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oh joy academy answers: growing your business...

Oh Joy! Academy

Growing your business is a topic I LOVE talking about because "growth" can mean SO many things. You might be thinking, "Isn't it a weird time to even think about growing a business when so many businesses are just trying to make it with the current economic climate?!" It is okay to think about growth right now. And if anything, now might be the best time to think about parts of your business that could contribute to various (and new) kinds of growth. Here are some things to consider...

Size of business — This kind of growth is when you are ready to scale your business, and you need help with more employees and/or need a bigger or better work space. This kind of growth is typically the sign of excellent numbers and means that the monetary growth of your business is strong. Be smart and cautious about what you're ready to spend to add more employees or add additional expenses (like an increase in rent). Also, when comparing your year-over-year numbers, make sure to analyze net profits (vs. only gross) as those numbers are more important in looking at what you can truly afford.

Focus — Analyzing your focus could include expanding your offerings, services, range of products OR honing in on what is working best for your business and putting more time, effort, or money into that. When you're thinking about growth, this is the time to look at numbers and also get a good look at what's helping your business grow. In some cases, you could be realizing what's really making money and what's not. If you have a part of your business that isn't making a ton of money currently but you love and see potential in it, that could be a great reason for keeping it going. However, if you have a part of your business that isn't profiting and you don't enjoy it, now is the time to let it go.

Quality of life — During the early stages of any business (and even beyond), we often sacrifice a ton of our personal time to pour our hearts and souls into getting a business off the ground. The life of a business owner is not a standard 9-to-5, and those who love what they do are okay with that. When thinking about growth, consider how your quality of life fits in with your business. Also, if you're quality of life isn't what you'd like it to be right now, then what is your goal and dream situation for the near future?

Here are some specific questions that you asked...

What are your best tips for growing your business?

  1. Assess what's working and what's not.
  2. Decide if you need more help to grow.
  3. Focus on quality over quantity and your true area of expertise.

 

How do I gain a larger social media audience for my business?

  1. Figure out what your story is and ways you can tell that story.
  2. Stay true to what makes you stand out (your style, your product, your story) and stand by that.
  3. Don't compare yourself to others. What works for others won't always work for you (and it shouldn't!).
  4. Post regularly on social media and make sure to engage with not only your followers but with the accounts you follow as well.
  5. If budget allows, you can gift or pitch to social media influencers to market your products (which can help grow your following) or put some money behind social media ads (this can be great for new launches or brand new companies).

 

How does a small business offer robust employee benefits keeping bottom line in mind? 

For me, I added benefits as I could slowly and organically. I always did my best to offer the same things that larger companies could offer (paid vacation, maternity leave, IRAs, etc) because I wanted to make sure my employees were being taken care of as best as I could. Plus, I wanted to be a legit business and offer good benefits.

Keep in mind that the cost of every employee is roughly an additional 30% on top of their salary. That includes employer taxes, benefits you may be covering for them, insurance costs from your business to protect them, and other things. So be mindful when adding benefits and analyze your full costs to feel confident you can easily cover it. 

 

How do you get new clients and retain current ones?

Getting new clients depends on your exact area of expertise and how much pitching is part of that industry. In some areas (like in advertising), pitching is a constant practice. And in others, people have so many word-of-mouth referrals that they may not need to pitch or be active on social media to market their work. Regardless, the best way to get new clients is to continue to contact brands or companies you want to work with and let them know who you are, share your work, and make it clear how you can help them. People don't just automatically find you. So help them find you! This can be through cold calls, cold emails, or friendly conversations on social media. Put yourself out there so more people find out who YOU are!

For current clients, make sure you follow-up after a finished project or job to make sure they were satisfied with your work together. If they were happy, here's a great time to ask them for a testimonial (or a public review) while it's fresh in their minds. Testimonials are great for your own reference if you ever need it for a future potential client or for your website. And, reviews are great if you have a public listing (like a Yelp or Houzz page). If a current client doesn't need your services again right away, be sure to keep them updated as you have new work so they know what you're up to as well. You may have assumed a past client will know to contact you if they want to work with you again—but sometimes they simply get busy or forget—so a reminder or update every so often is helpful. 

 

To what point should you scale your business?

This is a very personal question and answer. How big do you want to grow your business? What does success mean to you? I surround myself with lots of other small business owners in various sizes and durations of business. I have some friends and colleagues who want to grow a business to sell, some whose goal is to get investors to truly expand, some who want dozens of physical locations, and some who want to earn enough just to live a simple, happy life. The range is wide, and all options are possible.

