Viewing category ‘Business Essentials’

Entrepreneur Mom

with Aliza Sherman

If you own a business - home-based or otherwise - this is the blog where you'll find practical tips and smart ideas about entrepreneurship. I've started and run 4 different businesses so "been there, done that." I'll also invite successful entrepreneurs to share their best advice with you.

To learn more about Aliza, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! and her website, www.mediaegg.com.

If we don’t value our time, who will?

Categories: Business Essentials

1 Comment

In her recent post “Respecting the Billable Hour,” writer and consultant Alexandra Samuels talks about a mind shift in how you think of other people’s time and your own.

…there is a big difference between meeting with a consultant to assess whether you want to hire her, and asking her to simply give you a couple of hours to do the work you need. When you are talking to someone whose work includes analyzing problems, offering insight or making recommendations, “picking their brain” is the same as asking them to work for free.

I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. In the past, I felt guilty asking for money or even mentioning money when someone asked if they could have an hour of my time. I knew they wanted me to provide strategic thinking to help them work through a business issue. They knew this was what I did for a living.

But the money conversation can be hard, at least for me. So I’d get on the phone, and have mixed feelings afterward. I felt like I had done a good deed, and at the same time felt like a pushover. I had spent an hour or two giving away for free what I normally get paid to provide. I kicked myself for being weak and afraid to just bill for my time.
Read the rest of this entry

Talk about yourself and get further in business

Categories: Business Essentials

1 Comment

In a recent Huffington Post article, Marcia Reynolds - author of Wander Women: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction - states that “when women talk about themselves, they earn more. She cited a reason why many women feel burned out in Corporate America and opt not to climb the corporate ladder is that too many women think it takes “hard work and long hours” to advance in a company. But she says it isn’t just hard work that moves your forward - it is increasing your visibility and building key relationships.

While Reynolds’ premises focus on the corporate women, women entrepreneurs can also benefit from both increased visibility and fruitful relationship-building. Both require something that many of us fail to do: Self-promotion.

Book CoverThe first step to self-promotion is to know what you bring to the table in business. Identify what you contribute beyond your skills and knowledge. What traits do you possess that drive you to success?

Reynolds includes an exercise in her article for women to better articulate their worth, and I’m excerpting it here because you need to do this:

Describe a peak experience where you felt fully alive and excited about your work. This could be while you were working on something, or at the end of a project or challenging situation. What five things did you contribute to creating this peak experience beyond your work knowledge and skills (personal strengths, gifts, talents, emotions, attitudes, values, unique sense or perspective)?

She also recommends keeping a success journal where you don’t just list what you accomplish but pinpoint the traits you have that helped you accomplish them. Learn more about Marcia Reynold’s work at Outsmart Your Brain.

What are your personal strengths? Talk about yourself!

img by guitargoa

getting a “wicked start” for my new business

Categories: Business Essentials, Uncategorized

1 Comment

I’ve been in a funk lately about my new business. While I think my business idea is solid, the growth potential high, and I’m incredibly excited about mobile, I’m feeling isolated and scattered and have gotten discouraged.

Just at the time when I was feeling like burying my head in the proverbial sand or running away, I received two interesting propositions:

1. Traditional Business Support - A friend of mine contacted me about his client who started a resource called Wicked Start. The site helps new and aspiring entrepreneurs to get their businesses started. While I’m not a new entrepreneur, even a serial entrepreneur can be considered a “new entrepreneur” because every new business is different not to mention the business climate, marketplace and even consumers. For all my business experience - and doling out business advice over the years - I still can find myself paralyzed at the exact moment when I should be hitting the ground running.
Read the rest of this entry

5 Must-Have Charging Devices for the Business Traveler

Categories: Business Essentials, Uncategorized

No Comments

I’m all about the useful, practical gadgets and gizmos that make things easier for me. When I’m traveling, I’m even more in love with handy products, particularly those that pack well and pack a lot of usefulness into their compactness. Here are a few products I find indispensible when I’m on the road:

1. Belkin Mini Surge Protector Dual USB Charger - This charger turns a single wall outlet into a charger for three devices plus has two USB ports to charge other devices. I’ve found this device particularly handy when I’m at conferences where power outlets are at a premium. I can share a single outlet with several people at once so we all get a charge.

Cobra 2. Cobra CPI-150 Micro Port 150 Watt Power Inverter (Black) - I use this power inverter above and carry it with me to use in rental cars when I’m traveling on business to charge my inevitably low-on-power laptop. It comes in a small pleather zipped pouch to compactly hold both inverter box and plug. My ony complaint about this device is that it is small, and I often overlook it or forget it on some of my trips. I’ve thought of keeping it in my car but then tend to forget to grab it and put it into my bag when I’m getting on a flight. I need to start keeping it in my computer bag!
Read the rest of this entry

AllThingsMedia 2010: second venture capital forum

Categories: Business Essentials

No Comments

Applications are now open for AllThingsMedia: 2010.

