I regularly speak to solo foodie entrepreneurs and like many other small businesses, one theme that keeps popping up is perfectionism.Â Quite a few of you acknowledge that you are perfectionists and have trouble letting others help you in your business.
Perfectionism can be great asset in your business, it means you are creating quality products, caring about what you do.Â But it can hinder you if you want to grow and need to let go of some tasks to make room for others.Â For most business that sell physical products, there comes a point where to make more you need to get help, you can only make so much of your product by yourself.Â
Time is often your most limiting resource.
But hiring staff or outsourcing can be scary, you donât want to let down your customers or damage your reputation.Â Getting prepared and feeling in control of the process can help you overcome some of these fears and one of the first steps to take is to work out what you would actually want to either hire staff for or outsource.
What should you outsource or hire people to do?
I have six questions I get people to ask of themselves when deciding to get help with their food business, whether itâs by hiring someone in or outsourcing an activity and any business can use these same questions.
Sit down with a piece of paper and ask yourself these two questions:
- What do I love doing in my business?
- What do I hate doing in my business?
Then make a note next to the tasks that take you a lot of time taking you away from doing what you love versus quick jobs that you only do every now and again.
Once you have these written down and noted if they are quick to do or time consuming then pop them in the following matrix:
This then gives you a great framework to consider what to outsource and when to hire staff:
The aim is to keep you doing what you love and are good at and stop doing what you donât like.Â You may need to hire someone to help you with what you love but to keep you in love with your business, it is great if you can keep doing the creating you love.
This is a fairly simple model and there are some additional questions you should ask yourself:
- What tasks make your business unique?
- What tasks do you do that generate the most sales?
- What do you think it would be easy to find someone to do that you would also feel comfortable trusting them to do?
Looking at these 3 questions in more detail:
- What tasks make your business unique?
This is what makes say your sauce stand out from others in the market?Â You are probably going to want to keep mixing the secret recipe in house as much as you can. Or maybe you make beautifulÂ templates for social media graphics for clients â that creative process that is uniquely you.
- What tasks do you do that generate the most sales?Â
By this I mean, what tasks do you do that actually bring you customers and get them handing over the cash?Â Are you great at demonstrating to new clients that you understand their needs and are ideal to provide the services they need?Â Then you may want to keep discovery calls in house while hiring staff to follow the process of getting contracts signed and the client onboard.
- What would it be easy to find someone to do?
This question has three elements:
- What do you feel you can document well in your business where decisions don’t generally have to be made on a case by case basis by you?
- What activities are often outsourced or staff hired in to do by other businesses and so it is going to be easier to find someone who already has skills.
- Is the task big enough to outsource or hire someone to do?Â If something only takes you half an hour per week then finding someone willing to spend half an hour a week on it and the hassle of actually doing contracts is probably going to outweigh any benefit of outsourcing or hiring.Â And in some places, hiring laws may mean you canât hire someone for such a small amount of time.Â But if you have a group of similar small tasks then you can look at bundling.
My final caveat on this matrix is that you need to do the big picture strategic stuff in your business, regardless of how you feel about it.Â Hire a bookkeeper to do your books and a tax accountant to do your tax return.Â But you need to be reviewing your results, seeing how much you’re making with which products or services, and making decisions about how to take your business forward.Â Hire someone to do your social media, but make sure you set the tone and values of your brand that you want them to promote.
There is one other area of outsourcing that you might want to think about to gain more time; outsourcing jobs in your personal life.Â Want to spend an extra hour on your business?Â Then maybe hiring a cleaner would work for you or hiring a cook to make your meals for the week.
Get creative with where you need help and spend time doing what you love!
Some people just have it; that special something that instantly draws us to them. AÂ conversational style, that energy, that spark of life that makes us want to be in their presence.
Charismatic people build and sustain relationships with people they come in contact with. They make those people feel more important and often inspire great loyalty or work output from them. Even if you are not naturally charismatic you can train yourself to be.
Here are 7 important traits of charismatic people that you can try to incorporate into your daily life:
1. Eye Contact
Remarkably charismatic people instinctively know that success is not about how we dress, itâs about what we do. When someone is speaking with you, look them in the eye, this is a crucial component of any conversation. The speaker feels important, is more engaged with what they are saying and feels appreciated by you, their listener. If you are talking, looking someone in the eye, it will focus their attention and allow you the opportunity to gage whether your point is being received. If you are giving a presentation, donât focus on one person but try to make eye contact with many members of the audience, it will make the event more personal and will engage the whole audience in your speech.
2. Listen Actively
Put your phone away, donât check it at all! Â The people you are conversing with deserve your undivided attention. Connecting with other people is disrupted by connecting with stuff. Gadgets inhibit active listening and diminish the speakerâs importance. Active listening consists of two components, providing your undivided attention and engaging with the speaker. Ask questions, seem interested in what is being said. By asking questions people will open up to you more and remember and think of you as a good listener. Being a good listener is often equated with being a positive person. Paul Sacco, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work studied the habits of active listeners and found that many of us only listen with 25% efficiency. Good listeners maintain eye contact, nod their head, ask relevant questions but most importantly spend more time listening than talking.
3. Smile for Real
This may sound clichĂŠ but we can all tell the difference between a genuine smile and a fake smile. The fake smile is that thin lipped upturn of the mouth. It conveys a sense of tolerance. People who smile with their eyes and mouth exude more positivity and happiness. Julia Roberts has a smile that radiates from within. People with big, inviting smiles make others feel more at ease and receptive to conversing with them.
