Dream Birthers LLC

Advice to self: Be You.

Marie ElliottComment

What's up, everyone! This thing called Dream Birthers started as an idea to help people do exactly that, birth out their dreams. While I believe I've accomplished that, I felt a strong need to change the direction of the blog, business and website. My goal is the same but my method is changing.

Maybe I read too many business blogs or maybe I just lost my voice. I think I fell into the trap of feeling the need to talk in third person to sound professional or have people take me seriously. I think business talk has a time and a place but I'm just a lady with a passion to see others pursue their dreams. Going forward, everything that I do will have a lot more of ME included. Basically, you will find the tone of the blog and social media more casual, conversational and REAL. 

Instead of teaching you what to do, think of Dream Birthers as a behind the scenes journal of what I'm actually doing. I hope to share more of my wins, losses and encourage you on your journey along the way! We will also go beyond business and writing and discuss faith, careers and birthing out your dreams in every area of your life!

I'm hoping that exposing more of me will lead to more engagement, interaction, and enthusiasm from all of you. I want to hear your stories, share your journey and celebrate your wins as well. I want you to think of Dream Birthers as your best girlfriend who you talk business, dreams, and faith with. 

I'm still debating on how my services will change. More on that later. However, I am going to be focusing my efforts on releasing books and other resources to help you on your journey to pursuing your passion. 

Have you ever felt the need to inject more of you in your business? How did you do it? Why do you think it can be so hard to just be yourself? I think part of the answer is self-acceptance. We wonder if the big wide world will like us so we become who we think we should be. I'm telling myself and I'm tellin you, "You are enough." So be it. Be yourself. I'm not interested in reaching the world. I'm only interested in reaching my tribe of like minded, faith-filled, passion driven entrepreneurs. 

Until next time! Peace.


The Procrastination Trap

Inspiration/Motivation, Business, BooksMarie ElliottComment

The root of procrastination is fear. Do you have a million and one goals but you have not accomplished one of them. This may be due to procrastination. With every free hour of our time, we make a choice to do a, b, or c. Oftentimes, those big lofty goals get pushed aside for our day-to-day routine. But, the thing is, if you never make room to work towards your goals, you will never see them come to fruition. 

“Procrastination leads to stagnation

Procrastinating leads to stagnation. Why? Because instead of moving forward, you are standing still and not making progress. Here are some helpful tips for overcoming procrastination:

  1. Write it down! Set some goals for yourself. What are your long-term goals for the next five years? What are your short-term goals for the next 12 months? Out of those short term goals, what are the top three things that you want to accomplish this year? What resources and tools do you need to accomplish these goals. Put the goals in front of you and either read them out loud or write them out every day. Keeping them in front of you will keep them at the front of your mind and they will become a priority in  your daily life. We have a free goal setting download available in our Resource Library when you sign up for our newsletter (see below).
  2. Don't wait for perfect conditions! I used to notice that before I would do anything for my business, my house had to be immaculately clean and organized. I'm talking about every room and closet suddenly needed to be emptied, organized, polished, shined, sorted and styled. In retrospect, this was ridiculous. It was ridiculous because I would start the cleaning project and never finish it. Instead, I would just wear myself out enough to feel like I had accomplished something. The whole cleaning thing was a distraction that I created out of fear of focusing on what I really needed to do. Your life, your home and your conditions will never be 100% perfect. Use what you have and do what you can now. I promise you that once you start making the effort and taking small steps, you will realize that you have more than you thought. Launch that business now! Start that nonprofit now! It's better to launch at 90% than to wait until you get to 100%. You will never be 100% ready.
  3. Get out of your head! Okay, so most of the time we talk ourselves out of greatness. Negative thinking takes a toll on our soul. We can constantly think to ourselves, "I'm not good enough. I'm not qualified. I will never be able to do this." We start to believe these lies and they manifest in our lives. We are what we think and we have what we say. I have some simple faith confessions to help you build your faith when you subscribe to our website (see below). Speaking faith-filled words will build your confidence which leads me to tip #4.
  4. Encourage yourself! The bible talks about how David encouraged himself in the Lord. Well, sometimes we have to learn how to encourage ourselves too. Most of us don't have life or business coaches checking in with us daily to help us meet our goals. What do we do in that case? You have to learn how to motivate yourself. How do you do that? Here are some ideas: 1.) Read the bible to build your faith; 2.) Find faith building messages to listen to; 3.) Recite and write your goals (see step 1 above); 4.) Start confessing positive things over your life. Before I started Dream Birthers formally in the Summer of 2015, I started to listen to faith building messages daily. Most of those messages came from Terry Savelle Foy's YouTube channel. She has about a 100 videos on faith, setting goals and success. My confidence had been torn down due to a lot of things (life, rejection and fear mostly) and I needed to build my confidence back up to do the things that I was called to do. These videos helped me tremendously!!