Springboard Enterprises is hosting the AllThingsMedia: 2010 venture capital forum to showcase “investment-ready, high-growth media companies led by women in emerging media and entertainment - including television, radio, print, digital media, mobile, video games, search, social networking, e-commerce, online advertising, outdoor, animation, software and other innovations across the entire media space.”


Read the rest of this entry

Call for entries: 7th annual Stevie awards for women in business

Categories: Business Essentials

No Comments

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business today announced their Call for Entries for the seventh annual competition. You can find an application, instructions and details on past awards at www.stevieawards.com/women. All female entrepreneurs, executives, and the organizations they run, worldwide, are eligible to be nominated.

Check out the list of award categories.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business feature over 50 categories including Executive of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Company of the Year, Employer of the Year, Mentor of the Year, Female Employee of the Year, Women’s Blog or Web Site of the Year, and Marketing Campaign for Women of the Year, among others.
Read the rest of this entry

Mommy Brain Ticklers for the Working Woman

Categories: Business Essentials, Tech & Net, Work/Life

2 Comments

Let’s face it. Once you give birth, your brain is never the same. If you’re like me, my memory is one step away from nonfunctioning. So I rely on technology and backup processes to get me through the day. Here is how I set up my tickler system to combat my mommybrain:

Remember the Milk - I have recently started using RTM for my moment by moment tasks. As long as I remember to enter the tasks into the application, I have a nice reminder list with deadlines, priorities and several ways to access it. I can go straight to their web site (rare). I’ve also integrated RTM into my Gmail accounts so my task lists show up on the right hand margin of my Web browser when I’m checking emails. I also have the iPhone app and can reach for my iPhone in the middle of the night and enter To Do’s easily. Yes, I actually do that and find it better than the old paper/pen on the nightstand method. I can also share specific To Do lists with my team using the premium level of RTM.

Google Calendar - I love my Google Apps and my calendar is shared with everyone who needs to get on my schedule. Then I’ve set it up so every calendar entry is emailed to me, sent to me via text and also shows up as a popup on my Web browser 10 minutes before I’m supposed to do something like get on a call. I have also learned to block off travel time on either end of a meeting instead of blocking off only the meeting time so that 10 minute warning is still padded if I have to get in my car to travel someplace.

iCal - I have iCal on my Mac and on my iPhone and for backup reminders when I really, truly cannot forget something, I add one more reminder in my iCal. A little popup comes onto my computer screen and an SMS pings me in addition to the Google Cal ticklers. Extra reenforcements are sometimes warranted, especially when you combine mommybrain with overloaded brain.

Humans - I know I said this was about technology, however, one of the best things I’ve done to help me remember things is to first confess to all my team members that remembering things is not my strong front. I’ve given them permission to nudge me, bug me, pester me and wave shiny objects in front of me in order to get me to do things and remember what I should be doing in the first place. I figured it was better to be honest and to enlist their help in sending me brain ticklers than to frustrate everyone around me because I forgot to do something. When you are mommybrained, you need all the help you can get including a human support network.

These methods may sound extreme, however, they are a reflection of how truly lacking my memory has become so rather than fight it, I have to acknowledge it and put solutions in place. The only thing I need now are reminders to remind me to enter my reminders!

What is your method for reminding yourself of important things? What technologies do you use?

I was the boss from hell

Categories: Business Essentials, Human Resources

4 Comments

bitchy bossBeing the boss can be gratifying and at the same time fraught with emotions that aren’t always on the positive side of the spectrum. Don’t get me wrong: I would not change owning my own business and being my own boss for anything else in the work world. However, now that we’re looking to bring on full- and part-time employees, I’m realizing just how challenging being a boss can be.

One thing I know is that I’m a kind and fair boss. Which is saying a lot given that 10 years ago, I was the Boss From Hell.

Ten years ago, I was running my first company, and I was in a bad place in my life despite being in an excellent place with my company, at least on the surface. Although I still don’t have a full picture of how my employees at the time saw me, I get bits and pieces as I reconnect with some of them over time, and the picture is not pretty.

Some suitable words to describe me as a boss at that time would be:

  • impatient
  • paranoid
  • angry
  • frustrated
  • bitchy
  • demanding
  • irrational
  • emotional
  • disempowering
  • unpredictable
  • insensitive

All of these qualities were probably how I came across to the 20 plus women and men in my employ, however, the truth was far more complicated. I share this now not just for my own catharsis and to apologize yet again to my former staff: I am truly sorry for the way I behaved. But I also reveal the following to let anyone know - boss, future boss, or someone with a boss - that the reason bosses can seem like they are from hell could be because they are going through their own hell themselves.