4. Remember Names
Remembering names can be tricky for many of us. For some of us, introductions go in one ear and out the other! Â We donât know who we are talking to and are too embarrassed to ask. Imagine how impressive it is if someone we have only met once before approaches us and knows our name, as well as our partner and childrenâs names. We are trying to figure out who they are but they seemingly know our whole life story, we immediately think, âWe must be important and specialâ. There are a number of tricks charismatic people use to remember names. When you meet someone for the first time and they introduce themselves immediately use their name in your reply. âHi Mark, itâs nice to meet you, Mark.â Â End your conversation by using their name again, it will make them feel special and remembered. You can always cheat later and put a descriptive word in your phone next to the personâs name.
5. Stand Tall and Straight
People with good posture who stand up tall seem more confident. If you walk around with stooped shoulders and your head down it puts off an aura of stay away, donât come near me, I am boring and uninteresting. If you stand straight with your head held high and your shoulders back you are inviting others to you. You are creating an opportunity to be seen and space for others to engage with you. For those of you who need help improving your posture, consider getting a trampoline or inversion table and jumping for 10 minutes every morning.
6. Speak Clearly and With Meaning
Take your time, speak at a comfortable rate, use words sparingly and with due consideration. Remember you are striving for a greater degree of active listening which means less talking. Communicate your points clearly and concisely, know the objective of your words. One of the most famous communicators and a naturally charismatic individual, Martin Luther King, Jr., knew how to speak clearly to one person or a large gathering of people. His words were always chosen carefully to have the greatest impact on his audience. You have to go to the meeting or you get to go to the meeting and meet some new and interesting clients. Which statement is sending a positive, confident and happy message out into the world and which one is the opposite?
7. A Little Humility
You know youâre great, but why toot your own horn? We all want to interact with positive, happy people. Donât miss out on an opportunity to praise other people for their contributions, work or effort. Donât talk badly about someone you know, donât talk behind their back and donât laugh at other people. Friends may enjoy a little gossip at first but then they will start worrying you are exposing their secrets too or worse laughing at them behind their backs.
Invite people in, find out what they know, shine the spotlight on someone other than yourself. You can take steps to improve your charisma and achieve better business results and increased personal success. Always make your audience, your co-workers, your clients, and your family feel like they are the most important person in the room.
If your goal is to achieve more charisma in your life, take your cue from famous, charismatic leaders like Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa. Make eye contact and listen first, the rest will follow. You are on your way to irresistible charisma.
When you think about how youâve learned what youâve needed to get through life, Iâm sure you picked up a few things in schoolâŚ and Iâm sure you learned a lot from your family. But really, think about how much we learn from stories!
We tell ourselves (and others) stories about how to live our lives, work through our career, or raise our families. But what happens when you get to the next chapter of your storyâwhen the kids leaveâŚwhen youâre facing retirementâŚwhen it is simply time for a changeâŚyou have to figure out the âwhatâs next?â
When I walked away from a successful market research business that I had acquired, developed, and merged, it was an opportunity to write a new story for myself. It was time to try something different, but I had a lot of questions, questions that other leaders and executives were also struggling to answer. For example, what led me to the decision to leave? More importantly, how did I decide what would be next?
It didnât take many rounds of coffee and lunches to understand the very successful executives and business owners I was meeting with were not wondering about my exit plans. They were wondering about theirs. Like me, some were at the top of their respective careers and nearing age-driven considerations.
Those conversations and questions were fascinatingâand overwhelming. But before long, my expertise and experience as a consumer behaviorist in market research took over.
I knew that getting people together to talk about it might offer some clues on how to answer these questions. I put together an experimental workshop where I brought together a group of executives to explore the rational and emotional underpinnings of exiting a career.
First, it was clear from the discussion redesigning life wouldnât be an event; it would be a process. Second, there was great power in community. Several in that workshop said they felt so relieved talking with their peers, people like them, who didnât have clear answers, but being with one another seemed to give many of them a sense of hope and courage.
The more I spoke to business owners and leaders, the more I saw patterns in how they tackled their own process of renewal and reinvention.
Here are just a few of the stories of women who found a new way to their âLife 2.0.â:
I was at the top of my game in the advertising and marketing world. Iâd managed advertising for some of the most well recognized brands in the U.S and around the world. Iâd served as president and COO of an agency. It was great, but I was ready for a change. For years, Iâd split my time between working and volunteering for more than ten arts and culture nonprofits. As I was thinking about leaving behind my career, I knew that I was really interested in moving away from working for money to working for meaning. Just before I left the corporate world, I put a plan in place to let the non-profit community know that I was interested in making a move. Sure enough, the years of experience working in volunteer roles served me well as I stepped up to lead other volunteers. On top of that, all my years in the professional world gave me the skills to find an organization thatâs going to fit my purpose and passion. âAdvertising Executive and Advocate for the ArtsÂ
For over 30-plus years, Iâd owned a very successful training development company, and I was getting ready to sell it. I was totally prepared and ready to move on to new ventures. After due diligence, I had several promising buyersâbut I was never so surprised as when my daughter, who was a teacher, asked if I would consider selling the business to her! And thatâs exactly what happened. Iâm still available for consulting, but the business is now fully my daughters. After I passed it on to her, I took three months off to enjoy the beach and host a wedding and Iâm now back in the game of starting up a new business. Assuming the concept takes off, Iâm hoping to build it and sell it, but not to become consumed by it. âBusiness Owner and Entrepreneur
I enjoyed the kind of high-flying career many dream about â I was working in the entertainment industry, and over the years, Iâd developed a business that was doing a billion dollars in gross sales with a workforce of only fifty people. Lean and mean! But after a merger, my division became part of a larger entity, and the new management wasnât all that great. I told my financial advisor about this, who said, âDo what you want. Youâre well-set enough that you donât have to work.â Wellâso I did it. I started an organization to point girls toward careers in politics, something that had always been a life-long passion. Itâs been great to make this into something big, but thatâs not the end of the story! Iâm transitioning away from the day-to day handling of the organization and getting back into the world of entertainment. This time, itâs on my own terms, where I can keep my freedom and do exactly what I want to do in that space. âEntertainment Executive and Youth Leadership Developer
Things seemed pretty goodâI owned a small business, and life and work seemed to be churning along at a rapid but comfortable clip. At least it seemed like that until the day that my husband told me he no longer wanted to be married to me. Apparently, heâd always felt lost in my shadow and was looking for a different life and life partnership. About three years later came the breast cancer diagnosis. Surgery followed, and thirty rounds of radiation plus three months of chemo. I never imagined this would be part of my life. It completely changed my outlook, and while Iâm still devoted to my business, I think much more carefully about what Iâm getting out of my work. All this experience led me to pursue the dream of holding semi-annual retreats for women centered on developing better self-care: physically, spiritually, and mentally. âBusiness Partner, Facilitator and Survivor
Those are just a few stories, but they show that these women are redefining what âretirementâ is. Itâs much more about writing a new story, recalibrating to a new reality rather than retiring!Â By blending a purpose and a passion, there are so many possibilities for finding your Life 2.0., and I wish you the best as you start your own process of reinvention and recalibration.
