Decisions, decisions....

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

In the days leading up to my enrollment in B-School, I felt like I was in a sort of decision-making trance. Yes or No? Should I or shouldn't I? How will I pay for it? What will I actually learn? Am I just succumbing to some sort of hype? How come I never heard of B-School before and now I see it everywhere?

I watched Marie's videos, pored over testimonials, reviewed affiliates' various offerings and bonuses, watched Marie's videos again, went back to the course description... it was intense. Since B-School registration is only open once a year for a short time, you are forced to make a decision that will impact, at the very least, the next couple months of your life. (And at best, the upward trajectory of your business!)

If you find yourself in that intense loop of "should I or shouldn't I?" that's a good thing.

You're at a place in your life and career when you're consciously and purposely examining the path before you.

Most often, we're just going with the flow, sticking to what we've always done, staying with what we know.

When I finally said yes to myself and then yes to B-School, it knew that—one way or another—this was a very important moment in my personal history. This was the point where I was turning away from the incredible stress and financial burden that my business had become. Instead of running myself ragged trying to support my business to keep it going, I would build a business that would support me and my family! I would get rid of that vibrating ball of stress and anxiety that lived in my chest.

B-School worked.

It was hard. It was revelatory. It was exhilarating. It empowered me to take on some really difficult decisions. (Honestly, at times it made me feel dumb. I had been doing so many things wrong! How could I have not known some of this stuff before? But you go to school to learn things you don't know, right? Besides, I only have an art college diploma and no business or marketing degrees.)

Anyway, I really hope that your business isn't currently perched on a precipice like mine was back in 2014!!!

Fortunately, you don't need to be in a dire situation like mine to benefit from B-School. What you learn in the program can be applied to all stages of a business. (With lifetime access, that's why I keep taking the program year after year.) Perhaps you've been in business for a number of years and things are sort of stagnating. B-School can inject some new perspectives and techniques into growing your products and services.

If you're in the inkling stages of building a business or thinking about launching a new venture, B-School will be of tremendous value. There's a bonus course that you can take immediately upon enrollment called Start the Right Business. It helps you focus your ideas and intentions so that you can create a business that works for you. How much better off will your business or creative career be if you have the foundation and training of B-School right from the get-go? I wish I had known all of this sooner.

I watch the Start the Right Business videos yearly it to make sure that I still have clarity in my own intentions for UPPERCASE. I also think Marie's Follow-Through Formula is genius. If you struggle with having too many unfinished projects and don't understand how to get things DONE, this is a crash course on a productivity mindset.

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Tip: If you enroll in B-School before the deadline of March 1, you will have time to take these bonus courses prior to the launch of Module 1 on March 4. B-School has a lot of content in it, so if you can get a head start, all the better!

B-School registration closes this Friday afternoon.*

* If you decide to enroll, please use my registration link so that I'll earn your referral. B-School affiliate referrals are awarded to the "last click," meaning that the tracking link a customer clicked on LAST (and that drove them to purchase B-School) will get credit for the sale. Thank you!

B-School Bonuses

UPPERCASE magazine issues and book projects that featured B-Schoolers from 2018.

UPPERCASE magazine issues and book projects that featured B-Schoolers from 2018.

When you use my affiliate link to register, you'll also receive these UPPERCASE B-School Bonuses:

  • A one-year subscription/renewal to UPPERCASE, the quarterly print magazine.

  • Jot down your a-ha moments in a custom planner created by 2018 B-School alumnus Crystal Ink for UPPERCASE.

  • Complimentary membership to the UPPERCASE Circle, a gathering place for the creative & curious subscribers of UPPERCASE magazine.

  • Access to the private UPPERCASE + B-School community and discussion board for focussed conversation and support from Janine and your fellow B-Schoolers and Alumni.

  • Online group video calls and weekly B-School chats with Janine to ask questions and share your progress with the encouraging UPPERCASE B-School community.

  • The opportunity to pitch your ideas or business concept to be published in UPPERCASE magazine and books.

  • Access to UPPERCASE e-courses to be released in 2019.

UPPERCASE + B-School private discussion and learning space.

UPPERCASE + B-School private discussion and learning space.

Get an UPPERCASE subscription or renewal when you sign up for B-School through my  affiliate link !

Get an UPPERCASE subscription or renewal when you sign up for B-School through my affiliate link!

By the numbers

Proof that B-School worked for me—and how returning to my roots as a solo entrepreneur was the best decision I could have made.

Since taking B-School in 2014, I've taken a personal approach to my communications and marketing and I've embraced a forthright and honest style in my writing. I share quite a bit with my readers and go into detail about how and why I make decisions (like this: "When You're Supposed to Say Yes"). I've talked about the struggles I've faced in my business. This is an approach that Marie Forleo teaches in B-School: communicating with one's customers should be a service to them. And so I offer my own perspectives, realizations, trials and errors with you so that you might also benefit from my failures and join me in celebrating the successes. I'm transparent with my business.

But I don’t often share the numbers.

