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Q&A with Entrepreneur Valeria Duflot

Photo Credit: Sebastian Fagarazzi / Venezia Autentica

Photo Credit: Sebastian Fagarazzi / Venezia Autentica

Valeria Duflot is the co-founder and startup CEO of the social business Venezia Autentica. She is a believer in the digital world, tech,  innovation, social justice, and sustainability. Valeria holds degrees in Health & Biology and Business Administration and is a neuro and mental health advocate.

Can you tell our readers about your background? 

I'm a 30 year old well-traveled Frenchy with a serious need to try to make things around me better. I'm convinced that business can and should be used to make a positive impact on our world.

Before Venezia Autentica I co-started and co-run a business focused on giving a platform to creative entrepreneurs, worked as a consultant in the healthcare industry and  (co)-organised and curated numerous events and festivals in the field of tech, innovation, performance arts, and entrepreneurship.

I also started researching and developing a couple of businesses ideas that I later paused, one because I realized that it wouldn't work, at least not the way I wanted to go about it,  the other one when I had the idea of Venezia Autentica. 

I hold degrees in Health and Biology and Business Administration and have been living abroad more or less continuously since 2011.

My current venture, Venezia Autentica, is a social business I've co-founded to halt the exodus of the Venetians who are pushed out off their city by unregulated mass tourism. We are trying to do so by making it easy for visitors to feel like locals in Venice while making a positive impact on the life of the Venetians.

What inspired you to start your business? 

I had a 'Eureka ' moment after living in Venice for a few months with my boyfriend, and co-founder Sebastian, who is a native Venetian. 

Due to our interactions and the ones with the people around us,  I was aware of the struggles Venetians face to stay in their city as well as the 'theme-parkisation' of Venice. 

One day, when having a walk, I found myself in between a huge guided group of day trippers and a bunch of young Venetians men who were singing local songs and harboring the Venetian flag. 

I knew the impact that day tourism had on the city and remembered that when my friend and I first visited Venice, we had a completely different approach and that we really enjoyed taking our time and spending time with local artisans who shared their world with us. 

Thinking about this, it suddenly hit me,  I realized that my friend and I couldn't have been the only tourists looking forward to meeting locals, and to support authentic businesses. I thought to myself that if a part of the 30 million tourists coming to Venice yearly would spend their time and money in the right places, and especially at the local businesses then it could have a huge impact on the 55,000 Venetian residents future and the city itself. 

No one was doing anything really to help the Venetians, so I decided that if I could convince Seba to come on board, we would do it ourselves.

Where is your business based?

We're based in Venice, Italy but being a digital company, we are accessible everywhere in the world.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The first thing I had to do was to convince my partner in life to work with me on this project as I couldn't see it making any sense without someone who knew the problem from the Venetian perspective in and out. Moreover, as Sebastian and his family used to run a local business in Venice, his insights were invaluable for the success of our project.  So, my first move was to get the right co-founder.

To convince him, I started mocking the website and drawing a rough business model idea focussing on understanding what we wanted to do, how, and who we wanted to touch. Once Sebastian on-boarded, we started taking a lot of time to brainstorm on our strategy, mission and business model. We aimed at understanding how to approach the challenge and what was feasible. Once we had a reasonable idea of what we were going to be, we immediately started working on defining our identity and quickly got online on social media making Facebook our hub for communication.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business? 

Being present and consistent online has been the most efficient way of raising awareness for our cause and business, so far. Press and media features are also doing wonder to help us broaden our reach and spread our message to a bigger audience.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? 

The most significant challenges we've been facing have been to:

1/ Running a business with my better half.  

It is not always easy to separate the personal from the professional. We're overcoming it by clearly allocating responsibilities and tasks while keeping each other accountable and taking all the big decisions together. And we work in different rooms. 

2/Not being in the middle of an ecosystem. 

I used to live in Bangalore, India, where the entrepreneur and creative ecosystem was striving. I could access entrepreneurs of all kind and of all stages, attend meetups and events very easily. These are things that I miss. I find it essential to have the opportunity to speak with people who understand what you are going through. In Venice, there is no such ecosystem and having been in the center of the action I'm aware of the fact that we're missing something. I try to compensate by doing a lot of online reading, learning and attending events in Paris where I go regularly and where the startup scene is growing.

3/Lack of resources:

Like many bootstrapped startup we have limited resources and plenty of needs and ambitions. We've made this limitation a strength by learning to trust ourselves and to learn to do almost everything while recognizing when certain things are beyond our capacity and better outsourced.

How do you stay focused?

I like this question because the more I learn, the more I realize that productivity is crucial and that productivity is, mainly, focus.

I stay focused by doing 3 things: 

1/ Continually creating and evolving a routine which fits me and my objectives, by working on building habits

2/ Removing interruptions 

3/ Using a system of daily to-do lists matched to our company roadmaps. 

I introduce new habits progressively to make them part of my routine more easily or find a better way to do so.  Indeed, I found that implementing big dramatic changes, New Year's resolution style didn't work with me, while let's say introducing one new habit at a time such as  'spending 40 min learning something new' for example, was doing the trick. 

Regarding my to-dos, I organize my daily tasks by priority, identifying the must do of the day and always keeping space for improvisation, opportunities and, obviously, to put out fires. My to-do lists are made of daily micro or routine tasks (checking e-mail, learning something new..)  and 5 to-dos of the day, within which 3 are absolute must do. When I'm too tired to continue working and that I have completed these 3 tasks along with my micro-tasks, I stop working and prioritize rest or leisure,  as taking the risk to burn out or have a migraine attack is never a good idea, according to me. After all, founding a business is more a marathon than a sprint. You need to last the distance.

Something else I do is to remove as many interferences as I can, by filtering my mailbox, checking e-mails and socials at set times, and trying to take calls and meetings only when necessary. The latest one being the part I still struggle the most with as it is not always easy to say 'This is not part of our priorities right now, we'll be happy to meet with you at the right time,"

During the day, I always have a notebook and agenda with me at all time as well as note-taking application on my cell phone.   I use them to write ideas I do not want to forget, and schedule tasks to the following days. This is the best method I've found to achieve the essential objectives of my day without splitting my attention nor fearing to love a valuable idea for my venture.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition? 

We differentiate ourselves from our competition at several levels.

We have a clear purpose. We exist to solve an identified and relatable present social problem, the displacement of a local population due to mass tourism

We offer a tangible solution. The way we tackle the exodus, by focusing on keeping the Venetians in Venice by supporting the local businesses, is easy to grasp and people understand that they can actually help and make a difference,

We know our stakeholders. Our founding team has a deep first-person understanding of all our stakeholders' experience.

We design for people. All our content and tools are conceived with the users in mind.  Our approach is focused on people empowerment, user-friendliness, customer satisfaction, and impact.

We create impact. Every one of our articles, information, and travel tools are designed to improve, directly, the quality of the experience of the travelers and positively impact the local community. 

We create circularity.  We make it easy and highly rewarding for the people who use our platform and the people who work with us to make the right choices and to be driven to continue doing so. Each of the positive decisions they make has a positive impact on not only themselves but also others, ultimately encouraging all stakeholders to repeat the right behavior leading to a wonderful virtuous circle.

We are authentic and approachable. We do what we do because we care and we know that we cannot do it alone. This is something we consistently communicate, and we make a point to make it easy for people to feel close to us and reach out.

 What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business? 

Getting online on social media early on and making our voice and identity unique and clear since the beginning has definitely been important to bring us where we are today. 

Being authentic and seeing marketing as a way to bring our message to more people to increase awareness and impact is key.  

I see marketing as a service to our cause and our audience. The message we spread, the message they receive should be useful to them each time. It should be an opportunity for them to learn or feel something. I am convinced that when people believe you, enjoy your voice and feel close to you and your cause they are more likely to get on board, support you economically and even champion you.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs? 

Know your why, be true to yourself and your values and stay focused. Do not let anyone deter you from trying. Do not let anything stop you or corrupt you. Be driven by what you have to accomplish and confident that people who need it will welcome it with happiness and even champion you. 

Off course, the road is full of obstacles, but it is also what makes it enjoyable. Each new challenge is a unique opportunity for learning and growth, a new opportunity to define who you are as an entrepreneur and a human being. 

Venezia Autentica is still a startup, but I've learned so much from it already, about work and myself. What felt like the end of the world a year ago is something which I barely notice now, something I am detached from but gives me the right boost of energy to accomplish more. The thing I love about entrepreneurship too is that no matter what your venture will end up being, successful or not, no one will ever be able to strip you from what you've learned and who you've become.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

I use many apps and I couldn't do without them. It's a tough choice, but I'd probably say Evernote. I use the paid version, and it is well worth the money. I love being able to record interviews with the business owners we work with or walking meetings with the app or just screenshot full articles to read them later.

Favorite book? This is a tough one. One book I'm reading now which I thoroughly enjoy is 'Heal Me' by Julia Buckley. It is not a business book but a memoir written by a brilliant British female journalist in her 30's and telling her struggle with chronic pain and her search for a cure. She travels the world in search of the person who will heal her, trying desperately to get her life back, to stop being in pain when her local healthcare system failed her. Her story brings many important topics on the table. She's courageous and vulnerable. Her voice is self-aware, witty and unapologetic. An absolute must-read.