Like many of you, I work from home, alone. We live in a safe community devoid of a lot of criminal activity, but, sometimes the occasional noise or random stranger wandering through the neighborhood gets me can get me a bit paranoid throughout the day. We decided to get a home security system. We connected with MyFox who allowed us to shared a product for our honest review.
In their own words:
“With the MyFox Smart Home Alarm Security System, you can prevent break-ins before they happen thanks to door and window vibration analysis that can tell the difference between normal events and potential threats. If the IntelliTAG door and window sensor analyzes vibrations specific to break-in attempts, it immediately triggers a 110dB siren and ensures your home remains safe. In addition to better home security, the MyFox home alarm provides a seamless user experience. It is easy to install and use. It includes a wireless keyfob that goes on your keychain or child’s backpack that automatically disables the system when you enter your home and notifies you when your kids get back home from school. No need for you or the babysitter to type in a security code on the wall to get in and no more false alarms. MyFox also allows you to create your MyFox Community; a trusted network of family, friends, and neighbors to grant them access to your system so they can keep an eye on your home when you are away.”
I love it because:
It’s easy to set up.
We had it installed and ready to go in no time. No tools required- we just unpacked our components, downloaded the app, and connected the WiFi.
It has a free smart phone app (for use with iPhones and Androids) that helps keep me appraised of any goings-on on the homefront,Â Push notifications keep me updated on whether or not the alarm is an emergency or not.
Meaning, there are no monthly fees. We get alerts directly from the home base as to any potential issues.Â We can use the keyfob to arm or disarm the system remotely.
As with most things in life, prevention is key.Â It has anti-intrusion sensors that alert us to a possible break-in before it happens by sensing the unique vibrations in an entry point.Â As soon as the vibration is measured, the 110 decibel alarm will sound before someone actually breaks in.
There are several hardware components available, including aÂ hub, a siren, an IntelliTAG sensor, a camera, and aÂ key fob. Everything is centralized in the hub (aka, the Link) that works off WiFi and an encrypted signal.
The camera recordings are stored on Myfox secured cloud servers for playback from anywhere. You can also link it to your Google Drive account for even more storage, if needed.
After looking for a home security system for a while, I’m glad we wound up with MyFox. It’s aÂ greatÂ option for those that want a proactive, self-monitored home security system. It has several component options to help you customize it to your own situation. Add more cameras, fobs, and sensors as needed. Overall, it’s a highly recommended purchase for those seeking security while working from the comforts of home.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we thought we’d kick it off in style.
As a mom and business owner, you dedicate a lot of time to doing things for other people. Well…. we noticed, and we think it’s about time thatÂ you did a little something for yourself. So, we put together a luxe pampering package sure to make you feel like a queen. Prizes total just shy of $240. The lucky winner gets it all.
Entering is simple (and free), just follow the instructions below the prizes. Good luck!
Goddess Gift Set from Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium.
- Goddess Soap
- Goddess 4oz Bubbling Body Scrub
- Goddess Goat’s Milk Body Butter
- Goddess Solid Perfume (not pictured)
Filorga Sleep and Peel. Resurfacing Night Cream by Filorga is a tissue-renewal booster that intensely smooths skin and reveals its radiance. This velvety night cream is enriched with a cocktail of six hydroxy AHA and BHA acids which give the cream a perfectly safe peeling effect and allow the formula to take action on dark spots, wrinkles and imperfections. Night after night your complexion becomes brighter, wrinkles fade, pigmentation defects are reduced and skin texture is refined. ($79 value)
Filorga Optim-Eyes. An anti-aging, anti-dark circle and anti-puffiness treatment. A unique complex reduces dark circles by promoting the elimination of pigmented residue while powerful active ingredients boost venous and lymphatic circulation to reduce swelling in the lower eyelid. Hyaluronic acid and a trio of draining active ingredients smooth the eye contour for a fresher appearance.Â ($49 value)
Breezy. For worry-free style that feels even better than it looks, just turn to Stance’s Breezy. Crafted from our signature blend of soft Supima cotton, this Everyday sock is built with a smart attention to detail. For the perfect fit, The Breezy sports elastic arch support anÂ a self-adjusting cuff that keeps everything in place, while a reinforced heel and toe offer added durability. And thanks to a pop-art inspired collage of color, getting dressed is as easy as Sunday morning in Stance’s Breezy.Â ($16Â value)
Bye Felicia. Though simple in design, Stance’s Bye Felicia is anything but basic. Refuse to be boxed in with this Classic Crew sock, an unexpectedly feminine twist on athletic style thanks to bold pastel stripes that play the field on premium combed cotton fibers. A reinforced heel and toe provided additional durability, while elastic arch support and a self-adjusting cuff cradle feet in comfort. In a world full of basics, make a statement in Stance’s Bye Felicia.Â ($10 value)
Pinch Me DoughÂŽ & Stress Relief In A Pinch. A container of the wildly popular Pinch Me DoughÂŽ , a holistic, drug-free, portable stress-reduction tool. This pliable putty was expertly developed to be the ideal texture for perfect pinchability. When you feel a hint of stress, pull out your container. Gently knead away nuisances, or use it while you’re relaxing to decompress and get back to center. PLUS, ‘Stress Relief In A Pinch’, aÂ stress relief manual loaded with everything you need to know about how to send stress packing. This handy guide offers powerful, yet simple, tips on how to reduce stress at home or on the go. ($34 value)
CONTEST RULES: Prizes shipped within theÂ Continental USA only. Must be 18 years of age or older.
