I never thought much of it until I found that out for myself.
See, I went into business with the firm belief that as long as I marketed more, networked more, had more conversations, launched more programs… then I would be set. The money would flow in like water, right?
Well, not quite. It turns out, we all come into this entrepreneurship thing with our own “stuff.” Maybe it’s the (incorrect) story your parents told you about money and success. Maybe it’s self-doubt and insecurity that’s rooted in childhood. Maybe it’s long-standing (and most likely FALSE) ideas about your own abilities and skills.
Whatever it is, it affects us in our businesses whether we are conscious of it or not.
On my own entrepreneurial journey, I’ve learned a lot about what trips us up when we’re looking to reach that elusive “next level.”
I’ve been in that self-sabotaging place (more than once) and I’ve since come to learn that your MINDSET plays an enormous role in your success as an entrepreneur–heck, as a human being.
It’s the primary reason why some people are highly successful–and others, try as they might–are not.
Once I finally learned this, everything changed.
This was SUCH a hot topic at my recent 3-day live workshop… and based on that feedback, I KNEW I had to bring this information to my community at large.
If this sounds like exactly what YOU need at this time, you’ll want to listen in to this one-time, live complimentary call with me:
“3 Essential Shifts to Handle Your Fears, Own Your Expertise and Finally Get Out of Your Own Way (So You Can Get Out There Big)”
with Relationship Marketing Mentor Christine Gallagher
Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 7pm Eastern
Learn more and secure your spot now
During this upcoming free training call, I’m so excited to teach you:
–Why if you don’t have the right mindset, you’re not going to take action on the marketing (EVEN if you know what to do!)
–Why your self image dictates more than you know about how much you make
–The 3 things that need to be “in alignment” if you finally want to reach your goals
–How your hidden beliefs about money may be keeping you underpaid, overworked and actually REPELLING money away from you–and how to turn it ALL around (I learned this the hard way)
–The exact exercises I use in my own business that keep my mindset on track and in turn, my bank account growing… and much more.
Please don’t miss this very special free call. Just visit this page to secure your spot and join us.
Last night was time to confront Cash Flow in the 15-week entrepreneurial training course I teach for the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) in White Plains, NY. It’s always the class that gives everyone headaches and anxiety attacks…and even the big jar of chocolate coins I bring along to “sweeten the pot” doesn’t help.
Having a business idea is the fun part. Figuring out what it will earn….not so much. But it’s so important to track your start up expenses, overhead and other costs, and figure out exactly what you need this business to do for you financially. Is it going to simply cover the “extras” in your household, or is this going to be a serious income that keeps your household afloat. I always say, cash flow is no different than budgeting for your household expenses…no different than balancing a checkbook. You know what bills are coming up…you know what money is coming in… and whether you’ll have enough to pay them, with ideally, some cash left over. Same principle with cash flow. If you take time to periodically plan your business spending and earning goals, you’ll have money in your pocket. And I don’t mean chocolate coins!
I know I’m not the only mompreneur wondering how to master the confusing art of search engine optimization (SEO). I mean, just when I think I’ve got it down, there’s something new to know about. So last night I went to a workshop on the topic, given by Lisa Kaslyn of Prosper Communications and held at W@tercooler in Tarrytown, a stylin’ co-working space founded by one of my former WEDC students, Jenifer Ross.
According to Lisa, you should prioritize your SEO strategy into 3 basic steps:
1. Absolutely know where you are appearing on searches. Where are your keywords surfacing and who’s beating you out?
2. Entice search engine robots with frequent new content. “Content is still king,” says Lisa. It’s what attracts visitors and search engines to your site. She suggests you blog at least once a week. “Plan posts in advance, like magazines plan editorial calendars. It helps make the process less stressful.”
3. Then use content to drive your social media. Tweet about what’s new on your site. Post on your Facebook business page about recent videos or blog posts. If you’re in a visual biz (photography, fashion, home or garden design and the like) consider pinning pictures on Pinterest to drive traffic back to your site.
Here are some more SEO strategies Lisa says you need to know right now:
• The longer you’ve had your site and the more content you have on it, the better you’ll be found by search engines. “Good history is the holy grail of SEO,” says Lisa.
•Join Google + . Those posts now appear on Google searches too and can help you rank higher.
