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I just survived Super Bowl Sunday as I’m writing this. I live about 100 steps from a small-town grocery store. Right outside, stuck in a little clump of February 1st snow, was a hand-made sign: Get Your Girl Scout Cookies Inside.kids entrepreneurs .jpg

 

It’s the second of February, for Buddha’s sake! Most people’s willpower for their New Year’s diet resolutions is as dirty and stunted as the snowbank that sign was stuck into. Sure, I went into the store for berries and carrots and a veggie platter.

 

But if you think I came out of that store having purchased just one box of Thin Mints, then you don’t know a single thing about my willpower.

 

I bought two boxes of Thin Mints, one of the lemonades, one shortbread, and whatever that coconut one is called.

 

Why? Because these girls did a bang-up job of selling me on this. They asked, “Are you having people over for the Super Bowl?”

 

“Yes,” I lied. My two kids and I were the “people.”

 

“Oh, then you know they’ll want these! Maybe for the halftime show!”

 

Entrepreneurship - Learn from A Kid

 

Kids are so much smarter than we are. They don’t worry as much (about the same things grownups worry about, at least). They don’t care about whether they need an LLC or an S-Corp. They don’t rush to Staples to print business cards and buy up some variant URLs.

 

They act like entrepreneurs:

 

  • Here’s a need

 

  • I can fill that need

 

  • That need generates a reward

 

  • Sure, there’s some risk but I’ll try it

 

  • I’ll fix what breaks

 

That’s it. That’s how kids do what they do. They want money to pick up a new game for their Nintendo Switch? They walk around and ask, “What can I sell?” “Who needs something?”

 

My kids are 14 and almost 18. They’ve had Redbubble accounts and Bandcamp accounts and all kinds of platforms where they can sell art and music and creative products online for years now. They spread the word with their friends. But because they’re kids, especially teenagers, they make it all “no big deal” and just talk about it matter-of-factly.

 

Kids Don’t Care About Forever

 

One absolutely beautiful detail about how a kid treats entrepreneurship is that it’s about serving a customer and their need, not about building some kind of “forever” business. Grownups treat it that way because it’s the most often cited example. Companies form in someone’s garage and then go on to become blue chips and massive.

 

But plenty of companies do their job well and then vanish. Netscape changed the world by delivering the best and most people-friendly Internet browser back in the day. It changed the world. And then shut down, all within five years.

 

What we forget to think and believe and accept is that we are not our companies. That’s the point of entrepreneurship. We serve a need. We work to fulfill that need. We create or shut down companies to support the structure of that need fulfillment.

 

Kids Aren’t (as) Self Conscious

 

Kids just put it out there. Sure, they can be shy. But kids just say, “Hey, I made a thing. Want one?” They know that people either do or they don’t. And for the most part, they don’t tie their self-worth to the product they’re selling. Even (and this is vital) if what they’re selling is their own creative output.

 

Kids are willing to sell because they think you might also have a similar need or interest. They’ll tweak their product to match your need. It’s not exactly about landing the sale. It’s about whether you helped out.

 

Kids love to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment, but when they lose, they don’t fixate on it as much.

 

And that brings me to a very important point: kids are more used to failure when they’re younger because they’ve had fewer deeply life-changing experiences as a result of failure.

 

It's worth learning this part alone.

 

Entrepreneurship is Vital, Even for Employees

 

For well over a decade, I’ve taught big companies to think more like an entrepreneurial endeavor. Why? Because corporations get too locked into any one system and forget the simple rules of entrepreneurship: there aren’t any rules - just sell someone something they need.

 

Strip it down to these five guideposts:

 

  • Here’s a need
  • I can fill that need
  • That need generates a reward
  • Sure, there’s some risk but I’ll try it
  • I’ll fix what breaks

 

From that, you’ve got a chance of teaching grownups to be as good at running a straightforward business as a kid might. It’s worth the effort.

 

Oh, and if I put the Girl Scout cookie boxes in the recycling, it’s almost like we didn’t eat all of them.

 

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by chris Brogan headshot.pngsharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

If you are a professional – a lawyer, web designer, consultant or some similar occupation (as opposed to owning a product-based business) – I don’t need to tell you there is a lot of competition out there.personal brand.jpg

 

So how do you compete when everyone else in your field is trying to reach the same clients and eyeballs?

 

You have to create a great personal brand.

 

Creating a great personal brand is the secret sauce to getting noticed, standing out, attracting top-tier clients, and making more money. Indeed, once you build your personal brand to the point where you are spoken of in the same breath as those at the top of your field, then you do not have to compete on price. In fact, you can charge more because your clients will value your work above others’.

