Boost Engagement With All Your Stakeholders Through Visual Communication Boost Engagement With All Your Stakeholders Through Visual Communication

In this article featured Total Food Service news, William shares one of the most critical things food service professionals may be missing out on: visual communications with their stakeholders.

Whether your a franchisee looking to engage, train, and inspire your team of front-line workers, or a corporate-level leader hoping to inform your peers and increase adoption of key initiatives, you cannot neglect the visual side of communication.

William shares some practical (and easy!) ideas on how to maximize the engagement and impact of communications across all stakeholders in the world of food franchising. 5 Ways to Boost Your Leadership Through Visual Communication 5 Ways to Boost Your Leadership Through Visual Communication

In this article featured on, William highlights the importance of visual communication for business leaders in navigating complex challenges and making effective decisions. It compares the business world to a gladiator match, with visual communication as the underestimated weapon.

Visual tools and techniques are emphasized as strategic assets that can help leaders in various aspects of their roles, from setting goals to problem-solving and fostering collaboration. The article provides a straightforward guide to incorporating visuals into a business strategy, including visualizing goals, creating visual scoreboards, using visual hierarchy, drawing to explain ideas, and personifying key stakeholders.

Visual thinking tools are presented as essential for clarity and simplicity in the ever-changing business landscape, enabling leaders to conquer challenges effectively.

Graphic Design USA: 3 Tips For Conquering The ‘Creative Conundrum’

Graphic Design USA: 3 Tips For Conquering The ‘Creative Conundrum’

In this article featured on Graphic Design USA, William discusses strategies for overcoming the “Creative’s Conundrum,” which is the challenge faced by creative individuals, professionals, and entrepreneurs in balancing their artistic passion with the need for profitability and business acumen. The author, William Warren, emphasizes that a successful creative career or business requires a fusion of creativity and business skills. He provides three tips for navigating this conundrum:

  1. Embrace Your Passion as Your Product: To succeed as a creative, it’s essential to view your art as a sellable “product” or “service” rather than just a reflection of your love for the craft. This shift does not dilute your work but enables you to use your art to solve problems and live a fulfilling life.
  2. Acknowledge the Work Ahead: The idea that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life is a misconception. Passionate work still demands effort, time, and dedication. Embrace the journey, both its highs and lows, to stay inspired and grounded in reality.
  3. Find Your Sweet Spot: Before diving into your creative career or entrepreneurial journey, identify your sweet spot—the intersection of what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and what the market needs. This involves defining your strengths, understanding your deeper motivations, and recognizing what people are willing to pay for. Once you find your sweet spot, you’ll be on the path to a successful creative career.

In conclusion, the article encourages readers to view the Creative’s Conundrum as a challenge rather than a roadblock and offers practical advice to help creative individuals merge artistry with strategy to achieve their professional and entrepreneurial goals.

3 Simple Metrics You Need to Track

3 Simple Metrics You Need to Track

“What gets measured gets done.” 

Someone, somewhere, at some time, said this. Or a version of this. I’m not quite sure.

Either way, this is a good quote, especially for creatives.

For most creatives, like me, the notion of measuring aspects of your work…you know, like metrics, analytics, data, etc.—is extremely uninspiring.  I can think of a zillion other things I’d rather do than track data.

However, it is necessary. If you want to grow a healthy, thriving creative business or career, you need to be tracking certain aspects of your work. If not, you’re essentially on a journey without a map or any reference points to guide your next step.

The good news is that there’s only a handful of metrics you need to be tracking diligently. Sure, there are other important bits of data to keep your eye on, but these three measures are the most critical for us creatives.


The three metrics you need to be tracking are:


  1. Sales-Generating Activities

This metric is all about generating new business. 

Ask yourself: “What are the key things I am doing regularly to earn new clients and book more work?”

This could be asking for referrals, making connections on LinkedIn, updating your portfolio, posting new material on social media, even cold calling, knocking on doors, or posting on job boards. Whatever action you need to take to drum up more work is a sales-generating activity.

How will you measure this? This is a mostly manual measure. I encourage you to keep a simple spreadsheet where you tally up your daily sales generating activities. Set yourself a daily or weekly goal, and try to hit your goal. If you choose the right sales generating activities, and track them diligently, you should begin to book more business. If you have a CRM, you can likely track these activities using features of the platform.


  1. Your Time

This metric is about making sure the business you generate is profitable.

Ask yourself: “Is the amount of time I’m putting toward this work worth the cost my customer is paying?”

If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with time-tracking. I wrote a whole blog about it here, so check it out if you want to learn more about my obsession. In short, for creatives, your time is money. If you’re not tracking your time you will have no idea how profitable or unprofitable your business is. You will also have no idea if your pricing is right, if you’re leaving money on the table, or if you could be spending your time doing more valuable things.

How will you measure this? I recommend using a time-tracking app. I personally use Harvest, although there are plenty others. Find one that allows you to track different types of tasks, so you can get a holistic idea of where you’re spending your time.


  1. Customer Satisfaction

This metric is about ensuring you’re doing a good job.

Ask yourself: “Are my customers happy with their experience?”

A common business term is “net promoter score” – in other words, how likely are your customers to tell their friends and family about you?

If you do a killer job, people will be busting at the seams to tell others about their great experience. And if you do a terrible job, people will scream from the rooftops to warn others to avoid you like the plague.

You need to have an idea of your customer satisfaction, or net promoter score, to know if you’re on the right track. If your satisfaction is high, keep doing the same thing. If your satisfaction is low, then determine what needs to be fixed.