I don't really have a favorite blog. I change the blogs I read like I change socks. It all depends on my interest or question of the moment. I find myself often landing on Medium as the variety of their writers equals only the diversity of the topics you can see discussed on the platform.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

My favorite business resources are currently Quora and Twitter. 

The first one because it allows you to learn just about everything related to business, and beyond, as so many experts, experienced entrepreneurs and leaders take some of their time to share incredible insights on the platform. 

I also love Twitter as it makes keeping up with the latest niche news in tech for example easy.

Who is your business role model? Why? 

Pope Francis!  He's not exactly in business, but I believe he's an excellent role model because of his ability to be fearless and use his voice and position to challenge the status quo while leading one of the oldest, most conservative and probably least agile institution in the world.

Did you know that there is a startup accelerator at the Vatican, now?

Speaking of innovation, I admire Elon Musk for his genius and audacity and for steering the world towards a greater and more sustainable future while at the same time remaining conscious of our limits and trying to push boundaries as much as he tries to protect us from our very nature.

Finally, the work that Ellen Mac Arthur does with her foundation to accelerate the transition to a circular economy is, I believe, outstanding and of great importance.  It is a bold move and an ambitious cause. I applaud her undertaking, and I am convinced of the importance of her work while very glad that the person leading the way towards such a significant shift is a woman.

What do you have planned for the next six months? 

In the next six months, we aim to continue testing our model and make the right adjustments to our strategy and products, assess the impact of our first year in business, nail down our customer acquisition, increase our reach and sales and raise funds.

I firmly believe that to be a successful social business, to be able to make a significant difference, the most important thing that we need to achieve is to have a robust business model, be sustainable and able to grow.

How can our readers connect with you? 

You can follow our work with Venezia Autentica on

Twitter: @veneziaautentic

Instagram: @veneziaautentica 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/veneziaautentica/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/venezia-autentica

and connect with me on:

Twitter: @duflotvaleria 

Linkedin: https://fr.linkedin.com/in/valeriaduflot/en

Q&A with Jenna Reiss

Jenna Reiss

Jenna Reiss, Intuitive Healer, Writer, Founder & Lead Breathwork Meditation Coach at Breathe Accented Life, believes in the personal power of oneself and works with clients helping them re-discover their higher-truth. Using a 2-part active breathing technique, intuitive guidance and life coaching tactics, and pulling from a toolbox of intuitive thinking, therapeutic conversation, essential oils and musical sound, she teaches individuals, groups and corporate clients how to detox the body from negative energy and create a heightened sense of awareness inwards. She believes that together we can heal the world, and it all begins by choosing love as a state of mind.  Link: http://www.breatheaccentedlife.com/

Can you tell our readers about your background?

My background is an eclectic one, beginning in my 20’s were I spent my time doing what every 20-something does, exploring the world, getting to know myself, learning how I fit in, if I fit in and most importantly, discovering where I belonged. I jumped around between industries, worked as a preschool teacher for a while, I moved to Spain to teach English where I volunteered in the disability classroom and came back to the states getting certified as a Behavioral Therapist and started working with children with Autism. It was in those early years that I realized I wasn’t making the impact I wanted to make in the world because I couldn’t work the school systems the way I had hoped. Just like that, I switched entirely and landed in the Advertising/Marketing world. I always knew that I wanted to help people, but I never knew exactly what that meant, or how it was going to come to life. Switching to Advertising, I felt like I could get some experience on big brands, and then start working for non-profits, or smaller companies with a strong message or product that helped better the world. For many reasons, over time I learned my non-profit marketing dream wasn’t going to happen, and although I was bummed about it, I was mostly bummed because I felt confused about the path I was on. I knew I was destined to be making a bigger splash in the world, to be helping people on a grander level and yet I also knew that where I was just wasn’t right.

Then trauma in my family happened, and as it works with trauma, I was shaken to my very core and found myself amidst a lot of pain, darkness and a completely unknown future. Although I would never wish trauma, or pain on anyone, this experience in a way, woke me up. Initially, I didn’t see it this way of course, and I was consumed with more darkness than I had ever experienced before. I felt like I had lost my ability to connect with people, and was now unsure how to open my heart to the level of connection with the world that I used to love. But, this trauma is also the reason I went searching for more. I knew there was more of life to be lived, that there was more than just waiting for Friday’s and the weekends to roll around. I knew that I had to take some leaps of faith.

My mother taught me how to meditate at a young age. I was an emotional child and unsure of how to work with my emotions, she gave me meditation as a tool and I began learning thought management. I didn’t know it was a meditation at the time, but over the years, it’s been fun to look back and see that my path was set up for me starting at a very young age, and I have my mother to thank for that.

When it came time to take some leaps of faith, after many tears and discussed fears, I got dropped off on a mountaintop in New Mexico and began studying with worldwide healers, authors and meditation instructors. I worked with a life and career coach to get clear on the path ahead, and three years later I can confidently say that my trauma cracked me wide open sending me on a healing journey, that I’m still on, and is the reason I was able to open my practice. It’s the reason I started working with people on a much deeper level, and it’s most definitely the reason I can feel surrounded by and within so much love in every class and workshop I teach, every group and private session I lead. Following my intuition, my inner voice, and allowing myself to say yes to experiences I knew were right although couldn’t see or prove why at the moment, and taking leaps of faith by believing in me, were the best decisions I ever made because they lead me to where I am today.

What inspired you to start your business?

I was inspired to start my business, Breathe Accented Life because, after more than a decade in the corporate marketing space, it was time to push against the day-to-day stressors and depletion that corporate America presents. I wanted to create a practice that empowers individuals to be their authentic selves because I had grown to see, to feel like that was a key element missing from my own 20-something search.

Growing up I was lucky and am grateful to have been supported in following my dreams. What was missing though was the societal conversation, the empowerment to explore who I really was, and what I wanted to do with my life. That is certainly not at the fault of my parents, or even teachers or mentors around me, it’s just not a conversation that I had found in my everyday. The job title that is my life purpose isn’t something that exists on a job hunting site and I therefore never knew it existed before creating it for myself. BUT, if we have a place and space for us to have the difficult deep-dive conversations into our individual definitions and self-understanding, if we have the tools to help us discover who we are, what our truth and essence really is, then we can confidently stand in the wholeness that is ourselves. Only then can we all go confidently after our dreams, make up our own job titles, and empower others to not be bogged down by their own baggage, history or old stories.

It is because of all that I had experienced in the corporate world, all that I experienced in my trauma, my pain, and all that I experienced in my own self-exploration in going after my dreams, that Breathe Accented Life was born. Breathe Accented Life is a Breathwork Meditation and Coaching practice where people are led through an active, guided meditation that ultimately opens their minds, moves the body’s energy and allows participants to connect with their truer essence. The goal is to help individuals recognize their own truth and ultimately experience healing, empowerment, and love in their own lives. I work with many major companies and brands, well-known meditation studios in the Los Angeles area, and private individuals educating people and their teams on the benefits of meditation and helping people look beyond their fears to realize their true self.

Where is your business based?

My business is based in two places, in Los Angeles, and online/everywhere else in the world. In the Los Angeles area, I work with many major companies, brands, well-known meditation studios, and private clients in person, educating people and their teams on the benefits of meditation and helping people look beyond their fears to realize their true self. And then the other 75% of my work is done online and I work with clients all over the world from San Francisco to Vancouver and Dubai. Working online through video chat is magnificent not only because it allows people all over the world to experience healing, but because it creates an online community of like-minded individuals who connect on a deep level over this powerful work, and create a community that stretches all over the world. I launched an online program this year called WILD HEARTS which is a group of individuals from all over the world joining online together once a week for healing, creation, and community. It’s extremely powerful to watch each individual learn from one another’s stories, connect over common themes in their lives and heal from the journey that we’ve all been taking. I love the combination of working both in person and online.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The most important step for me in starting my business was to get out of my minds fearful tricks and say yes to my intuition. It’s not always easy, and I know some people feel like they don’t have an inner voice, but I believe every person has that inner-knowing, their own psychic powers. It’s about learning how to listen to it because as you start listening to intuition, the voice gets louder, it grows, and it starts to become more of an inner-knowingness that you don’t have to prove to yourself because you’re just comfortable and confident in the knowing. Once you start asking the questions about what is next for you, what is the right step, the Universe starts to give you signs, answers, messages and it’s important to say yes. Saying yes to the strange, unique opportunities that fall in front of you, take you a step further to something else. Then your body starts gaining the knowledge and information it needs to say yes to the next interesting thing, and before you know it’s the funniest path how you got to where you are, but it becomes so clear that this is where you’re supposed to be. For me listening to my intuition, saying yes to the Universe, yes to the path even when it was extremely unclear what I was saying yes to and why was the most important step in getting me to starting my business.

