Why I Am Closing Down My Website

I am closing down this website. I am not kidding. While enjoying the sun and surf on Hilton Head Island last week, I had a chance to unwind, relax, and consider how my life is going. In short, it’s going well and I am loving every minute of it. But like all things, there is plenty of room for improvement. One of the areas I am going to improve this summer is the manner in which I use my online real estate. I’m starting today with this announcement that I am closing down this website.

closing down my website

Though difficult, I believe that closing this site will allow me to be more efficient. It will also better position me to deliver on my promise to serve IBN members to the best of my ability, and to help as many people as possible (whether IBN members or not) to be successful in life and in business.

I am launching some new and exciting things for you over the next few months, and all of them will take place at Indie Business Network.com, leaving little space for this site to exist on its own. If you are a subscriber or just enjoy stopping by to read my posts now and then, here are a few things you need to know:

I will continue to blog

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I have been blogging for over a decade, and I have no plans to stop now. It’s too good for business, too good for me, and too much fun. I will continue to blog at Indie Business Blog, and you can subscribe at this link.

My newsletter is still going strong

As I have done since 2000, I will continue to publish my weekly newsletter. To subscribe, and get your copy of my complimentary audio, “Top 10 Success Secrets For Handmade Entrepreneurs,” use the subscription box on the right sidebar of this page.

The articles here will continue to be available

All of the blog posts at this blog will be transferred to Indie Business Blog over the course of the next several days. Not counting this post, there are only 30, so it won’t take too long. Once the re-posts are completed, this website will be close down and donnamaria.com will be forwarded to another page. I’m not sure where yet (maybe Facebook?), but we’ll all find out together soon.

Thank You!

To all of you who have joined me here by reading, sharing, commenting, and liking, I want you to know that I do not take you or the time you spent here with me for granted. I appreciate every single comment and share. In fact, the downside to making this decision is that I will lose all the comments you have shared over the past several months. I considered that very carefully, and still, I think closing down this site is the best thing to do because it will allow me to serve you better.

Thank you for being here with me. I love and treasure you all, and I hope you will join me at Indie Business Blog.

So, that’s it. Time for a change, and I wanted you to be the first to know. I’d love to know what you think, and also, if you have any questions too. Let me know both in the comments below.

See you at Indie Business Blog!!

Best and Success!



© 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Mango Fruit Salad With Honey Lime Dressing

It’s time to lighten things up a bit around here. Did you have a nice Memorial Day weekend? I got some much needed rest and enjoyed hanging out with my children. Their final tests of the year are coming up this week, so before we got back to work, I fired up our charcoal grill and got busy. While my chicken and burgers were a big hit with the kids and our guests, my personal favorite dish was this Mango Fruit Salad With Honey Lime Dressing salad. I made it up as I went along, and it’s the perfect summer treat.

mango fruit salad with honey lime dressing

It’s so easy to make. Here are the ingredients for the salad and the dressing: a pound of strawberries (tops removed), two mangoes (pitted and sliced), two cups of seedless red grapes, 1 banana (peeled and thinly sliced, and a handful of torn fresh basil leaves. After you put all of that in a big bowl, drizzle a tablespoon of honey and the juice of one fresh lime over the fruit. Toss gently, and then eat some before everyone else gets to it. It’s that good. I think this is destined to become a beach and poolside favorite at the Johnson household this summer.

What do you think?

Best and Success!



© 2014. All Rights Reserved.

My friend is sharing his family success secrets

In 2006, when my family and I moved to Charlotte, I met Marlon Smith, a wonderful person who has become my dear friend and mentor. Over the years, we have enjoyed connecting at business and family events. I’ve watched Marlon and his wife grow their businesses and their family, and it has been a pleasure. In this quick post, I want to tel you about a new program they are offering to help empower families like mine and yours. Watch the video to learn more, or skip below to get the link and registration details.

Marlon is one of the most sincere and passionate people I know when it comes to families. To give you some idea of the depth of his passion, consider my passion for empowering small businesses. If you understand that, then you have a picture of Marlon’s passion for helping family members achieve their best, individually and together as a unit.

Lucky me, I get an audience with him regularly as his friend. But for everyone who is not so lucky, Marlon and his wife have compiled their family success strategies into a program that can empower your family as he has helped to empower mine. It’s called the Family Success Blueprint, and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about it.

The program is entirely online, from May 1 to June 5. Marlon has spread out the experience so even the busiest families can attend and get the most out of it. Marlon only has a few dozen seats left, and then the doors are closing on this powerful live, virtual experience.

Family Success Blueprint: perfect for any family!

If you have a family, you are juggling a lot — especially if you have babies and young children, and especially if you are running a business like I am, I encourage you to consider investing in yourself and your loved ones, and take advantage of the information Marlon and his wife will be sharing.

There are very few virtual events I would URGE you to attend this year, and this is one of them. First of all because I am such a huge supporter of Marlon and his calling to help family members grow together and as separate individuals. Second of all, the “D.A.N.C.E.” theme Marlon has devised is such a powerful step-by-step approach that any family can use to set and achieve goals. And third, because Marlon’s philosophies have changed thousands of lives, including mine, as he has addressed audiences in 14 countries and nearly all 50 states.

Of course there’s so much more, but I’ll let Marlon share the details, and you can decide if this is a good fit for you and your family. I think it’s a fabulous way to kick off the spring season and get clear on your family and its unique gifts to its members and the the world.

Here’s the page you want to go to now. Take a look and see if this isn’t exactly what you need right now.

Best and Success!



© 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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.