Category Archives: Business

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

Two Simple Tips For Building Brand Community

What makes a community? This week I was on a social media panel at MIT Sloan, where we began the conversation with this topic – community building. How do you use social media to build a community around your brand?

There are two key words that come to mind when I think of community:

  • Helpful
  • Resourceful

It’s easy to broadcast on social media, but if you’re looking to build a community and advocacy around your brand, lead with these two values. Be helpful – post tips, tricks, and hacks – tell people how they can do things better or easier. Be resourceful – build up your thought leadership around key subjects that you know are important to your connections. Offer insights, experiences or opinions. Be thoughtful. When people know they can rely on your for quality content, they will continue to come back to your channels. You have become a resource to them.

Another simple approach is to think about walking into a party in your new neighborhood. Let’s say you’ve just moved in. If you want to become a part of the community, you don’t barge into the party loudly broadcasting how great you are and pitching people on what you do. You’d likely take the time to introduce yourself, get to know what matters to your neighbors and, if appropriate, offer up insights on things you have in common, sharing your experiences.

Online isn’t really all that different. Brands lose sight of this. Just because you can broadcast on social media doesn’t mean that all you should broadcast is information about yourself. Brands especially need to take care with how they establish and build community. It’s okay to share information about your products and services but in the end, by being a resource and offering ongoing information about topics related to your business – and to what your audience cares about – you will develop stronger relationships.

For more on this and other social media tips, check out the video from the panel. Bobbie Carleton of Innovation Women was our amazing moderator. Thank you for the opportunity, Bobbie!

 

Ladies, Join Me At The Inaugural Opening Night For MACFW

2015-opening-night-headerThe Massachusetts Conference For Women kicks off next week with its first-ever Opening Night — an evening of speakers, signings, shopping, learning and networking. The event will be held December 9th from 5-9pm at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Many of the Conference-day speakers will be participating in talks, interviews, book signings and meet and greets. I’ll personally be happy to see Tory  Johnson, contributor to ABC’s Good Morning America and #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Shift. Tory actually included me in one or her earlier books, Will Work From Home, and I was lucky enough to be invited to speak on her Spark & Hustle tour a few years ago.

Opening Night attendees can take advantage of LinkedIn profile makeover workshops, volunteer for a local nonprofit, watch live product pitches and support local woman-owned businesses in the Expo Hall. It’s the Conference experience on a smaller scale and I’m excited to attend! You can, too! Tickets are only $25 and can be purchased at maconferenceforwomen.org.

The Massachusetts Conference for Women offers the community and connection, the information and inspiration, the motivation and momentum to help you discover what you want—and go get it! The Conference features nationally recognized speakers who share their wisdom and expertise on a wide range of personal and professional development topics, helping you find clarity on your goals and what you need to accomplish them.

Unfortunately, conference tickets are sold out. But I have two tickets to the Opening Night event to give away*. If you’d like to join me there, please be one of the first two readers to leave a comment below with the best piece of advice you’ve received that inspired you to reach great heights personally or professionally. The first two readers to comment will win free registration to the Opening Night event. Please be sure that you can attend if you are going to comment!

I look forward to seeing many of you next Wednesday.

 

*Giveaway Details:

No purchase necessary

First two people to comment will win a free ticket to Opening Night

Winners must confirm they are able to attend the Opening Night event

Prize value: $25.00

Comments must be received by Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Winners must provide their email upon request – a registration code will be sent to the winners via email

Free registrations sponsored by The Massachusetts Conference For Women

Boston 50 On Fire – Thanks!

I was happily surprised and super grateful to be named a finalist in BostInno’s 2015 50 On Fire awards in the Professional Services Category. From thousands of nominations, a judging committee chooses 200 finalists that are “companies and individuals who are disrupting their industries and making an impact in Boston and beyond.” Wow – I’m flattered to be recognized in the city I love so much!

50onfire

I am grateful to my clients, staff and industry colleagues for the opportunities to work with them on such fun and interesting campaigns that allow me to be nominated for such cool awards. We’ll find out in a super fun ceremony on December 3 who the winners are. Grab your tickets, here.

Sunglass Hut: One Simple, Smart Marketing Move

sunglasses

Prada sunglasses available at http://www.sunglasshut.com/us/prada

Sometimes small businesses get overwhelmed with the idea of creating marketing campaigns. They often think effective marketing has to be expensive and intricate. But the truth is, sometimes the best marketing comes in the form of simple, smart moves. One example comes from Sunglass Hut.