I used to think that I needed to keep making more money every year to feel successful in my business. But then what I realized was that physical growth wasn't what I wanted anymore. I wanted to grow as a person, a business owner, as a parent, as a friend...but that didn't mean I need more employees, more space, and more things. Earlier this year, I reached a fork in the road with my business where the current model that I had wasn't working for me anymore. I had a choice to either truly scale things up by going after an investor or scale things back to a size I could better manage staying self-owned. I chose the latter. There's a lot of pressure these days on small businesses to go bigger and bigger. It works great for some, but for others, that may not be what you want—and that's okay. 

Also, businesses have phases of their lives. Some parts may be small and nimble, some may be robust and full. There isn't one way to be and one size to be, and it's okay for all of that to evolve over time. Take growth day-by-day and as it makes sense to you!

(Photo by Lily Glass)

"You're Okay!" arrives in less than a month!

You're Okay! by Joy Cho / Illustrated by Angie Stalker

Our second kid's book in the Oh Joy! Story Book collection, YOU'RE OKAY!, arrives in ONE MONTH on August 4th! Written by me and illustrated by Angie Stalker, all of the books in this series emphasize qualities to instill in our little ones to help them become kind, strong, creative, and capable humans. YOU'RE OKAY! follows a hedgehog and friends while exploring a variety of emotions, supporting one another, and learning how to be your very own champion. 

You're Okay! by Joy Cho / Illustrated by Angie Stalker

Every day is full of little ups and downs. No matter what happens or how you feel, you are you, and you are okay! Interactive lift-the-flaps will engage readers in this sweet and encouraging book about managing everyday struggles and feelings! Pre-order now to add to your collection of Oh Joy! Story Books for your little one's library!

(Top photo by Lily Glass)

oh joy academy: juggling work and life during a pandemic...

oh joy academy: juggling work and life during a pandemic...

Back in March when COVID-19 became wide-spread in the U.S., many small businesses came to a standstill, slowed down, closed temporarily, or quickly pivoted. What we thought was a temporary inconvenience turned out to be a worldwide pandemic that we're still going through right now. The difference between now and a few months ago is that we've all adjusted to a new version of what our day-to-day looks like. Whether that's working from home while managing kids or working partially in an office with less people, it's a much different day-to-day than we had before.

I recently asked you on Stories how I can help you or your small business right now during our new normal. We received lots of questions, so I have a multi-part series planned over the next several weeks answering some of your most asked questions and sharing tips and advice you requested. Today is about balance and juggling work and life right now...

Overall, when it comes to juggling work and life, my key tips are the same as they have always been and were pre-pandemic:

  1. Focus on Your Priorities
  2. Divide and Conquer
  3. Block Off Time
  4. It's Gonna Be Okay

Those four things working hand-in-hand are super important always but even more so right now. Whether that's because you are: dealing with a new baby or have multiple kids at home, working from home, running a business from home, trying to get a new job, trying to start a new business, or getting a side hustle off the ground, you're trying to do it ALL while also trying to stay safe and healthy.

1. Focus on Your Priorities. This means taking inventory of what parts of your life (both personal and professional) need your daily attention the most. Right now, many of us who are parents are stretched thinner than ever with possibly little or no childcare, no school, and no summer camps. Your children need you, and your work needs you. First, when and for what do your kids need you (and only you)? If they have online classes on Zoom or a certain amount of help needed with daily activities, get a good grasp of when you need to be fully available for them. This will obviously vary based on the ages of your kid(s). For example, ages 5 and up can do a lot more on their own than a baby or toddler.

This priority focus also applies to work. Whether you work for another company or run your own business, it's nearly impossible to do your normal full-time schedule during your normal hours if you're also home with your kids. So focus on the parts of your business that are most active and continuing to bring you income. For some of you, this may now be a good time to focus on parts of your business you never had a chance to take care of (like updating your website or filing all your business papers away), especially if certain parts of your business have slowed down or are on hold due to COVID-19.

2. Divide and Conquer. Every home is different so your available childcare/help will vary. Maybe your partner also works from home, and you need to figure out how to split each of your days so that someone is fully available for your toddler. Perhaps a parent or nanny has been part of your pod since quarantine started, and you have some hours of childcare help available. Once you have your home team assessed and everyone has their own new normal schedules figured out, this is where team work makes the dream work. Coordinate with your home team a schedule that works best for everyone in helping with not only your kids but also meal prep, cleaning, and all those household things that now need more attention than ever. You can then go about giving yourself set times for work and life within your day.