One of those unique, intuitive steps I took was to begin working with a Business and Career Life Coach. It wasn’t an intentional step, something I knew I needed to do but it fell into my lap and I was willing to listen to my intuition telling me to say yes. I had no idea what new route my career was going to take, I didn’t know what new job, or even industry I was going to fall into, but I knew where I was no longer working and at that moment, that was enough for me to say yes to some unknowns. I strongly believe that we are all our own healers and that we have the ability to heal ourselves. With that said, no one should have to go on, or take their journey alone. It’s important to have an outside perspective, someone who supports you, guides you and helps you get out of your own way. My life coach is still very much a big part of my life, and I believe it’s important for all of us to lean on others as we take the scary steps towards our dreams. If we try to do it all alone, I find that we typically end up letting our fears, and our minds have too much control over our actions.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

My answers to this aren’t tactical. More than anything else, I started by doing a lot of internal work, healing work on myself in order to get out of my own way and let some of the pieces fall into place. I had to start believing in myself, believing that working as my own boss, that launching my business and being successful was possible first. As I started growing those, raising awareness became less about taking action and more about talking confidently about what I’m doing with people that come my way and sounded like they could use support. If you believe you, if you know you can do something for someone, it’s less about convincing them because your confidence and energy speak for itself.

On that same front, once my confidence and self-worth had begun to heal, I was able to present myself confidently to studios in Los Angeles. I let those teaching opportunities fall into place and started teaching at the places that were right for me. Some of these studios had their own following, some were small, some were big, but all I needed to do was show up, hold space, and let the work speak for itself. From there people started telling their friends, their loved ones, and awareness began to spread.

Most importantly, in my experience raising awareness has been about leaning into TRUST. I trust that the Universe brings me the clients I want to be working with, I trust that the sessions, workshops will get filled with the people who are supposed to be there, and I trust in the path that I’m on so it unfolds as it’s meant to.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge has probably been a personal challenge I faced. Ironically enough, a few months prior to my trauma I started dating a man. He had only been in my life for 3 months when my world got turned upside down. Because of everything that was going on, I was struggling to understand what love really meant to me. As someone who wears her heart on her sleeve, almost always open, loving and trusting, I questioned love more than I ever had in life. I would get aggressively angry in that first year of us dating and me healing, unsure of how to let my frustration and pain be felt and released. I know I got mad at him more than once when he hadn’t done anything wrong. He responded one day with this - “ I know you’re not really mad at me, and that right now you’re so mad you just need to yell, so it’s okay, keep yelling at me if you need, but please know, there is nothing I can say to make you feel better so I’m just going to keep listening.”

And the part that will never leave me - “And I’m not going anywhere”. From that moment on, unconscious to me at the time and in the most unruly of situations, I let him into my heart. It wasn’t difficult in a way because it was so unconscious, it was as though my heart knew this was what was right for me. But over the years, my mind would question things and pull away by fear, and pain. One day, after an in-depth tarot card reading with my best friend, I felt a block release, and I made the most difficult, yet easiest and most impactful decision: he was my person, the only person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. This decision opened my heart up even more, allowing my love of life to grow, our relationship to flourish, and professionally, the Universe started sending me more people to work with because I was able to help them heal their own unconscious, yet painful blocks in their life. So at the same time as my personal life grew, and I felt this internal and external decision of my love, my business began to flourish and I was able to connect with people in a completely new way.

From a business perspective, my biggest challenge has been getting out of my own way. Like many others in this world, my mind can be like a monkey, jumping around between thoughts, ideas, creations, doubts, fears, joys, love. I believe that staying true to my practices, to breathwork, to meditation, to my daily journaling and writing is what continues to help me overcome me standing in my own way. I work with myself each and every day, I use different practices and tools, and over time my monkey brain has gotten significantly better and more able to focus on love, focus on trust and on letting go into the Universal flow. Overcoming monkey brain might be something that’s always there, I’m not sure, but as I’ve watched myself improve over time, my faith in myself, in my business, it’s success and how it all unfolds, continues to grow stronger.

How do you stay focused?

Definitely my practices. I have a powerful morning practice that I’m generally good at sticking to and it really helps me set up the day for success. And my mid-day check-in practice has been extremely helpful in either turning a day around or reminding myself to go a little easier on me. If/when I’ve gotten off track, I have an alarm that goes off every day at 2pm reminding myself to acknowledge me for something I’m proud of and to call myself out for something I could have done better. No matter what path the day has gone down, once that alarm goes off it’s as though it’s a complete reset. I’m able to see where I can continue to grow and I’m able to treat myself with some kindness and pride in what I’ve already accomplished.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I really don’t see other people, their practices, business’ and whatnot as competition, but rather as inspiration with the potential for collaboration. I was in a competitive industry for a long time, I was an athlete my whole life always competing, and although I understand that competition motivates some people, in my field, I genuinely feel that there is enough space for everyone. The client that is right for me, will always find me, and if they’re not right for me, or I’m not right for them, I’m grateful that there are other practitioners out there that can offer their support and guidance.

I do believe that what sets me apart is the simple fact that I’m me. Every energy worker, healer, teacher, or guide that I know has something different and powerful to provide. There is always something unique give to the world just purely based on the fact that we are all different beings. My background, my energy, and my style as a teacher and a coach is reflective of who I am, how I identify with and how I show up in the world. To me that means my clients, classes, and workshops will always be held with the utmost love and compassion, I will always show up as the full embodiment of myself, bringing what I’ve learned and what I’m feeling energetically, and I always promise to read between your words, pushing you up against your comfort zone so you can step into your fullness and release old stories, when your body is ready.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

My marketing strategy has been a lot of learns. With my background being in Marketing, I’ve put together too many marketing strategy presentations from creative strategy, go-to-market strategy to social media ecosystems over the years and for major Consumer Packaged Goods, Automobile, and Confection brands. I learned that marketing for yourself, let alone specifically marketing yourself, was a completely different ballgame. Prior to launching my practice, I started putting together my business plan and all the documentation “they” say you’re supposed to make in order to create a successful business. Although a lot of the work we put into it absolutely helped shape my mission statement, my voice, and who my company was, I found that the most effective marketing strategy for the first year was to rely on word of mouth. The process of outlining my company goals, my unique selling proposition and gathering consumer research has been extremely helpful in understanding what people are looking for and for me to sell my corporate offerings. On the other hand, with the type of work that I do, a meditation practice combined with life coaching, people want to work with someone they trust and to grow trust and let someone in at this deep of a level, they need to hear about it from their friends. For this reason, and many more it never felt right or necessary to lay out an overarching plan on how to achieve maximum success. Success was, is happening already, and I actually needed to let go of my old corporate, analytical ways, allow the process to unfold and trust in the information and knowledge I already did have. Once I started doing that, that’s when things really began to take off.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

My advice to anyone starting their own business, or to aspiring dream goers is to do your research, ask questions and take it slow. Information is power, it can help build your confidence, and personal strength as a business owner - if you allow it. BUT, it can also be overwhelming and bring you down - if you allow it. Find a mentor or mentors, take them to lunches, coffee’s, etc. and ask them questions, give yourself time to grow, and know that if you truly believe in what you're building, the Universe will help support the execution and the details.

There will always be challenges and roadblocks to overcome. The key is to BELIEVE. Believe in yourself, believe in what you're doing, believe in putting yourself out there, believe in having the hard conversations and answering the hard questions. Fear and doubt will always exist in some capacity, but it's up to you to decide how much strength and how much power you're going to let them have over you. As far as I'm concerned, if there isn't a little bit of fear in what I'm doing, then I'm probably playing it too safe and have gotten too comfortable with complacency.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

Favorite app: Probably the Libby app which is the Los Angeles library app. Yup, you heard correctly, I have a library card and the app lets you listen to thousands of books from the library on your phone for free. It’s an incredible resource of information, I listen to fun fiction books, educational books to anything that I know will empower me with more knowledge and information to better serve my clients

Favorite blog: I don’t really follow a lot of blogs out there, but the one that’s been pretty consistent over the years is The Power Path. They have a monthly forecast where they discuss energetically what’s going on in the Universe both from an astrological perspective and from an energetic perspective, and their themes are always so on the money. They empower me daily, monthly reminding me that I’m not alone on this journey and to just take the ride as it comes.

Favorite Book: Over the years this answer definitely changes and right now I have two that have been in the top for the last 10 years, and one new one that’s just been added: First, The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. This book should be read by any woman who wants to understand herself, her body, and her brain better, and don’t just see the movie, read the book first. Secondly, The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, for any creative who knows they are a creative or not, and they just don’t know how to let it out, how to express it or what to do with it. And third, would be Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown because living life with a strong back and a soft front is the way I always strive to live my life.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I’m still working on figuring this out myself. There are so many systems, tools out there for small business owners, and everyone has their own preference. I’d say that first and foremost, Zoom has been my best friend. Doing most of my business online, I depend heavily on their program in many ways and even when they’ve frustrated me or I’ve had difficulties, their customer service has been all over the solution. So for anyone out there looking to connect with clients all over the world, as long as you have a strong internet connection, Zoom has been great. My second favorite resource is YouCanBookMe. It’s a specialized scheduling app and it makes booking clients, private, groups etc. exceptionally easy without becoming the time suck that going back and forth on scheduling can.

Who is your business role model? Why?

