Purchase a Telephone Consultation

I have numerous opportunities for my Indie Business Network members to easily access phone consultations with me. A monthly Access Q+A Coaching call is included with their annual membership (you can join IBN here if that interests you) and I answer many of their questions as I can in our private member Facebook group. But people who are not members do not have an easy way to ask me questions … until now. I recently created a Clarity.fm account to make it easy for non-members to book a consultation with me.

It’s super easy to use too. Just click “Request a Call” below, and choose your time frame. You can pay for my time by the minute too, which is super useful if you have an urgent and concise question. Thanks, and I look forward to speaking with you!

10 Signs Your Small Business Will Be Successful

This article is for all Makers and handmade entrepreneurs, but mainly for the newbies. One of the questions I get most often is: “How do I know my business will work?” The short answer is that you don’t know. No one knows. Entrepreneurship is about many things, and one of those things is risk. When you start a business, you take a chance that it won’t work out. It’s like life. Every time you get behind the wheel of a car, or buy a new smart phone, or seriously date someone, or whatever, you take a chance that things won’t work out. The difference with entrepreneurship is that you have to work a lot harder and longer to find out if things will work out, and that scares a lot of people.

plants growing with coins underneath
And really, it should scare you. No one should start a business on a lark or whim. It should be something you are willing to commit yourself fully to, understanding that there is a great deal of risk involved. It’s also a helluva lotta fun … but I digress. While we cannot know for sure that a business will or will not be profitable and sustainable over the long haul, there are some signs to look for early on. Here are 10 of them.

Grit Trumps Everything in Business

I was not a high performing young student. It’s embarrassing to admit, especially since today, I insist that my children pursue high levels of achievement in elementary school. (Translated loosely, this means “as many A’s as you can get.”) When I was their age, I did well, but after sixth grade, I started getting B’s and C’s — and even a few failing grades. Things improved a bit in high school. I graduated with a solid C average, yet managed somehow to get into college and law school, and then pass the Bar exam on the first try, and continue to serve on the prestigious Law Review. The only way I can explain how that record has allowed me to achieve nearly every major life and career goal I’ve set is, that I have grit. I have thought this way about myself for years, and now, there seems to be some scientific validation of it. Watch this video of Professor Angela Lee Duckworth’s six-minute Ted Talk to see what I mean.

See? I wanted to share this with you because I know how you feel sometimes in your business. You see other people making all kinds of money. They post Facebook pictures of their trips to exotic destinations. They share a picture of how they took their car to the shop — and the car just happens to be a Lexus. They post Instagram photos of all of the things they got their kids for their birthdays. It can be very disheartening to watch when you are just starting out or have been struggling to put all the pieces together.

This message should inspire and encourage you. Angela Lee Duckworth, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Psychology, has studied inner city high school students and high level executives, and the conclusions are the same. Grit trumps smarts. What a relief.

It’s Not About Balance. It’s About Priorities.

When Kenna Cote asked me to speak on the topic of work/life balance at the Central Soapers Workshop this weekend, I was thrilled. At first, I didn’t have a clue what I would say because I don’t think there is any such thing as work/life balance. There’s just life and all the stuff you have to do to make it great. Balance is a distraction. Priorities are what matter most, and if those are straight, then balance is a non-issue. That’s what I planned to say in Kansas today. As you now know, I won’t have a chance to say it. Instead, I am actually living it out.


As this very hour, my presentation on “work/life balance” (not) is being delivered by Lela Barker, an Indie Business Network member, and I know she is doing a super job. Meanwhile, I want to share the gist of my presentation with you now. Here is why pursuit of balance is a distracting waste of time. It’s not about balance. It’s about priorities.

