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    Advice, freelance, General

    6 things you need to build a foundation for your life and business

    February 3, 2016

    Building my business and life foundation was my top priority last year. I knew that I had been flying by the seat of my pants for far too long, and I needed to figure out how to make all of my dreamy dreams a reality. After several years of all the willy-nilly, devoting myself to learning and implementing these 6 things to build my foundation for life and business changed everything.


    Your personal values are the key to living a successful and happy life on your own terms. These are what will create your business and life foundation. When you take the time to figure out your values, and structure your life around making these happen on a regular basis, you will innately start to feel happy about your circumstances because you’re doing what you need to do to fill yourself up.

    When I was in undergrad, and for the most of my graduate degree, I was making sure that I was doing everything I could to put myself in a place where I would be hirable when I graduated. I spent summers away from friends and family doing internships, I spent late nights and weekends working on projects and my personal passions. Even though I was doing things that supposedly were helping me get to where ‘I wanted to be’ there was something that was missing. I didn’t do a deep-dive into my values until the last year of my grad school. I realized that I was putting work and my career above everything else. I was losing relationships with friends and family, and that didn’t seem like the kind of success that I wanted to be a part of. By examining my values and realizing that friends and family are a top one, I did something about it. I made that value my top concern, and every choice I made about my life and career followed suit. Since, things have been much happier!


    Priorities are what we are doing in our current circumstances to live out or core values. When I realized my value of spending time with family and friends, I made it a priority to bring them into my life more. Currently, I chose to move to Cleveland, where I am now only an hour and a half away from my parents some of the year. Choosing to live here lets me see them on a much more regular basis than I would had I lived nearly anywhere else. I also realized my need for free-time to see my friends, and I made it a priority to keep my weekends open so that I could fit in friend time on a regular basis. I also make it a priority to make it to my German dancing troupe each Friday night — this is like friends and family all in one :) As things in life change, our priorities might as well. You might need to make a certain someone more of a priority than another. Before Todd came in to my life, he was not a priority — finding someone to spend my life with was though and I spent a lot of time dating trying to find someone. That was a priority to me then, but it’s changed. When that someone turned out to be him, he became my priority. These things flux throughout your life, but the values will most likely stay the same or become more refined throughout the years.


    This is the most important step to making your values happen in your life. Without a schedule, smaller and less important things will take over our lives. When we take the time to make a schedule, keep our priorities as the most important thing, we are sure to make them happen! Creating a schedule, living it out, and adjusting as necessary is how we create our business and life foundations. If you want to read about how I schedule my days, and how to create a schedule of your own, you can find a post on that here. It’s SO important to write this down! You can’t make the schedule in your head and hope that it will all happen…trust me, it won’t. Take some time to figure out your ideal week, where every value-based priority makes it in there. As you start to live out your schedule, you can start to refine. Once I lived out my ideal schedule, I found so much more time hidden in places I didn’t even look before. For example, I wanted to fit in personal development on a regular basis. Instead of listening to the morning show on the radio on my way to work, I now make it a priority to have a personal development audio book ready to play on my commute. When you build the foundation of your schedule, you’ll start to find opportunities to build in your values and priorities where you never expected!


    Yep. I can tell you, that for my business, the number on thing that made my last year such a success was finally sitting down and figuring out my finances. FreshBooks was a lifesaver. Before I had FreshBooks, I was creating every invoice for my clients through design programs, and I had no way to track if my clients were getting them, if they were sending a check in the mail, via paypal, or what. Getting FreshBooks saved my sanity, and having this system in place created a snowball effect for my business. Not only did I feel more professional, my clients saw my business as more professional. I wasn’t some girl just side-hustling design, I was the owner of a successful branding studio. I also believe that by tracking my invoices and payment through FreshBooks It created a mindset shift in me and my business. It made everything visible. Through this, I was able to see that I could hire a couple helping hands for projects and still bring in enough to pay myself my Pinegate Road salary. Getting on track helped me manage projects better, and get more done now that I had help. This in turn helped grow my numbers even more. Thanks FreshBooks :)

    Outside of business finances, I also set a budget for my personal life. Before I had both of these systems, I was never going too crazy with my spending, and I was always making enough between my full-time salary and my Pinegate Road salary to stay afloat. What I didn’t realize is how much I could be saving when I put it all out there and told my money where to go. Instead of Starbucks every morning, I make coffee at home. I meal plan, grocery shop, and pack lunches. Doing a deep-dive into my finances and getting on a budget not only helped me save money for my emergency fund and work towards paying off my mortgage faster, it’s helped me live happier and healthier because of the changes I was making. Win, win!


    Ohhhh my gosh you guys. This is where I started going crazy with stuff this year. Implementing tools and systems helped me get organized like no other! Getting project management software for my team, FreshBooks for finances, using evernote to keep all my thoughts down, and using apps for tracking my personal finances…everything just got so good. There are so many options for systems that you can implement for your life, and you need to find what works for you. Dedicate yourself to finding some, and stick with them. Once you get it all together, this will create the path to executing your business and life foundation.

    Right now, I’m trying out the 12 week year. This is a system to implement that takes your value-based goals, and creates a system to making certain aspects of them happen in a span of 12 weeks. Personally, I’m much better at focusing and going after a goal when I know there is a due date. This system is helping me create a plan, and breaks everything down into tiny steps to make it happen over 12 weeks. It’s going really well so far, and I’m feeling so motivated to keep going. Like I said, there’s something out there for everyone, it just takes some time to explore, experiment, and test out what works best for you and your lifestyle!


    This is one that I’m just realizing. So kind of funny story. In 2011, when I started this blog, I seriously decided one day that I was a blogger. That was it. And then it became true. That first day, I just knew deep down that this was something I wanted to do, and wanted to keep up with. I didn’t have goals, I just had a mindset that I wanted to make it happen and see how it went, consistently. 5 years later, some major life transitions throughout, I’m still posting here in this space.

    If you believe you are, you are.

    Here is also where habits come in to play. I’ve been recently reading this book on habits, and it goes into how habits are formed and how we can change them. One of the biggest factors in changing our negative habits into positive ones is believing that we can. Without that, you’ll always be stuck — shutting yourself down to positive change before you ever begin.

    Believing in your ability to change and build your business and life foundation is the key to your personal success. If you don’t believe it will happen, if you think it will be too hard, and you’re not willing to put small steps into action — it certainly won’t happen. If you go into this with an open, experimental, and positive outlook, big things are heading your way, friend!

    Needing a constant reminder to believe in yourself? I have a treat for you! Click below to download your free 8×10″ art print to hang in your office, bedroom, or any place you might need that extra motivational boost.

    believe, and you are. Free art print!


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    and I’ve been helping entrepreneurs and businesses build their brands and online presences for over a decade. I deeply believe that everyone has the potential to make their dreams reality and my agency helps people do just that. As your creative director, my job is to help take the vision in your head, ground it in strategy, illuminate it with design, and make it your digital reality. 

    I’m Kelsey Kerslake, founder and creative director of Pinegate Road