•Claim your Google places page–especially important for local businesses that want customers to find them.
•Scale your site content for smart phones and tablets (talk to your web person about how to go about doing this). “Flash is not SEO friendly,” points out Lisa.
•Use videos to drive traffic back to your site. For example, a home organizer can do a quick lesson on taming the junk drawer. But keep videos under 2 minutes.
•Talk with your web master to make sure every single page of your site is optimized for your keyword terms.
This past weekend, as part of my research for an upcoming magazine article on direct sales, I was invited to attend Silpada’s National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. For those of you unfamiliar with Silpada, it is a direct sales company that specializes in sterling silver jewelry sold at home parties. Every year they have a conference for their sales reps, with workshops, awards, inspirational speeches, and more. Along with fellow journalist and friend, Andrea Atkins, I got to experience it all.
On Friday morning at the opening general session, Silpada sales rep Jill Mapstead spoke about her experiences as a businesswoman and parent of a special needs child. I was so inspired and moved by her words, that I thought I’d repeat her “pearls” of wisdom here, since they apply to all mompreneurs.
•Treat your business like a business. Block out the hours that you will work, and set goals for yourself. “If you don’t, you’re cheating the boss,” said Jill, who referred to herself as a “complete carrot-chaser.” Goals are your “mile posts.” Setting short-term and long-term goals keeps you on course.
•Work on your business a little bit each day. Even if distractions or unexpected events (like a sick kid or a snow day) blow your to-do list to bits, do one business-related thing. E-mail a potential client. Research a store you’d like to be in. Check out your competition online.
•The business is all in your head. Keeping future-focused helps you survive the inevitable bumps, obstacles and setbacks along the way.
•Play up in this game. Surround yourself with people who have skills you admire; and learn from them.
•Be a balcony person, not a basement person. Cheer on the people you work with, rather than dragging them down. As Pat and I have always said, “Confidence is contagious. When you have it, others will want to be around you, so they can have it too.”
•If you don’t like something, change it. And if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
•Be consistent. No matter what business you’re in, be consistent in your efforts. For Jill, that meant having 4 to 7 jewelry parties a month. For me, it means continuing to pitch stories to editors, even while I’m working on finishing up big articles. Consistency is what keeps the work (and the dollars) coming in!
Thank you Jill Mapstead for those inspirational words!
It’s not often that I get the chance to trade in my boring yogurt-at-my-desk lunch for a 3-course meal at Abigail Kirsh’s Tappan Hill Restaurant in Tarrytown, New York. But last Friday, I shared amazing food with some amazing women at WEDC’s annual spring luncheon and microenterprise fair. For those of you unfamiliar with WEDC (which stands for Women’s Enterprise Development Center), its mission is to encourage entrepreneurship in and around Westchester County, New York, through training programs, support services and microenterprise funding opportunities. I am lucky enough to be a WEDC trainer, and I teach their 15-week Entrepreneurial Training Program in the spring and fall.
The luncheon is always the highlight of the season, offering an opportunity to network with other business women, hear inspirational advice from the featured speakers, and catch up with former students (like Tsahai Martin-Wright of Shima & Sahai and Kim Jones of Urban Tranquility, who both exhibited their products at the microenterprise fair beforehand.
But this year’s WEDC event was extra-special because it included the inaugural presentation of the LEAP Awards, micro grants made possible by local philanthropist Patricia Lanza. They were awarded to qualifying women entrepreneurs who have completed WEDC training; and I was thrilled to learn that two of the LEAP award winners were from my current class! I was a proud mama as I gathered with other students to cheer on these inspirational ladies.
Margie Nugent, of Making Faces Parties, had to rebuild her life after arriving in a domestic violence shelter with 2 little boys and just $20 in her pocket. She always dreamed of owning a business that tapped into her artistic abilities and degrees from FIT. In 2009, she launched Making Faces Parties, an entertainment company offering a variety of body art services. The business—run on nights and weekends—supplements her fulltime job working in a school, and was profitable in its first year. Margie will use her grant money to purchase more equipment, get additional training, and exhibit at body painting competitions to broaden her exposure.