To start, and I’m quite surprised by my own answer but it feels right to say, my father. I have a difficult relationship with him as our family trauma was heavily reliant on him and the choices he made, but he has got to be the hardest working person I’ve ever known. He started his career in Hollywood sweeping floors and worked his way to being the boss of his department, has an incredible eye for what he does and almost always, at least used to, act with honor. I also feel grateful for the lessons his hard-working demeanor taught me not to do, one of the main lessons being that it’s not about working longer, or harder, it’s about working smarter. I want to always work through that lens.

My Life, Business and Career Coach, Sarah Khambatta is absolutely a business role model for me. This woman has been holding me true to my essence for the last 2.5 years. Never quite knowing what or how she was going to help me get out of my own head, she always seems to help the flowing tears, and the fears make sense. She guides me to see between my own words, helping me gain clarity on major life decisions while also empowering me with self-confidence when I’m not sure where it went. Together we turn my dreams into action, helping me manifest all my visions while always leaving room for more dreams to come true. And all the while, her story is incredibly inspiring, building her business from the ground up, expanding and now the president-elect of the International Coaching Federation, working with major brands all over the world. She continues to blow my mind and I’m grateful for her mentorship.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Expansion baby! I have expansion on my mind, body, and soul and I’m saying yes to all of it! Over the next six months I’ll be leading retreats all over the world, starting with a few coming up this summer, some in Malibu, Santa Barbara, and then Virginia and Wyoming. Soon thereafter, international retreats, all events always empowering more people to step into their light and their authenticity. In the next six months, I’ll be working with my editor on getting my book on authenticity published and out into the world with a wonderful book deal.

Most of all, I’ll be allowing myself to stay in alignment with what is right for me, my business, and my expansion. I’ll be saying yes to all the right opportunities, trusting completely in what comes my way, and what doesn’t, and allowing the Universe to take me on this ride of life!

 How can our readers connect with you?

My website and Instagram are where I’m most active so you can always reach me eventually through one of those. It’s important to note that I am going through a rebrand, so what is now Breathe Accented Life will soon be my name - Jenna Reiss. And the best way to stay in touch on events, retreats and classes I have going on is to sign up for my newsletter which you can do through my website.

Website: http://www.breatheaccentedlife.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennamreiss/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AccentedLife/?ref=bookmarks

 

Q&A with Magazine Publisher & Entrepreneur, Jaclyn Zukerman

Jaclyn Zukerman

 

Jaclyn Zukerman is a complete self-starter and entrepreneur. In 2015, she started her side hustle running a radio podcast from her guest bedroom closet. Three years later, due to her social media presence, she is proud to say she has become FULL-TIME self-employed and turned her podcast into an entertainment business filled with all different types of marketing/media services! www.jzsocialenterprises.com.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

Yes! I have a background in event planning for over 10 years and also worked in casting and media placement work for TV/Movies/Broadway for over three years. Once the Casting company closed, I relocated to Boston from New York to be with my now fiancé. When I first relocated, I worked on Top Chef Season 12 as the Assistant Stylist to Padma Lakshmi. It was for sure a whirlwind of an experience. The day I moved, I got the job and the next day I had my first day of work. It was an amazing experience and met some of my icons including Andy Cohen!  Once the show was over, everyone went back to New York and Los Angeles and I was out of work and needed to figure out WHAT was NEXT for me.

 What inspired you to start your business?

Once Top Chef ended, I really was doing a lot of self-discovery. All of my family and friends at the time were all back in New York. I really knew no one in the Boston area. When I say no one except my fiancé and his family that was really the truth. It was hard to get out of my comfort zone to make friends and find a job all at ONE TIME.

After interviewing at a bunch of different places, I knew I wanted to one day be my own boss. I grew up an entrepreneurial family with my father and brother owning their own businesses. I always loved the excitement of the entertainment world and knew one day I would end up there. I just was never sure how until I did my research and experimenting with research I learned online!

 Where is your business based?

My business is based in Everett, MA! (We are about 8 minutes North of Downtown Boston.)

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

After watching a TON of YouTube videos, I learned how to set up my own podcast system. A month later, due to having a background in Public Relations, graduating from IONA in 2011, I knew how to engage the right target market to promote people.  There, I started to promote start-ups, small businesses and events. Celebrities also started to come on my show. We talked all about how they got to where they are and what their current ventures were.

My guests were happy with the feedback they were receiving that my podcast guests turned into social media/public relations clients! So one of my outlets of business turned into another one!

Since I didn’t have any contacts in the media in Boston, I had been utilizing my social media as my main form of outreach. There, I connected with a few startup/small business magazines and started to promote some of my clientele there as well. After a few months of that, I found that the quality was NOT good and were NEVER on time and that was really starting to reflect me as my client's publicist.

Right then, I had an “aha” moment. I realized there was a way for me to do more for my clients. I wanted to create a tangible product that was going to be great quality and delivered on time. believe it or not, I went back to the drawing board,  watched more YouTube Videos and launched my second media outlet, my magazine- NEXTonSCENE ® and officially trademarked that and my podcast in December of 2017!

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

SOCIAL MEDIA! Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Within six months of launching my magazine, I had such big traction, I was receiving threats to change the name of my magazine or they were going to take action. As soon as I got my first threat, I connected with an amazing trademark lawyer and a little over a year later our trademark officially went through. If I have one form of advice, STAY STRONG. Bullying is really a thing, it was a rough patch for me.

How do you stay focused?

Creating structure. Allowing “me time” in the morning which includes my daily gratitude journal and working out. Then I am ready to take on the day full force. I also live on my phone calendar!

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

The concept of my brand is to showcase “What’s NEXT” for you. I want to be the first source to release your newest business venture, your next destination, your NEXT outfit you should try on and WHY!

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Being consistent on social media and being e-mail savvy.  

What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Be open to options. Change is good it is only what can make you better!

What’s your favorite app, blog, and book? Why? 

Favorite app: CANVA! I love love Canva, it allows you to create your own image with text, stock free, and people LOVE the custom touch to posts on social media. Favorite blog: anything that includes words of wisdom quotes! I also really love articles when people open up and are vulnerable about sharing their truth in their careers/successes. It puts your life into perspective that you are NOT alone and life isn’t perfect.

What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

Same as above, love my Canva!

Who is your business role model? Why?

I have a few business role models, but two that come to the top of my head is Mark Cuban and Bethenny Frankel. Both started from the bottom and are complete self-starters! I admire it and really know that if you work hard and put your mind to something you can get whatever you want in this life!

What do you have planned for the next six months?

IFUNDWOMEN is in Boston currently and it is a crowdfunding campaign to help women-owned business in the Boston area! I plan on launching mine to help grow my podcast to the next level and simulcast to a video segment as well and invest in a new MacBook Air! I also am scheduling appointments to get my printed magazines in local newsstands /stores and having a fashion show promoting amazing up and coming designers in the Boston area April 5th!

How can our readers connect with you?

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jzsocialenterprises

www.facebook.com/getscenetoday

Twitter: www.twitter.com/jzsocialent

www.twitter.com/nextonscene

IG: www.instagram.com/jackiezuk

www.instagram.com/nextonscene

 

Top 15 Women to Watch in 2018 this International Women's Day

International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women's Day, we've scoured the web to find the most promising female entrepreneurs.  Here is the first list of women who are disrupting their industries and making changes to female entrepreneurship in a big way.  This list focuses on the up and coming female entrepreneurs rather than the usual suspects.

Meet the women who are paving the way to make a change as well as the future for the younger generations. 

Clarissa Shetler, Co-founder, C2 California Clean, Doctor of Pharmacy

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

Understanding that we may have to work twice as hard as a male but it's all worth it.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Connect with other business women. Don't be shy and reach out. Females want to help other females succeed. We always love helping others and sharing our advice.

Danni Lin, Founder and CEO, GREAT WINE, Inc.

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

We still see many women living with gender stereotyping and gender inequality. The biggest social assumption is that family should always be a woman’s top and only priority in life, not her career or passion.

As a female entrepreneur, I always think that confidence is the roots of beauty. Every woman is unique and uniquely beautiful because they all have a different life experience.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

There will be ups and downs in the progress of setting up a business. At the up times, you may want to ride on the tides and go faster. At down times, remain confident and work hard to achieve your goals. Successful entrepreneurs are people who do not give up.

Danielle Tate, Founder & CEO MissNowMrs.com

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

Overcoming fear of failure is a huge challenge. Instead of the glass ceiling of Corporate America, we have the "sticky floor" of entrepreneurship. Amazing women can think of every reason why they are under-qualified to start a company, why it will fail, or why someone else would do a better job as the founder.

It's incredibly frustrating to have these conversations. Statistics have shown that women entrepreneurs return a significantly higher ROI than men, and I believe we have a moral obligation to solve the problems we encounter or no one else will.

Once we have our startups, finding funding as a woman is difficult. I'm excited to see more and more women-focused venture funds and hope to see more women have huge exits that give them the ability to become angel investors in women-led startups. It will take time, but positive change is coming.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Begin with the end in mind. Pinpointing exactly what you want out of your startup before you start will help you make strategic decisions that make your dream a reality. Knowing if you want to build a lifestyle company, versus a 3-year flip, or ten-year unicorn will make finding a co-founder or investors with a similar vision easier. It also helps you avoid waking up 5 years into a business and realizing you don't have the company or life that makes you happy.

