Author Archives: csperkett

Accepting Your Own Failure As A Success

I read this great article recently on Fundera about business statistics in 2019. In it, they state that about two-thirds of business survive two years in business, half of all businesses will survive five years, and one-third will survive 10. These can be daunting numbers if you’re thinking about starting your own company. 

I got lucky with my first business. We are entering our 21st year! Of course, how do you get “lucky”? You work your tail off! And I did. I recognized an opportunity in a very busy market. I saw a void. I took HUGE chances – I was in my late 20s and often seen as too young. I was often the only woman in the room because I worked in tech. I was told my concept of allowing people to work from home was too risky.
 
But I was also adamant about why it would work. I was clear on our differentiators and our value proposition. I took “No’s” and turned them into “Yes.” I offered trials and had faith that they would turn into long term clients. I hired smart people and let them do their job. I never stopped pursuing new relationships. I took risks. I asked for mentors and I followed and engaged with people smarter than me.
 
It hasn’t been without challenges. As we grew, human resources become more complicated. Insurance was expensive. Taxes across different states were daunting. Two recessions caused a lot of heartache. Laying off friends and family caused even more heartache. Employees who believed they knew better often cast doubt on my choices. Pure hatred from some was a tough pill to swallow.
 
But, like life, business is up and down. I’m proud to say that we’ve prevailed and survived. We’ve navigated unchartered territory and come out alive. We continue to work with amazing global clients and have expanded our services, keeping the job interesting and fulfilling.
_If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative._ (1)

In contrast, my spinoff software startup lasted five years. The challenges between a product company and a services company were profound. I did not pursue funding for my first company (services) and I didn’t pursue it the right way for my second (software). I was again very often the only woman in the room, with a nearly all-male team and usually all-male VC teams to which we were presenting. This never bothered me but it was an interesting dynamic.

I put myself out there and took a risk, founding another company in my 40s. There were a lot of differences from the first time around, not the least of which was that at the time of its founding, I was the breadwinner, now a single Mom supporting my family, and my self funding could only go so far. We had some bad hires. VCs kept indicating that we needed to put “skin in the game,” and I felt like I had already done so. We had a minimum viable product (MVP). We had paying customers. We had a robust product roadmap. We had the same functional offering as that of a direct competitor (founded by men, interestingly enough) and we even won some big deals over them. But we didn’t have enough, apparently. Which is super frustrating when you see guys with ideas on napkins and only a sketch of a product get venture capital funding. But, I digress. We all know that story.

And I’m not here to lament on that chapter. I’m here to share “Wednesday Wisdom” about failing and continuing on. About taking chances. About starting that business you’ve always dreamt of. About accepting yourself if it doesn’t work.

I made the difficult decision to stop self funding and close the company after five years. It was sad. I felt I was letting down a great team who believed in me and my ideas. It was embarrassing. I felt my enemies snickering from afar.

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Branding in An Always-On, FOMO World

DMTdate-1Next Thursday I’ll be speaking at the Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine’s Digital Marketing Summit. I’ll be talking about the challenges of branding and marketing in a world where our audiences are always on, but always moving.

How do brands know on what channels to market? How do they choose? Do they need to be everywhere? And all at once? How do they deal with their own FOMO? It’s an overwhelming prospect, especially for small businesses. I’m here to help you decide where to start, how to evolve and how to manage it all for marketing success.

Join me and other speakers from companies like Hubspot, The Social Diner, Cumulus global and more. Please find me and say hello if you’ll be there!

DATE: March 28, 2019
PLACE: Cape Codder Resort & Spa 
TIME: 12:30 – 5:30
Registration/Networking 12:30 – 1:00
Opening Keynote 1:00
Breakout Sessions 2:00 – 5:00
Networking Party 5:00
Cost: $75

Start With I

We all know the saying there is no “I” in team. We’re told not to be selfish. We’re encouraged to focus on others. Women, especially, can find themselves putting everyone else’s needs in front of their own because we are born to nurture – it is innate in us – and we are afraid of being seen as selfish. But there’s something fundamentally wrong when we never put ourselves first. We can’t be the best for everyone else when we don’t take care of ourselves and our own needs.

Sometimes, we have to start with I:

I know I feel valuable when…

I want to accomplish…

I started this company because…

I know I can…

I don’t feel comfortable with…

I need…

I expect…

When we “start with I” we can identify what we need, what we like and don’t like, and how we stay motivated. We can set clear goals, expectations and boundaries. We can discover our purpose. We can then better communicate this to important people in our life: spouses, friends, children, bosses, colleagues, business partners. When we communicate what our tolerances are, what we need and what we believe we can give, relationships are healthier and ideally, happier.

startwithiThere is nothing wrong with saying, “I need this” or “I want this in my life,” or “I don’t want this in my life.” Oscar Wilde said “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” Starting with I is not selfish – it is clearly stating your expectations and how you want to live, and giving others the choice to be a part of that or not. It is accepting friendships, romance and business relationships that align with your values. Starting with I is often courageous – it can go against our gut feeling that focusing on ourselves is wrong. It is giving and communicative. It improves relationships and mental well being and can eliminate stress. Starting with I is the setting of boundaries, expectations and goals and ensuring that you’re surrounding yourself with like minded people who can appreciate or even admire them. It is generous and wise to let others know what you expect.

Work every day to become comfortable with starting with I. Embrace it as the best starting point to your best life and best relationships. Mind you, I said start with I. It doesn’t mean to solely focus on just yourself but rather that you know yourself, that you trust yourself, and that you’re honest with yourself – and with others – about what you want and need and what your life direction is. Only then can you begin to focus on enveloping others into the life you want to build in a healthy and mutually beneficial manner.

Stubborn, much?

stubborn_I love this quote. I’ve always been told that I am stubborn as though it is a negative thing, but this Josh Shipp quote puts a positive light on that stubbornness. For entrepreneurs especially, stubbornness is necessary. Well, most of the time.

Stubbornness paid off when I insisted I was moving from the midwest to Boston after college, despite naysayers telling me I’d be a “little fish in a big pond.” Stubbornness paid off when I insisted there was a better way to run a marketing agency with senior talent and everyone said I didn’t have enough experience to make it happen (my agency is turning 21 this year, so…!). Stubbornness paid off when I fought a legal battle and insisted on taking it all the way to court because I knew in my heart that I was right. (I won, twice.) Stubbornness is paying off as I listen to my heart and my body to train again, instead of the doctor who told me I wouldn’t likely run another marathon after breaking my foot in three places last summer (three months into training for the Chicago Marathon – heartbreaking!).

Using stubbornness as a way to get where you need to be is a good thing. It takes chutzpa to get what you want in this world. No one is here to do you any favors. Without a stubborn will to make new things happen, we would never see change. Change and growth are what makes the world great. We need stubborn people.

Certainly, we have to know when to not be stubborn – like when the new startup isn’t working and it’s time to pack it up, when Mom and Dad tell us they’ve had enough of our ‘tude, or when we’re fighting with our spouse over something really not worth fighting over and we know we just want to be right. You learn to recognize when stubbornness will get you into more trouble than it’s worth. If it isn’t helping you persevere to something more positive, let it go.

Happy Monday – go forth and persevere, my stubborn friends!

 

Learn to Say “No”

Learning to say no is something that comes with experience. Women, especially, seem to grapple with saying no, as though it’s rude. But sometimes it’s necessary for self preservation and sanity. We can’t possibly accept every invitation to connect, network, meet for coffee, help out at our children’s school, etc. Something has to give. Learning to say no – guilt free – is one of life’s greatest accomplishments.

Sometimes saying no means saying yes to yourself