 

Charging a premium for your services is but one of many reasons you should consider working on your personal brand. In addition, a great personal brand:

 

  • Gives you added credibility

 

  • Keeps you top of mind

 

  • Results in consistent business

 

  • Ups your income potential

 

Consider Martha Stewart for a moment. Her personal brand was so strong that she could go to jail, come out, and not miss a beat.

 

Having a great personal brand is even more important for us mere mortals when online reputations are so central and when online networking and social media play such a vital part in our lives and businesses.

 

So, how do you create that valuable personal brand?

 

To help us understand, I recently chatted with an expert in the field.

 

Dan Schwabel  is a leading expert on personal branding, with a very popular blog, The Personal Branding Blog and a successful book on the subject (Me 2.0). Dan says the key to personal branding is authenticity; “your brand must honestly represent you and your value and values.” It must also be, he says, “transparent, and visible.”

 

Here’s how  you create that powerful, authentic, personal brand:

 

1. Be bold and authentic: “Wallflowers and shrinking violets don’t build brands,” Dan notes on his site. “People who are bold and enthusiastic do. For executives looking to make their mark and build a brand, being a hands-on, in the trenches type of person translates into authentic experience.”

 

2. Help, and then help some more: “If you want to really stand out, you must be useful and add maximum value at all times. Do this by offering free info, training, and content about your industry and share that info while speaking at events and on podcasts.”

 

3. Use all available tools: Apropos of #2 above, the way to build a brand is by consistently getting your name, message, tips, content, and information out there using all of the tools available to us today – a personal website, blogging, social media, podcasts, videos, etc.

 

4. Get a logo and catchphrase: Old school tools work. A well-done logo creates an immediate graphic representation of you and your business. For example:

                                                                                                     

 

5. Monitor: “Google alerts” let you see what is being said and written about you online. “Twitter search” does much the same for its service. By following these prompts, you can positively inject yourself into any online conversation about you, your services, and your business.

 

A top-notch personal brand can skyrocket your business to the next level. Yes it takes time, but the results will pay dividends for years.

 

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert /servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3352-408614/Steve%2BStrauss%2BHeadshot%2BSBC.pngcolumn is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.steve strauss headshot.png

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Whether you’re a mentor or a mentee, being part of a mentoring relationship is powerful. The American Psychological Association says having a mentor can be “lifechanging.”mentor pic.jpg

 

According to Bridget Weston, the acting CEO of SCORE, the country’s premier source of free business mentoring and education, “Entrepreneurs who work with a mentor are five times more likely to start a business than those who do not have a mentor. And, small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth.”

 

Mentorship can take many forms. But for small business owners, getting assistance from successful entrepreneurs (like at SCORE) or corporate giants can be especially helpful.

 

Imagine getting advice (and more) from one of the most successful American companies—Procter & Gamble, a multinational consumer goods corporation, founded in 1837. Sound like an impossible dream? It’s not. P&G Ventures is the internal startup studio within Procter & Gamble. Established in 2015, it “partners with entrepreneurs and inventors to discover and create consumer products, brands, and businesses that solve people’s needs in categories new to P&G.”

 

P&G Ventures has created a unique partnership model, “providing funding and access to their experts, resources, and capabilities to help partners find their best customers, prove their technology, and create their brand.” The idea is to marry P&G’s many decades of business expertise with the “scrappy entrepreneurial approach.” As a result, the partners are able to develop their products with the full force of P&G’s consumer insight, branding, and regulatory expertise behind them.

 

The core belief at P&G Ventures is that great ideas can come from anywhere—which is one of the reasons they created the Innovation Challenge, an annual event taking place during the Consumer Electronics Show.

 

Lauren Thaman, Director of Communications at P&G Ventures, says the Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity to reach entrepreneurs and inventors. Companies that are chosen to participate in the Challenge are flown to Las Vegas, given access to CES and pitch their idea. The winners are chosen and get $10,000 on the spot. 

That’s when the mentoring kicks in. P&G executives are there to offer advice. Thaman says they’re “committed to helping entrepreneurs. Sometimes they don’t know what they don’t know.  [We help] them understand what’s possible.”

 

Sometimes partners get seed money; other times they need marketing help. The partnerships, says Thaman, are a “win/win for the partners and us.”

 

Committed to women

 

Mentorship at P&G Ventures goes far beyond the Innovation Challenge. P&G Ventures teamed up with Vinetta Project, a chapter-based organization that connects women founders to capital and resources to scale their businesses.

 

Betsy Bluestone, the Commercial Discovery Leader at P&G Ventures says gender equality is incredibly important to P&G, and they weren’t seeing a lot of deal flow from female founders. So they teamed up with Vinetta Project to help female founders scale.