If you've found yourself in the procrastination trap, following these steps will definitely put you several steps closer to your goals.

If any of these tips have helped you, consider subscribing to Dream Birthers to receive access to our Resource Library which includes a goal setting worksheet, faith confessions for the entrepreneur and more! Comment below and let me know if you've been motivated to get free from the procrastination trap!

2016 Is My Fearless Year!

Blogging, Inspiration/Motivation, BusinessMarie ElliottComment

The Lord spoke to me a few days before the new year that 2016 was to be my year of the FEARLESS for Dream Birthers. He wanted me to encourage others to let this be your year of the fearless too! I was at the doctors office when God gave me the vision of the FEARLESS year. It was surely the Lord because it never occurred to me to make this my business motto for the year!

So many times our FEARS hold us back from accomplishing what God told us to do. So in reality, we are being disobedient and sitting on our blessings instead of just trusting God and STEPPING OUT ON FAITH. My pastor, Prophetess Shavarn Smith (visit her awesome website here), always gives the acronym of Fear as: False Evidence Appearing Real. What has the enemy told you that you couldn't do? Did he tell you that you would never start a business because no one in your family has ever started one? Did he tell you not to write the book because no one will ever want to hear your story? Well, the devil is a liar. In fact, the bible says that he is the father of lies (John 8:44). So everything he says is a lie. That's why we have to be so close to the Lord at all times - so we can hear what He is speaking. 

The way that we get close is through His word and in prayer. There are countless times when I've been frustrated and downright scared in my business. Every single time that I wanted to quit, eventually, I would pray and God would give me a breakthrough. Every time I pray regarding my business, God gives me direction, clarity and strategy. The business schools of the world don't tell you this but this is one of the most powerful and effective business tools for the believer.

The acronym for FAITH from my spiritual mom is this: Forsaking All I Trust You. That means do it afraid. Whatever it is that you are scared to do, just do it and you will see the fear disappear. The more you step out, the less fear you will have. I saw a story via CBS News yesterday about a nonconventional school called the Ron Clark Academy. A video of the founder, Ron Clark doing the "Nae Nae" and the "Whip" with his students recently went viral on YouTube (see the video here). Well, what stuck out most to me are these rules that all the students have to live by. Some of the rules are that the students must always look at others directly in the eye! How about that? They must speak up for themselves. They must speak in complete sentences. They are teaching them self-esteem and self-confidence. How revolutionary is that! Some of us are the way we are because of disappointments, tragedies and other bad things that have happened in our lives. Through God's word and faith in Him we can be healed from the very spirit that tells us we "can't" so that we can walk into "I can" and "I did" and "I am a success."

The word fearless was not only for my clients, but it was for me too! Every since the Lord gave me that word, every time I have an idea and I even think about shrinking back in fear, my spirit says, "No, this is my year of the fearless!" Meaning I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I will carry out every God-ordained idea. 