DURATION:Â 4/30/2016 6:00 am EST – 5/7/2016 11:00 am EST.
HOW: Several ways to enter. Choose one or do them all- it’s up to you! Stop back & enter every day to increase your chances of winning. Earn up to 35 entries a day! The more you enter, the better your chances of winning. (Note: All entries are verified by the giveaway software.)
**Winner is chosen at random by the giveaway software and will be announced right here on the blog on May 8th.**
Investing, in the broadest sense, is the practice of choosing your present actions intentionally to produce the results you want at a later time.
Financial investors buy stocks and bonds now, in hopes they will be worth more, later on. Entrepreneurs invest effort and capital now believing the businesses they create will deliver rewards in the future. Parents invest their energy and resources now, doing their best to ensure todayâs children will become flourishing adults years down the line.
A future-driven, investor mindset guides hugely rewarding decisions, but it is not a natural way of thinking and acting for us humans. The sensory experiences and emotional poignancy of the present moment are powerful. Our biology and neurology urge us to focus on surviving today over maximizing tomorrow.
A Ugandan friend of mine leads a charitable organization that helps farmers in his country produce more crops and get them to markets more efficiently. When the organization was brand new, I talked with him from time to time and heard updates on their progress. Distribution of superior corn seed and education on farming methods were successful, and the crop was looking good. The amount of corn produced was twice what the same farmers had grown on the same land the season before. We were so excited about how these farmers would benefit.
The time came to harvest the crops, and the harvest was a success. The employees of the organization rented a truck to transport the crops from the remote rural area to markets in the city.
When the truck arrived at the farms, they found no crops there to pick up! My friend was dismayed to learn that the farmers had already sold the crops from their big harvest. A local crop trader had offered them half price to buy the crops now. Rather than waiting a week or two for the truck to arrive, take the crops to market, sell them, and then pay them, the farmers accepted the cash-in-hand offer. They gave up all the benefit they would have gained from the higher yields that season. As you can imagine, my friend was extremely disappointed that the increase he sought to create was lost.
Itâs easy to feel we would never do what those farmers did, that we are exempt from making such short-sighted tradeoffs. Not so fast.
Think about the pressures they were under. What if the crops never made it to market, or the money from selling them never made it back? What if the crops were stolen before the truck arrived? What if the nonprofit organization couldnât be trusted? Their families might face starvation. Selling for half price, cash in hand right now, ensured their familyâs survival for another season. Sending those crops to market for full price didnât.
We are hard-wired this way. We all make decisions that are very much like their choice to sell their crop for half price.
An unfulfilled worker might choose another day at a job that promises to pay the bills, but returns âhalf priceâ or less on his or her true career potential.
A business owner might choose to spend an afternoonâs free time on routine tasks, avoiding the uncomfortable uncertainty of the big-picture strategy work that would more than double sales.
A married couple might choose another day of politely co-existing in a âhalf priceâ relationship, when confronting and resolving whatâs broken between them might multiply the rewards of being together.
When the pressure is on, when fear looms in us, our instinct is to prioritize safety and survival even when it means our long-term future will take a hit.
So how can we be unnaturally wise, cultivate a long-term investor mindset, and make better, braver decisions? It can be done.Â
Great investors develop a strong sense of the future. They feel it vividly, and this informs the decisions they make today.
A few suggestions:
- Schedule periodic times (no less than quarterly) to direct your attention to the future. Bring that âlater timeâ into focus by exploring and reviewing your vision, your big goals, and the rewards that make it all worth it for you.
- Write your long-term goals in succinct statements. Map out a plausible path to achieving those goals. Refer back to these for clarity when things get hectic.
- Bring your best mentors and your best friends into this with you. Talk with them about what you want most. Getting the future out of your head and into an audible conversation will make it feel more real and attainable.
- Run the numbers. Make a spreadsheet showing the likely long-term returns fromÂ that expensive hire, that project to increase recurring revenue, or that additional allocation to your retirement account. Math is remarkably unfazed by our short-term biases, and can lend clarity and confidence at decision time.
- Put the next steps toward your long-term priorities into action now. The pressures of life and work will always be there. Waiting until you feel caught up and comfortable isnât realistic. Let some other things slide to make room for your long-term priorities. Thatâs a good trade.
Some questions to ask yourself, and explore with those who support you:
What do I want most in the future?
What scares, distracts, or pressures me away from pursuing that?
Where am I choosing âhalf priceâ today at the expense of the future I want?
What could I do today that might not be obvious, urgent, or easy, but would make a big impact over time?
How can you use a forward-thinking, investor’s mindset to empower your future?