 

Vinetta Project holds pitch events, dinners and boot camps. They pair founders with “coaches” within P&G. Bluestone says this helps them “understand the challenges [the founders] are facing.” They had their first official cohort last year, but Bluestone says, “many of the relationship continue informally.”

 

Madelaine Czufin, Director of Platform for Vinetta Project says, “There’s a funding gap. Less than 3% of VC [venture capital] money goes to women.” By creating a platform that provides programming, networking, mentoring and more, it’s about “what will allow female founders to get access to growth.”

 

Bluestone underscores the power of mentoring. “People don’t think about strategic partnerships or how corporations can be a supportive partner” for small businesses. Helping with “brand building can be as valuable as giving money. Plus, there are “other ways to provide resources to help their businesses grow, such as paying for clinical trials or doing consumer testing” for their products.

 

Vinetta and P&G are “looking to support product driven, consumable companies with recurring revenue models” in eight areas:

 

1.      Sleep

 

2.      Menopause

 

3.     Pain

 

4.     Aging

 

5.     Male Wellness

 

6.     Performance

 

7.     Skin

 

8.     Non-Toxic Home

 

As a Vinetta Project mentor, Bluestone advises her mentees to “think about what your potential exits are and to build relationships with those targets early.”

 

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah. Rieva headshot.png

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

All entrepreneurs dream of hitting it big. But building a successful company based on a fad is different from building one based on prevailing trends. It’s more crap shoot than sure thing. fad pic.jpg

 

When I first started writing about entrepreneurs, people were still buzzing about the man who made millions from a rock. Yes, a rock. The Pet Rock came on the market in August 1975. It was a rock cleverly packaged in a small cardboard box designed to look like a pet carrier, complete with air holes. The rock retailed for $3.95. Sounds silly, right? Well, sales were meteoric—millions were sold immediately after its market debut. Pet Rocks had a strong Christmas season, and then sales slowed.

 

The creator of the Pet Rock was hailed as a successful entrepreneur. But it’s not the kind of success you can predict—or easily duplicate. (Can you imagine writing a business plan for a rock?) The Pet Rock was a fad. And while you can make money from a fad, you can also lose your shirt.

 

The difference between trends and fads

 

At a glance, trends and fads may seem like the same thing. It can be confusing since we usually describe the latest thing as “trendy.” Fads and trends often emerge the same way—a new product or service suddenly becomes popular and generates a lot of buzz. It’s what comes next that marks the difference.

 

Fads have a half-life, while trends boast some staying power. Trends can last a decade or more and even when they do end, they tend to fade away more slowly.

 

Sometimes something starts as a fad, becomes a trend and then morphs into a solid business. Think Uggs. Or a trend loses its buzz, but becomes entrenched in our daily lives, like cupcakes.

 

Fads are not bad

 

There’s nothing wrong with investing in a fad. The problem arises when entrepreneurs mistake a fad for a trend and put all their eggs in that basket. Remember, the life cycle of a fad is short. They burn bright; then they burn out.

 

Timing is everything. If you hit it right, you can make a lot of money, but it’s risky business. Success is really a matter of serendipity. You not only need to know when to get in, but more important, you need to know when to get out. If you don’t time your exit right, you can end up with warehouses full of expensive excess inventory.

 

Becoming a trendwatcher

 

Trendwatching is not complex. It’s simply about paying attention and being proactive. Here are some things you can do to become a trendwatcher.

 

·       Read. To stay in the know, check out newsletters, magazines and websites of your industry and related ones. Read your local newspaper and regional magazines. Follow influential bloggers and business thought leaders on social media.

 

·       Hit the road. Attend conferences and go to trade shows. But, realize products you see at trade shows could be fads that have already peaked. Two years ago unicorns were all the rage, only to quickly be replaced by llamas.

 

·       Pop culture. Movies, TV shows, etc. offer a treasure trove of clues. In 1995, a new haircut worn by Jennifer Aniston on Friends, quickly swept the nation. Women demanded “the Rachel.” Hairstylists who were out of the loop instantly seemed old-fashioned and clueless. Fast forward a decade and in New Moon, the first book (and later movie) in the mega-popular Twilight series about a teen falling in love with a vampire, the girl wore lots of plaid shirts. Within months teens girls across the nation were snapping up plaid shirts faster than retailers could keep them in stock.

 

·       Listen to your customers. Often the easiest way to know what’s hot (or not) is track your own sales trends. What’s selling? What’s not? Which of your products are your customers talking about?

 

·       Research. Regularly check out Google Trends, Bing Keyword Research, the most popular Pins on Pinterest or the Pinterest 100.