In what ways can you make this year your year of the fearless? What are some things that you've thought about doing but always had an excuse as to why you would never do it? Below is the FEARLESS manifesto that I pray will be a blessing to you! Please send me your thoughts, testimonies and comments on how this will be your FEARLESS year! 

How To Start Any Type of Business

Business, entrepreneurshipMarie ElliottComment
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it, lest after he laid the foundation, and is unable to finish, all who see it begin to mock him”
— Luke 14: 28-29

One of the questions that I get asked the most is, "How do I start a (fill in the blank) business." 

Once you know what kind of business you've been called  to start, you can follow the following steps.I'm going to cover what type of business to start in a different post. 

Step One

Google it. Yes, it's that simple. I'm surprised at how many people don't do a simple search on Google about their dream business. Try it.  You will be surprised at how many results you get. For example, type in, "How to start a graphic design firm." As you continue to do internet research, you will probably find someone who is a pro in your field. Study them and if they offer courses or resources, you'll want to take advantage of those as well.

Step Two

Check with your local city and state offices and if necessary, a lawyer and accountant. You can look up your city and state websites to find out if there are any licenses or permits you need to set-up shop. Many street vendors need permits and hairstylists often must be licensed. You'll want to stay in compliance with any local laws to avoid being fined. Also, it's important that you think about taxes before you launch your business. Ask your local accountant for tax advice. Some industries are inherently more risky and will require the advice of a licensed attorney.

Step Three

Make a plan. A business plan is essential to starting your business. You'll want to cover your business name and mission, start-up costs, what types of products or services you will offer, how much you will charge, what specific niche you're targeting, who your target market is and  what the opportunities are in your current market. The SBA has a great business plan template here.

Step Four

Set-up shop. If you're selling a product, you will need your inventory. If you are offering a service, you will need forms, contracts and a process for serving your clients. You will also need a website, business cards and to set-up your social media profiles. In addition, you may need a business bank account and Paypal account. Use your business plan as a guide and brainstorm everything you'll need to set-up shop in excellence and in order.

In another post I'll cover how to choose a name for your business, how to design business cards, purchasing a domain and setting up a website, and various ways to monetize your business. Once you've completed these four steps, you are well on your way to owning a successful business.

If you sign-up for our newsletter, you can access a free download that includes a business start-up checklist, faith confessions for the entrepreneur and a business goals template for 2016!

Doing Business In The "D": Resources for Entrepreneurs Part II

entrepreneurship, BusinessMarie ElliottComment

If you missed the first post, please check it out here. 

Today, we're going to highlight a few resources that can take your business to the next level in 2016!

1. Prosper Us Detroit

Website: www.prosperusdetroit.org

One of my clients is part of this awesome organization. The first programs of ProsperUs Detroit launched in the Fall of 2012. The organization provides scholarships for some of their trainings and programs. One of which is a comprehensive 20-week training program where participants are taken step-by-step through the process of developing a business plan. Those participants also receive one-on-one training with a mentor/trainer. ProsperUs also works with neighborhoods to spur economic and community developement.

2. Detroit Biz Grid

Website: www.detroitbizgrid.com

The Detroit Biz Grid is both an online directory and an interactive questionnaire for start-up and existing businesses. When you go to the site, you can answer questions about your business and the resources you need. Once you complete the survey, it will then populate a list of results with organizations in the city that can help you based on your needs. The grid is also available as a downloadable pdf on their site. 

3. FoodLab Detroit

Website: www.foodlabdetroit.com

FoodLab Detroit is comprised of local food entrepreneurs who support each other in the development and success of their individual businesses. FoodLab hosts workshops and business support for their members and the community. FoodLab is also home to Detroit Kitchen Connect which provides kitchen space for local entrepreneurs and community members. 

Doing Business In The "D" - Resources for Entrepreneurs

BusinessMarie ElliottComment

Welcome to my first installment of "Doing Business In The D" a series highlighting entrepreneurs and business resources in and around the city of Detroit. The city of Detroit has so many organizations targeted to small business growth that many entrepreneurs don't know about. Today, I'm highlighting a few of them.