Thereâs no one-size-fits-all solution to creating the right company culture. However, defining your values that will be the building blocks for your culture early on is integral to the future success of your company, particularly as it achieves new stages of growth.
A strong culture is one that is evident even to newcomers and is cultivated through dedication to a clear set of values and embodied by all members of the community. At Kabbage, we have found it is part of our DNA to care deeply. That most often entails a great degree of autonomy, freedom of voice, and respect for one another. As a result of the high value we place on these values, we find our team members more passionately engaged in the business and poised for great achievements.
According to a study from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, a healthy corporate culture â with an established set of values that resonate throughout â makes a company more likely to thrive. In the end, itâs the cultural aspects of your company that will help you build an empowered and enthusiastic employee base, while allowing you live to your fullest growth potential.
Donât let your culture happen by accident
There is a world of difference between standing for something and having values that say you stand for something. Many leaders create core values for two reasons: #1 – they read somewhere that they ought to; and, #2 – they have really good intentions. Sadly, most attempts fall flat as a result. They write something that sounds good or is aspirational at best, but not something that they are prepared to deliberately create, nor something for which theyâve hired properly to achieve.
A companyâs culture will be created whether it is prescribed or not, so it might as well be something about which the leaders are excited and of which they want to be proud.
There is no point in having values if they are not the foundation for all actions. If a leadership team truly values its core values, then it is critical to hire other leaders and team members who share those values. Otherwise growth will dilute or even destroy the culture. The stated core values will no longer be the basis for actions and decisions, and the culture will be something altogether different from what was envisioned when those values were established.
Hiring with intention
We have always been very deliberate about our hiring decisions. We only hire people that we believe care deeply and are self aware. It is important to us that people donât merely tolerate one another, but rather they genuinely respect each othersâ perspectives and experiences even if they donât agree with or understand them. We spend a tremendous amount of time together at work, and the collegiate environment that weâve created is very special.
Hiring the right people is as important to the success of the business as having a disruptive product or even well-heeled investors. A couple of toxic missteps can create such discord in the organization that the effects can be far-reaching, and range from expensive turnover, to missed business opportunities, to quality and trust issues, and countless others.
If companies spent more time thinking about who they are and defining the values for which they actually want to stand for, not just the ones that merely sound good, and actually behaved according to those principles, they’ll find themselves making smarter hiring decisions and realizing far greater success in their business. Imagine an environment where everyone, in all of their diverse professional and personal experiences, is not only aware of and invested in the mission at hand, but also empowered to execute. An environment where team members are treated as individuals and are supported, respected, and trusted; an environment in which people are invested, creating endless opportunity. Thatâs the kind of culture that yields the business results about which most employees and investors can only dream. And it all starts with defining and committing to some fundamental principles that most define you and your business.
What are some of your company’s core values? How do you live them through your day to day operations?
Moving beyond selling your handmade, manufactured, or resale imported items at fairs, and region retail shows and hiring a sales representative is a big decision.Â Maybe you’ve already hired your first sales rep.Â Or maybe a sales rep is showing interest in your items.Â Either way, before you rush into hiring a sales rep, make sure you, your product line, and your business is ready.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Setting Up Your BusinessÂ
If you want to be taken seriously, you’ve got to present yourself in the most professional light and indicate that you’re ready to take the next steps. Consider the following questions:
- Does my business have a professional presence, such as registered name, business cards, separate business bank account, business phone and / or fax, business email and /or website?
- Do I have wholesale sales sheets or catalog with good quality photos of my line?
- Have I established my payment terms, minimum order amounts, and delivery/shipping systems and options?
- Do I have policies in place for exchanges, returns, outdated and damaged products?
- Do I have a good system for tracking sales, receivables, expenses and commissions?
- Does my company enjoy excess capacity or the ability to beef up production to accommodate extra sales that a sales rep will bring me? And will I be able to get those orders out the door in a timely manner?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you may need to stop and regroup before going any further.Â Getting your systems in place BEFORE you look for a representative is critical to your success with reps. If you fall down on your first couple orders with a rep you’ll lose your credibility and risk being dropped by the rep.
Making Your Product Line âRep Readyâ
Most legit reps will not be interested in taking on your line until youâve established yourself in the marketplace or been in business for several months to a few years.Â Seem unfair?Â Unfortunately, there are plenty of horror stories about new companies coming and going without fulfilling orders or paying reps their commission. Sometimes, small companies canât handle the growth that a new rep will bring them. Others just donât have their businesses in order yet.
Making those first retailer sales calls yourself and selling your to a few key accounts is an important early step, providing experience and feedback from wholesale buyers about your products, before taking on reps. Consider this a trial period where you work out the kinks in your ordering and delivery system.
The experience of selling your own products at wholesale to a local retailer, before hiring a sales rep, will help you appreciate what reps do for you and also generates your presence within the marketplace. Having established, successful accounts adds value to your line when approaching potential reps.Â
The sales statistics you accumulate during the process are helpful in giving your company distinction and awareness when you present your product line to a potential sales representative.Â Being able to provide your rep with statistics like your re-order rate and your average turnover rate go along way toward your credibility.Â
Having experience working in the business will enhance your own confidence, as well as potential sales partners, in your line and your systems.
For more on getting your business retail ready check out these resources:
My son, Steven, is grown, the child of divorced entrepreneurs.Â He watched us pursue projects, start businesses, end businesses, celebrate successes and mourn failures.Â We both moved a lot.Â For stability, I lived in one apartment through his grammar school years then bought a house for his middle and high school years.Â We both remained in the city.Â I always say, I was a single woman, but not a single parent.Â Dad was very active and present, with his different style of parenting, hence the divorce. Â Nothing about my sonâs life looked âstableâ according to the traditional models for child rearing in America, but the end result was pretty amazing!