 

The thrill of the fad

 

There’s no real science to picking winning fads or trends. You can play it safe or you can take a leap. For many, the risk of embracing a fad is part of the thrill of being an entrepreneur.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah. Rieva headshot.png

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

“I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney,

and it’s always February 2nd, and there's nothing I can do about it.”

 

– Phil Connors (Bill Murray), Groundhog Day

 

aubrey-rose-odom-uxUUENpp01I-unsplash.jpg

 

So many small business owners are like Bill Murray in that fantastic movie. They are stuck, doing the same thing and making the same mistakes, over and over, and thinking there is nothing they can do about it.

 

The good news: Like Murray’s character, there actually is something you can do about it.

 

You have to learn your lessons.

 

There are all sorts of things business owners do that get them stuck in a time loop:

 

Not changing your marketing: Typically, when someone starts a business, they learn a few marketing tricks. It could be a Facebook ad campaign, or a stall at the local Saturday Market, or attending a regular networking event, etc.

 

Whatever the case, discovering a strategy that works is marketing gold because it allows you to live the dream.

 

Until it doesn’t.

 

What Groundhog Day’s Phil Connors learned, and what we must learn, is that doing the same thing again gets stale. Not only do you as the marketer get bored, but more importantly, so do your customers.

 

Marketing campaigns have a shelf life, and woe to small business owner who waits too long to realize it. In that case, their customers will be like “Phil, Phil Connors?” when he sees Ned Ryerson for the 119th day in a row.

 

Not firing employees . . . or customers: Yes, we all have people in our business lives who are, shall we say, challenging. And yes, loyalty is good. But again, until it is not.

 

Employees who don’t pull their weight can cost you a lot of profit and customers. Bored and under-achieving teammates are a drag on the business and shouldn’t be the norm if they create a negative time loop.

 

By the same token, we all know the customer who demands too much time and who takes too much effort. Yes, we like their business, but the truth is, it is often far better to cut ties with the cumbersome client.

 

But fret not; like the universe, business abhors a vacuum and the time you free up will be taken up by more useful ventures.

 

Not getting rid of the clutter: Aside from troubling clients and employees, there is other deadwood that doesn’t really serve us.

 

  • That room full of stuff
  • That perpetually messy desk

 

Clutter, in whatever form it takes, is a sign that fresh ideas are needed.

 

Sticking with old systems: Yes, we all get used to doing things a certain way, but one of the joys of having a small business these days is that there are so many great tools designed to make our business lives easier, to help small businesses look and act big.

 

An aging culprit could be:

 

  • Some analogue filing or inventory system from another century, or
  • A way-out-of-date computer or software system

 

Whatever the perpetrator, it is wise to reboot and update.

 

So, while yes, Groundhog Day the movie is very funny and even profound, Groundhog Day the life is not. The good news is that learning a few lessons and making a few simple changes can get you out of a tired loop. The bad news is that you won’t end up with the charming Andie McDowell at your side, but hey, at least you won’t be doing the time warp again (or mixing your metaphors!)

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Steve+Strauss+Headshot+SBC.pngExpert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

You’ve decided to start a new business. You have a great idea, put together a talented team, and now need to pick a name. Although a seemingly simple task, there are legal bench-accounting-C3V88BOoRoM-unsplash.jpgterms and acronyms you need to familiarize yourself with as you settle on a name for your business.

 

There are several options for naming your business: 1. Operate under a legal name; 2. Use the name of the business owner, or 3. Pick out a fictitious name. One crucial acronym, DBA – which stands for ‘doing business as’ represents a company or individual running a business under a fictitious name. If you decide on the last option, a DBA is the way to go.

 

Benefits of a DBA

 

If you don’t want to operate under your own name, registering a DBA name is a great option for you. Your name defines your brand and is how the public gets its first impression. When the name reflects the services your business offers, your clients are given a sense of clarity right off the bat and have a reason to start doing business with you.

 

A DBA gives you the option to create a business account separate from your personal account. This will serve as a safety net for your personal finances. To open-up a separate business account, you need an EIN (employer identification number), which you receive when you file a DBA. Other benefits include its low cost and ease of filing, protection of privacy, and the flexibility to expand into markets where the legal name of the business is being used.

 

DBA vs. LLC

 

Another significant attribute of a DBA is that you, as an individual, are the one carrying on business. On the other hand, when you form an LLC, you are creating a separate legal entity. This entity carries on business from that point on, rather than you as an individual. It’s also important to note that costs for registering an LLC is also higher than a DBA.

 

DBA Considerations

Now that you understand the benefits of doing business as DBA, here are three things you should consider.

