5 key lessons I learnt in business during 2021

5 key lessons I learnt in business during 2021

There is nothing impossible to they who will try.

– Alexander the Great

Hello & welcome 2022!

Once again we welcome in a brand new year whilst saying goodbye to a year that has been filled with many triumphs and challenges.

Now I wouldn’t say that the last year has been easy (after all we were all still having to deal with the realities of a pandemic) however, for me, it was a year of growth both personally and professionally.

There’s nothing quite like running a business through such difficult times to test your limits, boundaries, resilience and tenacity. There have been many moments of self-doubt and fear as I embarked on what was perhaps my most testing year to date, but the truth is that despite all the ups and downs, last year was one of the best years I have experienced in business.

Now at the start of 2022, I look back at last year feeling a sense of pride, excitement and joy at what I’ve achieved.

At the start of 2021, having experienced what digital courses and digital products could do for my business, I decided to transition the company into this field so that our team could support clients in creating passive revenue streams for their businesses.

It’s a perfect addition to the services Pink Lemon already provides as, not only can we help with the extensive branding and web services we offer, but we can also continue to support our clients by helping them to successfully monetise their brand online.

At the start of the pandemic I realised that, as a service provider, I was heavily reliant on clients to generate revenue. I was spending most of my time finding new clients to pay the bills, rather than focusing on expanding my offering and doing what I really love.

Whilst in lockdown I realised that the way I was running my business was not sustainable and so something had to change if I wanted to realise my long-term vision. I started to consider other ways of running my business and working out how I could create passive revenue streams to provide me with more financial and creative freedom.

So far my move in this direction has been very successful and so I wanted to share with you the 5 key lessons I learnt in business last year.

1. Mindset is everything

And I mean EVERYTHING!!!

Something that I have learnt is that it really doesn’t matter what your goals are, if your mind is not there, you will struggle to achieve them.

In business, I believe it’s vital to cultivate a strong growth mindset so that we are open to taking risks and learning from failures. This can be really scary of course, but I do believe that it is a necessary part of growth. If we stay in our comfort zone, we will never be able to push past our fears and find our true passion.

The truth is that ‘failure’ doesn’t really exist, because when things don’t go to plan, we learn a lesson and we start again. We only truly ‘fail’ when we stop trying. Reframing how you view failure will help you to develop a mindset for success.

2. Perfection doesn’t exist

Everyone’s idea of perfection is different, which makes it subjective, and so we may therefore posit that it too doesn’t exist.

How many times have you been crippled by the need to deliver perfection? For me, I can honestly say, a lot.

We see people doing what we do, but earning more money or getting more recognition, and we view them as ‘perfect’, but that’s simply a fear response. The truth is that these ‘perfect’ people have worked just as hard as us behind the scenes.

Perhaps they’ve been doing it longer than us, perhaps they’ve been especially lucky, perhaps they’ve simply hit upon the ‘right’ way for them a little sooner than most, but sit down for a chat and you’ll soon find that they have been just as concerned with their imagined imperfections as you!

The key here is, once more, your mindset. Throw away the idea that everything has to be perfect, and realise that you simply need to do the best that you can at any given moment.  

3. Build a strong team

No man is an island and one lone person cannot make a successful business. Even if you are a solopreneur you still need a little help. Whether this is in the form of an accountant, a VA, a designer or even just a friend to act as a sounding board, you must never make the mistake of thinking you have to do everything yourself.

The biggest error people make when establishing a new business is trying to save money by doing everything themselves. If you don’t know much about building websites you can use a cheap DIY platform to set one up, but guess what… it will look cheap. It will devalue your service and will drive away potential customers.

In the long run, it’s really not worth it. There are a host of services available to help start-ups fund their new companies, so look into this aspect before trying to go it completely alone.