I’ve generated a sales graph from Shopify, from when I started selling online (October 2007) until the end of last year (December 2018). From the very early days of e-commerce, selling artwork, greeting cards and handmade paper goods online, to the release of the first issue, the birth of my son... the graph tells the story of UPPERCASE's growth as a company and me as an entrepreneur.

You can see that there was an immediate positive effect on sales once I started taking B-School. Click the image to enlarge. (To view even more annotations and detail, click here.)

The magazine had modest growth in the early years. I had help in my retail space for a number of years, and with being a new mom and trying to grow my publishing company, I assumed the logical thing would be to hire more help for the magazine. As online sales were steadily increasing month over month and I was closing the retail location to concentrate on publishing, I brought on some employees specifically to manage orders and subscriptions. In 2012, I had a marketing manager, too. We were a nice little team for a while, but as you can see on the graph, there was no growth. Monthly sales were stagnating and the team and I weren't meeting the minimum monthly sales quota required to keep the ship afloat.

Desperate for a solution to keep my beloved publishing business alive, I used my credit card and enrolled in B-School. I started implementing what I was learning right away. I was scraping the bottom of my line of credit and faced running out of funds to pay my considerable print bills. As the sole earner in the family, UPPERCASE was the only thing supporting my family. I had to lay everyone off and forego my salary. I call it my big "reboot." I pulled the plug on my expectations of what a "real" publishing company looked like and returned to my roots: just me. (A few years later, with our son in school, my husband Glen took on customer support part time.)

Regular readers will know I'm a hard worker, but I never worked harder than that year following the reboot. The spikes in the graph are a testament to the extreme effort I put into kicking UPPERCASE into a profitable company. Without the burden of other people's salaries, plus monthly growth in online sales, I was very quickly out of the financial hole. And soon, UPPERCASE was turning a profit. And it continues to do so.

Taking B-School—and more importantly, taking B-School to heart—was the catalyst that I needed to put my company on the path to profitability.

Making a profit has never been my primary business goal. My goal all along has been to create a business that can sustain itself, that can fund my creative ideas and contribute to a global community of kindred spirit creatives while supporting me and my family. 

"RUNNING A PROFITABLE, VALUES-DRIVEN BUSINESS CAN PROFOUNDLY CHANGE THE QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE."

When the stress of basic survival is gone, there is space for joyful creating and innovating within your business.

B-School encourages an approach to business that is big-hearted and socially conscious. You can see that exemplified in UPPERCASE. Since B-School, I've given away hundreds of free subscriptions to folks who need a creative boost and can't otherwise afford to subscribe. I’m donating 10% of proceeds from sales of Little U magazine to UNICEF ($4,800 was donated in 2018) and with every subscription or renewal, I plant a tree. (We're at 4,766 saplings and counting!)

How B-School saved my business.

In 2014, I was having the toughest time I'd ever had in business. I had employees and big print bills, but I never seemed to be able to get out of barely getting by—a line of credit was the only thing that kept things going, issue after issue, but I wasn’t able to get to the plus side of zero. I was tired of working so hard to barely break even.

I desperately needed a mentor: someone to help me figure out what to do next. I couldn't find that sort of guidance locally and so I began looking for it online.

Before I signed up for B-School, I had a gut feeling that I'd need to make some big changes to my business. I wasn't sure what they would be, but as I went through the course, it became ever more clear that I would have to take back the control of EVERY aspect of my business. Including, in particular, the marketing and voice of my company.

With the help of Marie Forleo's amazing course and excellent advice, I decided to reboot my company—even though it meant facing some unpleasant realities. I was $50,000 in debt with the line of credit and wouldn’t have enough funds for the next print bill, let alone paying myself a salary (and I was the sole earner in my family.) Letting go of my employees was particularly painful. But I returned to a company of one to start over.

After taking a week to settle into the feelings of sadness and failure, I began to rebuild. Long-term readers might remember my very first newsletter. From that vulnerable spot, I began again.

I became more productive, my stress level went way down and I was inspired and happy to grow personally and in the business.

Taking B-School was a turning point. It let me discover the joy of business and the potential for living generously.

B-School has made such a difference in my life that I would like to share this with my community. I'm thrilled that Marie's team accepted my application of being an affiliate for a second time this year!

My readers are creative entrepreneurs like me—graphic designers, craftspeople, artisans, illustrators, makers... and like me, you've probably no official higher education in business or marketing. We've been learning by doing. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone help you through it?

Though on first impression some of the content seems geared at more of the coaching or mentoring type business, I've found that it is all applicable in one way or another and I've been able to use what I've learned in UPPERCASE as product-based business very successfully. And in the years since I took B-School, Marie Forleo and team have been adding to the course content and have built up many resources for product-based business models. I've truly benefited from the knowledge and tools that B-School offers and I revisit the course year after year to gain more insight and find new ways of connecting with my readership.

I invite you to sign up for Marie's free 3-video workshop series. Each video is around 30 minutes and full of good, actionable content.

I'm an affiliate for B-School, so I will earn a generous portion of every registration that results because of promotional efforts. I applied to be an affiliate because B-School had such a tremendously positive effect on my business and I value what I've learned.