Michelle Lewis, Visibility Expert and Founder of Visibility Vixen 

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

I believe this is the most opportunistic time in history for female entrepreneurs online.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Do your research, don’t just jump. Know your purpose, find your unique voice in your industry, outline your product path. I see the most frustration from people because they want an entrepreneur lifestyle, but they spend months struggling with no income because these steps aren’t in place.

Kristen Baird, CEO and CVO, Kristen Baird

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

The fine jewelry industry is male-dominated, generationally owned, and characterized by mass-manufacturing. I'm a female entrepreneur, a first generation business owner, and a proponent of handcrafted fine jewelry. Shaking up the "norm" and gaining respect from my peers (mostly male) has been the most challenging part of my business and I would say that is one of the greatest challenges most female founders face today.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Relationships are imperative. Align yourself with positive, driven individuals across all industries, in all age groups, and from all backgrounds. They will be your tribe and you will need them through thick and thin. Likewise, it's not just a "take" situation. Be a giver and share with your tribe and the generations coming behind you.

Amy Hutchins, Chief Product Officer, Unearth Technologies

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

Fundraising is one of the hardest parts of any startup, something that’s especially true for female entrepreneurs. When looking at statistics, about 28% of proprietary software jobs are held by women, whereas only 7% of VC partners are women. Fundraising is largely driven by networks and its difficult to break into a male-dominated network.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Work on something you're passionate about and work with people you're passionate about. Every step of a startup journey can be exceedingly difficult, and the more successful you are, the harder it becomes. Working on a business idea that motivates you, and working with people that push you to be the best personally and professionally, are the two key ingredients to providing the momentum you need to get through the tough times.

Christine Hutchison, Co-Founder and CMO, Proxfinity

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

Access to capital.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

You have to have gut and perseverance. Don't take failures to heart. Learn from them and make it better the next time. I am constantly asking for constructive feedback because I know we can always do things better.

Josephine Caminos Oria, Founder and President, La Dorita Cooks, LLC

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

I believe the greatest challenges women founders face today are not related to their gender but inherent to entrepreneurship itself. And that's access to funding. While it's been proven that women face greater obstacles than men when seeking traditional funding through financial institutions, I believe that this will change in 2018 as a result of the women's movement for equality.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

The #MeToo movement has cleared the path for female founders in 2018. So I offer, "Get out of your own way, and get to it."

Joanna Dai, Founder, Dai

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

Compared to finance, my experience in fashion so far has been a far less male-dominated and a more level playing field. I've read the statistics on female founders receiving funding versus male founders, which has been quite discouraging. We have not gone for funding so I can't attest to that first-hand but it's great to see a wealth of support and networks for female entrepreneurs out there.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Take your time doing market research and product/brand development so you can really hone in on how and why you're unique.

Brianna Carney, Founder, Crew Bloom

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

Work-life balance and an expectation for female founders to lead like male counterparts.
There’s a pressure for female founders to be stoic and suppress their emotions and passion. It’s unfair because our ability to feel and to vividly express ourselves is one of our biggest assets.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Find smart people because you are only one person, and treat them well.

Carin Luna-Ostaseski, Founder, SIA Scotch Whisky

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

Fundraising. Unfortunately, we're still very much at a time and in an environment where women face a challenge raising capital. I hope to turn the tables someday with a fund that helps fellow female spirits entrepreneurs.

In the meantime, every year for the past 4 years, SIA Scotch Whisky has contributed a percentage of our gross sales to a different organization that helps support women start and run their own businesses.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Ask for what you want. You will get rejected, absolutely ... and then one day, you won't.  I didn't know anyone in the spirits industry when I set out to create my brand. So I reached out to 80 people for help - every single distillery I'd ever visited, every name and resource I found in magazines, books, online. I got 80 "no's" (no we can't help you, no we are not interested, no you are crazy....) and came close to throwing in the towel a few times, but I persisted. And then finally on the 81st time, I found the person who was the one who changed everything for me. And this door to this "old boy's club" was opened to me by a woman!

Vikki Hankins-Jones, CEO and Founder, VMH Media/Publishing - VMH Magazine

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

I find the most challenging area for female founders is the male-dominated market in my field. Although a great deal of progress has taken place, women are not taken as seriously as their male continuer parts. Further women, in particular women of color, have to work ten times as hard to gain recognition for their brands.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

My best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is to believe in their mission, product, services. When the going gets tough it is your 'belief' that will bring the tenacity needed to reach your goals.

Serena Holmes, President & CEO, Tigris Events

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

I don’t think female founders necessarily face bigger or different challenges than their male counterparts but I’m sure this could be dependent on the industry.

As a business owner starting out, I think some of the biggest challenges may include creating a point of difference in a competitive marketplace, learning to manage cash flow well and understanding how to work on your business while also working in it. That is a challenging balancing act until you are able to grow a team to support you.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Get help as soon as you can. Find a mentor or hire a coach. This will help you accelerate your learning and in turn, your growth. I didn’t get help until eight years in and it made the world of difference. I wish I had done it sooner.

Cynthia Jamin, Owner and Designer, TwirlyGirl

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

I do believe women buy into the stereotypes that are pervasive in our society. It takes a lot of self-determination and confidence to go against these social norms. A lot of them being centered around either women settling for less because they feel they wouldn't be able to compete in the business world (a "man's" world), or they feel obligated to be just a mother or just a wife.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Be willing to put in the work and be open to learning everything you can about every aspect of your business. Don't just hire people right from the beginning to do the jobs that you might not be interested in, or feel you don't have that skill set. There is nothing you can't learn. It's through actively being a part of "the every day" that you get to see what works and what doesn't.

You will have first-hand knowledge of how you want things done because you have done them. Growing a business is so much more than just getting sales, it's about creating a whole world, an environment that people interact with. It's a big responsibility that requires your full attention. Be prepared for long hours and no weekends off, but in the end, it's so worth it.

Steph Webster, Co-Founder, Miss Collective

She says the biggest challenge female founders face in business is:

A lot of the women that I've met through the industry and through our Miss Collective network tells me just how prevalent the confidence gap is. I meet incredible women who I'm inspired by, who really doubt their own contribution or level of accomplishment. I'd love to see us continue to work together as an industry to help break down the confidence gap and the barriers that it can create.

As a founder, you have to be a good leader, so you have to find ways to believe in yourself and project that confidence to teams and those around you to keep driving your business forward.

Best piece of advice she has for female entrepreneurs:

Follow something you're passionate about! Sounds so cliche and I know common, but for me, the things I've pursued in business have resonated strongly with me personally. I founded a mobile application called Barkparks, because I wanted a tool to find fenced dog parks for my foster dogs.

Miss Collective started because I found a lack of support for women in my industry and wanted to find a way to give back to the community and help other women. It shouldn't be a stretch to get excited about the business you want to create!

Stay tuned for our next installment coming on March 15th!

Q&A with Entrepreneur, Amy Hutchins

amy-hutchins.jpg

Amy Hutchins is a product Leader with 10+ years experience shipping cloud-based solutions ranging from product conception stage to massive scale.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

Prior to founding Unearth, I led Product Management for buuteeq, a digital marketing platform for the hospitality industry acquired by The Priceline Group in 2014. I’ve also held various roles at Microsoft, the most recent being a Senior Program Manager for Microsoft Account, their consumer identity service. I graduated from Duke University where I split my time (and degrees) between two passions, computer science and Roman history.

What inspired you to start your business?

I've always had a passion for finding creative ways to use technology to improve workplace productivity, especially where it concerns eliminating mundane, repetitive tasks that drain time and motivation.

When I started talking with two of my most respected colleagues about an idea to apply technology to solve the productivity crisis in construction, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity.

Construction is one of the few remaining industries that has yet to experience a tech-powered productivity revolution. We knew our combined backgrounds in tech and construction could create a product with the potential to push construction into the future. The momentum was palpable and I've never looked back.

Where is your business based?

Our office overlooks Lake Union in the trendy Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

Quitting my job and finding the right co-founders were the first two steps I took.  But the very next step was talking to prospective customers and learning about the industry.  

The more customers we talked to, the more we understood their lives and their unique workplace frustrations. It gave us fuel to power the ideation phase of our product. It also served to validate our product-market fit, so we knew there would be interest in what we were doing once we went to market.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Our sixth hire was a content marketer with a background in SEO and digital marketing. He’s used a combination of PR, email marketing, and organic marketing to raise awareness of our company.

Marketing your startup, especially when you’re just getting started, is a time-consuming, challenging endeavor. That’s why we found the most effective way to accomplish the task was to hire someone with the background to manage those efforts on their own.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Personally, my biggest challenge has been learning to suck at things and getting over it.  As a founder, I was not only focused on product and engineering, my background, but I found myself leading early marketing efforts, being a one-man Customer Success team and many other roles I had zero experience in.  I quickly had to get over the feeling of being new at certain aspects of a business and dive headfirst into the enjoyment of learning new skills, fast.