4. Always start with the end in mind

Know what you are trying to achieve and then work back from there. Define your vision, create your roadmap and outline your goals.
This is something I talk about a lot and it’s the first thing I establish when I meet with a new client. If your goals for your business are vague then you won’t be able to define a clear set of actions to take. If this is the case then you’ll end up simply running a business rather than developing one and you’ll never reach your potential, financial or otherwise.
For some people this can be an acceptable path, but for the true entrepreneur this way of working will feel stilted and frustrating. It’s worth taking the time to define your goals and, once you have, break them down into a few sentences, or even a few words, display them somewhere prominent in your home or office and refer to them daily in order to maintain focus and drive.

5. Stop worrying about what other people think

There are some people who will always judge others. Sometimes this is because they are jealous of other people’s success, sometimes it’s because they are so sure of their own path that they cannot bear to see people do things differently. People like this are a minority, but when we’re running a business we often feel as though those judging eyes are everywhere we look.
This self-consciousness can have a massive negative impact on us and our business, even though, rationally, we know that most of the people we deal with are firmly on our side.
The trick is not to assume that everyone is rooting for us (because we know there will always be those few who aren’t) but to make a conscious decision not to pay attention to nay-sayers.
At the end of the day, the only person who can judge you is you, and if you determine to treat yourself with kindness and respect then there’s nothing you can’t achieve.


So those are my 5 key lessons for starting (or upgrading!) a business. They may seem straightforward, but they’re things that many of us forget to consider once we get caught up in the mundanity of running a business. Hopefully seeing them here in black and white will help you to step back and re-evaluate things, and January is a good month for re-evaluation!
So does anything I’ve said here resonate with you? I hope so, and I hope that they can provide a jumping-off point for you as we head into the New Year. 
5 Key Lessons I learnt during 2021
10 Steps to Digital Course Success website graphic


Surviving the Pause of 2020

Surviving the Pause of 2020

“On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.” 
– Gregory S. Williams

Once again another year has past and what a crazy year it was!

Who would have thought that at the beginning of 2020, we would find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic and facing a year of lockdowns, face masks and virtual networking? When I look back over last year, I am confronted with so many mixed emotions because it really has been a year like no other.

Here at Pink Lemon HQ, we have tried very hard to carry on as normal; even though life has been far from normal. This has been not only for our own sakes, but also so that we can provide continued support to our clients. In a world full of craziness, it was important to us that business carried on as normal, which helped to give us focus and purpose during a time of unease and disquiet.

Looking back I believe that carrying on as we did was the right thing to do, but that’s not to say that Pink Lemon has not been affected. The first few months of lockdown were difficult because clients were having to make tough decisions about their finances. Businesses at all levels, across every sector were being affected and so of course, Pink Lemon was also impacted as well.

Now I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect me emotionally because the truth is, it did. However truth be told, the lockdowns provided me with an opportunity to sit back, take stock and make significant changes to the business – changes that I didn’t have previously have time to consider.

Suddenly and unexpectedly (like a lot of people) I found myself with time on my hands, which was something that I wasn’t used to.

Since the business’s inception in 2017, Pink Lemon has become busier and busier, supporting more and more clients, and we had reached a point where we had very little time to work ‘on’ the actual business. I realised in the months that followed lockdown that I had been so caught up in trying to support our clients that I had completely lost sight of why I had created Pink Lemon in the first place.

It wasn’t just to make money; it was to create a legacy that had meaning and purpose. I loved working on projects that came our way but I soon realised during lockdown that I was constantly being reactive with regards to what I was being offered, and not proactive in making things happen. I had started Pink Lemon with a strong vision but I had not followed through on bringing that vision to life because I had got caught up in being ‘in’ my business. Now how many of you can relate to that?!

Over the past few years, the work that we have been doing at Pink Lemon has gone far beyond the realms of just branding. We have worked with so many clients, helping them to bring their brands to life online through the support of digital marketing. We have found that clients will often come to us for what they think they need and then leave with a whole lot more. We are holistic in our approach, which means that we provide a bespoke service tailored specifically to the needs of our clients. This has held Pink Lemon in good stead as the business gently moves in a new and exciting direction.