3. Blocking Off Time. While a normal day for you might have been a nice 9-5, adding in being a homeschool teacher doesn't usually allow for your work hours to be standard at all. Based on the priorities you have set above, you'll need to block off the time needed for your family and then fill in work in the other times around that. Whether that means you can work while your kids get a couple hours of downtime, while they are on a Zoom summer class, while your baby is napping, or while you have someone else at home available to be with them, this is your time to get your own work done! Now, this could be 1-2 hours a day or 6-8 hours a day depending on your own family's schedule and needs. This also might mean making time in the evenings after your kids are in bed to really get a couple hours of uninterrupted time to either finish work, start on a new project, or work on your new side hustle.

4. It's Gonna Be Okay. Even if you get yourself set-up with all of the above, some days will not go perfectly. And it's okay! I have had days where I was on a phone or Skype interview, and my kids come screaming into the room. I've had moments of peace thinking that everyone was doing great only to have everyone in full meltdown mode fifteen minutes later. These times are not normal, and we are not expected to be perfect at handling it all. Not today...maybe not ever. I have had moments where my stress of trying to DO IT ALL at the same time wore on me, and I found myself being crabby to everyone in my family for the rest of the day. But now I try hard to remember that we're all trying the best that we can. And tomorrow is a new day!

Now after keeping the above in mind, here are some specific questions I received...

How can I find time to kickstart a new business with a young baby? This time will come from a combination of when you have help and when your baby is sleeping. Basically, how much time do you have when your baby doesn't actively need you? Is that one hour a day or is that more? If you have help available, take it! Many new parents (especially Moms) have a hard time asking for help. Not only do you need help to find some rest (if you're still doing nighttime feedings), but if you are trying to start a new business or side hustle, you need some regular time to keep feeding into your career goals (again, if that's a current priority for you) as well.

I am juggling three different hustles and having a hard time balancing them all. Help!
This is when priorities come into place. Do you need to be doing three side hustles right now? Are they all working? Are they all growing? Are they all making money? If not, focus on the one or two that are doing best, earning the most money, and making you happy. You'll be much happier, less stressed, and those hustles that have your focus will thrive more.

Do you have tips on working from home while parenting?
If you didn't work from home before (which most of us didn't) then it's time to set up a new work-from-home area. If you don't have a home office, this could be a corner of your bedroom or an area of the dining room. Ideally, this is a closed off space to provide a bit of separation when you do have blocked off time to work (more WFH office tips here). Having just a bit of separation helps physically indicate for everyone that it's work time.

When should you take risks in your business? COVID-19 changed my entire structure.
Lots of business have seen major changes over the past three months...some small and some major. I have seen small businesses take major risks with appropriate pivots that majorly paid off. I have also seen some play it safe and stick to what they know and what their customers are still coming to them for during this time. Taking a risk right now is most likely a good move if that risk doesn't require money that you don't have or are unable to get. Some risks simply involve time and the execution of new ideas, and those are great risks worth taking. Some risks may require bank loans and extra capital. Those risks are only worth it if your business has managed to stay on course fully (or even grown more during this time), in which you may be in a great place to take a loan with interest rates being extra low right now as well.

If you have any other small business questions or advice needed, please feel free to ask in the comments below!

(Photo by Lily Glass)

craftopia!

Craftopia - HBO Max

When it comes to TV time, my kids have started to break outside of the kids' cartoons and watch shows with real people. They now love creative competition shows which have been so fun to watch as a family. So I'm excited to tell you about this amazing new show that launched a couple weeks ago on HBO Max called Craftopia. Hosted by Lauren Riihimaki of LaurDIY with judges James Worsham and Toya Moore-Broyles, it's a crafting competition show for kids ages 9-15.

Craftopia - HBO Max

Craftopia - HBO Max

Not only is it completely family-friendly and SO MUCH FUN (my kids are obsessed!), but I'm a guest judge on the 5th episode ("It's Lit!")! The challenges are so fun, the set design is RIDICULOUSLY GOOD, and I'm so thrilled to have played a small part in it. We filmed this back in November—and to see it now in our current times—I'm so proud of the diversity of the cast and the contestants. It's an amazing sign of our times and the evolution of TV. I am so happy that all kinds of kids can see themselves represented in this show and feel inspired to explore their creativity. Thanks so much to the team at Craftopia for having me...I truly had the best time filming this!

