Tag 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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Be A Duck On Water

In my experience in the client services business, I have trained a lot of managers who are responsible for leading both internal teams and external client contacts. One of the most important and useful tips I’ve given is to be like a duck on the water – even when you’re going mad trying to handle multiple demands, requests and needs, look calm. Lead with confident assertiveness – even when you’re unsure. It’s vital to make your team – both the one you manage and the one you service – believe that you’ve got it all under control.

Be a duck on water – it’s fine to paddle furiously underneath, but look calm, graceful and in control above the surface. You’ll be surprised at how well this technique can help you become a better leader.

CEOs give their take on @BarackObama’s #SOTU address – hearing more support for business, but execution Qs remain

“I heard a lot more about creating the right environment for business,” – yes, but when will we see the how – the execution – the reality?
I don’t think Americans suffer from a lack of competitiveness, but rather a support system of the best resources to execute on such a nature. We need real solutions, solid plans and workable timelines. Is there a follow up speech that can lay out all those for us? A follow up to the heart string-pulling struggle and success stories of the audience plants? A site that shows us the progress on plans for making each emotional, “go get ’em,” “let’s win the future” ideal idea that we can follow? (And not one that takes your name then promptly asks for a donation: http://bit.ly/geDboi)

Now *that* would be revolutionary and innovative.

What did you think? What would you have liked to hear more about from Obama?

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com

CEOs React to State of the Union

President Barack Obama made some concessions to the business community in his State of the Union address Tuesday, saying he’d like to lower the corporate tax rate and foster U.S. job growth and innovation. Many CEOs reacted with skepticism as to the President’s ability to deliver on these areas, but noted positively the President’s changed tone in addressing the business community.

Obama Addresses the Nation

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

President Obama was applauded by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner prior to delivering his State of the Union address.

The Obama administration has been criticized by many U.S. chief executives for being anti-business. Business leaders have complained about the 35% corporate tax rate, the administration’s free trade stance and healthcare reform, all of which, they allege, make U.S. companies less globally competitive. Business leaders have also been unhappy with rhetoric coming from the White House following the financial crisis, when the president referred to “fat-cat bankers” and chided bankers for their “reckless practices.”

Since the November elections in which Democrats lost the House majority, Mr. Obama has made attempts to appeal to the political center. Last week, he appointed General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt to lead a new President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. During his address, Mr. Obama said the corporate tax rate “makes no sense and it has to change,” calling on both parties to lower the rate. He also said he’d work to eliminate “unnecessary burden[s] on business.”

While CEOs welcomed the idea of lowering the corporate tax rate, many were unclear on how Mr. Obama would do so given the sparse details. “He said it would pretty much have to be budget neutral and I don’t know how they can reconcile that,” says Alan Miller, CEO of Universal Health Systems, a hospital management company. Mr. Miller says he’d be more encouraged had the president specified a new, lower rate. “A lot of things he says don’t ever come to pass,” he says.

“I thought it was a wonderful idea but there’s no free lunch,” says John Chen, CEO of Sybase Inc., a Dublin, Calif.-based software developer bought by SAP in July. Mr. Chen says the measure will depend on what Mr. Obama meant when referring to “corporate tax loopholes.” Anthony Guzzi, CEO of Emcor Group Inc., a construction and facilities service provider, also says he’d like to see Mr. Obama provide more details on lowering the corporate tax rate. “He gave a sound bite but should have been more specific,” he says. “For two and a half years now, capital has been afraid to invest in the U.S. in any substantial way,” he says.

CEOs did note a change in tone during Tuesday’s address, after years of Mr. Obama being criticized for being anti-business. “I heard a lot more about creating the right environment for business,” says Eric Spiegel, CEO of Siemens USA. “I think he got the message that business is where jobs will be created, not the government.” Mr. Guzzi said Mr. Obama was “more moderate” in his address.

“I think the tone of his speech was excellent,” says Brent Saunders, CEO of Bausch and Lomb Inc. But, he adds, “we’ve seen so much fighting in Washington I am skeptical of Washington’s ability to execute.”

Marc Benioff, chief executive of San Francisco business-software company Salesforce.com Inc., says he was encouraged by Mr. Obama’s call for increased government spending on basic research.

“The number one thing the government needs to do is increase its research funding …This is where the government adds tremendous value,” Mr. Benioff says, adding that his company is based on technology—the Internet—that was spurred by research commissioned by the U.S. government in the 1960s. Greater spending on research “is critical for us in every area, in cyber-security, in computational sciences, even in health information technologies,” he says.

