Thoughts from Amy on their 5 year wedding anniversary


If you know anything about Shawn and me, it’s that we are both very headstrong, opinionated first-borns.  We are both naturally wired to want to be King of the Mountain.  So, to have built a successful business from the ground up while going through our first years of marriage together and not killing each other in the process is a modern miracle.

At PicFlips, we work with a lot of brides and grooms, so I thought it would be appropriate to share a couple of pieces of golden advice I have gathered along the way.

#1 – It’s okay if you both want to be King of the Mountain – just rule in your own domain.  Shawn is much better at tech support than I am, but I excel at design.  Instead of second guessing the details of the other person’s job, we focus on our own projects and let the other person deal with theirs.  However, when there is a big decision, we both have to be in agreement or we don’t do the deal.

#2 – Build each other up.  We’ve been through some crazy stuff together.  There are surprisingly a fair amount of people out in the business world who don’t have integrity or a moral compass.  If they crush others to get to the top, it doesn’t phase them at all.  I’m saying it way too nicely…there are evil people out in the world.  There. I said it.  In order to thrive in your marriage (and in business), you need to have a united front – a strong fortress to protect each other – a safe place to grow and be yourself.

#3 – Common Ground.  It has made such a difference in our marriage to be “equally yoked.”  Basically, this term comes from Biblical times where if you were plowing your field, you wanted 2 oxen that were equal in strength to work together.  If one is much stronger or larger than the other, you are not as productive and the rows of crops won’t be straight.  In current times, you could use the example of a bicycle-built-for-two.  Both going the same direction, for the same purpose.  Our faith in Christ has made all the difference in the world.  We are so thankful for the deeper connection we share through our beliefs.  Jesus has been our rock, and we give Him full credit for crossing our paths (Shawn is from Michigan, I’m from Texas and we met in Florida!), guiding us on our business decisions, and helping us to grow closer to each other.  There is no way we would be where we are today without His help.  When you are in the lovey-dovey dating phase, having common religious beliefs might not be a big deal, but let me tell you, if you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone, it’s very important!

So, I’m just going to leave you with a comment from Shawn on our way to dinner last night.  As we were reflecting on the past 5 years of marriage, he turned to me and said, “Babe, when you run a marathon, if you can get through the first 5 miles, you can do the whole thing.”  Here’s to 50 more years, Shawn!  I Love You!

Balance is the new business


While at the 2011 Inc. 500 Conference, the PicFlips team enjoyed hearing a talk given by Jessica Herrin, the founder and CEO of Stella & Dot.  For those of you that don’t know Stella & Dot, it’s a company that has over 10,000 stylists who sell custom jewelry and accessories at home parties.  Did you know that Jessica Herrin was also the co-founder of at the age of 24?  She sold it to The Knot for $90 million…not bad.  This woman has entrepreneurial blood running through her veins!  Here are some of the points I took away from her speech about running a successful business:

1.) Stay curious and nimble.

One of the advantages of small businesses is that we can move faster than large corporations.  If we sense a change in the marketplace, we can meet the needs of our customers quickly and efficiently.  Good entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for new ideas, new ways to serve the market and are flexible enough to change quickly, if needed.  “Sometimes you have to throw back a small fish in order to catch a larger one.”

2.) People are everything.

a.) Trust your gut when hiring. Don’t just hire because of an impressive resume.  Make sure the person fits your needs and is a good fit with the team.  b.) Recognize and reward your team members for a job well done. Doesn’t have to be much – a bottle of champagne or flowers goes a long way.  c.) Declare the soul of your company. Tell your team the vision of your company, what you stand for, what makes the company tick.  It helps create an atmosphere that everyone wants to be a part of.

3.)  Love your life.

Build a good support system around you.  Stay healthy – it keeps you on the top of your game.  Keep perspective to stay grateful.  And, finally, leave the right things undone.  We can’t do it all.  “When juggling balls, find out which ones are glass, which ones are rubber, which ones need attention right now, and which ones can wait.”

Soundtrack for your life


Inc. Magazine consistently has articles that are interesting and relevant to the entrepreneur.  Check out this fun one!  50 Songs (and Albums) to Listen to at Work

Matt Hendrickson, who used to write for Rolling Stone, still has the knack for picking a great playlist.  He covered all his bases – from Music to Play on a Long Flight to China to Music to Jam to at a Company Party.  The team at PicFlips has found some new favorites – I have a feeling you’ll find some too!

A Day at the Media Circus with Collin County’s SBDC


Collin County SBDC Media Circus LogoMy head is just spinning from all of the helpful and insightful information I just picked up at Collin County SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and Constant Contact’s event called the Media Circus!  There was so much info packed into a small amount of time, but it was just what I needed to energize my passion in strategic marketing and feed my entrepreneurial soul.  Sometimes I get so bogged down in the day-to-day activities and events that I forget to look up and use some of that energy to further the growth of PicFlips in the long run.

I haven’t been to a seminar or class lately at Collin County SBDC.  We’ve been in our busy season and I, honestly, haven’t been to many networking events or seminars at all.  But when my friend, Denise, told me about it this morning, I finished my work early and zoomed over there.  I just knew it would be worth my time.  …And they didn’t disappoint!

Derick Shaefer and Jerod Morris of Orangecast talked about Taming the SEO Beast and Juggling Social media, respectively.  (This company is I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E.)  Julie Niehoff from Constant Contact spoke about making an impact with the Cannonball Email Blast, while Dane Miller of Azure gave a wonderful overview of Clowning Around with Multimedia.  Carol Thompson of Prism Web Media wrapped everything up for me with a talk about Walking a Tightrope to a Better Website.  Since you probably weren’t able to make it, I am going to give you my 5 favorite nuggets of wisdom:

1.)  When writing content for your social media, find out what you are an expert in and give tips that are valuable to other people.  By providing value and not self-promoting, you will gain followers and repeat visitors.
2.)  Using videos as part of your media strategy helps you connect with your audience and build a relationship, as well as showing off a product or service that can’t always be described in words (hello…flipbooks??)
3.)  However, when starting out with any social media for business, develop a clear strategy of what you want to accomplish, who you want to reach, and the tone you want to take (funny, informational, etc).  When dealing especially with videos, also take into consideration where it will be viewed and the quality you want to have (friend’s help vs. professional).
4.)  New to blogging and need some tips?  Check out for step-by-step pointers!
5.)  Just released last week from Constant Contact….*drumroll please*… – a free service that takes all of your social media sites and simplifies them into one email message.  I like simplicity.

And in true Collin County SBDC fashion, the details weren’t forgotten.  The participants were treated to cotton candy, large salted pretzels, animal crackers, peanuts, popcorn and drinks!  YUM!   Marta Frey and her team had fun hats on, and you can’t forget the stuffed tiger in a cage on the table as a centerpiece – too cute!  The price for the seminar was a little steep….oh, wait!  Did I tell you it was all FREE?!?  Unbelievable.  If you are a small business like we are or are looking into starting your own business, please, please check out your local Small Business Development Center.  The mentoring is free (thanks, Steve Falldine!), the seminars are free, the classes are free.  Finally, I agree with the way our government is spending our tax dollars 😉  Take advantage of it!