About our founder Sarah Schulweis

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Sarah Schulweis is a forward-thinking entrepreneur, small business owner, and creative consultant who specializes in helping other entrepreneurs transform their unique visions into strong businesses. She is known in the small business community for her holistic business consulting and ground-breaking interactive programs and resources including Cash Flow Cleanse, the 6-Month Business Foundations Program, and Goal Guide.

In 2013, Sarah founded Anchor & Orbit Consulting to help independent business owners find their path to sustainable growth. Sarah has partnered with hundreds of clients across a range of industries to advance their visions at any stage. From the big picture – like defining personal success, providing mindset shifts, unblocking fears, facilitating financial clarity, and directing energy, to hands-on tasks – such as formulating key hires, setting up business systems, uncovering strategic market placement, and creating sales practices. Clients describe Sarah as a guiding light, a natural community builder, and a small business innovator who connects the right people to the right resources.

Clients describe Sarah as a guiding light, a natural community builder, and a small business innovator who connects the right people to the right resources.

Using a comprehensive approach to understanding business, Sarah believes that the first step toward success for any entrepreneur is finding internal clarity about one’s values, motivation, and source of true happiness. In addition to offering one-on-one sessions, Sarah facilitates workshops that give participants an opportunity to drill down into the core of their mission and outline concrete business plans that lead to lasting growth. For example, in her 6-Month Business Foundations Program, participants take incremental steps toward personal and professional goal planning, financial analysis, market exploration, cash flow analysis, and strategy development through meticulous research, reflection, and assignments. Sarah loves when others have epiphanies, especially when their lightbulb moment leads them to a clear picture of what is needed and how to get there.

Sarah believes that the first step toward success for any entrepreneur is finding internal clarity about one’s values, motivation, and source of true happiness.

Sarah believes deeply in the economy of small business and was first drawn to the analytical and strategic side of entrepreneurship while attaining a B.A. in Communications at San Francisco State University. She fell in love with the independence, innovation, and possibilities of small business ownership while crafting her first business plan. This lead to her decision to minor in Entrepreneurship, focusing her studies on small business launch strategies, brand identities, marketing materials, and more. Through trial-and-error, while working with ceramicists, florists, graphic designers, writers, carpenters, event planners, and many others, she has discovered approaches that work, as well as patterns and traps to avoid. With an array of tools and time-tested solutions, Sarah guides business owners through obstacles, both internal and external. She recognizes that real financial and personal growth occurs during the process of overcoming challenges.

With an array of tools and time-tested solutions, Sarah guides business owners through obstacles, both internal and external.

When Sarah isn’t architecting cash flow analyses or thinking about ways to maximize a client’s growth potential, you can find her spending time in a dance class, poring over a new cookbook, or taking an early morning walk. A native of Los Angeles, Sarah currently lives in Sacramento and enjoys phone calls from her family as well as unwinding in a cozy chair with a good book.

Learn more about Sarah here

Articles

Podcasts

Facilitator Profile: Julia Somers

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What do you do? (The brief version)

I’m an eCommerce consultant based in Los Angeles. I love helping small businesses grow their online platforms through strategic editorial direction and email marketing.

Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for people considering joining the program?

Don’t be afraid to invest the time and energy in yourself and your business! You and your business are worth the reflection, planning, attention and strategy that the program provides. If you’re really on the fence, read the testimonials, fill out the application (it’s non-binding!) and schedule the intro call with Sarah to discuss whether you’d be a good fit. Your future self with thank you.

Why were you initially drawn toward the A&O Program? (As a participant)

I first learned about Sarah and A&O through the Have Company podcast. I related so much to Sarah’s story and connected with her humor and humility right away. When I came across the Program, pretty instantly I knew that here was a course I would really benefit from.

Don’t be afraid to invest the time and energy in yourself and your business! You and your business are worth the reflection, planning, attention and strategy that the program provides.

At the time, I was running myself ragged juggling 5 different clients with no systems, boundaries or structure in place. I was unsure of what to charge for my services and of what to call myself or my business. I knew I wanted to work with small, independent businesses who were committed to making products locally and with integrity but didn’t really know my next steps or how to carve out a sustainable future for myself.

After a few emails with Sarah, I booked my intro call. She was so kind and warm of the phone and reassured me that even though I felt like I didn’t technically have a business yet, the Program would beneficial in laying out a solid foundation for when the clarity came. She was 100% right.

What are your favorite parts of the program?

Everything! Haha - really though. It’s a complete foundation for any small business or freelancer. When I took the course, the initial Discovery writing assignments, Ideal Weekly Schedule, and Cash Flow were my favorites to work through and look at - it felt so empowering to look at everything objectively with my facilitators and make a plan that felt sustainable and realistic.

I was unsure of what to charge for my services and of what to call myself or my business.

In the year since taking the course, I still regularly go back to Ideal Weekly Schedule and Cash Flow whenever I feel like I need make a pivot with a client or with pricing.