Behind the Scenes of Being the Boss

Here’s what was actually going on with me a decade ago while I struggled to be boss.

1. Fearful. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never run a business before. I would have been better suited as the Director of Communications or Marketing Director than be expected to run a fast-growing company with no experience at all. I know other people do it all the time and succeed at it. But I didn’t WANT to do it. I was so afraid of failure that I tried to control everything and couldn’t delegate without feeling terrified.

2. Lacking in Self Esteem. Despite all of the successes I was experiencing, especially “on paper” in the press, I was certain I was a loser, a farce, a failure. The only thing that made me feel good about myself was when I truly influenced other women and girls to use technology, and I cherished every one of thousands of emails I received from people around the world saying how much I’d encouraged them, inspired them. Those missives helped me believe for a moment that I could do something good in the world.

3. Disempowered. I was in a very weak place when I owned my first company. I had a boyfriend who controlled my every move including what I wore, what I could and couldn’t say to others, who I could associate with, everything. He also controlled my business. On many occasions, major companies expressed interest in partnering with my company or buying it outright, however, they would take me aside every time and say “but only if you get rid of your business partner.” I couldn’t do it. I never did.

4. Embarrassed. Knowing that I stood on podiums around the world talking about women’s empowerment and women on the Internet was embarrassing knowing how I didn’t have control over my own life or company. On the rare moments that I reached out for help - and in some cases had people rally around me to kick my business partner out of my company - I couldn’t go through with it and shrunk back into myself, mortified that I couldn’t be stronger.

Those are just a few of the dynamics of my tenure as boss of my first company. I am not trying to make any excuses for my behavior. We all have to take responsibility for our choices and our actions.

But I just think it is important for anyone struggling with things that have a negative affect on their ability to be a good, fair and kind boss to rethink being in a position where they are the boss of others. Being a boss, like it or not, is kind of like being a parent. If you can’t do your absolute best when managing other people, just don’t do it. Find another job. Put someone else in charge. Because bosses can have such deep impacts on the people in their employ, and no one should take that responsibility lightly.

These days, I’m in a good relationship with a loving husband. I have an excellent business partner who is the perfect complement to me and also a long-term, trusted friend. We have several people we are working with who we want to hire as our core team and they are amazing and talented individuals. I work hard to listen to them, to be fair with them, and to empower them.

I want to be the kind of boss that I would want to have if I ever took a regular job again. And I swear I’ll never be the Boss from Hell again. If so, please call me on it.

Have you ever had or have you ever been The Boss From Hell? How did you handle the situation?

When do you need a business ghostbuster?

Categories: Business Essentials, Startup Tips

2 Comments

This morning, I couldn’t get the theme song of the movie Ghostbusters out of my head. Then it occurred to me that any business - and especially any startup business - could really use a Ghostbuster now and then. In the case of startups, it can actually be more often than not!

Here are some of the things you may be encountering with some tips and suggestions on what type of “ghostbuster” to get.

1. Cash Flow Crunch

Finding that there isn’t always enough cash before the next bit of money comes in? That’s a very common issue for any startup business, but if you aren’t a startup, you may not have someone properly watching the influx of cash or managing the outflow.

Who you gonna call? A strategic CPA can take a look at your numbers, identify patterns - both good and bad - and make recommendations that could help unstick the stuck parts of your cash that isn’t flowing properly.

2. Personnel Issue

“Lots of entrepreneurs are hesitant to add employees to the payroll,” says Adelaide Lancaster, co-founder, in good company workplaces. “Often employees seem to cost more time and money than they are worth.”

However since your company’s success is dependent on you focusing on what you do best and finding other people to fill in the gaps, says Lancaster, it may be in your best interest to bite the bullet and bring on some help.

“The right resources can make all the difference for you as boss, so make sure you do it right!”

Who you gonna call?

According to Lancaster, a reputable and reliable Payroll Company can make sure everyone gets paid – including the government plus an HR consultant or outsourced HR company who will make sure you are in compliance with the most recent laws and regulations and who can help you provide better health care coverage by pooling your firm with their other clients. If you are dealing with a personnel issue specifically, contact a Leadership and Management Coach - especially if managing people is something that you haven’t enjoyed in the past - to help manage a situation and hone you leadership style, a crucial part of any company culture.

3. Growing Pains

“Growing is important and necessary for any business, (but) if you’re growing too fast or too slowly, your business needs a strategy,” says Tery Spataro, veteran Digital Strategist.

Who you gonna call?

A Business Consultant can help you evaluate your overall business strategy and help you determine your company’s direction, says Spataro.