(Top photo by Oh Joy, others are screen shots from the show)

our last day in the oh joy 2.0 studio...

Oh Joy 2.0 Studio

Today we say farewell to our amazing studio where we've spent the last 3.5 years of Oh Joy's almost 15 year history. This was what I called our Oh Joy 2.0 studio (here and here and here and here) as it was a big upgrade from our first one (which was an upgrade from my original home studio). This is the space where I grew my team to it's peak size, developed so many products and brand collaborations, opened (and closed) our online shop, launched our academy, and so much more.

We celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, and engagements. We made amazing projects, designed tons of products, and set beautiful scenes. We laughed and loved and cried and worked hard here. So many talented members of the Oh Joy team (past and present) have created here—Casey, Julia, Angie, Jess, Courtney, Traci, Nicole, Wilmarose, Kim, Lily, and Jenner. It's sort of like when you move from one home to another...even though there are new things to look forward to, it's always bittersweet to say goodbye! Another tenant will be moving in soon...and I am so happy to have passed it onto a good friend with an amazing brand who will love it as much as we did.

We're so excited to share with you our new plans and space for Oh Joy 3.0 (which the global pandemic has put on hold for a little while). Thank you as always for being part of this community, and we look forward continuing to share the new chapters ahead...

new oh joy! x erin condren life planners

Oh Joy for Erin Condren Life Planners

Have you seen the new Life Planners™ from Erin Condren for 2021?  There are two different interior designs now (layers or flowers), tried and true designs, and brand new innovations—hours or vertical or horizontal—basically all the choices you could hope to make in a single planner. And they're out now with our Oh Joy! x Erin Condren seventies-inspired designs including Disco Daisies, Mod Mosaics, and Groovy Stripes.

Oh Joy for Erin Condren 2020 Designs

This year the LifePlanner™ comes with the option to have inside a colorful or neutral layers version or a colorful flower power version - which offers even more customization than before. Then, as always, you can choose your layout (vertical, horizontal, or hourly); you can choose your coil color (black, platinum, rose gold and gold); and you can choose to customize with your name or a phrase, or have an all-over pattern with no customization.  The choices are yours and make the LifePlanner™ one of the most customizable planners out there!

Oh Joy for Erin Condren Disco Daisies

This year, they are also offering completely different formats if you want to try something new! They have binders instead of coiled planners. They also have a daily spread in their coiled notebooks. But don't worry - their tried and true formats are still available in weekly and monthly spreads, as well as teacher planners and academic planners! (The newest monthly spread and the academic planners are not released just yet).  Check out all the fun and let us know what planner you're getting this year!

(Photos by Lily Glass. Concept/Production/Styling by Julia Wester, Production Assistance by Jess Hong.)

Status of Oh Joy! Products Around the Web

Oh Joy! Pillows

Since we no longer carry our items through our own e-commerce shop, we want to keep you updated about where you can still find Oh Joy! online. Many of our partners are still shipping as usual, but some may have  delays due to the current pandemic...and some have sales! We'll keep updating this post as things evolve!  (Last updated 4/28/20)

Oh-Joy-for-See-Kai-Run-2020-Designs

1) Oh Joy! for See Kai Run Kid's Shoes

Our newest two designs are still available. TODAY AND TOMORROW (4/28-4/29), get 20% OFF our shoes AND get FREE SHIPPING on your orders!  Use code JOY20

Oh Joy for Lorena Canals Washable Rugs

2) Oh Joy! for Lorena Canals Washable Rugs   

Our rugs are still available and shipping!

Oh-Joy-for-Erin-Condren-2020-Designs

3) Oh Joy! for Erin Condren Planners

The collection is still available and shipping as usual! We just released new designs this past month for all styles of planners (including teacher), so check them all out!

 

Oh-Joy-for-Mixbook

4) Oh Joy! for Mixbook Photo Books

Our collection is still available and shipping per usual!

Oh Joy for Peking Handicraft

5) Oh Joy! Pillows

All of our pillows are still available and shipping as usual! 

Oh Joy for Cle Tile

6) Oh Joy! for Clé Tile

Currently still shipping samples and orders from our collection per usual.

Oh Joy for Petco

7) Oh Joy! for Petco Pet Accessories

Some of our collection is still available and HALF OFF!