How do you stay focused?

An unhealthy reliance on Google Calendar and Evernote Todo lists!  

But, in all seriousness, I identify 2-3 goals to focus on for the month and write them at the top of my todo list. Every time I add something to the list I prioritize it based on how it fits into my goals, then I cross them off one by one.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

We’ve used the concept of place to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Humans naturally think and organize their lives by place. It’s how we evolved to interact with the natural world.

The construction industry is filled with software vendors that base their UX on digitally mimicking the pen and paper processes that have dominated construction for decades. While this is helpful in many scenarios, it fails to take advantage of the full range of tools that modern software can make available to the industry.

We believe we can do better than that by using construction’s preference for a place to help organize and communicate about their incredibly complex projects, effectively creating a shift in how people think about the construction process.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

We’ve seen the most direct business growth from our outbound email marketing. It’s the easiest way to get in front of customers and generate interest while you work on creating brand recognition.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

I often hear people say to keep a thick skin and be comfortable with ambiguity. From an attitude perspective, this is great advice, but there’s far more to starting a business than attitude.

Practically, the best advice I could give is to spend as much time as possible validating your idea at the outset. Do whatever it takes to get in front of your customers and talk to them. You should first make certain you’re positioned to execute on a winning idea, then push forward confidently with the data to back you up.

If you start out this way, you’ll be prepared for success when you face the inevitable challenges of starting a company.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

App

Evernote, it helps me keep track of all my thoughts in one place and is always accessible when I have a spur of the moment the idea.

Blog

Tomasz Tunguz gives great advice at all startup stages in bite-sized pieces. I archive all his newsletters in Gmail and often search through them when I come across a problem

Book

Exodus by Leon Uris. I chose a historical fiction novel because you need to make time for yourself as a founder. Your company can easily take over every aspect of your life if you let it.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I think the Google Suite of products has to be my favorite business tool, specifically Google Calendar, Gmail, and Drive. They’re ubiquitous, free, and simple. It helps you easily stay connected not only with your office, but with your entire network.

Who is your business role model? Why?

Elon Musk. His ability to realize his vision for creating a positive impact is remarkable. Every startup founder can learn from his example of setting a goal and then accomplishing it, no matter how far-fetched it may seem.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

We’ve got a lot on our plate for next six months, as we’ll be starting a crucial second year for the business in which need to show market traction. Our to-do list includes:

  • Aggressive customer acquisition experiments: We need to figure out the optimal way to get people on our platform as quickly as possible so we can increase our user base.

  • Ramping up with DCODE: We were accepted to a startup accelerator known as DCODE that focuses on helping young companies secure government contracts. Needless to say, this represents a huge source of potential revenue for us, and we will be focused heavily on entering this sector.

  • Recruiting and hiring to double our product team: More customers requires more heads on our product, not to mention we have an aggressive development schedule for some of the more unique features that we will be launching this year.

  • A two week trip to Chile as a 4-year belated honeymoon: As I mentioned, even with everything going on, you still have to make time for yourself. My husband and I have been putting this trip off long enough, and it’s time we make it a reality.

How can our readers connect with you?

LinkedIn

Twitter

Q&A with Dana Marlowe

Dana Marlowe

As the founder of Accessibility Partners, Dana Marlowe is a leading force in her disability and accessibility advocacy IT consulting firm. Dana Marlowe directs a team of skilled accessibility engineers with and without disabilities. Her firm focuses on the removal of extraneous barriers in technology, with an ultimate corporate goal to make opportunities available for every individual using technology. Accessibility Partners boasts a roster of established clients spanning from Federal Agencies, Fortune 500 businesses, retail organizations, educational institutions, and non-profits to help them test, consult, and train on accessible IT products.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

Wouldn’t you know it, but my first involvement in the digital space was when I was having a problem with a computer. Amidst my frustration, I was still excited to be in a space so focused on improving technology and making devices better for users. So, on Tuesday, a fifteen years ago I walked into a random computer store to seek help on a computer problem that needed to be fixed.

By chance, I happened to witness customers and staff using sign language in the store (cue the proverbial “aha” light bulb above my head). I immediately inquired and discovered that they also sold accessible IT products to the government to help employees with disabilities.

I soon recognized an opportunity to merge my two passions — disability advocacy and technology. Therefore, immediately I knew what I had to do. A week later, I went to pick up my computer from that store. I arrived in a business suit with my resume firmly planted in my hand. As I was later told, I sold myself to the owners. I was ecstatic to receive an offer.

Flash forward to 15 years later, and now I’m the principal partner of a company that helps make technology accessible for people with disabilities. We empower those with disabilities to gain access and communicate in the digital space when previous barriers may have hindered usage.

What inspired you to start your business?

When I was seven, I fondly remember an encounter with a friend at summer camp who was Deaf. I so badly wanted to strike up a conversation with my new friend but was unable to do so. Even as a young camper, I felt the urge that I should be able to communicate with everyone. I took classes through a local community college in sign language to springboard that communication.

I jumped from there to attending a technical university with a huge Deaf population. Majoring in communications made me realize the importance of technology in all facets of human interaction.

Where is your business based?

We are based in Washington, DC but everyone in the office works remotely. We have offices spanning the country, from Nebraska to Pennsylvania, Florida and Connecticut, Ohio and Indiana, and others. 

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

As a small company starting off in the rough economy of 2009, I recognized that our biggest investment had to come from within the human capital. I knew our employees beyond the partners had to get behind the concept that the compensation might be small in the beginning. The long-term investment came from disability advocacy. It was a risk worth taking. Accessibility Partners bought in with the intent to make the world and its technology a more accessible place.

As our success great, we shared our on-boarding plan of telework, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), hiring staff with disabilities, and advocacy with the companies we were working within an attempt to encourage them to do the same in their workforces.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

At Accessibility Partners, we like to practice what we preach. That comes in the way of accessible social media. We factor in how a user with disabilities would see our posts. Our communications staff will caption or provide a transcript for any audio or video we share. We also provide captions and alternative text for any image shared. Marketing is only as good as it is by the people who can read it. Accessibility Partners uses mainstream platforms, but puts accessible coding into our website and anytime we publish anything.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

We opened our doors, relatively, in the rough economy of 2009, when most small businesses were encouraged not to begin. I knew that we had to make some smart money choices if we wanted the company to take off.

Step one was operating on an agreed-upon telework model. This was non-negotiable. Our employees are spread across the country. Naturally, communication was the highest priority. Then, I proposed the idea of BYOD—Bring Your Own Device. That put the geographic and financial limitations to a halt as our staff picked the most accessible technology choices for them. We saved a lot of time and money not standardizing, and we empowered our workers with disabilities from the get-go.

How do you stay focused?

I like to stay grounded by mentally staying present in the here and now. But it’s not just on the now, I strive to be forward thinking in my focus. One question that always shapes my next thought is: “What will folks be talking about next year as it relates to disabilities and technology?”

On another level, I hone in on our team’s successes and look for future ones. The internal monologue is always going, but sometimes I need a burst of energy. Personally, I try to stay focused when working by rocking out to my Indie music.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Without a doubt, our customer service. We always have our finger on the pulse of each project, and try to understand our company’s corporate culture. Each client engagement is personalized, and I try to help them find the unique way accessibility fits into their company’s practice. Even after we’re done, I love to reach back out.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

Word of mouth is very strong for marketing my accessibility consulting firm.  We attend a variety of conferences and present on numerous topics about accessibility, disability employment, and similar themes. We use a tailored web advertising campaign, including Google Adwords. On a person-to-person basis, we hand out business cards and marketing materials. In order to make sure our promotional materials are in the best format for everyone, we made sure we took some extra steps. First, we emboss all of our paper in Braille with our website and telephone number. On the back of our card, we provide our contact information in larger font for those with low vision. In addition, we’ve made sure that our cards have good color contrast and clear font.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?           

I value my strong social support network now but realize just how necessary they help you through the stress of tough times in a business. It’s easy to talk to friends about your personal life, but business is an interesting grey area. I wish I had taken advantage of them when I started Accessibility Partners. Diverse advice is so valuable with a start-up, and a varied set of insight could have saved me weeks of stress if I just had another perspective.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

I found that the book “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath really helped me with my idea formation and making process. It helped me break down ideas to their core, or simplicity as they call it. It is a realistic book that offers sound advice-anyone can benefit from it. I jump around from blog-to-blog, so I could pick a favorite, but my favorite app is Slack. It keeps me accountable and informed, and works really well for remote purposes. At Accessibility Partners, we also use Skype for tandem testing with screen share, and their instant messaging interface is always more accessible than others.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

Surprisingly, the one tool I use every day isn’t a piece of software but a standard pad of paper. I doodle on this every time an idea springs into my head. There is something comforting about putting an idea onto something tangible-like it is already real and possible.

Who is your business role model? Why?

I couldn’t be more inspired by Frederique Irwin. She is the creator of Her Corner, a nationwide women’s business accelerator incubator of dedicated space and advice for female business owners. She has two values that I try to emulate: she is supportive, but she also holds others accountable. She’ll listen to your business struggles and empathize, but give actionable advice. And you better follow-up on it. I like how she can see an issue and use it as a springboard for growth. She’s not stagnant either: Frederique has updated her business practice and life plan with the times.