You see, I realised that trading time for money is not sustainable long-term. An illness could easily cripple a business and affect its revenue. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a team of loyal employees that can step into your shoes during a period of absence, then there may be rocky times ahead, because the truth is that we cannot create, nurture and grow a business all on our own: it’s just too much.

As ambitious entrepreneurs, it’s important that we find a way to create a more robust business that can survive when we’re not at the helm. If the pandemic has taught me anything it’s that anything can happen. No one expected a virus to sweep in and take over the entire world and yet the unthinkable has actually happened. This is evidence enough that we must start thinking differently about how we go about our business.

Now I am not saying that you must stop what you’re doing and change everything in your business, as that wouldn’t make sense (unless it does make sense for you in which case carry on!). The point is that we all have the opportunity to build our businesses so that they are more robust.

I am talking about creating digital online courses.

So why am I talking about digital online courses?

Because not only are we launching Pink Lemon’s digital learning hub to offer digital online courses, but we are also moving into a space where we can support clients in bringing their own digital online courses to life.

Creating a digital arm to your business is a really smart move as it helps to create passive income that can be generated literally whilst you sleep. Yep that’s right; there is actually a way to make money that doesn’t involve you being chained to your desk 24/7!

The reality is, if you facilitate a transition of any kind then you can create a digital online course to support your business to sell over and over again.

Now I am not going to sell you a dream because personally I don’t buy into the idea that you can ‘create a digital course and you can become a millionaire overnight’. Instead, our new offering is all about helping clients to create quality digital courses that can be sold with confidence and that provide realistic outcomes for students.

Now you may be thinking…

“well every man and his dog seem to have a digital course so how am I going to sell mine if a course already exists?”

The simple truth is that there is room for everyone because the world is a big place. How you approach your course topic will be individual because you are individual. We all have our own take on how we talk about what we do and it’s exactly the same with a digital course.

I remember being in year 8 at school trying to learn history, which I found really dull due to the way it was being taught. Half way through the year, my history teacher left the school and so we got a replacement teacher. That new teacher poured life into a topic that had failed to interest me up until then. I suddenly developed a newfound interest because of the way it was being taught.

Gone were the long, boring, tedious lectures. Instead there were discussions, role playing and colourful books that depicted the goings on in years gone by. You see, had that teacher not put their own personal spin on what they were teaching, I would never have passed my exams. It’s not about the subject, it’s about the delivery and how it resonates and connects with the student on a level that makes a real difference.

The wonderful thing about it is that everyone learns differently and so everyone will be attracted to different teachers, different courses, and different presentation. I loved my fun and colourful history teacher, but perhaps some of my fellow students preferred to be fed their history the old fashioned way? So yes, the course you’re offering may already exist in one form or another, but your delivery will resonate with different people: people who might otherwise have chosen to avoid the subject all together.

So what’s next?

Well the next step for Pink Lemon is to start providing access to our new range of services, and I couldn’t be more excited!

Perhaps the next step for you is to consider the future of your business in a new light. One thing’s for certain: it’s going to be a quiet Christmas and, however disappointing that may be, you owe it to yourself to make the most of a bad situation. So use this time to think about where your business is going.

We’re living in a very different world to the one we left behind in the last decade and it’s up to you to ensure that your business stays the course.

***Beta testers wanted***

I am looking for beta testers who are ready to begin their digital course creation journey. I have created an extensive Programme that supports students to plan, create, deliver and launch their very own digital course.

Please note that this is an immersive 1-2-1 Programme where you have full access to me on a regular basis where I will personally guide you through this process to ensure you achieve your digital course goals.

Due to the nature of this Programme, spaces are limited. If you would like to register your interest to embark on this Programme then please click here.

If you would like to book a FREE complimentary consultation to see how I can help you grow your business then please click here.


What is it really like to be a graphic designer?

What is it really like to be a graphic designer?

“Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

– Harriet Tubman

I was recently given the opportunity to speak at the University of the Creative Arts in Canterbury, and was sent a questionnaire about my business as a precursor to the event.