1. Hatch Detroit

website: www.hatchdetroit.com

Hatch Detroit was started in 2011. Every year, businesses compete for $50,000 cash to open a storefront within the city of Detroit. This year's winner is Live Cycle Detroit. Winners are based on a "crowd entrepreneurship" model where others can vote on their favorite company to decide who wins the $50K prize.

Hatch also has a really exciting Neighborhood Initiative where they have targeted The Avenue of Fashion (on Livernois Avenue), The Villages development (Agnes retail strip, between Parker St. and Van Dyke), and the Grandmont/Rosedale business district (the business strip located on Grand River Avenue). Hatch has identified areas of improvement for each business district to improve the viability of the areas. They recently installed modern store signs for many business on the Avenue of Fashion on Livernois.

If your business is in need of a storefront, definitely check out their contest and past winners.   

2. The New Economy Initiative

website: http://neweconomyinitiative.org/

The New Economy Initiative was founded in 2007 when 10 foundations donated a record $100 million to spur economic development in Michigan and specifically, Southeast Michigan and the City of Detroit. The goal of NEI is to “return Detroit to its position as a global economic leader.” The goals of the NEI over the next five years include:

  • 1,000 new or renewed enterprises
  • 20,000 new jobs
  • $1 billion invested into the entrepreneurial ecosystem
  • Build a dense, vibrant and connected Urban Innovation District that attracts diverse resources and talent

On the organization's website, they have a ton of resources including a Co-Working guide, metro Detroit events for entrepreneurs and local business spotlights. The NEI website also profiles grants and competitions for new businesses.

3. Build Institute

website: http://buildinstitute.org/

The Build Institute offers classes, networking, tools and resources to help Detroit entrepreneurs turn their business goals into reality. Their programs include:

  • Open City - a fun, informal monthly networking event
  • Build Basics - an 8-week business planning course
  • Build Bazaar - a pop up marketplace for small businesses
  • Build Social - trains social entrepreneurs to make a difference in their communities
  • Pilot - a retail pop-up project in partnership with Opportunity Detroit
  • Build Next - provides ongoing alumni networking and educational workships

I'm looking forward to taking part in some of our areas business support networking events and programs. It's a great time to be an entrepreneur in the city of Detroit!

Using SquareSpace To Design & Build Your Website In A Day

Business, Self-PublishingMarie ElliottComment

Why SquareSpace?

So, over the years, I've experimented with many website platforms. I've tried Blogger, Wordpress.com, and many others. I was never really satisfied with the DIY look that most of these free or low-cost options provided....until I found out about SquareSpace.com. What I immediately loved about SquareSpace was the look of their templates. All the templates are free so they don't have "premium" or "paid" ones that look better than the free options.  I love a clean looking site and pretty much all of SquareSpace's templates fit the bill. SquareSpace is also super budget friendly. Monthly costs range from $8 to $36 per month depending on your e-commerce needs.

What About Other Options?

I was initially hosting Dream Birthers on a free Wordpress.com account. It was okay, but definitely not what I was looking for design and feature-wise. I never tried Wordpress.org but I was seriously considering it in the beginning. I simply didn't have the funds initially to set up one of these sites but I'm actually so glad I didn't.

Wordpress.org is the self-hosted version of Wordpress. Wordpress.org is open source software. Anyone can download it to their computers for free. However, there are many other additional costs associated with using Wordpress.org. First, you have to pay for monthly hosting from a third party site. Next, you have to purchase a theme. A theme is your template design. Also, many people higher a designer to edit their themes to meet their needs. Finally, you have to purchase security and file backups for your Wordpress site. The plus is that you own your site. The negative is that it can often cost a ton of money and take a lot of effort to set it up.