Tina Tchen was the Assistant to President Barack Obama; Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama; and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. She is my role model as well because of her tireless work to promote progressive values and put women at the forefront of a nationwide conversation where their voices hadn’t been heard as loudly before. She has promoted technology education for women and worked for workplace fairness with respect to wage parity.

My biggest personal inspirations are from various times throughout history, but they include Harriet Tubman, Madeline Albright, and J.K. Rowling. All powerful women who looked injustice and unfairness in the face, and made their mission their own.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Our regulations have been recently updated in our industry. A lot of the disability laws of the past are being taken to the web, as e-commerce is replacing a lot of the brick and mortar stores. We are hoping to help our clients become familiar with these newly revised laws, and use them to their competitive advantage to be more inclusive with their product and service offerings. Accessibility Partners plans to accomplish this through auditing services led by our team with disabilities, as well as helping reshape our clients’ accessibility postures through better marketing language that shows inclusion in practice. 

How can our readers connect with you?

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Access_Partners
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dana-marlowe-115aa01/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AccessibilityPartners/

Q&A with Entrepreneur Jenny Dorsey

Jenny Dorsey

 

Jenny Dorsey is a professional chef and artist using food to promote introspection and organic social change. She specializes in content and experiences fusing food with emerging technology (especially AR/VR) and runs an experiential dining series named Wednesdays in New York City. You can see more about her and her work at http://jennydorsey.co

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I was born in Shanghai, China and raised in Seattle, Washington. After I graduated from the University of WA with a Bachelor’s in Finance, I wanted to make the move to NYC to pursue a career in management consulting and work within luxury and fashion goods. I thought it was what I wanted… until it wasn’t. After a while, I realized that while I looked “successful,” I couldn’t keep ignoring my burgeoning materialism and my deep unhappiness with my job. I knew I had to get out, but I wasn’t sure how. So I procrastinated.

I applied to Columbia Business School and was accepted early admission in 2011. Once I had this “safety” in place, I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue what I always loved: food. I went to culinary school and graduated just 3 days before starting at Columbia. Once I graduated culinary school I knew I couldn’t stay in business school or I would be lulled into complacency yet again – I decided to forge ahead into the unknown and “find myself” in the food industry. I won’t say that journey is over – or will ever be over – but I’m so much happier now than I’ve ever been.

What inspired you to start your business?

I have two separate businesses. My main line of work is culinary consulting – I work with restaurants and food brands to create content and experiences that are different and compelling. I decided to go into independent consulting as a way to combine both my culinary abilities with my business background. It is relatively rare in the culinary industry to find someone who creates menus and also crunches numbers! After culinary school, I spent time both cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants and working in the corporate food world. I learned a lot from all these experiences and wanted to be able to help others with the business perspective I’d gained without charging the asinine prices as other consulting houses.

My other business is Wednesdays, a dinner popup series I’ve been running with my husband (our mixologist) for almost 4 years now. We originally met at Columbia Business School and bonded over a mutual desire to get to know our peers on a deeper level.

Our thought was, if really want people to talk honestly, we have to create a safe space for them to do so. At the time I wanted an outlet for my creativity and he wanted to play with cocktails, so what better way to go about our mission than make an “intellectual dinner party”? The most important element of our concept was (and still is) finding a way to incorporate meaningful conversation into organic interactions. The food, drink, and ambiance serve as ways to elegant prop up that mission.

Where is your business based?

New York City

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

As silly as it sounds, I started both my businesses with a simple website. There’s something scary about declaring to the world “Hi! This is what I do!” It’s a commitment to take yourself seriously. After that, I focused on gaining clients for my consulting business one at a time – networking, applying to jobs, taking a million coffee meetings, rinse and repeat. The same applies to Wednesdays – my husband and I hustled our butts off trying to strum up interest. We talked and invited everyone to our dinners, posted on our social channels a lot (sorry friends!), constantly wrote to the press, etc.

At the start, everything was a struggle – as I think it is for many entrepreneurs. Being told “no” over and over is devastating and feels like a fight you just keep losing. But over time, things changed. I learned, I grew a ton as a person and a professional, and my husband and I kept fighting for recognition that this concept was worthwhile and important.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Consulting-wise, referrals are a big deal because the food community is tight-knit, so if someone says “Yes, I really enjoyed working with her” that helps to alleviate a lot of concerns of other prospective clients. Investing money in SEO has been extremely important as well – people don’t look past maybe the 3rd page or so on Google, so you need to get yourself in the top few listings. For Wednesdays, as much as I loathe to say it press is important. It opens the gates for people you’re not connected to in any way to come through the doors. We’ve been written up by a lot of places now and have a diverse set of guests every dinner we could not have strummed up otherwise.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Recently, I would say it was being eliminated on Food Network’s “Chopped” and then, almost right afterward, turning down the opportunity to be on Top Chef Season 15. Losing on “Chopped” helped me learn that my abilities are not defined by one event, and searching for approval from others is an endless, losing battle. Turning down Top Chef was an extremely difficult decision - but it boiled down to if I felt strong enough to carve my own career path and define success differently, or follow what I knew as something widely recognized and acclaimed. This has been something that has come up time and time again in my life and it never gets easier to take my own path instead of the conventionally applauded one. I’ve had experience being on reality television show 4 times now and knew that as soon as the cameras switched on, I was filled with dread, not enthusiasm. Ultimately, I decided I didn’t want another TV competition to take away from my focus on my business or Wednesdays.

How do you stay focused?

I have a lot of issues staying focused because I want to do everything, I want to be the best at everything. Sometimes, it gets to the point of anxiety that I’m “not doing enough” all the time. To combat this I will either go to pottery or do something that allows me to move without thinking if that makes sense. It helps give me some mental clarity and refocus on what I actually need to be doing.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

I spend a lot of time thinking about my brand and what I want it to be. I see so many “influencers” now who write these annoying, generic things like “Oh, rise up to challenges and keep pushing!” It’s easy to be preachy when you don’t ever expose yourself or let your guard down. I think people want someone who is actually going to be vulnerable and honest – that’s what I strive to be in every interaction, client or friend or colleague. If a client wants something I’m not an expert at, I say that upfront; if I’m not sure or I don’t know, I say so. If I’m nervous about something, I say that too. Being true to yourself is about not hiding and I think the right people honor and respect that.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

For consulting, SEO. For Wednesdays, press releases, press outreach, SEO.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

There will never be a "good time" to take the leap or make that big decision. There will always be something - a promotion, finishing up loan payments, when the apartment lease is up, etc. - that will make you hesitate and think twice. No sunny Saturday will appear with the words "Do It!" magically in your future. It's up to you to take charge of your life and your career - no one else's.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

App – I like to use Swarm to help me remember where I’ve eaten.

Blog – don’t read a lot of blogs

Book – Quiet by Susan Cain. She’s incredible. I’m an introvert and I’m SO, so grateful that she’s out there championing the needs of introverts and how they can help society.

 What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

There are some really awesome Facebook groups for food industry women, women in AR/VR and women in tech. They’ve been infinitely helpful in getting me leads, offering me advice, connecting me with the right people, etc.

 Who is your business role model? Why?

I’m looking for one.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

In January I’m hosting a large-format popup for Wednesdays, so I’m head-down on that right now. I’ll also be taking over the show “Why Food?” on Heritage Radio Network, so I’m preparing to be a podcast host for the first time! Finally, I’m working on launching a VR dining exhibit named “All Together At Once” – a lot of moving parts on that one, so hoping I can have that open in Fall 2018.

How can our readers connect with you?

People can find me on Instagram and Facebook at handles @chefjennydorsey and @WednesdaysNYC.

Q&A with Entrepreneur Divya Menon

Divya Menon

 

Divya Menon is the founder of Bad Brain, a marketing and advertising group based in Los Angeles. She brings over 10 years combined experience in marketing, legal, and creative and has worked for notable marketing agencies, including Midnight Oil, as a lead strategist. Her accounts have ranged from Disney to American Express where she is tasked with research-driven projects and the production of an actionable strategy. 

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I graduated at the start of The Great Recession and job hunting felt Sisyphean at best. I worked at a bar back home in Texas for a while, but the lack of real career options sent me back to school within a year.

Even after I attained a law degree, the opportunity was limited as the recession waned. The year I graduated, a starting associate attorney in L.A. made roughly $40K annually. At that point, I could have worked for a small salary practicing law (something that made me miserable) or working in a creative field and making just as much.

I opted for creativity and eventually nabbed a job in marketing for $40K. Eventually, that shop started downsizing and I was left scrambling to put food on the table -- again. The job market was less rough, but still dismal and I found it easier to win my own contracts and work for myself than to secure a stable, in-house position. This was the birth of Bad Brain – a creature of circumstance.

What inspired you to start your business?

I am a reluctant business owner. I started this business out of a necessity to keep a roof over my head in a job market that was unkind to young talent with tangential, advanced degrees. All I ever wanted was the stability of working in-house, but that was not likely due to low salaries and hostile work environments (I have seen my fair share of awful). I felt forced to create my own career.