As a design graduate, the opportunity to speak to others who feel as passionately about design as I do was a great honour, and it occurred to me that there must be lots of students out there who wonder what it’s really like to run a business. I decided therefore to turn that questionnaire into a blog to give anybody interested in a career in design just a little insight into what awaits them after graduation day!

1. What do you like about your job/and what you dislike?

So this should be an easy question but actually it’s surprisingly hard because there are so many things I adore about my job!

The freedom of self-employment, the responsibility of being in charge, the people I meet… there’s so much to love! However, when I was forced to narrow it down I realised that my greatest passion is in the sheer scope and diversity of the projects I tackle. That, and making sales.

When it comes to what I dislike however, the answer’s pretty easy: I’m a designer not a mathematician, so the bit I dislike is accounts and bookkeeping! I have an accountant and a bookkeeper though, so my advice for new business owners is always to outsource the bits they hate/can’t do/don’t have time for. You have to speculate to accumulate and my ‘numbers guys’ have given me the time and head-space to really concentrate on growing my business. 

2. How/Where do you look for work/clients? 

You can spend a fortune on advertising, pay per click, billboards and the rest, but the key to getting good, quality clients through the door is word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to start slow and make sure you do lots of networking. Getting your brand known is the best way to ensure longevity for your business.

3. What would be your tip for networking? 

Always be yourself: authenticity and truth take you a lot further than trying to fit some sort of ‘ideal’. If you’re new to the game then just own it – people will respect you more for admitting your shortcomings and working on them, than for trying to bluff your way into contracts.

4. How do you promote yourself? do you think being present on social media is important for a creative?

Absolutely. Self-promotion is very important.

Creativity is a gift and it’s up to you to share it with the world. No two creatives are the same, and no two see things from the same perspective, so trust in yourself and your uniqueness.

As a creative it’s important to build a personal brand so that you get known for your craft. Social media is a powerful platform that allows us to share our story with the world. It allows us to showcase our services, but also to share a little of our personality and our drives. It can feel extremely vulnerable to put yourself out there, but at the end of the day, people buy people and social media is all about getting to know people. Embrace it.

5. What are your tips for anyone who is starting out?

Trust in yourself and your capabilities. Be brave and remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Trust that you are enough and that your skills, knowledge and craft set you apart from other creatives. The creative industry can be very competitive so believe in yourself and never compare yourself to anyone else. We all see the world differently and it’s those differences that need to be embraced. Art is subjective after all – some people will love your style, some will hate it but that’s ok because you don’t want the whole world on your books!

Also be clear on what you want. Do you want to work at a design agency or work client-side? Do you want to become a freelancer or own a creative business? Having a vision and setting goals moves you forward in both life and career, and you’d be amazed at how many established businesses stall because, even after many years, they still don’t really know what they want.

6. How do you make sure you stay true to your style/tone?

It’s taken many years to embrace who I am. It was actually becoming a mum that really helped me to understand who I am and what was important to me.

My twenties were spent trying to make sense of things and trying to understand my place in the world and what I wanted. I realised 9-5 didn’t suit me and I was better off focusing on building a career that was aligned to the person I am than to try and fit into a premade box.

My style and tone is feminine, elegant, creative with a sense of fun, and my little girls have helped me embrace that. Again, not everyone likes that style: I’m unlikely to ever get hired by a funeral home or life insurance company for example! But there are lots of brilliant designers out there who could do a much better job than me for those companies, so I just concentrate on the clients who share my vision – life and business are much more fun that way.

7. How do you know what to charge for your work? How do you stay safe/make sure you do get paid for the work you do?

I cannot emphasise this enough: research and well written contracts.

Make sure that you have a well written contract in place before you start any project. Also take a percentage upfront so that if a client decides to become difficult, you have been paid in advance.

A good client will never question paying a deposit upfront as it shows commitment. Also, a lot of our work is front-loaded so this covers our time and keeps the cash flowing.

If a client is not prepared to agree to your (reasonable) terms then walk away. Save yourself a lot of grief in the long-run!

8. Do you think you need to work for free at the beginning?

I think in the beginning it’s important to build a strong portfolio of work which can be achieved from ‘free’ projects, but I urge you to do this with caution.

