You remember those days like they were yesterday: the weird smell of the high school cafeteria, the dark, musky clothing stores your mother refused to enter, the total disregard for money or responsibility.

Starting a business is a lot like going through life as a teenage boy. You just inherited your mom's 1998 sedan and hell ya bro, you're totally free to go mud bogging this weekend (dude). 

And as much as we shake our head looking back on all of those terrible, stupid decisions, there were a lot of lessons to be had and they helped us become who we are now.

In other words: we're grown now.

Isn't it about time your brand grew up, too?

5 Signs Your Biz Needs to Grow Up

1. Your desperate need to be cool has you befriending everyone.

The moment you start turning people off with your business is the day you've made it. It says, "Hey, I'm not 16 anymore. I'm 31 and damn confident of myself and what I believe in. If you can't hang, I'm fine with that." That kind of confidence is what those 16 year olds (un-admittingly) look up to anyway. Figure out what makes you different. Embrace your weird. Stick to your guns and your real tribe will find you.

2. The cool kids are doing it, why not you?

It's like that part in Mean Girls:

"One time I saw Cady Heron wearing army pants and flip-flops. So I bought army pants and flip-flops." 

Just because everyone online is shouting at the top of their lungs in Facebook groups or hopping on the e-course train, it doesn't mean that's what makes sense for your business. Chances are that when you can clearly identify a trend or bandwagon, hopping on is going to sound like total noise to your audience. The same goes for identity design. If gold calligraphy logos with watercolor laurels and antlers are "the thing", you completely have my permission to follow suit if you're a boho-prep vintage reseller in the state of Texas. Otherwise? Just be you.

3. You're that kid at every single party (but you mostly stand in the corner with a Dixie cup).

There are a lot of online "parties" going on right now: the Twitter party, the Facebook party, the Pinterest party...the list goes on (and on). One of the biggest mistakes new businesses make is feeling the need to be at every one of these parties, all at the same time. What ends up happening is that cool, yeah, you're at the party, but you're so spread thin between all 12 platforms that your pages have more crickets than shares. Take a look at where your demographic is hanging out, assess the time commitment and ROI, understand what language that platform uses, and commit. There are businesses killing it right now and they're only on Instagram - nothing else. Quality over quantity.

4. You're having trouble staying focused for more than five seconds.

Weren't those hour-long lit classes just unbearable? Lots of things are unbearable when you carry the "stress" of being a teenager. This stress in the business-sense, however, is more on your audience than yourself. A scatterbrained business is often the trait of a new business, and it's shown when your imagery isn't consistent, your content is in a different voice depending on the day, and you're changing your services alongside the weather patterns. Ask a few honest (design-savvy) peers to assess your online presence. Start on your website and have them answer questions like, "can you tell what I do / am trying to sell?", "would you trust what I have to say?", "what are some things I can improve?". Sometimes we get so "in it" that we forget to check ourselves in the eyes of an outsider. Consistency builds trust, and trust is what converts.

Are you reading through some of these and feeling a bit guilty? That's totally ok - if you're just starting out. If you've been in business for a few years and are ready to take it to the next level, it's time to gain some clarity and legitimacy. We can help! Drop us a line here.

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