He learned from us, what many fail to realize.Â Life is a journey.Â Thereâs very little fear.Â Most people just want to be happy.Â All you need is love.
My childâs role in my company
Iâve had one âformalâ job in my life.Â I needed it when my son started grammar school. It was the most efficient way to get the healthcare for his school vaccinations.Â I stayed on the job for years, bought a car and a house but spent a great deal of time depressed, paying bills, tired and on the phone with friends trying to navigate office politics.Â Often frustrated, I snapped at Steven. We ate loads of fast food; I didnât have time to cook like the people on TV.
Finally, understanding what a Monday morning heart attack looks like, I sat him down and said, âI canât continue with this job.Â I am dreadfully unhappy.Â I need to go back to entrepreneurship.Â I need your help and support.âÂ He was 14.Â I said, âYou have to get really good grades.Â You can never get in trouble at school.Â And you have to be on the Advisory Board of my new business.Â Worse case scenario, I can cover half your college and you can get scholarships or something.âÂ He said, OK.
He took his role very seriously and I did too.Â I got an SBA loan, quit my job and started my microbusiness out of a storefront in my community.Â We started having dinner together.Â I would tell him about my crazy days as an entrepreneur and he would tell me of his crazy high school days.Â I ran out of money a lot.Â He would say: âBut you have your own business, why arenât we rich?âÂ I would explain how I made money, where it came from and where it went.Â Whenever my business encountered young people, I would ask him, âWhy did those kids do that?Â How can I fix it?âÂ And he had meaningful answers.
During summers and school breaks, he wanted to work at the shop.Â He took pride in his suggestions to improve business, he answered the phones, and he cleaned up the offices.Â He knew exactly how much money stayed in the family from his efforts, too.
Between his Dad and me, money was always uneven, but Steven knew we would scrape together what he needed for school.Â He didnât ask for extras because he knew neither of us had extra cash.Â He understood my business and his Dadâs.Â But what we both had, was time.Â We were always in control of our time, and we were always available for his activities.
The buck stopped with Mom
The buck always stops with the business owner.Â My son got the chance to see me lead a team meeting, but he also saw me get cursed out by unhappy customers.Â The first time, he was pretty traumatized, but he watched me handle it.Â He watched me completely diffuse situations and then resolve them.Â A lot.Â Whether it was I, personally or someone from my team, I apologized and looked for the solution.
After one guyâs bellowing at me, I talked to my son later on and said, âLook, donât stress out.Â Iâm not going to fire me today.Â Iâm never going to fire me, so we just have to figure out what that guy is mad about and then resolve it. Â Because customers are right, the jerk.âÂ Steven laughed.Â Then I said:Â âCould you tell what he was mad about?âÂ We turned the entire experience into a lesson.Â I told him that guy probably had a job he hated, and this incident got on his last nerve.Â He just wants to be happy, too.Â I donât know him well enough to be the cause of all of that anger.
From then on, every time we were in a store or at an event, Steven leaped to solve the problems.Â He would ask for directions or assistance.Â It was his turn to rectify situations.Â When situations came up at school, he scheduled his own meeting with teachers.Â He would dispute low grades and schedule tutoring.Â He took his commitment to good grades seriously.Â He graduated High School on the Deanâs List.
From boy to man
When he went away to college, he called to thank me.Â He said, he was able to walk into the room of young men in his dorm and start âglad-handing.âÂ I taught him that as a child.Â We used to have handshake drills when he was nine because I told him good business started with a good handshake, eye contact and an engaging question.
College was almost effortless.Â He got full-ride offers from some universities, but we selected a school that gave him a scholarship for half.Â I struggled to pay my agreed-upon half on time.Â He wasnât stressed because we always made it. While Steven was 1,000 miles away, he negotiated and navigated college like a champ.Â He finished summa cum laude.
The job search as a recent grad was challenging. A mentor told him he would be more âinterestingâ if he spoke Chinese.Â In short, he said:Â âIâm moving to China.âÂ And he did.Â Never having left the country, having never spoken a word of Chinese, he got a job teaching English as a second language.Â He applied the same rules he learned in life.Â He thrived.Â He learned to speak, read and write the language as he lived in Daquing and Shanghai for over two years. Â Now he lives in South Korea.Â He is twenty-seven and still fearless.
My advice to Moms
So many of my friends are scared to let their kids go to the store alone let alone on school field trips.Â I donât think you can raise independent children while requiring them to depend on you for everything. Â
My advice is this:
- Give your child responsibility that ties to the family business, no matter how simple.
- Make sure your child understands how the business works and makes money.
- Ask your childâs advice if your business involves children in any way.
- Let your child see you work and resolve conflict.
- Tell your child how important his actions are to the success of your business.
Traditional jobs take so much oxygen out of the room.Â You donât always have the authority to bring your child into the equation to help them learn adult lessons. But Mompreneurs have the space.Â Give your child the lessons he needs to be fearless.
For many entrepreneurs, there comes a time when their business and their dreams are big enough that they are ready to go from being a hope and a prayer venture run from a bedroom of their home, to becoming a substantial, real-life successful business. Getting to the next level and finding massive success requires help, oftentimes from someone who can invest the money and valuable resources to substantially grow the business. This person is called a shark.
A shark is the top feeder in the business world. They are the ones who have already made it, usually through the benefit of having started out with a shark of their own. The shark recognizes the endless opportunities at their feet, which a majority never see. They are very good at sifting through the sand to find the gold hidden within. Just as the sharks are very good at evaluating the potential and opportunity in what they choose to invest in, the entrepreneur should be equally particular in how they choose their shark. If you work with the right shark, the results can be mutually beneficial and everyone will win. But finding your shark and catching him isnât an easy feat.