Determine what you want to get out of it first.

If it is going to provide you with your desired outcome then do it for ‘free’ but make sure you still have your terms and conditions in place.

Do not do any work without having your T&C’s.

Clients often push boundaries when it comes to the scope of a project. This is called scope creep and can happen without you realising it.

From very early in my career, I would create a Scope of Works document which outlined what was included within a project. This included deliverables, edits, timeframe, responsibilities and, of course, any agreed payment terms.  This held me in good stead and often protected me from being taken advantage of.

I still experience scope creep today, but always know your worth and know that any time spent is valuable.

I would also advise that if you do work for ‘free’ then make sure you get the client’s permission to showcase the work either in your portfolio or online. Also ask them for a testimonial to accompany the work and if you can, also create a blog about it so that you can start building up your online presence. This way any ‘free’ work that you do will have a value to you. It may not be cash, but actually it’s far more valuable, because it’s given you real work experience working as a designer for a client.

9. Do you have any tips on being professional?

  • Always present yourself in the best possibly way
  • Be polite and respectful at all times
  • Always deliver on your promise
  • Always be ethical
  • Don’t over commit or take on projects that are outside your skillset
  • Be honest about where you are on your journey
  • Develop a growth mindset. No one knows everything so be prepared to learn from others who have walked before you

10. What are some of the favourite past projects?

I love working on branding projects with ambitious clients who want to build a brand. These clients are really inspiring. They come at the project open-minded, which leads to great outcomes. It can be transformational for some clients. I have had four clients win Awards because they have embraced there vision through design.

I worked on a project at a design agency for a seafood restaurant. We were all given the job of branding the restaurant and the best design was going to be presented to the client. At the time I was a student at UCA, and working there part-time for free. I was working with all these other amazing designers but it was my work that got picked! It was an amazing moment for me that showed me I was on the right path.

11. We all know the current climate is a little difficult; do you see any positives?

There are always positives to be taken from difficult situations and right now is no different.

We have been given the gift of time and we need to use it in the best possible way. We can often lead such busy lives with very little time to sit down and reflect, consider and plan for moving forward.

There is no doubt that life as we know it is going to change and that we will soon be experiencing a ‘new normal’ however where there is change there is opportunity and that needs to be embraced.

Opportunity to see things differently.

Opportunity to create new things.

Opportunity to make your mark.

None of these things can happen mind you, if you don’t know what you want; so use this time to get clear on your vision for your studies/career/business.

Leaving University and starting out in the world is scary. We are told there are no jobs, but that’s not necessarily the case, and if you don’t come across the job you want then create it!

We live in a world of possibility and I like to think that I am proof of the power of pursuing your goals.

I started a business with no business experience. I had passion, drive and a need to create. Three years later I am doing what I love. I spent 12 years prior to being at uni in jobs that made me unhappy. For so long I felt I was ‘not good enough’ and yet I had these wonderful creative skills.

As soon as I realised that I could use my gift to build something meaningful, everything changed. That can be true for you as well, so embrace what is happening now, find the positive, look for the opportunity and be fair and kind to others.

What UCA said…

Design for the Future Event

“Karen, creator or Pink- Lemon Branding and Design joined the University for the Creative Arts’ Career and Employability Adviser, Nikki Martin for a special lockdown Q&A session with UCA Students where she shared her story of being a designer and branding specialist and her journey since leaving university.

Karen gave great advice and tips on freelancing, effective networking, using social media, developing commercial awareness, and maintaining a professional image.

Students were able to ask their questions about starting out in the creative industries and the feedback was fantastic.

We look forward to working with Karen again soon!”

“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you.

What you believe, remember, you can achieve.”

– Mary Kay Ash

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2019: end of year review in business

2019: end of year review in business

Do you have 2020 vision?

Well, as hard as it is to believe, 2019 has officially past and we are in to a brand new decade. It really does seem to have flown by in a flurry of furious activity don’t you think?