What You Need Before Building Your Site

There are a few things you need prior to setting up your SquareSpace site. Here is a checklist of those items. I've also included a worksheet at the end of this post that includes this checklist.

  • Domain name. Your domain is your www.businessname.com. It's what others type in to get to your site. This can be purchased from www.GoDaddy.com or any domain site. 
  • Business logo (optional).SquareSpace allows you to use text for your website header but if you can insert your own logo in advance, that would be ideal for branding purposes. SquareSpace also has a Logo Creator that is free when you sign up for a site. Other DIY logo options include using PicMonkey or Canva.
  • Site plan. I'll go into this in detail in further posts. In short you need to know what pages you need for your site. Most sites have: about us, contact, blog, store, etc. 
  • MailChimp account. Email accounts are considered gold in today's business world. It gives you direct inbox access to  your ideal clients. SquareSpace has a great feature that allows you to set up a newsletter sign-up box integrated with your MailChimp account. MailChimp has free versions and paid versions depending on your business needs.

Six Steps To Building Your Site In A Day (or More)

Without further ado, here are some basic steps to create a website on SquareSpace in a day. Of course, it may take several days or weeks to set-up your site. However, it's very possible to get it up and running within a few hours.

Step One:  Start A SquareSpace Account

I initially chose a 30-day free trial to find out if I liked SquareSpace and I ended up loving it. I encourage you to do the same if you're on the fence about using the service. Otherwise, you can sign up for the paid service up front. SquareSpace offers generous discounts for signing up a year in advance. If you're used to another platform, it may take you some time to get used to the SquareSpace navigation. However, with time, I found it to be much easier than other sites. Once you sign up for a site, they will give you a URL that links directly to your site to edit it. You can then direct your domain that you purchased to the SquareSpace site.

Step Two: Choose A Template

This is where you get to have fun. Go to SquareSpace.com/Templates to view all of their beautiful themes. Once you open a theme, select "Live Preview" to see how it will look on your screen. One of the most important things you need to consider at this point is your home page. If you are going to use the site primarily as a Blog, then you need to look at how the Blog pages are set up on the theme you are considering. Do you like the layouts? Do you like the options shown on the example site? If you are creating an e-commerce store, then definitely look at the templates that focus on e-commerce on the home page. You can set any page on your site as the home page with the click of a button. I started off with one them but then I found out that they had more traditional blog themes that worked better with my brand. Switching templates is easy. However, I lost some of my customization when I switched designs and had to start over. That's something to think about in the beginning. Before you put any real work into your site, test out a few designs with just your logo or business name to test them out.

Step Three: Set Up Your Site Pages

This is where you will set up your contact, store and blog pages. From the main menu, select "Pages" and click the + sign to add a new page. You can add a regular page or do a blog page, store, gallery or cover page. You can use a cover page to let people know about a book coming out soon. You can then set up an email account through MailChimp where people can sign up to be notified of updates. The Pages option also allow you to set up a folder page. When you create a folder it can host multiple drop down pages beneath it. For example, you can set up an About Us folder and then create separate pages underneath such as Store Policies, Our Story, and Frequently Asked Questions. I especially love this feature. The gallery feature allows you to display photographs. I've set up a gallery page to display my portfolio of published books but this can also be used to host a traditional portfolio of a jewelry designer or artist or you can display pictures from past events. When you start a new page, you can also edit the url. For example, you can set your store page to be sparkledesigns.com/store or sparkledesigns.com/shop.

Step Four: Design Your Site

From your SquareSpace home page, you can select the "Design" page to get started with all the visual options for your site. If you have a logo, you can upload it here. SquareSpace also allows you to upload a favicon here. A Favicon is that tiny little picture you see near your domain name when your site is up. The design page also lets you change your template and the style editor allows you to change the site font, spacing between sections, colors, hyperlink colors and so much more.