 

  1. State Regulated - DBA names are regulated by state laws. Simply put, you need to register the name to a regulatory body such as Secretary of State or Division of Corporations. Keep in mind, state laws prohibit using a DBA name that has already been registered. So, don’t hesitate to get creative!

 

  1. Registration Process - The overall process differs by state; however, you essentially need to fill out a short form with basic information about the business and choose a fictitious name for the company. There are fee requirements of up to $100 depending on local regulations when submitting, and the information will be put in the public records.

 

  1. Protect Your Business Identity - Now that the name and business you operate is in the public records, you need to protect it. Make sure you know which states you are registered in to do business and ensure that access to the data about your business is secured with a username and a strong password.

 

Additional Reading

Why did you start your business? neonbrand-JW6r_0CPYec-unsplash (1).jpg

 

There are, of course, all sorts of reasons that someone becomes an entrepreneur: passion, boredom, necessity, inspiration, liberation . . . you name it. But even so, it is also safe to say that there is one reason you did not start a business:

 

A love of budgeting.

 

Indeed, I would venture that creating a budget – or “the B word” as I like to call it – ranks near the bottom of those things that a small business owner has to do (if they do it at all.)

 

And the reason is self-evident. If you are like most small business owners, then you likely think along these lines:

 

  • Budgets constrict
  • Budgets are complicated
  • Budgets are boring

 

But what if I was to tell you making a budget is easy but moreover, that creating a budget is liberating?

 

It’s true.

 

A big problem, of course, is that B word. With so many negative connotations associated with it, no wonder you don’t want to create one. Think of it this way instead:

 

Would you ever get in a car, start it, then put on a blindfold and drive away?

 

Of course not. With a blindfold on, you would never know if you were headed in the right direction. You wouldn’t know if you needed to slow down or speed up. How would you know if you needed to pivot – err – turn in a new direction? And what if a red warning light started flashing? With a blindfold on, you would never know there was danger ahead.

 

A budget is simply the process of taking off the blindfold so you can navigate the entrepreneurial highway clearly.

 

So, instead of calling it a “budget,” try calling it a “plan.” What is your plan for your business? How much money do you have and need to execute on your plan? That is all a budget really is.

 

Would you like to spend more money on Facebook ads this quarter? Great, then do so. All you need do then is look at your plan, decide how much you want to spend and then decide how to pay for them. If that means less entertaining, so be it. You decide what your priorities are. It is your plan after all.

 

How to Make a Budget

 

Here is how you make a financial plan for your business, a.k.a., a budget:

 

Step 1: Go over your expenses for the past three months and categorize them. If you have a tool like QuickBooks, this should be easy, but even if you don’t, it should be fairly painless. How much did you spend on:

 

  • Rent: $
  • Labor: $
  • Taxes: $
  • Inventory: $
  • Marketing and advertising: $
  • Taxes and insurance: $
  • Capital expenditures: $

 

And so on. It’s your business, your plan, so make this list your own.

 

Step 2: Decide if this is the best use of your precious capital. Maybe you want to spend less on marketing next quarter and more for hiring contractors to help carry your load. Great! Start a similar list, add a category called “Independent contractors,” and next to it, add a realistic number. Then you just need to cut back in a few other areas to make the numbers crunch.

 

Voila, you just created a budget.

 

See, that’s wasn’t so tough, was it? Instead of your finances running you, you are running them. You figured out how to get some extra help, and even how to pay for it.

 

And there you have it. You just took the blindfold off and made a budget, oops, I mean a plan.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert Steve+Strauss+Headshot+SBC.pngcolumn is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Do you ever feel that you’re the only business out there who can’t invest much right now, and who believes a recession might be around the corner?

sophie-rey-CkJu0b3Kt_M-unsplash.jpg

 

And if your hunch becomes reality, does your business have all it needs to survive – and perhaps thrive?  There are three questions you should ask yourself when thinking about what you have versus what you want:

 

The first question is this: who does this help?

 

If something helps customers (especially the acquisition of more customers), that’s likely where your dollars should flow versus when it’s something that improves the quality of business and life for employees.

 

The second question, will this make us money?

 

Let’s say you run a business that accepts cash and credit/debit cards, but your customers are saying that if you accepted alternative funding like Venmo or PayPal, they’d be more inclined to do business with you. Naturally, it’s worth considering.

 

Hardest of all to answer is can we make do?

 

I’ve never met a company that doesn’t hate its current website design. Usually the second day after you launch a new website, you start to hate it. The layout is wrong, or you worry people can’t find what they need and so on. Almost always, your site is “good enough” to earn attention and guide people where they need to go.