Oh Joy for CALPAK

8) Oh Joy! for CALPAK Luggage

Our CALPAK collection is currently on hold. They hope to reopen their warehouse on April 30th.

Oh Joy for Hygge and West

9) Oh Joy! for Hygge and West Wallpaper

Any of our wallpaper  that is "in stock" is currently shipping. Any custom orders (tiles) or orders of not in stock items will ship after their printer reopens.

Oh Joy for Cloth and Co

10) Oh Joy! for Cloth & Co. Furniture

Our collection is currently on hold through May 4th. We will let you know as updates come through.  

Let us know if you have any questions or need any additional information by leaving a comment below, emailing us, or sending a message on social media. We love hearing from you!

(Photos by Lily Glass. Concept/Production/Styling by Julia Wester, Production Assistance by Jess Hong)

bathtime just got cuter...

Oh Joy! for Tubby Todd Bubble Bath

I am so excited to announce our newest collaboration - Bubbles and Books with Tubby Todd! Tubby Todd is one of my very favorite kids' bath brands, and we've worked together to create a Raspberry and Black Currant Bubble Bath inspired by our first ever kids' book, Be Curious! Read along with our curious cat while your little one enjoys a bubble bath! 

Oh Joy! for Tubby Todd Bubble Bath

The bubble bath is a relaxing and fun scent of raspberry and black current sure to be a favorite of kids (and parents!). We're so excited to add this Oh Joy! version to our daily bath routine!

Oh Joy! for Tubby Todd Bubble Bath

If you already have BE CURIOUS!, add the bubbles to your nighttime routine. Or, if you haven't picked up the book yet, you can order the book and the bubbles as a perfect pair. Together, they also make great birthday and baby shower gifts! Either way, bath time just got a whole lot cuter!

make a poster of your monthly baby photos!

make a poster of your monthly baby photos!

If you're a parent, you may have taken monthly photos of your baby during their first year. It's such a fun tradition and a tangible way to show how much your baby grows in their first twelve months.  But then we often have them stuck on our phone or only on our social media and don't get a change to display them. Why not make a beautiful photo poster?! Here we have Dave and Julia's son, Bodhi, in his first year using our Mixbook holiday cards. See how here...

Oh Joy for Mixbook Holiday Card

The great thing about our Mixbook cards is how easy they are to edit.  ALL of the text is able to change, or even be deleted! Here we used our Holiday Dots Card and changed "Joyfully Yours" to the month and then completely deleted the family names section. And these cards are available to purchase as singles, so the twelve different month images can come as twelve separate cards. 

make a poster of your monthly baby photos!

make a poster of your monthly baby photos!

We decided to do a fun color-block that reversed the color-block on the printed card. That way everything looks cohesive without being "too matchy" and looks great from far away and up close.

make a poster of your monthly baby photos!

Once you have your cards, simply make even cut-outs in your poster board or colored paper and pop in a poster frame!  You'll have a cute new print for your home that is especially meaningful for your family and your babe as they grow up seeing their baby pictures displayed.  

What are some other fun ideas you've had with your monthly photos?  Share below!

(Photos by Lily Glass, Concept and styling by Julia WesterProduction and Styling Assistance by Jess Hong.)

new! oh joy! for erin condren teacher planners...

Oh Joy! for Erin Condren Teacher Planners

It's that time of year again - new Oh Joy for Erin Condren teacher planners are launching TODAY! These are seriously the best planners for teachers (and non-teachers) to keep all their activities and schedules straight! We love them so much and are so excited that they're back and with our brand new designs: Mod Mosaic, Disco Daisies and Groovy Stripes.

Oh Joy! for Erin Condren Teacher Planners

Now more than ever, we value our amazing teachers so much (and can't wait till they can teach our kids in person again)! I am personally not cut out to teach 2nd grade math and pre-school violin lessons! So how amazing it would be if we all gifted these planners to our teachers this year. It's a nice treat to help them look ahead to a fresh, new school year and be equipped and ready once we are all back in session.

Oh Joy! for Erin Condren Teacher Planners

Oh Joy! for Erin Condren Teacher Planners

Tell us if you are if you're gifting a planner to teacher—or if you're a teachers snagging one for yourself! Let's get organized and ready for the new school year! Find all our Oh Joy! for Erin Condren Teacher Planners right here...

{Photos by Lily Glass and Joy Cho. Styling by Wilmarose Orlanes, Julia Wester, and Joy Cho. styling assistance by Jess Hong.