Apply Today | Visit Julia’s Website

The link between small business owners & hunter-gatherers

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I constantly consider what it means to run a soul-enhancing, burnout-making, future-shaping business.    

Understanding what motivates humans to dive into their own “thing” helps me help my clients keep it running. Opening a business can seem counterintuitive. A “real” job will give people the income they need to feel secure. Why choose the independent path? What happens when people finally pave it for themselves but feel lost again?

Creativity and freedom are usually what people say they want of their independent income life, but I think there’s a deeper motivation. It can feel nearly biological to shift into the unknown. Deciding to grow what seems to be working but is unproven is interesting.

Creativity and freedom are usually what people say they want of their independent income life, but I think there’s a deeper motivation.

The salaried way of life is a newer concept for us humans. For centuries, we planned our whole lives around survival -- from shelter to relationships to food. Of course, we crave the security of someone else worrying about how to pay us. Then our nervous systems can relax and, ideally, we can focus on more significant intellectual issues rather than baseline survival. But in truth, a salaried job is far less secure than projected, and anxiety levels are higher than ever.

We’ve even created systems like social media that give us a sense of urgency and “fight or flight” regularly… just to feel human again. I see the complacency that the security of a job provides drip deeply into our system. That’s very scary. I know this because businesses I work with are far from complacent or passive. They are tax-paying, freedom-fighting, pleasure-craving monsters, and I love them.

I see the complacency that the security of a job provides drip deeply into our system.

The way we used to live as farmers, hunters, and gatherers feels more like what small businesses do now. For centuries our brains used to be required to work and I think we crave it today. Some people planned, some people tilled, some people knew the soil intuitively. Everyone was part of their community and always had to think ahead.

In our farmer days, I doubt there was ever a “knowing” what was to come or a real sense of security. It’s the same when you own your own business.  What I think my fellow business owners really want is to know their entire process intimately. When I talk with clients about “learning” their business, they nod enthusiastically. It’s FUN for them to have a sense of control, anticipate the future, adjust when things need to shift - all to help them feel like they’re working on something bigger than themselves.

Back to the farmers.  Knowledge about land patterns and ecosystems was passed down to the next generation. People grew their food and tended their cattle in a way that would create the most security as possible. But what about the year when the rain poured down for months, obstructing the key moment to plant seeds for the summer?

What happens in that dark hour? At an earlier time, grains were dried, fruits and vegetables were canned or fermented. This left room for error and an alternative route to prevent starvation.

Knowing what is going to come is a luxury -- and doesn’t seem innately human to me. Yet, security is possible for a business when you create a path toward building a safety net. Beware the drama we create to break up the mundane, or worse, the vices we use to numb our human desires for more.

What I want to do is hone in on the patterns of a life and a business. I want to help people see the future through their desired income and create a plan to anticipate the unfortunate loss of income. Better yet, I want people to get more creative about how they can shift with the changes in the wind patterns around them.

Dear Sarah: Partnerships (and those around them)

Hi Sarah,

I am an artist and illustrator who has dabbled in graphic design and home design. I am up to date on design trends and run my own business. My partner recently started a brewery with his brother and a third partner who was brought in to help with the financial end. The two brothers have always had a fun, creative vision and I was never worried about the taproom design or logo process until we actually got down to it.

Initially, I wanted to help with both logo and taproom design as I was confident that I could turn their personalities and spirit of brewing into visuals. I soon came to realize that these three men, all have very strong, differing opinions on the ‘look’ they want. The challenge is that they could not verbalize their desires and could not come to unanimous conclusions. Getting to the bottom of visual work with one person is difficult, but with three it is impossible.

This has been going on for months and I’ve tried all sorts of ways to hone in on the process including making a ‘lookbook’ and meeting one-on-one. Generally, I feel that they should be giving a designer (either me or a professional) the trust and respect to pick what he/she knows would work best for the business (not necessarily what they like, but what the customer would like). All projects have been either been put on hold for later due to disputes or settled in the middle resulting in a flat, boring look, including their logo!

It is clear to me that my personal proximity to these people means they are not likely to treat me as a professional, but if this is the case, how do I convince them of the importance of hiring a professional (especially for the logo). It is also clear that a lack of communication between the 3 guys is a huge problem, they each have very different personalities. I also feel that the brothers could work it all out, but the third person seems to seriously throw off the balance. I would love to step back and let someone else work with these guys because I care too much to let them fail over lack of design consideration. I mean their product really is amazing!

Thanks so much for any advice you can give.

Sincerely,

The Fourth Wheel

Dear Fourth Wheel,

Business partnerships are complicated. I commend you for putting yourself right in the thick of it and caring so much to help your partner and their team find solutions.

It sounds like these are all first-time entrepreneurs. Whether or not that’s true doesn’t matter much in regards to what I’m about to say: If they cannot move forward with this simple task and learn to let go of their ego, embrace imperfection, compromise and prioritize the business’ best interests (i.e., their customers), they will fail before they even begin. If the team cannot figure out how to divide and conquer, they will find this exact complication at every single turn in the business, and that kind of distraction will lead to failure.  

