It takes guts to be forward and fluff-free. I don’t beat around the bush because it’s not helpful. Readers like my opinion because it’s not seen anywhere else.
Nicole Faith is a location independent millennial entrepreneur with a penchant for crafting businesses that sparkle. She builds online service businesses at 10 Carat Creations for location independent solopreneurs in just 1 week so they can get back to (or start!) working with clients as they travel the world. Nicole graduated NYU at age 21. By 24 she had moved up the ranks at Squarespace, the world’s premier website building platform where she helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build their online business. She continues to build five star online service businesses at 10 Carat Creations while running the Digital Nomad Business Directory.
Where did the idea for 10 Carat Creations come from?
I got my first job at 14 and worked for 10 years in various positions of retail, fashion, HR and technology. My longtime goal was to be a fashion journalist, but that quickly died after 4 internships and a realization the industry isn’t what I thought it would be. I had a quarter-life crisis at 21 but luckily landed a spot at Squarespace that same year. I grew with the company as they went from 100 employees to over 500 employees in under 3 years. I always thought I would do what everyone else did: work your way up the ladder until you got to boss people around. Then boss more people around. Then run the whole show!
I don’t regret my job for one second, because I learned so much about design, technology, customers and entrepreneurship that I would never have learned anywhere else. I spent most of my days empowering entrepreneurs to build their online business, which I loved. I just didn’t love the box I was put in.
Something in me shifted. Enough was enough. At this point, I had already started freelance web designing and tutoring clients all over the country. I went full-time with that and left my job in the dust.
It wasn’t until several months in that I realized my clients needed way more than just a pretty new website. They usually needed a business, copy and the technical setup too. I looked around.. no one else was offering this. Especially not to people who wanted to travel the world and work online selling their services. Digital nomads! That’s who my clients would be.
I wanted an upscale name, that outwardly demonstrated my obsession with the finer things and attention to detail. I’m not just a “web designer” because I build the whole business (concept, packaged services, design, copy and e-commerce) so common words like “design” and “web” were out of the question. The idea of sparkling in a classy way is a theme in my life. There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. Jewelry just shines brilliantly, and that’s where 10 Carat Creations came from. By deviating from the normal language designers and coaches use, I’m able to remain memorable.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up around 11 or 12 because I’m a sleeper. Working for yourself allows you the perk of sleeping when you want, and it’s something I never take for granted! If I have a Concept Concierge appointment scheduled with a new client I prepare for our conversation. This includes researching their industry so I understand the landscape a little better. As soon as we meet and I have a business concept crafted (in 2 hours) I get straight to work on the first draft of their website which I present to them in 72 hours. I am like The Fast and The Furious when putting everything together. I like to execute my vision quickly and then give myself some time to tweak and improve. I’ll go out for dinner or an activity at night depending on where I am. When I travel somewhere new, I like to give myself a week to get acquainted with the city and be “touristy” so that when I start working the week after I feel comfortable and that I’ve seen and done a lot already. I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I start with an aesthetic in my mind and then frantically write down everything I brainstorm. I usually start with the logo which acts as the base for business and then build everything around it. The logo is my jumping off point. Once I get that right I’m off to the races. I build everything at the same time- graphics, design, copy etc.. My concept comes to life immediately and I avoid the whole “outline plan plan plan” mentality. I just do it and edit on the fly.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am trend-averse, but I think the popularity of location independence is incredible. People are waking up to the notion that they can live wherever they want on their terms and it’s very freeing. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live that way.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I ignore people’s opinions, which saves me a lot of time and aggravation. It’s a learned skill but definitely worth it. The only opinion I care about is mine which gives me a laser focus. Too many people get caught up in what other people do or what other people say. Who cares? It’s your business, and no one has the authority to tell you how to run it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Give yourself a hug and stop being so hard on yourself. You are the most fabulous human being and even though you don’t realize it, you are ahead of your time. Breathe.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Social media is a waste of time. I don’t really do social media. I use it sparingly for business and not at all personally. My life has become so much lighter without the noise and rumblings of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I don’t even know Snapchat. I have a business Instagram and a LinkedIn that is used strategically. I don’t care about the minutia of other people’s lives, especially when I don’t even know them! Giving everything away in such a public forum removes the beauty of getting to know someone organically and (gasp!) in person. I think creating should take precedence over consuming. Not to mention, followers don’t pay the bills. Everyone is hung up on this idea of being a “leader” but true leaders don’t follow anyone but themselves. And they don’t ask for followers either. Social media makes it difficult to connect with others in a meaningful way. This is actually a good thing for you if you’re an entrepreneur though because it means you can use things like handwritten cards, gifts and high-level service to further your success and memorability. So few people take the time to spill their heart and not click a heart (or Like) in a tangible way. Going against the grain, especially in our socially charged arena, can make all the difference. My marketing involves as little of social media as possible so I can focus on the real heroes: my clients who have faces, names and lives. NOT my “followers” who give me a half-second heart.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Say thank you. People remember a thoughtful and epic thank you. Say thanks for a press mention. Say thanks to your clients. Say thanks to your subscribers. Say thanks to your haters. Say thanks to the universe. Very few people show appreciation in a genuine way and you will be remembered. Write a thank you note. Send a gift. Reply with a thank you! The simplest thing goes so far in boosting your reputation and most importantly, making someone’s day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Writing unfiltered articles saying things other people in my industry don’t say. It takes guts to be forward and fluff-free. I don’t beat around the bush because it’s not helpful. Readers like my opinion because it’s not seen anywhere else.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started freelancing on the side of my job, I was doing web design and technical tutoring. When I left my job to do web design full time, I didn’t really think about my business like a business. I was pitching jobs on sites like Upwork, scratching for a measly gig. When I shifted my focus from freelance web design to building businesses for aspiring digital nomads I didn’t realize I had outgrown my brand. I thought it was cute and innovative, but my target market thought it was juvenile and confusing. It wasn’t clear and the focus was on me instead of my clients and the solution. I was struggling so much I scheduled discovery sessions with like 10 business coaches. While most of them were very judgmental (the irony!), the one thing every single person said was that the business I explained to them was completely different than the business I had. I wanted to attract high end premium clients but my website screamed middle school! It was embarrassing, especially since I was able to help other people in a way I hadn’t helped myself. So I rebranded my business from top to bottom and chalked it up to a lesson learned.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Any service that does house calls. The convenience of having a manicurist, hairstylist, doctor or accountant come to you and provide a luxurious experience is priceless. For example, an in-home mani-pedi that cuts ingrown nails in the privacy and comfort of your home. Having someone come to you is the ultimate convenience and I think solopreneurs are underutilizing this marketing strategy.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought three lipsticks. I feel most me when I have a color on my lips – it’s my signature thing. They are very pigmented, which means I never have to reapply. Little luxuries go a long way. I never skimp on skincare or beauty products- you only have one set of skin. Take care of it.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I love Penny. She notifies me when payments come through and analyzes my spending in a fun and understandable way. She’s just the cutest financial coach!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. It’s a book for young readers about a girl who is different and how that scares a high school of clones. Not too far-fetched from real life.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss
* Listen to yourself and ignore everyone else’s opinions
* Re-evaluate your dependence on social media- it probably isn’t as necessary as you thought
* Take the failures in stride and use them as an anecdote in the future
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.