 

And sometimes, thinking about making do requires creativity.

 

Resourceful People Thrive in Tough Times

 

It’s amazing what we think we need until we’re forced to consider operating without it. When I launched my business in 2009, I had an office in Massachusetts and an office in Maine to house my small team. We rolled along doing our work for a while before three important details dawned on me:

 

1. Rent costs a lot.

2. No customers ever came to our offices. We went to them.

3. Working at home is almost everyone’s preference.

 

I saved about $8,000 dollars a month almost instantly. Now, your business might not be something that can be run virtually. You might have to find another area to be resourceful and clever. But it’s out there.

 

Does your business really need a printer? Think about the money saved in ink and paper expenses monthly. Are you traveling to four or five conferences this year? Can you skip two?

 

Make Do In Marketing and Advertising with Technology

 

Marketing and advertising can cost a lot of money. Or it can be free. You might be inclined to think that paid efforts are better than free. Sometimes, that’s a very true fact. Other times, our free efforts land us more success than when we spend.

 

Is what you sell something visually appealing like food or clothes or even construction? Instagram is a great platform to earn some attention that can translate to business.

 

Have you used LinkedIn to publish interesting articles and videos? More and more people are slowly learning that LinkedIn isn’t that old site where you stick a digital copy of a resumé. It’s a thriving content hub where people go to learn and explore.

 

Recommended Reading:  Top 5 LinkedIn Strategies to Grow Your Business

 

Do you have a YouTube channel? YouTube is the No. 2 search engine in the world (Google is No.1 and they own YouTube). Publish how-to videos and interviews with satisfied customers and behind-the-scenes videos and so much more. This costs nothing more than some time, getting a little better with your smartphone, and being brave.

 

Recommended Reading: Tips and Tricks for Fast, Easy Video Content

 

Don’t forget Facebook. In my small town, a very small local store throws events so often that you wonder whether they ever have a “regular” day without one. The events are free to post on Facebook, and with just a little bit of ingenuity around thinking up themes, they have a constant stream of people stopping by the store for the themed experience that matches their interest.

 

Read articles from Mari Smith, Premier Facebook Marketing Expert

 

Spend a little time on Twitter search (search.twitter.com) and type in your locale and see what comes up. A restauranteur friend of mine used to “stalk” people coming to Milwaukee and then personally invite them into one of his four restaurants. It got him on ESPN, then another larger news story, and eventually brought him so much success he can hardly catch his breath. All from Twitter searches (and good food).

 

Constraints Are your Creative Best Friend

 

To stay on the theme of restaurants a moment longer, it turns out that most of the restaurants succeeding right now are those with smaller and more specific menus. Barring the typical Chinese Restaurant experience which has endless pages, most of the growing food chains in the U.S. sell just a few items and do it well.

 

By looking at your business the same way, you might find areas to consider cutting to focus on growing one aspect even more.

 

Constraints are great for being creative. If you must do more with less, it pushes you to consider methods and means that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.

 

Can you make do? Of course you can!

 

You’ve got a lot to offer your customers, and they look forward to seeing you ride out any potential recession and make it through to better times again.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better chris-brogan-headshot.jpgsupport modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Caulipower founder and CEO, Gail Becker, wasn’t afraid to tap into the competitive food industry when she launched her successful company that took the frozen food section by storm. This episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street” covers the goal and vision behind Caulipower, the obstacles Gail Becker faced as a new female entrepreneur, and the support she found through NAWBO.

 

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Narrator:                     Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com. And here's your host, Greg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm here with Gail Becker. She's the founder and CEO of the company, Caulipower. I'm going to say that again in case you think I said cauliflower. I didn't. I said Caulipower. The website is eatcaulipower.com. They're on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram @Caulipower. Gail, welcome.

 

Gail Becker:                Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to start this interview by saying that you and your company, you and your team, are 100% responsible for my dinner last night.

 

Gail Becker:                That might be the best interview start I've ever heard.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, you can hear the bag. I'm wrinkling it in the background here. I had the Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders, and they're pretty spicy for spicy-ish.

 

Gail Becker:                You know what? Some people think they're spicy. Some people think they're not spicy, so we decided to beg the difference and call them spicy-ish.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm going to really heap a lot of praise on you, your company, the product that I had for dinner last night, and what you've done. But I have to tell you one of the best advertisements I've seen in a long time was on your website. So, I knew I was going to be talking to you today. I was doing my research yesterday, and I said I'm going to go get some Caulipower product to try before we talk, because it would be rude of me not to.