Branding is significant, but it will not make or break this venture [I will now hide under the desk as all designers fling their keyboards at me!] I firmly believe in the power of graphic design, but it is not as important as the product. Initial customers will come to you when the look of the product is on point, but if you don’t deliver on your promise, no matter if it’s quality beer or perfect design assets, you will not survive. I assume they won’t and cannot compete by price, no one can really compete with the commoditization of big industry beer. So they are going to have to lean on the few assets they have within their control: quality and variation of the product, sales strategy, internal systems for foundational strength, customer service, an intimate understanding of profit margins, and last and least: design. All of the actual core aspects of business take much more effort, thought, and fear. Which is why people like to take their anxiety out on the “brand” and design.

In my business’ case, I spent the first two years growing Anchor & Orbit with only a splash page that contained a brief bio and a simple contact form. What really grew my business? I honed my skills, worked hard along the way, delivered beyond expectations, and after that my clients wanted me to be successful, so the referrals rolled in. Eventually, when I did “brand,” the goals I outlined for the designer were as follows: accessible, warm colors, create a sense of experience and have the layout feel like you were talking to a friend about your business’ needs. Outside of that, I let the designer run with anything she felt was best. And guess what? It worked. I let her be the expert to create something that (still) stands out from the crowd while being wholly relatable. She did the work, research, and implementation and I asked for zero revisions. If I tried to create a brand for myself, I would still be working on my website now, three years later. She worked for my company’s vision and what my clients wanted from me, but not for me. I highly recommend all designers give this gift of creativity and expertise to their clients. But that’s another blog post (or book) altogether.  

What does branding do? A brand and good design will get people in the door (and their attention) and helps you gain industry respect. But, if your product speaks for itself, then the branding will not matter in the long run. The opposite is true as well - there are plenty of garbage products and businesses out there with great brands. You know when you meet someone who is really beautiful, but their personality sucks? Are they as attractive once you figure out their dirty secret?

In regards to beer, I’ve done my fair share of research by proximity. My partner loves beer &  breweries, and we visit some kind of beer establishment in every city we pass through on our many road trips. It’s a favorite past time of ours, and I am sure you know what I’m talking about even if no one else does. *high five, friend* Across the board the brand and design of the tap room never indicates whether or not the beer will be good. But! Good branding and a beautiful space will help us make a choice between two places. So, if you’re simply using me as a case study, you and your partner are fighting the good fight.

Here’s the real deal: I fear that the “brand” problem is code for a bad situation. That this team is stuck in this conflict and that they’re having a hard time moving forward in this simple task are worrisome signs. I have something to say about this third partner who is there to help with the ”financial side” but seems to get in the way of decisions: get rid of him. That person signed on as a support role; to take what the visionaries have created and leverage their financial assets to help them succeed. He needs to step back and let them work, or he needs to leave. I fear that this “CFO” will always be the “nay-sayer” and with that, the business will struggle for its entire existence with him in it. Severing a business relationship once the business is up and running (and making money) is SO MUCH MORE costly than cutting ties early on, even if it slows things down temporarily. Long ago a mentor taught me that “those who seek control lack talent.” Take a beat - think about that statement for a second. It seems that this third person needs to enforce their power, just to have a voice, even when it’s not the best move for the business. On the spectrum of problems, this is an easy one, so imagine this dynamic when there is a truly tough problem in front of them. Each person on that small, essential team should do everything in their power to push this project forward, not slow it down.

As for you, Fourth Wheel,  it’s possible that you will have to step away to be the business owner’s partner and not the designer. Whether they are saying it or not, they might be trying to not offend you if they don’t like the direction.  This could be the case even if you have stated that you can take the criticism and even if you are objectively correct about the design choices you’re presenting. I don’t think you’re the reason this project is sputtering, but I’m not sure you’re helping either. I do understand the fantasy of working with your partner and saying that it was a full-on family project. So, lead by example! Step away to let them work.  As you know, there’s a shift in people’s psyche when they pay “an expert.” Expect a fire in their bellies to not to drag it out forever because, money.

If and when they move forward, I have one last bit of advice to help them in their long term success: each person must have their own role or “department” and once in that role, they must be trusted and in charge of their tasks. For example, if they are staying on trend, they will want to change their labels and alter branding with every new release of seasonal beer. To do this, one person must be in charge of guiding the graphic designer. They can have a voting system and guidance about the vision from the team, but ultimately, final decisions need to come from one person. It’ll be the same when they assign who is in charge of their financials, sales, brewing, distribution, and employee management (to name a few).

No matter how much they like each other, especially the brothers, if they continually negotiate small decisions rather than assigning specialties and trusting in the others’ abilities, they are in for a long, resentful relationship - in and out of the tap room.