4. Legal Dispute

Someone else is infringing on your trademark. Or somebody has breached a contract with you, but you’re not sure what to do next. Whatever the legal issues, remember that there are legal ramifications that you as a business owner might not be able to anticipate.

Who you gonna call?

You need a good lawyer, particularly one who knows your industry well so they can help you anticipate potential pitfalls and set up your legal paperwork in a way to nip legal problems in the bud. They can also be there for you when you’re faced with a legal snafu that is over your head. Choose a legal advisor you can genuinely trust.

5. Work Burnout

Work burnout is prevalent especially when economy is bad, says Spataro. “Longer hours means less enthusiasm and motivation for what was once loved.”

Lancaster attributes some burnout to not being sure what road to take in your business (and life).

Says Lancaster, “Every business has multiple possible outcomes; the difficult part is knowing which option is right for you, based on your goals and motivations. Once you are clear which option best meets your needs you need to find the most financial strategic way to achieve that plan.”

Who you gonna call?

Both Lancaster and Spataro suggest calling a Business or Career Coach who will help retool and inspire you to a new direction in your life and career. She also adds a Yoga Master to help you work out the kinks and get you moving around and breathing. Oxygen is key when your brain is losing focus!

No matter what you are experiencing in business today, there is someone out there who can be YOUR ghostbuster.

Who is one of your top ghostbusters who has helped your company at a critical time? Share your stories here!

Running Your Business During Lean Times

Categories: Business Essentials

1 Comment

We’re in an economic crisis. Yes, I’ve heard that and felt that, and I know how it affects me and my family personally. But thinking about my company, I realized I had to rework the way I think about business spending. Here are a few things I’ve decided in order to keep more cash flowing in than out, even as the flow in slows down while everyone is tightening their belts.

1. Rethink company expenditures. I used to never think twice about putting a lunch on the company card or picking up a piece of equipment or a peripheral on the company’s dime. Instead of simply using the company card for company expenses, we’ve switched teh process so now we use our personal money for business expenses and then submit an invoice. Suddenly, what seemed easy and painless has become something that I think twice about before spending. By making your team - and yourself - dig into your own pockets for smaller expenditures and then submit receipts for reimbursement, everyone gets a quick dose of reality in terms of how they are spending. We still put larger travel expenses on the card.

2. Reassess your monthly auto-pays. Like us, you probably have at least half a dozen products and services that you’ve put on autopay and basically take for granted that money is being sucked out of the company on a regular basis so you can use those tools. Our autopays include 5pm for project management, eFax for Web-based faxing and LibSyn for podcast hosting. We recently cut monthly expenses by shifting from Freshbooks back to Quickbooks Pro (at the behest of our bookkeeper). But we had to add more expense to upgrade our 5pm account to accommodate more team members. Just make sure that you list out your auto-pays, and make sure you have the exact service plan that you need. In some cases, you can downgrade and save some money.

3. Hold off on most purchases. While we could all benefit from buying an updated version of Microsoft Word (I’m working off a 6-year-old version on my 6-year-old PowerBook that is holding onto life by a thread), we’re waiting a few more months before purchasing it and some other pricey software. I do have a newer MacBook but none of the latest software on it. I’d love an even newer, lighter-weight and faster computer but that has been put on the back burner. Weigh out productivity costs when looking at big expenditures. If you can point to real savings by making a big purchase, then go for it. But you really have to look closely at when you will actually start saving.

4. Go free where you can. When I was equipping my MacBook with all the software I needed, I went for the free open source solutions such as NeoOffice to stand in for the Microsoft suite of office tools. 99% of the time it serves me well, but it is becoming the 1% of the time that can be a real stickler in productivity. Still, go free when and where you can. Got a PC and want to avoid Microsoft? Try OpenOffice. Need PhotoShop-like functions? Try G.I.M.P. There are many open source options out there for just about any software or service you need - just do a Google search. Make sure you have at least the minimum functionality that you know you need or free will end up costing you more in the long run.

5. Justify your travel. I am traveling more and more for business but now look at each trip through the lens of “how can I make money for the company while on this trip?” This could be a short term hit like speaking engagement honorariums or a longer term infusion like a warm lead to a new client or meeting face-to-face with a potential strategic partner who can bring you in on new projects. I’m going to Izeafest in Orlando and Dreamforce in San Francisco and was able to get legitimate writing assignments for both that will help me offset the travel expenses. Not everyone is a published freelance writer, but if you have a popular, high-trafficked blog, you may be able to get into an event as media for free or at least get a nice discounted pass from the event host.

Tightening your company’s belt should not mean loss of productivity. It simply means thinking twice - or even three times - before whipping out the company credit card to pay for something.

How are you tightening your company’s belt these days?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Subscribe to blog via RSS

Search Blog