Here are five tips to help choose, and hook the shark thatâs right for you and your business.
Know what kind of shark will benefit you the most
It may seem like an investor/partner in your business is great, no matter who it is. Be careful though, because sometimes when you think youâve hooked a shark, theyâve hooked you. From the very start it is important to make sure that you and your shark share a vision of how your business is to be run and how much involvement and/or equity your shark will have. While it is wonderful to be able to draw on the resources and wisdom of an established success, you ideally are looking for support. Even if you become business partners, you donât want to give away too much and sign over ownership of your dream while you get nothing. Even if the opportunity seems too good to pass up, you may want to walk away from a shark who will take too much.
Create the perfect bait to catch your shark
Most seasoned investors have seen more pitches from smaller businesses than they can count, so make sure you stand out when itâs your turn to go before them. Itâs important to remain respectful and maintain a dignified, confident demeanor, but start your pitch with something dramatic to make sure they are listening.Â Â Demonstrate how your business or product is a mass market proposition.
- How does it solve a problem or benefit the customer?
- Show the shark how the product or business is unique.
- What kind of testimonials and endorsements do you have?
- What is your track record?
- And of course, what is the money-making potential?
This post is sponsored by The UPS Store. For more information, please see the end of this article.
When it comes to print collateral, business cards are considered the gold standard. As a professional, especially as a small business owner, thereâs no excuse to not have a handful of them on you at all times. â¨â¨But beyond the business card, lies a landscape of marketing and promotional possibility. And it comes in the form of print collateral.
A recent survey from The UPS Store showed that business cards are still one of the most common tools among small business owners with 75% of those surveyed stating they use business cards to promote their business. This was followed by brochures (27%), fliers (22%), and direct mail pieces (22%)*.
Online marketing is undeniably powerful, but print has something online doesnât have: a tangible takeaway. And there’s something about that, that feels very real. â¨â¨Print marketing fortifies an already strong online presence, making it even more memorable. By having something you can place in the hands of an audience, your customers or your potential customers youâre quite literally giving themâŚ something to hold on to.
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
â¨Websites are convenient, in that everything is available with a few clicks. Once that website is closed, though, youâve got to work to remind people who you are, what you do, and why they need you. To become (and remain) a front of mind brand, youâve got to stay visible and consistent across a multitude of platforms. Print advertising is yet another powerful tool to have in your marketing belt.
Here are eight pieces of print collateral to consider adding to your marketing arsenalâ¨:
1. Press Kit (Media Kits)
Sometimes referred to as a ‘Press Sheet’ or a ‘Press Kit’, a Media Kit is an important part of promoting your business and your offerings. Essentially, it’s a condensed version of your business and/or your offerings. It can also be used to promote your brand in general.Â
Having a digital press kit that media professionals and potential customers can download on the fly from your website is great. But, you should also have physical press kits on hand to distribute at shows, following a consultation, or as needed. Having them printed is more affordable than you might think. Stop by The UPS Store and use âReportâ or âManualâ to get some layout ideas and come away with a professional looking document that youâll be proud to distribute.
Artfully placed signs and banners have the potential to draw a lot of attention from a large number of people at once. Theyâre easy to transport and quick to hang up and take down. Use them at trade shows, speaking events, booths, or to display your sponsorship of an event or team. Banners are a great investment for a small business. Pay for them once, and theyâll pay for themselves time and again.â¨
â¨Whenâs the last time you got a hand written thank you note from someone youâve done business with? The digital age has placed a higher premium on personalization. Send a card to thank someone, to commemorate an anniversary or other event, or just as a friendly hello. Your thoughtfulness is sure to be remembered. Making sure your brand and logo are present on the card will help engrave your business onto their memory. â¨â¨â¨
â¨A sales brochure is a printed piece of marketing used to introduce your product to potential buyers. Itâs a compact, visual way to both describe and sell your item. A good brochure not only informs, it engages and persuades. Use them on their own or in tandem with your other marketing efforts. Itâs everything a potential customer would want to know on a single sheet of paper. Theyâre cost effective and pack a real punch.â¨â¨
In todayâs fast-paced world, brevity is appreciated. Flyers are an effective way to get a lot of information into someoneâs hands (literally). Theyâre compact, and are easy to grab and peruse. Use them for an individual offering, or use them to promote your business as a whole. If youâre a product seller, you can also print your line sheets as flyers. Doing a local event? Hang a head-turning flyer in a local venue to draw attention to your gig and get more people in seats.
All communique you distribute should look neat and professional. Thereâs something about letterhead that makes everything look more official. A stack of branded letterhead available to print with at a momentâs notice is a must-have office essential.
Reports are great collateral for small businesses for a variety of reasons. Transparency is a quality thatâs quickly becoming more valued in the small business arena. Some businesses are even posting their earnings in an effort to validate and qualify their intents and purposes. Reports are a professional way to present your data, results, findings, and information to both customers and potential customers, alike. The fact that the information is printed speaks to the confidence you have in the information youâre putting forth.
â¨With so much to know, courses are all the rage these days. If youâre an online instructor, you can expand your reach from behind the screen by offering print courses. Hard-copy workbooks, handbooks, slide decks, or a book of forms. All are excellent takeaways from courses either taught in local venues or to be sent to your online students. â¨
â¨With the exponential increase in the number of small businesses out there, setting yourself apart has never been more imperative. Online is a fantastic stage for commerce, but forward thinking entrepreneurs know the value of a personal touch. Getting professional quality print marketing into the hands of your right people will pay undeniable and exponential dividends.