Jenifer Ross, of W@tercooler, spotted the emerging trend of co-working, and is capitalizing on it. W@tercooler is a collaborative office space in historic Tarrytown, New York, available for part-time or fulltime rental to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other mobile workers. But this is no ordinary office suite rental place. Jenifer’s space is unique because members work side by side in a shared loft-like setting, gaining a sense of community and a place to exchange ideas. The open floor plan has a variety of options—private desks, shared desks or tables, and a lounge area—with access to a shared kitchen, a private phone booth, and a state of the art conference room. All members enjoy complimentary WiFi, faxing, printing, and coffee. And (in a move that I think is sheer genius), clerical help is available through the intern program Jenifer has established with her local high school. If you’re in the Westchester area and need an alternative to working in your lonely home office, come check it out. You may just see me there! (Look for me with my laptop on that cool settee)! Jenifer is using her grant money to build a deck overlooking the Hudson River, providing members with yet another scenic and collaborative place to work.
Other LEAP award winners included:
•Cary and Meryl Gabeler, a mom-daughter team who run Anjolie Ayurveda, organic soaps imported from India.
•Beatriz Messina, of BM Consulting of New York, a proposal writing and project management firm
•Juana Pinyol, who launched Details Custom Cleaning Services, a residential cleaning service which uses green products.
•Beverly Turner, of Casaco, Inc., which provides financial literacy and home ownership counseling.
•Maria Valente, of Chocolations, a chocolate shop and café (and the only chocolate factory in Westchester County, NY!)
If you’re in the Westchester, NY area, check WEDC out. If you’re not, research the women’s business development groups or other SBA-funded organizations in your community. Organizations like these are a great resource for support, networking, and training. And sometimes they even provide a nice alternative to eating lunch at your desk!
So now that turkey day is gone, and the last of the leftover stuffing has been consumed, I really need to get serious about figuring out what to give my clients. Decisions, decisions. In my last blog post, I mentioned things that have worked for me in the past. Here’s what I’m considering this year.
**A ready-to-plant amaryllis bulb in a festive pot
**Funky business card holders (either for the purse or desk)
**Super cute desk/office supplies (I love the ones from seejanework.com)
**Dancing Deer cookies (dancingdeer.com). I love the ones in the shape of the house… they benefit the homeless too!
**Gourmet hot chocolate. I’ve given this before, but this year I’m thinking of including homemade gourmet marshmallows and some artisanal chocolates from the woman-owned shop in my neighborhood.
**I’m also contemplating donating on my editors’ behalf to my new favorite charity, kiva.org. Your donation actually becomes a micro-loan to assist a disadvantaged entrepreneur in the U.S. or around the world.
I’ll keep you posted on my decision. In the meantime, I’m going out this week to pick out the perfect card. My PictureIt Postage stamps have arrived. Check out how cute they are.
If you order using the coupon code MOTHERHOOD, you’ll get $4 off an order of custom stamps and be entered to win a $500 prize http://pictureitpostage.com/
Rules are detailed here http://www.themotherhood.com/post/show/id/483184
I’ll let you know when I make my decision, and send you a pic when I’ve got everything “wrapped up.”
This Fall, I will once again be teaching the 15-week entrepreneurship class for the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) in Westchester County, New York. As an instructor, I attend many training meetings to get ready for the upcoming semester, and a recent one focused on financing. Lending officers from TD Bank revealed their strategies for securing a business loan. I thought I’d share what I learned, since the tips are helpful for anyone contemplating a loan—whether now or in the future. Keep in mind, however, that it is still very difficult for start-ups to get loans. Banks want to know that you’re established, with proven ability to earn revenue and pay back debts. But if you’ve been in business at least 2 years, and can document your growth potential, you will have a better chance at getting financing.
Here’s what banks will expect from you.
A Business Plan. Banks need to understand your business, industry, profitability and growth potential. Provide them with a detailed business plan that gives them a clear sense of what you do, who your customers are and how much money the company earns. It should include: A Mission Statement describing your products or services; business structure (sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or corporation); management plan (who runs the company); short- and long-term goals; marketing plan; operational plan; pricing, costs, and financial projections. You can find business plan templates at the SBA.
Financials & Tax Returns. Provide 2 years of current tax returns, and a financial statement showing cash flow projections for at least 2 years. Include all revenues (gross and net sales and gross profit) and expenses (advertising, rent, equipment/supplies, utilities, etc.). Don’t forget to factor in your loan payments. TD Bank has a great calculator you can use for figuring out payments:
And for more general guidelines on figuring out financials, go to the latter part of this SBA template.