 

Gail Becker:                Thank you.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And there was this ad on your website of a woman holding a bag of your chicken tenders. And it said, "I can't believe I ate the whole bag." Only ... I'm looking for the number here. 490 calories? I mean, I've memorized the ad. Only 490 calories. And I knew when I saw that that two things were going to happen before I went to bed last night.

 

                                    I knew I was going to have some Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders. And I knew, knowing myself as I do, that I was going to do just as she did and I was going to get the entire bag.

 

Gail Becker:                And you didn't have to feel too bad about it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          No, I felt ... First of all, delicious. Easy to make. And the other thing that was interesting to me ... and I just want to say this because it was kind of a real lesson for me in this. I never eat frozen food. Just going to that aisle was an eye-opener for me of all the probably really unhealthy food, and there I was with your chicken tenders reading the back of the bag, and thinking of myself, "This, as promised, is a really healthy option." And it was delicious, too.

 

Gail Becker:                Thank you. That's such a nice thing to hear. The frozen food section has changed a lot over the years for the better, definitely. There's some room to go, but the point is there's something for everybody.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes, yes. Well, I discovered that. I think I found my go-to. I do not think we will ever have a freezer without at least one bag of your chicken tenders for an emergency dinner.

 

Gail Becker:                Oh my gosh. Made my day.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes.

 

Gail Becker:                Today is all downhill from here.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So, you're ... I hope not. I hope it only gets better and better during the course of this interview. So, the company is Caulipower. What is Caulipower? What is the company? What are your products? And how on earth did you come to make a company called Caulipower?

 

Gail Becker:                The last question is probably the most tricky. I'll start with the easy part. Caulipower is a company that, quite simply, brings meal hacks to life. Better for you, easier, more convenient, and never sacrificing taste for nutrition or convenience. It's a frozen food company. I started it in ... I had left corporate America in May of 2016 and launched the company in February of 2017.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So, you're a newbie at this.

 

Gail Becker:                Super newbie.  We punch above our weight.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to take note of the fact that you're new in this business, and getting in the food business cannot be easy. I mean, there's a lot of hurdles you have to jump through far beyond making more common, unregulated consumer products.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah, no. There are definitely easier industries to go into. I will not lie. But I have to say, it's also an industry that is very welcoming of innovation, welcoming of entrepreneurs, and new blood. While in some ways it's one of the more challenging to break into, in other ways it's actually very welcoming of the innovation that is often brought by small businesses.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Your original product, if I understand correctly, was cauliflower pizza crust under the name Caulipower. Correct? I eat a lot of cauliflower. I make cauliflower rice and things like that. I didn't know that cauliflower pizza crust was a thing. How did this become such a thing that you thought you should start a business revolving around it?

 

Gail Becker:                I'm the mom of two boys with celiac disease, and they were diagnosed at such a young age that there was no gluten free food in the store. Every time they needed something, I would have to make it from scratch, or order it from some funky company that you never heard of online. What I began to notice over the years was how much junk the industry was putting in gluten free food. More fat, sugar, and calories, and less nutrients.

                                    I sort of waited for the industry to do something about it. And when I saw that they never did, I decided to leave corporate America and do it myself. Now, I didn't invent cauliflower crust pizzas. I tried it one time. I've actually only made it at home one time. People find that hard to believe, but it was only one time. And-

 

Gregg Stebben:          You mean the traditional from scratch way?

 

Gail Becker:                Well, yeah.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm assuming you've eaten your product many times.

 

Gail Becker:                My product many, many, many times. But I'm saying when I first started, I made ... there were 569,000 recipes online. I just picked one. I couldn't even tell you which one I picked. I made it. It was okay. My sons asked if I would make it again. And I said, "There is no way I'm making that again, because it took 90 minutes to make the crust after I got home from a full day of work."

 

Gregg Stebben:          Right? And you still have to make the pizza.

 

Gail Becker:                And you still have to make the pizza. By the way, it's kind of insulting that people even think that I have time for that. I thought, "Well, I can't be the only one." Clearly there's all these people who are struggling to do this. I was disenchanted with corporate life. I was ready for a change. My father had just passed away, and I was really looking to do something more meaningful. I put all of those three things in a blender, and basically what I came out with was, "Hey, I know. I'm going to quit my job and start a company called Caulipower." And that is exactly what I did.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Looking at your background and looking at it on LinkedIn ... I mean, you have a fascinating background that includes ... you were a reporter, you worked on the Clinton/Gore campaign, you made a transition from there to the Department of Health and Human Services. Then you ended up as the president of Strategic Partnerships and Global Integration for Edelman, which is a huge global ... I guess, would you call it a communications company?