Greg Babe, CEO of Bayer North America, was encouraged by President Obama’s mentions of innovation. Bayer’s North American operations spent $700 million on research and development in 2010, and Mr. Babe says the yearly uncertainty on whether R&D tax credits will be renewed is a stress to the company. Mr. Obama didn’t specifically mention these credits.

Mr. Babe says he would have liked President Obama to speak more on free trade. “A lot of other free trade agreements are in the queue waiting for [Korea] to move,” he says. Mr. Babe says the lack of agreements negatively affects the company’s business globally.

Bausch & Lomb’s Mr. Saunders said President Obama’s focus on innovation resonated with him, as well. The contact lens and solutions maker has been working to innovate products for customers in Brazil, India and China, but Mr. Saunders says the industry is highly regulated. Mr. Saunders says he’d like to see the government “support and nurture” innovation. “Now, we’re somewhere in between letting companies fed for themselves and creating barriers for free trade,” he says.

The president did not mention free trade or suggest he would give corporations a tax holiday on earnings outside the U.S., two major issues for business leaders over the last two years. Mr. Obama has been criticized for not enacting free trade agreements during his term, limiting the amount of business U.S. corporations can do with other countries.

Mr. Chen said he would have liked to see the U.S.’s export policy brought up during the address. He says because of “outdated” restrictions to exporting certain technology, Sybase’s ability to sell into China has been restricted. Mr. Obama mentioned improving business conditions in the U.S. and increasing competitiveness by eliminating unnecessary burdens. Mr. Spiegel says a burden Siemens faces is regulatory red tape that delays projects. For example, he says the company was just recently awarded a contract for an offshore wind project that has been in the works for years. “A lot of the regulations in the U.S. are very burdensome,” he says.

In a press release, Business Roundtable, a trade group of corporate CEOs, said it was “heartened by President Obama’s focus on American competitiveness.” But, it said the priorities laid out in the address “must now be analyzed closely to ensure they will promote, rather than stifle, an environment where the private sector can create jobs and expand the economy.”

—Cari Tuna contributed to this article

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com

 

Notable females, take note. Lucky winner receives $25k in investment. via @TechCrunch #women #entrepreneurs #vc

Very excited to read about this – I love seeing wicked smart women supporting other wicked smart women. Hence my “wicked smart women” Twitter list 🙂 Click through to the story for full details

Amplify’d from techcrunch.com

i/o ventures has partnered up with notable females Arianna Huffington, Donna Karan and Sarah Brown to put together the first Women In Engineering Prize, and will be announcing the winner at the first WIE Symposium on September 20th.

The deadline for hopeful female founders to apply is Sept 10th, and the lucky and hard working winner will receive 25k in investment, become part of the i/o program, get free office space for a month as well as a trip to New York to attend the conference.

Female entrepreneurs should also consider this an open call to go mentor at i/o. Aspiring WIE Prize winners can apply here.

Read more at techcrunch.com

 

More Double Standards For Women in Business

A recent report published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology concludes that female managers who are seen as unkind, insensitive and unaware of others’ feelings are judged as worse bosses because of it – yet men who exhibit the same qualities aren’t.

“It seems female managers may be expected to be sensitive to others’ emotions and to demonstrate this sensitivity by providing emotional support. Because of this, female managers’ job performance is judged on them being understanding, kind, supportive and sensitive,” says Kristen Byron, assistant professor of management in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, who conducted the research. “In contrast, this is not the basis to evaluate the performance of male managers. It is far more important for male managers, and men, in general, to be seen as analytical, logical and good at reasoning than showing care and concern for others.”

As a female business owner and manager I find this very interesting and slightly frustrating. I see this in my own business – if women managers are not sensitive it’s definitely brought to my attention by the staff moreso than if a male manager or colleague is a bit hard-edged.

There have been a lot of articles and studies on the management style of women vs. mens and the entire “bitch” assumption for successful women in business. The truth of the matter is that we are different than men, we lead, we follow, we teach, we learn – differently. This doesn’t mean we are any better or worse at managing – we just use different tactics to get what we need. Unfortunately, we probably do waste too many cycles worrying about everyone’s emotions or thoughts. Caring less – perhaps embracing a little more of our selfish side – could make us more efficient.

But then again, what’s wrong with emotion? As the late, great Anita Roddick claimed, “I run my company according to feminine principles – principles of caring, making intuitive decisions, not getting hung up on hierarchy, having a sense of work as being part of your life, not separate from it; putting your labour where your love is, being responsible to the world in how you use your profits; recognising the bottom line should stay at the bottom.”

Amen!