.
So an LLC protects your personal finances from getting sued. Basically, if someone sued you, they wouldn't be able to touch your personal stuff. That's very important. It's big but you know how high-risk is your business? Someone can sue you for anything, but I'm telling you an LLC isn't totally necessary right right away. Just give it a second. Give it a second to breathe. Make sure you have concept first. Right?
What is necessary is separate banking accounts. So even if you don't have an LLC, open a separate credit card or just start using a second credit card for business expenses only. So when you go buy pens at Target, when you buy books, when you have a meal with a client, when you have a team trip, when you. You probably don't have a team yet if you don't even have an LLC or a separate bank account.
But all of those things are write offs, right? My podcast microphone is a write off, my laptop is a write off, they all go on the business card. So that when it comes to tax time, I'm not just like buried in expenses and line item transactions that I have no idea what they were from, or who they are for, or if it was business or if it was personal. It's already separated out for me. So use one card for business, one card for personal.
Then once you do have an LLC, which eventually you absolutely should, you open another bank account, a checking account and a credit card for that LLC. So that you're getting paid into the business. Your expenses are on your credit card are for your business.
And I highly recommend using credit cards, because there's so much opportunity for points. I've traveled probably at least $7,000 this year just on points, by the way. I do a lot of out of pocket. But points are super helpful if you can have a good relationship with credit cards and actually pay them off every month. So careful with that. But if you need a resource for any of this, I highly recommend the Financial Gym, that's who I use. So we can drop that link below as well, in the show notes.
Okay, that is that. That's number four. Separate your frickin’ accounts or it will take you 30 hours to give those separate transactions to your accountant at the end of the year. Even better, start like a QuickBooks account and start categorizing things as you go monthly. Start your own bookkeeping. It's not hard, right?
New Way Accounting is my accountant. If you use her please tell her Diana sent you. Same with a Financial Gym. Always tell them I sent you. We are affiliates with Financial Gym and affiliates with New Way accounting because I love my affiliate network, who I already shout from the rooftop, which you can go back and listen to How to Create an Affiliate Network and a Referral System in a past episode. But definitely tell them I sent you. Also it gets you a little leg up because they know who I am.
So New Way Accounting is an amazing accountant. She also has her story, which is incredible. She built like a multi seven-figure business with a huge team just from being a one woman show and a mom doing a little side hustle as an accountant. And she's a badass, she's such an advocate.
So definitely tap into her as your accountant or your bookkeeper or both. But she has a lot of resources also on her blog of how to do QuickBooks, how to do your own bookkeeping. It's like 72 different write offs that you should know, all of that. So tap into your people. Tap into resources.
The last thing I'm going to say about the top five things to do when you're first starting a business or pivoting is get mentorship. This is my one regret. And I don't really regret it because I wouldn't be able to coach you in the way that I can, because I really went through it.
But it would have helped me so much to start out with a mentor. To start out with a business coach. To start out with someone who could look at my business from afar, a third party. Instead of my business being right in front of my nose, someone who could see the whole thing. Someone who could say, ‘hey, Diana, move your elbow a quarter of an inch to the left and you're gonna sink those free throws.’ You think NBA players don't have coaches, right? Get mentorship, it will collapse your timeline every single time.
Do they have to be thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars? No, there's absolutely coaches who are looking to build their portfolio that are really good coaches, that you could go out and get someone right now.
And have I used 0% APR credit cards to hire coaches? Absa-fucking-lutely, but I'm really smart about it and then I pay it off, right? And it's usually a great ROI. And that doesn't always mean money but just growth in general, personal growth, clarity, more clients, more introductions, better systems. All of that in the end adds to more ROI. So get mentorship before you think you need it always. Collapse your timeline, give yourself that gift.
Even the financial gym, that was one of my first investments as mentorship. I still have a Financial Gym Coach. I went from $30,000 in debt, and not knowing what I was going to do for my business to literally them helping me with like my investments, my ETF funds and my retirement. So when I did that, and I thought, ‘Man, I can't afford this investment in this mentorship.’ But I was like, ‘If I fuck this up because of finances, that's just stupid, right?’
They can help me collapse my timeline, to not only making more money, being responsible with my money, getting a better picture, clearer picture on my money. But I don't even notice that expense because they help me get past that stage of scarcity. So shout out to a lot of people today. Financial Gym, New Way Accounting.
And get yourself in a community. Find yourself in a room, whether it's a retreat, or an event, or a virtual Zoom Room program with like-minded people. Camp Clarity is that. Ascend is that. This community we're launching is going to be that. Our retreats are that. You have so many places to plug in here. You have a seat at this table. And you can do this. These are five easy, easy steps.
I lied. They're simple. They're not easy. Putting yourself out there on social, whether that's barstool social, or Instagram social, planting those seeds, doing market research, offering beta sessions, offering collaborations, networking your butt off, having separate bank accounts and get yourself a mentor.
Alright, Pollen. Over and out. So good to be here with you today.