How will you measure this? Again, this is mostly manual. If you work closely with your clients, I would survey them – informally or formally – after you finish the job. Make it easy on them and just ask a few questions to gauge how happy or not happy they were. You can set up a simple online form, send them the link, and collect data that way. If you have a business where people can post online reviews, this is also a good metric to look at.

You may need to get creative, but your customer satisfaction is a critical measure you need to keep an eye on.


Although there are lots of other kinds of data you could be tracking, it’s important not to get overwhelmed and give up. Start small. Start with these three:

Track your sales-generating activities.

Track your time.

Track your customer satisfaction.

If you watch these three numbers, you’ll be well informed to continue growing an awesome creative business. You’ll have reference points on your journey to ensure you’re heading in the right direction.

6 Reasons to Join a Peer Community

6 Reasons to Join a Peer Community

There are at least two times that my peer community saved my business.

In 2013, after leaving my job to start my creative business, I found myself hopelessly alone. After years of working with a team, under a boss, and for a company, I was suddenly working all by myself.

Although the freedom was thrilling at first, soon the loneliness became crippling. My business began to stagnate, because I was stagnant. I remember some days where I would sit in front of my computer and watch stupid YouTube videos for hours and hours, wasting time, neglecting my work, and feeling miserable.

Then, I joined a peer community group. I had heard about Atlanta’s Plywood People before…they were a local organization that supported start-ups with resources, events, mentorship and…community groups. I was told about a new group called “Layers” and decided to give it a shot. 

The local legend Jeff Shinabarger was our group leader. Around the table were 5 to 7 folks who ran small but growing businesses (some creative, some not). We met monthly at the original Plywood People office in Atlanta’s Cabbagetown neighborhood. We ate chicken biscuits, drank coffee, and discussed our businesses. We worked on our business and we worked on ourselves. We grew and our businesses grew.

To be honest, I probably would have given up on being an entrepreneur if it hadn’t been for that group. That was the first time this community saved my business.


Now, the second time my peer community group saved my business was far more tactical.

After years of doing my business relatively the same way, Jeff suggested I try something different. “Have you ever thought about doing your sketching remotely, like through a computer screen?”

For context, my business The Sketch Effect draws at corporate events and meetings. Up until this point, we sketched on foam core or paper using markers while physically on-site at an event.

Jeff’s suggestion was to consider doing this sketching…virtually. Perhaps the day might come when people are meeting less together physically, and meeting together more virtually, over a platform like zoom.

What a great idea! I took this seed of an idea and ran with it.

Soon the term “RemoteNotes” was conjured up. My team and I began to innovate around this potential new product idea. We made investments…we bought our team iPads and Apple Pencils, we developed training around digital drawing, we began to play with live streaming our sketching, and we got familiar with Zoom and other virtual meeting software.

This was all in 2019. For more context, in 2019 we sketched for over 200 in-person client events, meetings and conferences…and perhaps only 2 “virtual” meetings.

Then, 2020 happened. And the rest is history.

COVID hit, the world went virtual overnight, in-person meetings and events ceased entirely…but our team was ready! The groundwork had already been laid. We had the team equipped with the tools and training and the subject-matter knowledge to go to market with our “brand new” virtual event sketching service.

“RemoteNotes” went from this novel, perhaps silly idea to being our biggest source of revenue in 2020, and the reason our business was able to survive such a disruptive and disastrous year.


In short, these are two times where my membership in my peer community group saved my business (although I’m sure there are many more).

To summarize, any creative who is doing their own thing—whether as a freelancer, solopreneur or entrepreneur—MUST get into some kind of peer community.

My financial investment in my Plywood Layers group wasn’t much, but the value was tremendous. Like I said, it saved my business.


When you join a peer community or community group, there are six huge payoffs:


  1. Relationships – working for yourself can be incredibly lonely. Even if you’re an introvert, you still need relationships. Humans are communal creatures, and without a tribe you will get lost in the wilderness. A peer group will immediately connect you with others, in similar situations, to foster that social and relational health. Friends and team-mates matter. You can only “go it alone” for so long. 
  1. Connectionswhen you’re in a group, you get connected not only to the immediate group, but to others the group members are connected to. This is called networking. Yeah, “networking” conjures up unpleasant images of sitting at a bar and having awkward small talk with strangers you don’t care about. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about real, authentic networks that will open doors to new clients, partners and collaborators. Networking is critical to growing a successful small business, and joining a peer group is a no-brainer way to make authentic networking happen organically.
  1. EncouragementWorking for yourself can also be incredibly discouraging at times. The bad days feel really Unpleasant news becomes the worst news. You need a team around you to encourage you and keep you grounded when things get hard. You also need a team around you to celebrate with you when things are awesome.
  1. AccountabilityWhen you’re in a group, the group will want to know if you’ve followed through on your commitments. They’ll make sure you’re keeping your word. They’ll push you and challenge you. All of this is critical to staying sharp, doing your work, and following through.
  1. New Ideas – Similar to my “RemoteNotes” story above, being in a peer community will force you to consider new ideas and fresh perspectives. It’s easy to get stuck doing things the same way and thinking the same thoughts about your work. A peer community will inject new thinking and fresh ideas into the mix…and it might just save your business.
  1. Mentorship – Finally, depending on the group, you will be exposed to amazing mentorship and coaching. Coaches aren’t just for athletes. Everyone needs a coach to help them grow and reach their full potential.


I couldn’t recommend peer community groups more. If you’re in the Atlanta area, definitely check out Plywood People and learn about their group options.

Wherever you are (unless it’s, say, the Falkland islands), there is probably a peer community group to plug into.

Do the research, make the investment, and join a group. Future you and your business will thank you.