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“Ask Good Questions” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Faith, Founder and Concept Concierge™ of 10 Carat Creations. Nicole is a location independent entrepreneur that crafts online service businesses for sophisticated solopreneurs in just 1 week so they can work with clients as they travel the world. She also founded the Digital Nomad Business Directory and created Jet Set Business Prep™, the Flagship course that teaches freelancers how to build an online business in just 5 weeks.

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you became a founder?

I never intended to be an entrepreneur until it happened when I realized I was not made to be an employee. I started babysitting at age 12 and got my first job at age 14 so by the time I was 24 I spent a glorious 10 years in the workforce.. and had enough. I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t need 8 hours to get things done every day. I felt suffocated.

I thought the path to freedom was freelancing, so I offered web design, copywriting and a bunch of other services on a freelance basis. It became clear that the clients I worked for didn’t respect me or my expertise.

There’s a certain client-freelancer dynamic that goes on where the client dictates what they need done and the freelancer works like an employee to make it happen. This is ridiculous because you go from having one boss to 10!

The clients in the freelance marketplace generally just want the cheapest rate and don’t care about quality. I felt disrespected competing for low-paying gigs that my skills were above.

I had an epiphany after reading many business books and blogs- I wanted to package my services. And beyond that, I wanted to do just one thing. Be known for ONE thing.

Being a Freelance ______ isn’t very memorable. But nobody forgets the Concept Concierge™!

So the business I thought I had while freelancing (which wasn’t a business, just a website) turned into 10 Carat Creations. And here we are!

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

10 Carat Creations is filling a gap for professionals who want to work for themselves, but function at a higher level than the freelance marketplace offers. Who doesn’t want to be a digital nomad nowadays?

The struggle isn’t traveling while you work.. it’s giving yourself a business so you have steady work! The freelance mindset is all about chasing gigs and clients, but being a business owner lets clients come to you. By crafting a five star business that stands head and shoulders above everyone else, you make it easy for clients to work with you because you’re more of a “sure-thing” than a random freelancer.

This puts you in a higher class, where you become the elite.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

I just launched Jet Set Business Prep™ (https://businessprep.10caratcreations.com), my flagship course. It’s like the Ivy League of online courses, because it teaches freelancers how to craft a sophisticated online service business in just 5 weeks so they can work with clients as they travel. It goes beyond just the concept and website and really sets them up for success with a unique brand, marketing plan, and necessary tools. It’s the most comprehensive course on building an online service business for high caliber solopreneurs who don’t want to lower their standards to make a buck. I found that many freelancers struggle for months or even years to build a business that is sustainable. They’re stuck in what I call the “Freelance Circus”. Jet Set Business Prep™ is a fast-track to designing the perfect business so you can start making real money.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is technically a children’s book but it is my favorite. It left a permanent impression on me when I read it as a child because it captures the beauty and hostility that comes with being an individual.

Having a strong sense of self and high self-esteem is critical in life, but especially as an entrepreneur. You need to know who you are before you even think about who your customers are. Sticking to your values can be challenging when you’re judged by people who don’t know you.

I was bullied pretty terribly from elementary school through high school because I wasn’t a follower, but the constant stream of rejection ultimately built me up to stand on my own two feet. It was so bad I spent every night crying at the dinner table, trying to understand why kids were so mean when I didn’t do anything to deserve it.

I remember Taylor Swift talking about being bullied in school and how her mom took her to TJ Maxx to look at the opal jewelry to feel better. Well, my mom took me to Nordstrom where we perused the purses and gobbled up the fashion (which I loved!). The employees knew us very well! That was our thing and it helped me get through it.

I really want to remind kids who are being tormented that a) you should speak up because you are better than your bullies and b) you are not defined by other people’s actions.

Only you have the power to steer your life in the direction you want to go and you are never too young to decide who you definitely don’t want to be.

Bullies exist in adulthood too, so the sooner you muster up the confidence to be your own person the easier life will be. Anyone who says or does something mean or hurtful is a bully. They take their self-hatred out on other people thinking if they tear them down it will build them up, but they really just come off as pathetic.

I’ve learned to feel bad for people who are so miserable in themselves, but I don’t dwell on it too much because I have important things to do.

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Trust thy gut.

You want to be as logical and strategic as you can be when you’re running a business, but sometimes an unexplainable gut feeling takes over and throws you off-course. I’ve learned to trust my gut when it comes to opportunities that come my way. For example, I had a bad feeling about an editor who wanted me to write a guest post that would have exploded awareness of my business, but I turned it down. I could tell we weren’t on the same wavelength.

2) Be professional and you’ll be remembered.

I had no idea how many “professionals” were actually unprofessional when I started my business. The little things mean everything, so I make it a point to say thank you for the smallest of acts, respond in a timely manner and do what I say I will.

3) Consistency pays off.

Instant gratification is hard to come by as an entrepreneur. If you do something consistently for a long enough time, you will see results. It took me nearly 3 months to get my first press mention, and that only happened because I was consistent. You often don’t see the result of your work until months down the line, so stay the course and you’ll be rewarded.

4) Ask good questions.

The questions you ask are more important than the answers, and asking questions is something I wasn’t always good at. I used to take a statement or story at face value.. but this often confused me. I slowly built up the confidence to ask the questions no one else asked and do the research no one did. If you feel unsettled by something, ask your question. Everyone else is probably thinking it too.

5) Listen to the universe.

There have been times when I want something to happen or I’m working on a project and for some inexplicable reason things aren’t going my way. My computer freezes, the website doesn’t work or something urgent pops up. I used to have tunnel vision and try to power through what I thought were obstacles, but they were really the universe telling me to stop, think and go in a different direction. There is a difference between something difficult and something not right. I’ve learned to be more flexible when things come up that slow me down. Working with the universe instead of against it gets me where I want to go quicker.

Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

John Ruhlin- are you there? I read his book Giftology and became a super-fan. His strategic gifting philosophy of “give great gifts, enhance relationships” transformed how I see gifts. I love shopping (and buying gifts for other people!) so I didn’t need any encouragement in that department, but I have re-thought all my client gifting practices.

Even though he runs a large business that focuses on corporate gifting, the same rules apply to solopreneurs and small businesses.

I find him and his thought process fascinating, so I wouldn’t pass up a (vegan) breakfast with him.

— Published on June 27, 2018