The end of summer is really a new beginning. September, in all its golden-ness of back to school promise and possibilities. Like many business owners and creative entrepreneurs, my notepads are full of new intentions.  With schoolbags packed, I’m circling back to the start of the season, The Brand Stylist retreat in May, created by the brilliant Fiona Humberstone.

For four days, we soaked up new friendships, magical sunsets and prosecco in the lush sanctuary of Cal Reiet. We worked hard too…Fiona and incredible business coach Elizabeth Cairns led us through owning our values, getting clear on our purpose, setting take-your-breath away goals. We dug deep into our businesses, unravelled where we’re getting in our own way, and designed new ways to be remarkable and create compelling offers.

Both Fiona and Elizabeth gave us the gift of spaciousness and thinking time – and critically, personal time to discuss our individual brands.  My brand direction was transformed in a 10 minute chat with Fiona over a pool-side chat in a way that feels so authentic and true to me.

The Brand Stylist retreat guided us to focus on creating an exceptional experience every day – letting our work shine in an authentic, credible way and enrich our lives through inspiration and connection.  These are the lessons I’ll be taking into the new season:

Find + own your space
We’re all looking for ways to stand out in our industries. The hard work is cultivating confidence and trusting ourselves completely. Truly empowered entrepreneurs create their own space, authentically. So be all in. Show up. Do the work. Stay classy. Become that inspiration.

Fiona’s the perfect example of this – someone who utterly owns her niche, in her own way and on her terms. Start with you – your passion, your gifts, your understanding of what your customers need.  That point in the middle is your space.

Captivate your clients
This is where we, as small business owners, have such an advantage. You have to be super clear on what you stand for, what you uniquely offer your clients, how you exceed expectations at every point.  We’re all busy, but creating that unique stamp on your service will keep your clients coming back and build your reputation.

Find ways to show your brilliance in your offer and then elevate these in ways to delight even more – a quick project update, a thank you note or a lunch invitation will all build into the experience of working with you.

Design an empowered process
This for me was the major one – how to create a truly elegant, guided client journey. With an exciting new project launching, it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about – from email sequences through to follow up notes.

Each stage warrants its own blog post but it’s essentially about how you manage the flow of information for your clients to help them and save you time. Think media kits, client proposals, FAQs, welcome packs, invoices – all ways you can streamline the experience of working with you in a way that reassures, manages expectations and delights.

To find out more about creating a thriving business, Elizabeth’s gorgeous new book, The Empowered Entrepreneur is out in October.

Stay in flow
To be truly thriving as creative entrepreneurs we need to frontload vitality; it’s the gateway to inspiration. Ensuring you stay in flow fuels your creative edge, so that you can lead your business. Find the rituals and routines that nourish you and build these into your daily life. As Elizabeth says “Inspiration is a daily practice.”

It’s a hard one when you’re up against the reality of deadlines and VAT returns but you know what works in your day – that morning walk, a meditation, reading – stay connected to what lights you up and it will spill out into your work.

The Brand Stylist retreat gave us permission to be ourselves, in what we do and how we do it. Truth time – I’m super- mindful of being too work focused, so this was hugely freeing. Being surrounded by other women who care deeply about how their business serves others and are working hard to realise their full potential was a game-changer in itself.

Are you a September intention setter?  What new resolutions have you set for this last season of 2018?

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