Step Five: Set-Up and Integrate Google Email, MailChimp

Since you already have your MailChimp account started, you'll just need to link it to your newsletter block. Most people host their newsletter sign-up in the sidebar of their blog pages. SquareSpace has a great, short tutorial on how to do this here: Connect a Form Block or Newsletter Block. One of my most favorite features of SquareSpace is that it allows you to have a very professional email through their integration with google apps. For example, I have my email info@dreambirthers.com through SquareSpace. I think that this is infinitely more professional than dreambirthers@gmail.com. It costs $5 per month but it is included in the cost of some of the higher paying plans. Information on how to set-up the Gmail functionality can be found here: Signing Up For Google Apps.

Step Six: Input Your Resources

Once you have the basic set-up of your site, you can go about tweaking it to meet your needs. I still update this site almost weekly. SquareSpace allows you to do so much it's impossible to cover it in one post. Once your site is up, you can insert your blog posts, upload your products and list your services page. 

One other tip I'd like to mention is that you want to have clean, attractive graphics to post on social media. One of the greatest tools out there is Canva.com. It's worth it to take an afternoon to open an account and see all that it can do. Yes, there are paid options but the free options are more than enough for your DIY graphic design needs. 

In conclusion, at this stage of my business, I really do love SquareSpace. You have to use whatever platform works for you and your business. Let me know in the comments what you think about SquareSpace and the other platforms I mentioned. JessicaSays.com has a great tutorial and cheat sheet for setting up a SquareSpace site. Check it out here:Lessons From My Move To SquareSpace 

Bonus! Website Design Worksheet

Click here to get your website design worksheet. I hope it helps you to plan your website design more effectively!

If you still need help,  I provide SquareSpace website set-up Services for clients if you need some help. You may not have the time or the interest in setting up your own site and I totally understand! I love setting up new sites and would love to help you. 


5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs A Blog

BusinessMarie ElliottComment

1. It Will Help You Build Your Brand - Blogs are used by New York Times bestselling authors, entrepreneurs and fashion moguls. One reason why they are so popular is because a blog allows you to take your website a step further and regularly communicate with your 'tribe.'

2. Blogs Are Great For Social Media - You'll have instant content for your social media profiles by sharing blog content. Simply share an image through Facebook, Pinterest, etc. and that will draw readers to your site.

3. It Establishes You As An Expert - When you regularly write and share recipes, DIYs or how-to's, you are effectively showing the world, this is what I love to do and I'm good at it. 

4. It Can Be A Great Revenue Source - There are many ways to monetize a blog including becoming an affiliate, ad sales, and selling e-books. You can actually take your blog posts and turn them into an e-book. 

5. It's Free And Easy - Most website platforms have the built-in capability to start a blog as a page on your existing site and it costs nothing. Blogging is also a great way to test out the waters and find out if you want to turn your idea into a full-fledged business.

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Birthing Out Dreams & Taking A Leap Of Faith

Inspiration/MotivationMarie ElliottComment

I wanted to write this to encourage anyone who may be considering writing a book, starting a business or developing a special project not to wait any longer. Now is the time. Have a prayed about it? Entertained the idea in your mind for years? Talked to your family and friends about what you want to do 'one day'? Well, when is one day going to happen?

Fear camouflages itself as procrastination. Procrastination makes you feel like you have a legitimate excuse as to why you're not doing a, b or c. When you make up in your mind that you will get delivered from the fear of success, fear of failure and fear of 'What will man think of me,' then you will be able to boldly birth out whatever dream God has put on the inside of you!

Starting Dream Birthers was a long process, but it didn't have to be. I was bottled up with fear for so many years and I didn't even know it. Even when I filled out the LLC paperwork for this business and took it to the post office, I was literally trembling. But, I did it anyway. That's the point. Whatever it is that you're afraid of, you have to do it anyway. Stop making excuses and do the thing that God has called you today. Take a leap of faith today by taking action on your idea. Begin to speak faith and life to every dry, dead and dormant area in your life and watch God move on your behalf! 

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