Here at Pink Lemon we’ve been non-stop with projects, awards, customers and big big plans for the future; but being busy has its good points and its bad points: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get so busy thinking about what comes next that I almost forget the importance of looking back.

Writer Michael Crichton said:

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”

Ok so he was talking about the proverbial ‘bigger picture’ but personally I feel that this applies to marketing just as keenly. Take customer leads for example: you probably have some sort of system for registering where individual customers have come from, but when was the last time you really sat down and looked at it?

If you don’t know how your customers heard of you then how do you know where to put your marketing budget next year? Similarly, your social media engagement can be extremely telling – have you ever looked back at your Facebook to see which posts got the most shares? Or what about your web analytics – where are those clicks coming from?

You see, we really need to focus on our company’s history in order to make the most of its future, and it’s not just marketing that needs a close inspection.

What about your brand motivation?

I talk about this a lot: the ethos and goals you’ve set for yourself are at the core of your business. Yes the metaphorical goal posts are movable (if we’re too rigid we’ll never accomplish anything) but stray too far from your vision and you’ll find that your offering suffers. This can be especially relevant to new businesses, where easy sales and the promise of covering overheads quickly can mean that we end up with undesirable clients who don’t share our philosophy.

And speaking of sales: are you meeting your money goals or simply ‘making do’? and, if the latter, what can you do about it in 2020?

Brand Goals
For me one of the most importance jobs at this time of year is to conduct an informal ‘end of year review’ for my business so that I start the New Year with a bang instead of a whimper! If you’re like me you’ll want to make sure you’re on the right track from the very beginning of next year, but if you’re unsure of how to go about it, then I’ve broken down my process below:

My end of year review

  • MONEY Did you set a profit goal last year and, if so, did you meet it? Regardless of what time of year you usually do your accounts, it’s worth sitting down now and working out your finances so that you know what’s important and what’s in budget in 2020.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA Perform a similar analysis of your social media – look at what type of platforms and posts work well for you and at what time of the day/week your posts perform best. This can help you create a social media schedule for next year.
  • SUPPLIERS Who have you outsourced to this year? Are they worth dealing with in the future or do you need to change things up? Sometimes we’ll stick with suppliers out of convenience and not because they offer the best service.
  • THINK LONG TERM They say it takes an average of 6 months to see results from a marketing campaign so don’t read too much into recent efforts that haven’t yet paid off. Instead, think of where you want to be in 6 months’ time and use whatever data you have so far to formulate a plan.
  • DON’T PANIC! If this all seems a little overwhelming then seek advice from a professional marketer – we’re experts in guiding businesses in the right direction and an outside perspective can be invaluable at times like this.

We all need a little bit of help from time to time…

A key part of running a business is knowing when help is needed, after all, running a business can be very overwhelming. There’s always so much to do and just not enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done!

This is why we were inspired to launch The Visibility Hub so that we can help other small business owners find their way as not every company has a dedicated marketing department and not every business owner has the time or know-how to get maximum visibility for their brand. 

So what’s it all about?

The Visibility Hub is a monthly meeting designed to help start-ups and small business owners move forward in their marketing and brand building efforts. For just a small fee per meeting, business owners can get together with like-minded people and industry experts to share ideas, get advice on challenges and ask for guidance to help them take their business from ‘hardly noticed’, to ‘not to be missed’!

Each month will be themed around a specific topic and will feature Q&A session along with plenty of networking and the great thing is, there is no need to commit to attending every month, just pop along when you can.

Our very first meeting will be taking place at 10am to 12.30pm on Wednesday 29th January at The Innovations Centre, Chatham. Our guest speaker will be Kathy Hayman, The Loving Life Coach who will be running an interactive workshop to help us really nail those all-important goals for 2020. So if you are looking to really step up this year in your business then please do come along.

To book your ticket, click here.

Space are limited so book your ticket ASAP to avoid disappointment as this is one not to be misse


Lastly, and most importantly, I would like to wish you all a happy & successful 2020. With an entire year stretched before us, this year can be whatever you make it so kick fear to the curb and go for it.

Make 2020 YOUR year!

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