Now that I’ve been running with Bad Brain for a few years, though, I am growing to love it. I enjoy the freedom, of course, but more than that, I feel great when I’m able to afford the opportunity to people who have been running into an issue I did. Truth is: I don’t want anyone to suffer some of the depression I dealt with while trying to get a stable footing in this industry and I will always hire a J.D. looking to make a change.

Where is your business based?

Playa Vista, CA

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

I consistently applied for contracts, solicited agencies, and worked for startups. Expect nothing less than a 90% rejection rate. Starting a business is a lot like being on a desert island – the first step is to just survive and try to ignore the agony you’re experiencing.

 What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

Clients sometimes, but rarely, provide word-of-mouth. Rather, through their partnerships, which I often manage, I get work; and many of the agencies that I work with will also provide me projects.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Compartmentalizing and scaling. To take on more work, means you need more resources. Being prepared and being able to take that all in stride can be difficult, but after a while, you figure out the formula so that you don’t lose work in the process of acquiring work.

How do you stay focused?

Focus has never been an issue for me. I had an incredibly strict mother shaping my work habits during my formative years; at this point, focus comes naturally to me.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

Bad Brain goes deep into numbers and science in a way most small shops do not. For example, I have spent days trying to solve central limit theorem issues that arise with CTRs using Bayes averages and lower bound Wilson scores, eventually settling on a more linear prediction model. You can get this type of work with big names like Ogilvy, but you rarely see it with small, affordable agencies. At Bad Brain, given our average age, we are a little rebellious, but our intelligence skillset really sets us apart. Even our creative staff spends hours researching and reporting for clients.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

At this stage, it is word-of-mouth. Advertising is fine, but the quality of prospective clients tends to be subpar.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

Frugality will keep you safe. My generation is frequently compared to the Silent Generation, who dealt with The Great Depression. After having the rug ripped out from underneath us, we make safe choices with our money. I do not, for example, have an office and everyone works remotely. I spend my marketing dollars very wisely (it helps that my forté happens to be marketing) and I only hire new people out of necessity.

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

App: Waveapps. I’ve used their invoicing system for years and it had a great UX/UI for both myself and my clients.

Blog: AgencySpy. I’m Indian, a culture that was quite affected by British culture, and British people love gossip. So yeah, AgencySpy for all their gossip.

Book: The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognani. It’s incredibly well-written and I was a weird, antisocial kid into punk growing up, so I have a lot of love for that book.

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

SAS. It’s easier than R, though less robust.

Who is your business role model? Why?

I am lucky to come from a family of great entrepreneurs and inventors. More than their advice on what “to do”, it’s their advice on what they wish they had done that I take more to heart.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

Compartmentalizing and working on my personal life. The mantra for the first handful of years starting a business is “make money, you need more money, go make money.” As you learn how to scale and continue growth, you realize that you’ve spent some really solid years working rather than making friends, picking-up hobbies, and being human. This year I want to focus on my humanity and sanity.

How can our readers connect with you?

I have social channels, but like most marketers, I rarely check my own channels – there’s no time and the last thing you want to see is more social media by the time you’re done with work.

If you want to reach me, just drop a line at: cannibal@eatbadbrain.com and put “FemFounder” in the subject line so I know where you came from!

Q&A with Deborah Sweeney, Attorney-Turned-CEO of MyCorporation.com

deborah_sweeney_mycorporation

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Can you tell our readers about your background?

I am the CEO of MyCorporation.com. I grew up in Southern California and my undergraduate degree is in Criminology and Psychology. I also went to law school for my JD and have an MBA from Pepperdine University. Before I owned my own business, I was a partner at a Los Angeles law firm. I later went in-house for one of my clients and managed the MyCorporation division at Intuit as their GM.

What inspired you to start your business?

While I was managing the MyCorporation division at Intuit in 2008, Intuit was divesting small businesses. I was watching my division being affected in the process as less and less was invested in our marketing. I didn’t know what was going to happen next — not to me, the employees at MyCorporation, or to the business. During this economic slowdown, I began discussing with my husband the possibility of offering to buy out MyCorporation from Intuit. We met with our bankers, I proposed the idea semi-informally to my boss, and I put together a presentation on how MyCorporation could thrive outside of Intuit.

I met formally with Intuit leadership afterward where I made my offer to purchase the business out if they were interested in selling or divesting to me. Six months later, the leadership came to me to suggest that I present the options for divestiture — close the division, sell to another company, or sell to me. About a month after I presented the leadership with more documentation on how I could make all of this happen in 2009, I received the greatest phone call of my life. Intuit offered to sell MyCorporation to me and make me the sole owner. And I enthusiastically accepted the offer!

Where is your business based?

Greetings from Los Angeles — Calabasas, California, to be specific!

How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?

The purchase of MyCorporation was certainly one of the first steps I took to becoming the owner of a small business. Rather than bring on any outside investors, I mortgaged my house and bootstrapped the purchase of the company. Running a lean business was not easy and meant making sacrifices on everything from cutting back staff to penny-pinching my own personal spending habits. However, I could do it and did!

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?

When raising awareness of your business, the most important thing to focus on is your ROI. Early on in my business career, I spent an astronomical amount to build our brand and realized a few years in that some of our marketing expenditures were ROI negative. We were focused on growth, but I wasn’t paying attention to ROI and on a significant amount of our marketing, we were losing money. We went back to the drawing board and reexamined which initiatives provided the most return on investment versus those that did not and cut the ones that didn’t. My suggestion to all new entrepreneurs is to pay strict attention to ROI. Know where you are spending your hard earned marketing dollars and how that investment is paying off.

What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

I have a legal background which is unconventional for an entrepreneur and also means my initial knowledge of entrepreneurship was more limited. I overcame this challenge by letting each piece of my education enable me and contribute to my success in business. When I was a practicing attorney, having my business degree was a differentiating factor in the practice of law. When I went in-house and our company was acquired by Intuit, I was running a division of the company that offered legal services.

As an entrepreneur, my law degree continues to be valuable when I execute contracts, negotiate deals, and when I work with my employees. Similarly, my business degree has been invaluable when I think about our profits and losses, strategies, and mission.

How do you stay focused?

I credit the to-do list (especially one written on Post-it Notes) for helping to keep my thoughts organized and stay on the right track with my daily workload. I also meditate and take Pilates classes, spend time with my family and friends, and unplug where I can to rest and recharge.

How do you differentiate your business from the competition?

We pride ourselves on our personalized customer service. We listen to and encourage feedback from customers on how we can improve their overall experience.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?

We work to form strategic partnerships with other like-minded companies. By creating partnerships, we’re able to best serve customer needs and establish a mutually beneficial partnership that works for each company and its customers.

What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?

“Lead from within, not from out front.” I have always liked this advice on how to control a business without being controlling. If you try to run everything yourself, you’ll eventually crash and burn. Empower and trust your team to keep the business humming without you micromanaging

What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?

App: Mint. I love this app because it gives me the ability to see exactly where the money I'm spending is going and sends me an alert when I'm about to reach the end of my budget. It allows me to be more mindful of my finances and proactive about the process, so I can take control to curb unnecessary spending now that I know how it all adds up.

Blog: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) blog is an amazing resource for any entrepreneur looking to start a small business or grow an existing one.

Book: Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. This is one of my favorite business books because it has a positive impact on how entrepreneurs run their business. The theme of the book is that it's all about thinking differently and not following the crowd, which is admittedly something that happens more often than one realizes in business. It inspires you to think for yourself and create an opening that others do not see. In doing so, you can create your own space rather than follow the space of others and march to the beat of your own drum!

What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?

I love using Evernote to jot down moments that inspire without forgetting about it later, which I feel often happens if I write something quickly into my iPhone’s notes section. If I’m out and about and see something that sparks a lightbulb moment within me, I’ll make the note in Evernote and know that it will be accessible — and impossible to forget! — whether I’m on my phone, tablet, or laptop.

Who is your business role model? Why?

Oprah Winfrey! From her talk show to Weight Watchers and even a rumored run for Presidency, she transcends all business models.

What do you have planned for the next six months?

In the next six months, we will continue to evolve partnerships and build digital service products. We also have fun initiatives planned for our employees too… stay tuned!

How can our readers connect with you?

You can find MyCorporation on Facebook @MyCorp and on Twitter @mycorporation and my personal handle, @deborahsweeney.

 

Female Founders of Chic Cartel Launch Kickstarter Campaign

Chic Cartel

Very unique and exciting swimwear line launched today via crowd-funding site Kickstarter. Designed as statement pieces for magazine covers such as GQ, Cosmopolitan and Esquire, these velvet bikinis and bandage one-pieces will be available for the first time starting at $99 for the early bird special. Until now, only Instagram influencers, celebrities, and curvy supermodels rocked these pieces. 

Chic Cartel

The swimwear is sustainable and body type inclusive (the one-piece is specifically designed with curves in mind!) not to mention - gorgeous! The crowdfunding campaign is set to help two female designers launch their production as well as expand consumers' options in hot and trendy sustainable fashion.

The campaign goes only for 30 days. Get on board fast here!