A two-year track record. Businesses should be at least 2 years old and profitable.
A vested interest. Banks won’t lend more than 80% of what you need. They want to know that you can provide 20% of the equity, so that you are financially committed to growing the business. Banks also want collateral—something of greater or equal value to the loan that can be taken in the event you are unable to make payments (like a car, business equipment, or commercial or residential real estate etc.). If you have no collateral other than your house, think carefully about that loan, and consider other ways of funding your business.
Good personal credit. Banks want to know that you have already demonstrated the ability to handle debt responsibly and pay it off on a timely basis. Check your credit rating; free reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com. Even if you are not pursuing a loan right now, it pays to clean up your credit history if it’s less than stellar. That way you will be considered a good risk when you are ready to approach banks.
For more loan packaging tips, check out this SBA article.
Hello hello! The other night, I was watching American Idol when I get an email on my phone. Robert was down in his house in Miami shot me a quick note that the grilling and barbeque accessory buyer for a BIG BIG account want to talk to me! Since then, the buyer and I have chatted and samples have been sent off! The BIG accounts (more mass retail outlets) work about a year out, so really soon they will be doing their product reviews for spring and summer 2011, (which is fine just fine) but he also said that it isn’t to late to test market Grill Charms in a few stores for this year. Keep your fingers and toes crossed!
Last week I was a guest speaker at a conference here in Charleston for The Center for Women www.twitter.com/c4womenchas It was and amazing gathering and I’m so honored to have been asked to speak. Since most of you don’t live here, I thought I’d recap the things I went over. I was paired with an amazing woman, Jo Ann Studtmueller. www.twitter.com/joannepicvu I was asked to speak about social media and Jo Ann TRULY is an expert. As most of you know, I’ve always considered myself technologically handicapped, so when the Center for Women asked me to speak on this subject, I thought there must be some mistake. I love talking to a brick wall, so ANY chance to speak in front real people, especially fellow women in business, I jump all over, but when I met with Jo Ann the first time, I confided in her my fears. I said “Jo Ann… I’m not really sure why I’m going to be up there with you. I’m successful in business, I’m pretty darn good at getting my brand out there, I can talk all day about inventing, entrepreneurship, marketing and PR, but I’m truly technologically inept. She said… “do you use twitter”… I said “yes”, “do you blog?” I said “yes”. “do you have a FB account and business Fan page?” I said “yes”. She said “are you Linked In?” I said “yes”. She said “do you link your blog and website with your YouTube videos?” I said “yes” and low and behold, she said “YOU’RE IN!” And in preparing for this presentation I began to realize just what a vital part social media and content marketing has played in getting where I am today. I’m living proof that it does not take technological know-how to get started. There are tons of folks out there that are much more tech savvy then I am, but I’ll give you a few easy tricks of the social marketing and PR trade.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I used this mystical, magical box called a computer during all of the different phases of my business. First I entered into what I call the “Research and Development Phase”. So I had my spicy light bulb moment… now what?!
The first thing I did was turn on my computer and got to googling. I scoured the blogs and forums for information on the two things I identified myself with most at the time and that was: a mom and a budding entrepreneur. Regardless of your industry and what business you are thinking about going into, “Join the conversation!”
Comment on blogs; praise the contributors and bloggers if something they said helped you. Post questions (or answer questions) on forums. There is a blog and/or forum for EVERYTHING!! The true benefit in “joining the conversation” might not be apparent right off that bat. You might think that praising a blogger just makes them feel good and maybe brightens someone’s day and that getting active on forums helps because it answers questions you have but it does so much more than that. It helps you build your virtual village. It gets you connected to people already “in the know” that can help you later when you need it most.
Our fearless leader over at the Center for Women Jennet Alterman www.twitter.com/jeannetalterman made a truly profound statement at a networking function, but I have found it equally if not more true in the cyber world.
“It isn’t who you know, but who knows you and knows what you do.” These people you connect with during this pre-start-up phase are the people that will be rooting for you and who will help you along the way. They will become your virtual village.
3 places I started were
www.mompreneurslonline.com OF COURSE!