I am blogging on behalf of The UPS Store and received compensation for my time from The UPS Store for sharing my views in this post. The views expressed here are solely mine.
With The UPS Store, Print Never Looked Better.
Choose from a vast variety of exciting products. The UPS Store offers more than just copies and prints. Visit our full product section to see what The UPS Store has to offer you. Whether your need is business cards, postcards, envelopes, or all of these, The UPS Store has your small business needs covered. Choose from hundreds of exciting designed templates to find a style that sets you and your business apart. Visit our All Products page to see the many possibilities that The UPS Store has created for you. Have your own designs? No problem! Use our website to simply upload your own designs, and create beautiful and unique custom print products that fit your branding needs. The UPS Store is offering 30% off of all online print orders, learn more: http://www.upsstoreprint.com.
*The results of the survey are based on an online survey conducted March 25-30, 2016 by The UPS Store, Inc., franchisor of The UPS Store network, with small business owners. The methodology of the study was an online survey among a panel of 500 small business owners contacted through Research Now. All participants were 18 and older and residents of the United States. The UPS Store, Inc. strives to include accurate and up-to-date Information but makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information or survey results provided herein; the information is provided on an âas isâ basis.
As a full-time worker, you can keep your job while starting a business at the same time. While not the easiest path to entrepreneurship, this strategy keeps your job safe, minimizing the negative impact if your business fails. The steady income can also help finance your new venture until it becomes profitable.
Pursuing two separate paths of employment requires you to exercise both discipline and hard work. Although difficult, the approach offers the best option for starting a business on a tight budget. It can also give you useful insight into what it feels like to be an entrepreneur before you turn your startup into a full-time business.
Here’s some valuable advice on how to start your own business while keeping your full-time job:
Respect Your Employment Contract
Before you even start your side venture, make sure your entrepreneurial activity does not conflict with contracts and agreements that govern your current job. Thoroughly review all your work-related documents, including any non-disclosure and non-compete agreements to make sure they do not prohibit side ventures.
If you fail to respect the terms of your contract, you could end up out of work and face civil penalties. You should also beware of any agreement that could either explicitly or implicitly give your employer ownership or rights to your business.
You might need to discuss your plans with your HR manager or an attorney that specializes in employment law. In most cases, if your business differs from that of your employer and you use your equipment and time, you wonât encounter any conflicts.
Disclose Your Plans to Your Boss
Working simultaneously for your boss and yourself might cause conflicting feelings for you and your boss. If your business is different from your employerâs, rather than trying to hide your intentions, make them known. When you demonstrate such transparency, you eliminate fears that your life as an entrepreneur will conflict with your life as an employee.
When you prove that your new business doesnât present a threat, cost, or undue burden, your employer might become surprisingly supportive of your effort. Companies increasingly understand the human element of business and feel inclined to do whatever they can to improve the lives of their workers.
Make sure you tell your boss about your business plans only after youâve read and fully understood your companyâs policy and your employment agreements.
Set a Schedule and Create a Plan
You should approach the task of starting a business with the same dedication you approach your regular job. Create a list of tasks you need to complete and decide on the best time to work on them. Avoid scheduling any business-related tasks during your 9-5 and use weeknights and weekends instead. Once you come up with a regular schedule, do your best to stay committed to it.
Write down all the goals you want to achieve. Set long-term, short-term, and incremental goals that will help you stay focused on a timeline. Since you only have limited time to dedicate to your business, you should focus on setting small and measurable daily goals.
Create a business plan that you can use to pitch your company to investors or secure loans from a bank. The document should provide a detailed description of your business, products, and target market. It should give details of your business and marketing strategies, operational structure, sales projections, and financial requirements.
As your company grows, you should regularly re-evaluate your business plan and revise it as necessary. You have to exercise patience because you only have small amounts of time to devote to your effort. Set realistic goals, prioritize your tasks, stay motivated and stay faithful to your plans.
Donât Neglect Your Full-Time Job
In the midst of the excitement of starting a business, never neglect your full-time job. You understandably might feel motivated by a vision of a future where you have control over your destiny, but the here-and-now demands that you maintain high-quality performance at your job.
Even when you feel pressured by time constraints, resist the temptation to work on your new business during company hours. Similarly, avoid using your employerâs computers, networks, and office machines for your startup. Right now, you canât afford to get fired or penalized for misconduct.
Balance the time you spend away from the office on your new venture. Donât let your responsibilities as an entrepreneur adversely affect your regular job. If you have a long daily commute, consider asking your boss to allow you to work remotely for some time. As one of the many benefits of working from home, the absence of commute will enable you to convert the time you spend sitting in traffic into productive time you can use to build a successful venture.
Donât Overwork Yourself
Working full-time and starting a business at the same time can put severe strains on your time. You will most often have more to do than you have time to do it. Do not push yourself too hard or else you could burn out from working too hard.
After coming home from work, try not to start working on your business immediately. Working without taking the necessary time for relaxation can cause excessive stress. Prolonged periods of stress can jeopardize your health and personal relationships. Try to unwind from the pressures you faced during the day.
Take some time to relax, meditate or exercise. Donât neglect your personal life and engage with family members and friends before starting working on your new business. Make sure you get the rest needed to perform well.
By placing a high priority on your wellness and the people in your private life, you will develop positive habits that will help you maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life even after you start working full time for yourself.
Starting your own business can be a challenging task. Starting a business while working full-time can be even more challenging. Balancing your job, your business and your personal life takes hard work and dedication. You may face many difficulties and consider quitting your 9-5, but remember that keeping your job while working on your business venture will ensure you have a steady source of income.
As long as you can successfully manage everything on your plate, starting your own business while employed is a perfect choice for first-time business owners.