Investing in Tools & Services

November 25, 2016

Which tools and services should you invest in for your creative business when you’re first starting out as a creative entrepreneur? Today’s Being Boss minisode comes from our live Being Boss event at Freshbooks headquarters in Toronto.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"Investment is about impact but also about what's going to give you a firm foundation moving forward."
- Kathleen Shannon

More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:02
bosses we know the struggles of shipping it can be complex with the uncertainty over costs and deciding which carrier to use plus tracking your packages. Things at best can get confusing. But now there's a better way to ship send pro online by Pitney Bowes. With sin pro online, it's easy to save time and money no matter what you send from letters and packages to overnights and flats. And you'll always get the rate that's best for you. You can use send pro online to easily compare USPS and other shipping options all in one online tool. You can use them to print shipping labels and stamps on your own printer, and to track all of your shipments and get email notifications when they've arrived. You send pro online for your business for only 1499 per month, and our listeners can get a free 30 day trial. When you visit PB com slash boss, you will also receive a free 10 pound scale to help you weigh your packages and accurately calculate the cost of shipping. So you'll never overpay. Get Your FREE scale and 30 day free trial slash boss.

Kathleen Shannon 1:13
Welcome to being boss, today's minisode comes live from Toronto, when we hung out with over 100 bosses in person at freshbooks headquarters.

Unknown Speaker 1:29
So the first question I have is, how do you decide about what tools and services to invest when you're just starting out?

Kathleen Shannon 1:38
branding first,

Emily Thompson 1:41
money first. I think it's about impact. But also like what's going to give you a really firm foundation for moving forward. So like, as a web designer, I would love to say web design, but no like you can have a great foundation for your business, for your online business without investing in a big web designer, because that's not the most impactful thing that you can do first branding. Yes, like I think branding could be something or is something that gives you the firm foundation, that will give you the impact for building something from their money, like being able to know what your goals are, if you can't figure that out for yourself, like, I'm very lucky to be one of those people that has a very like creative like happy brain. But also give me some numbers and metrics. And I will be almost just as happy, not as happy. But like I can figure that out as well. If you can't figure that out for yourself, knowing how, or having someone add your numbers for you and tell you this is what you need to be making and you having someone to help you figure out what your products or services needed to be priced. Like that's the foundation from which you build a business as well. So think foundational things for beginning but also what's going to have the biggest impact.

Kathleen Shannon 2:56
I mean, whenever I think about launching any business that we've done, and again, this is all the businesses that we have done have been services. So there's not overhead of physical tangible products. But obviously, if you are selling jewelry, then you need your materials to create the jewelry first, like that might be the first thing that you invest in. But then after that, whether you're offering a service or a product, I started to think about the order in which you launch a business, right. So the first things that you do is you set up your bank account, your LLC, whatever that might be. So if you need to invest in help there. But there's a lot of free tools out there that can help you get set up. So it's really just an investment of well, any investment is an investment of time or money because you're either spending time doing it or you are hiring someone else to do it for you. So getting your business set up the logistics of the legal stuff. And that should not intimidate any of you guys because it is so easy. And in fact, you can start a business without all of that stuff. Being boss was not an LLC, we didn't have a bank account until a good six months in. So you don't need that stuff to operate a business, at least in the States. I don't know what it's like in other places. And so then after we get that stuff set up, or maybe before we do the branding first, that's one of the

Emily Thompson 4:12
things to know who you are, what you're doing and who you're doing it for. And that's what a good branding process will help you find out.

Kathleen Shannon 4:18
So branding is more than just a logo and colors and typography even though that is a part of it. Having a legit look and feel will make you feel legit just like that Mini Cooper, right? That's kind of what a logo can do for your brand. But also the clarity of what is it that I'm doing what is your positioning? How are you telling people to hire you? I'm shocked at how many people launch a business without being clear on how someone can give them money. What is your brand story? What is it that you want people to know do and feel about you and I could go on about this for an hour because it's what I love talking about the most. And then after branding, obviously a website so a website might be how you then apply your brand to the online business or If you have an offline business, you're applying your brand to things like business cards or brochures or storefront, window decals, or the interior design of your space. And after the website and your spaces that you live in, then it's about investing time in the content that you can create that positions you as an expert. Or once you meet people, they can go back to your space and see that who you are in person aligns with who you are online, they can learn more about you. And so

Emily Thompson 5:32
that's kind of the order of things. And then I'd say business coach, like if you if at that point, you're not hitting it, if you're not getting it, if you're not making the money you want if you're not making the impact you want. If you're having a hard time working every day, or figuring out what needs to be done next, or you know, making this big goal a reality, a business coach, those folks will help you get it together for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 5:57
One of the biggest investments I made early in my career that felt like a really big deal and almost frivolous was conferences and traveling for conferences. And that has more than paid for itself, I would not be where I am now without the support of all the creative entrepreneurs that I met in person and those relationships. I mean, Emily and I, that's how we met.

Emily Thompson 6:19
Well. And I want to point that out too. I could not tell you half the topics I've heard at conferences, like whenever you go to conferences, if you make that your priority, and it should be like you're there for the content they're providing. But the real value comes from meeting the people and forming those relationships. The people who go to conferences just for the content and don't make the relationships usually leave a little annoyed.

Emily Thompson 6:45
Hey, there bosses around these parts, we preach the necessity of email marketing for your creative business. Sometimes we joke about not being podcasters, but that we make our money writing emails. But the truth is, that's not really a joke. Email Marketing is the engine that runs our businesses. We share a lot of content around here from our own brands and each of biography and bring creative to all that being bald is going to become and we rely on a single system to make sure that we're making the most of our email list and the messages that we share with our tribe there. That system is ConvertKit I spent months testing every system I could get my hands on to ensure that the switch we were about to make was the right one. And we've been really pleased with our choice. We immediately found ourselves diving into using the system to more automate our email marketing content, and to better segment and target our growing list of cool creators looking for the right content for them. If you're in the business of sharing content, we recommend you check out ConvertKit try ConvertKit for free for 30 days go to to learn more. Did you like this minisode Be sure to check us out on our website at There you can find more from being boss including our full episodes minisodes and blog posts. And while you're there, be sure to sign up for our mailing list so that you can get access to behind the scenes and exclusive content from Kathleen and myself to help you be more boss in your work and life. Do the work be boss