When you buy a pair of sunglasses at any Sunglass Hut, they’ll ask you if you’d like to purchase one of their cleaning kits. Great. But did you know that if you do, they offer free refills of the cleaning solution for life?

Pretty smart, eh? Here’s why:

  • Doing so means you’ll come back into the store. Getting customers in the door is always key in retail.
  • By getting customers in the door, they’re more likely to make a repeat purchase – they see new merchandise, engage with sales executives, etc.
  • Offering “free for life” increases loyalty and brand stickiness.

The company offers several other smart marketing examples such as free shipping, fittings and returns. For marketers who understand the psychology of “free,” you know these are smart moves. You don’t have to be a large corporation to implement some kind of repeat business campaign. Maybe you can’t afford to provide free shipping or products, but I bet you can afford to give loyalty discounts or other creative reasons for a shopper to return to your store. Perhaps it’s a free pair of earrings with every necklace purchase during the holidays, or a Free Refill on a shopper’s Birthday. Get creative and remember, you’re trying to get them back into your store – online or off – to encourage additional engagement.

Marketing doesn’t have to mean a huge, flashy campaign. The best marketing keeps the customer in mind, and looks at offers and promotions from their perspective.

New Book Helps Parents And Educators Raise Confident, Powerful Female Leaders

I’m a big advocate for helping women in business to be bold, strong and confident. I think as the gender that was born with a big “Caretaker” sign on our foreheads, we spend a lot of time putting ourselves last in order to make others feel cared for. This doesn’t always work well in business, and is likely one of the reasons women continue to struggle with workplace equality and power. I think we will only see a sea change for women in business if we can start teaching young girls some fundamental things during their adolescent development.

A new book was released last month that can further help parents and educators of preteen girls embrace such fundamentals. Brave Girls: Raising Young Women with Passion and Purpose to Become Powerful Leaders,” is written by Stacey Radin, PsyD, and Leslie Goldman. It is being touted as “the ultimate guidebook for parents and educators who want to learn how to help their girls become confident, passionate, and powerful leaders.” Radin also runs a social justice program, Unleashed, a 12 week program where girls learn to diagnose a social challenge, dig deep beneath the surface to address the root causes, and learn to create change. Radin’s background is as a psychologist and consultant for women struggling in the professional world. During this work she “made a ground breaking realization: it all begins in middle school. Women who become successful leaders learn how to do so in the middle grades—the most formative stage in a girl’s development and self-identification.”

Unleashed’s mission is “To empower middle school girls to take a stand against an injustice they care deeply about, and advocating for animal rights and welfare in the process.” Over the course of 12 weeks, girls develop critical tools they will use to solve complex social problems throughout the course of their lives.

The program and the book cover such important topics, and key areas that need to change for our young girls to grow up strong and proud – and happy. Things that we as parents and educators need to support and help them to embrace, including:

  • Love yourself first – it will make you a better lover of others. It’s not only okay, it’s fundamental to a happy and fulfilling life.
  • Be proud of your talents – celebrate what you’re good at! “People think you’re full of yourself when you talk about what you’re good at.” Yikes. We need to teach them to be PROUD of what they are good at. That being full of self love is a good thing. Not boastful or rude, but proud – and with the knowledge that it’s okay to talk about yourself in a positive light.
  • Know that it’s okay not to be perfect – perfect is a fallacy. Don’t try to pretend you don’t fail, rather, learn from it – and share with others so they can learn, too. (I see this “can’t fail or be wrong” mentality in a certain 7 year old I know.) As a New York Daily News writeup by Arielle Landau mentioned, “That sounds drastic, but little girls are often shielded from failure. An old Verizon commercial illustrates the way they’re taught to keep their pretty dresses clean and sit still. By high school, they’re detached and uninterested. So Unleashed gives them an outlet, and Radin shows them how to make mistakes … and learn from them.”
  • Support other girls/women – don’t be jealous, be happy when good things happen to others.

I love that the Unleashed program involves puppies and helps them, too. As Landau wrote, “Radin uses Unleashed, a program that helps preteen girls build their confidence through animal rescue. Through the process of saving puppies — puppies! — the girls learn that they are allowed to passionate and organized. Perhaps more importantly, they learn they’re allowed to fail.”

I know I’ll be grabbing this book, how about you? Our girls need all the help they can get.