Okay…. this is getting a bit lengthy for a blog post (Thanks to Jo Ann, I learned that blog posts should be between 250 and 500 words and be posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays) Who knew??!! So, with that, I will continue this discussion next week with more from my presentation “Don’t be a Twit”. See you next week!!
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™ www.grillcharms.com
Hello folks! I’ll get the “news” stuff and links out of the way then I think it’s time for a year in review don’t you?
http://tobtr.com/s/709444 (Radio interview will Heath, follow Shark Tank Alumni with Pork Barrel BBQ)
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/inventRight/2009/09/30/Interview-With-Leslie-Haywood–Regarding-Appearance-On-ABCs-Shark-Tank (Radio interview with Steven Key)
To listen to behind the scenes commentary on Shark Tank about Grill Charms, hit play: http://www.daymondjohn.com/power_journal/grill-charms-commentary-part-1/ THIS IS REALLY COOL! Daymond gives a total behind the scenes view of Shark Tank.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbnrek_grill-charms-the-ultimate-grill-gad_school Video from @The_Grilldog
I’m not really sure what to say about 2009 other then… It was “Interesting”. I feel like I not even remotely the same person I was 1 year ago in just about every aspect of my life. My first year on the market (2008) I felt like I was really just dipping my toes in the entrepreneurial waters. I made sales calls on stores, tried to build up my brand and gain some product awareness. 2009 I really jumped in with both feet. I did my first tradeshow in January then a second (one of the largest in the housewares industry) in March. I secured my biggest wholesale account and due them going into bankruptcy, lost that same biggest account. I more than tripled the amount of stores I was in and to my surprise actually turned a profit for 2009. (which is almost unheard of 2nd year after launch!) I had the biggest triumph in my professional career with Shark Tank and was devastated by the worst personal tragedy of my life. It has been a complete whirlwind of emotions, new experiences, excitement and grief all rolled into 1 little package called 2009. Looking at where I started January 1st it seems like 2009 was MUCH longer than 365 days. I’m more experienced, more jaded, more hopeful and more hopeless. I’m more appreciative of the life I have and in the same breath a little bitter and hardened by the cold hard facts of it all. If you were to ask me 1 word that best describes 2009, it’d say it was “growth”, in every sense of the word.
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™ www.grillcharms.com
I have been MIA from the mompreneurs online forum for several months sorting out my own world. Interestingly enough I have come back to find several members have spent the summer doing the same. Re-evaluating, stepping back, prioritizing, and some have just been plain old burnt out. We begin these ventures full of excitement and hope. We truly believe that we can conquer the world. This rush keeps us motivated, helps put products on shelves or services into action until BAM, you hit “The Dip”! The Dip? It is the time when your engine has run out of steam and you just aren’t sure where to go next. I swore it would never happen to me because I LOVE what I do. Yet it did. For me it came at the point between the creation and the running of the business. The creating part was amazing….running a business is a whole other story. There is not much glamour or excitement in boxing up your 300th box at 10pm or filing a stack of paperwork. I wanted to keep on creating but in order to do that; you need to keep moving the business side onward and upward. So who should I blame that I can’t build the business fast enough to keep up with my own demands? The economy? The product/service…maybe it’s not as good as I think it is? Or my attitude? Ding Ding Ding!!!!
We can blame the economy but there are success stories that come out every day of people who’ve beaten the odds. We can blame our product or service but, again, there are a million ways people are making money every day that might seem odd to most. I like to compare this journey to driving a car. When we are taught to drive, we are told that in order to switch lanes you don’t need to crank your wheel, you just need to look in the direction of the lane you want to be in and your car will follow. The same is true in business. As long as you sit and blame the world for your Dip, look at someone else thinking they have some magic key that you don’t or doubt your own abilities to be successful; you are leading your car into that lane…the lane heading the opposite direction of your goal.
Instead, let’s look towards the other lane….the one where you are a success, where everything falls into place easily; where your goals and balanced life exist…steer your car in that direction. You can never become successful if you don’t believe it first. Silly daydreaming to some perhaps but the only way you are going to reach your destination is if you point your car in the right direction.
“When you step to the ledge of all the light you have left, and you take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you step upon, or you will learn how to fly.” Unknown
Gwen Austin, RC Art Toys, Inventor of the Color Bug, www.rcarttoys.com