My Presentation at Central Soapers

Due to an urgent family matter, I am unable to deliver my talk this Saturday at the Central Soapers Workshop in Overland Park, Kansas. The topic I was asked to speak on is Work/Life Balance, and the title of my presentation is Forget the Juggling and Just Drop All the Damn Plates. This situation presents an ironic opportunity for me to walk my talk. After all, my planned presentation shares my recommendation that, as women entrepreneurs with families, we should strive, not for balance, but to choose our actions based on a carefully selected set of predetermined priorities.

donna maria at central soapers

In case you’re wondering, I am not experiencing balance right now. But I am experiencing the peace that comes with knowing that this choice, as hard as it is to make, is the right one. I am choosing my utmost priority (my family) over a very high priority (my work). And that’s just the way it has to be in this moment.

Here’s the good news for those of you who will be at Central Soapers Workshop: my disappointment is your gain. Here’s why:

“5 Formulas to Keep Your Facebook Business Page Fresh and Engaging” by Donna Maria

If you don’t know how I feel about Facebook, you can find out here. If you don’t have time to click that link, let me quickly summarize. Facebook is a great place to promote your business so long as your core marketing tools are owned and controlled by you. If you don’t have your own blog, your own email newsletter, and your own website, don’t complain that Facebook is hiding your status updates from your fans.

facebook likes and fans

It is becoming increasingly clear that Facebook does not work for you unless you boost posts or buy ads, and even then, there are legitimate questions about how effective Facebook is. If you have a solid marketing core of your own, Facebook is tasty icing on top of that cake. (If you need help creating a solid marketing core, check out my Indie Business Blueprint training.) No matter what, if your Facebook Business Page does not look good, then your business does not look good. In fact, if for whatever reason you cannot invest in making your Facebook Business Page look good, then you should delete it. It’s better for it not to be there than for it to be there working against you. It’s easier than you think to maintain a great looking Facebook Business Page. Use these 5 formulas to keep your page looking fresh and appealing.

“6 Keys to Going Big Without Growing Big” by Donna Maria

When it comes to entrepreneurship, the saying “Go big or go home,” can be interpreted to mean that if your business if not big in size, then it somehow doesn’t count. I disagree with that philosophy. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, and it sure doesn’t mean stronger or more profitable. In fact, a woman-led business that is too big to for the leader to comfortably lead, and still have a meaningful personal life, is probably too big no matter what the size.


Over the years, I’ve had multiple opportunities to increase the size of the Indie Business Network. People have offered to sell me their businesses from time to time. I have also considered taking out loans to staff up and hire more people so the Indie Business Network could become bigger. While I admire people who choose to grow in size, I know it’s not for me … at least not at this time in my life. And for me, that’s OK.

Women Lead In Creating and Consuming Social Media

After coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs for over a decade, I concluded that women tend to embrace using social media for business more quickly than men. This infographic seems to indicate that my conclusion is correct. If you are a woman business owner, this might be the most important tip I could share with you: leverage your relationship building instincts to expand your business through the efficient use of social media tools. Start with a blog and a newsletter, and then systematically share content across a manageable number of social media outlets. You’ll be glad you did.

Most Popular Social Media Sites Review: Why Women Are The Real Power Behind The Huge Success Of Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram

Infographic courtesy of Finances Online.com

Question: Are you maximizing the use of social media tools to build and sustain your business?

I’ve Been Named to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Natural Products Association

I’m very excited to share that I have been named to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Natural Products Association. As such, I will be responsible for helping to govern the organization, and in particular, to assist with its public relations and media efforts. For those who don’t know, the North Carolina Natural Products Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving, cultivating, and processing North Carolina grown medicinal plants. They have a great team already in place, and I’m thrilled to join them and to have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to sustainable agriculture in my adopted home state.


North Carolina is filled with an abundance of natural resources, and I’m excited to join forces with NC NPA to help Makers and creative entrepreneurs to cultivate and share the natural medicinal wonders that can be found here. If you’d like to learn more about the North Carolina Natural Products Association, visit their website and follow them on Facebook. To find out how you can become a supporter, click here.