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah. It's the largest PR firm in the world.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Okay, so the largest PR firm in the world. What's interesting is on one hand I would think, "Well, there's probably some things there that would make it easy for you to start a business." Or at least you would have some insights that others might not. But there would have been nothing there to make me think you would, again, start ... not just a food company, but a very, very specific type of food company making very specific products with this real promise. I think you called them food hacks.

 

                                   But really, when I look at your product line, I think what you're really promising to do is to give me a better way to eat at home conveniently and in a very healthy way. How much of an impact, or how much of a benefit do you think you got from your previous experience? And what were the things that were the hardest for you to learn that nothing had ever prepared you for?

 

Gail Becker:                I would say in terms of my background, the things that probably helped the most was actually my time in the corporate world. At my prior job, I ran a lot of the businesses for the company. But I also worked on a lot of clients. I had a lot of exposure to how to build a brand, how not to build a brand, and things to do from a marketing perspective that would help tell your story to consumers.

 

                                   That was a huge benefit to me in starting my own brand. And it's funny when you come from the consulting world, because you sort of spend all those years giving advice to people. Sometimes they take it and sometimes they don't. One of the great things about starting your own company is you get to always take your advice.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Or sometimes you take it and sometimes you don't.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah, exactly. Sometimes you regret taking it. So, that was a huge help. I would say everything that was difficult had to do with the specific food industry. Being a manufacturer in that industry, making stuff ... making stuff is just hard, whatever it is. I mean, maybe food in particular. But being a manufacturer of anything is really, really tough. I had no idea.

 

                                    And then learning the industry ... you know, I would go into the early sales meetings with different retailers and so forth. There were so many acronyms, and so many ways of doing things, and saying things in this tight knit community that ... I actually would leave a meeting and I had no idea what people were saying, because there were so many words that I had never heard before. So, really learning the industry, learning the jargon that went along with it, and battling it up against the big boys, as it were. When you look at the frozen pizza space, for instance.

 

Gregg Stebben:          But you actually probably went into one of the most competitive frozen food fields, other than ice cream, that exists.

 

Gail Becker:                Yes. I wish I had known that then. I didn't. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. You are right. The frozen section overall is the most competitive space in the grocery store, because there's the least of it. Anyone that's in there, there is very limited space. If you come in, someone else has to go out. Today we are right up there next to the big boys, I like to say, but it certainly it wasn't like that in the beginning. It's been quite a journey, but a really remarkable one.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to call out the fact that you started by making ... tell me if this is correct. Essentially, pizza crust made out of cauliflower. Hence the name Caulipower. And you were making that because you recognize that there were families like yours where flour was not a possibility. But you've expanded now.

 

Gail Becker:               You know what? I would never say that ... I certainly didn't make it for only the gluten free community. That's why I went into it. But my thing was far more… I mean, we don't even market it as gluten free products. We market it as better tasting, better-for-you products that happens to be gluten free.

 

                                   I did that because my insight as a mom of two boys growing up with celiac was that there was always ... there's an art. There was always everybody had to eat something different. My insight at the time was: wouldn't it be great if we could all just eat the same thing even if we had different reasons for eating it? Why do you have to eat something that's specifically gluten free? Why do you have to eat something that's specifically lower in calories, or lower in fat? I just thought: let's make products that really everybody can enjoy even if they have different reasons for enjoying it. Nobody has time today to make three different meals. There's something really nice about sharing from the same plate.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, to an equally important if not more important business point, is when you look at it that way, the market is exponentially larger. Correct?

 

Gail Becker:                Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Which we all love that.

 

Gail Becker:                We also love that.

 

Gregg Stebben:          One of the points I want to make is you went from pizza crust, to pizza, what you were saying. Now you're next to the big boys.

 

Gail Becker:                We launched with four pizzas. Three tops, and one plain crust.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Okay. And now there's-

 

Gail Becker:                Now, we have more flavors of pizza, and we have tortillas. We have our brand new chicken tenders, which just launched a few weeks ago. We also have our sweet potatoes, which are a bread replacement made from sliced sweet potatoes.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I will confess, I had some sweet potatoes last night, too. Because once I started down the Caulipower road, it was hard to stop me. I had a really great and healthy dinner last night.

 

Gail Becker:                Oh, fantastic. Okay. Well, welcome to the family.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Thank you. We've been talking about scale here, and one of the things that impressed me ... because you started the business in 2016, really launched the products in 2017. So, two years plus. I went to Walmart to get your products after printing out a coupon. My understanding, particularly of the food industry, is it's really hard to get into Walmart. And there you are after just two years.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah. It's interesting. Walmart actually brought us in pretty early. We launched in February of 2017. We were in some Walmart stores as early as October of that same year. They've been a great partner to us. One of my objectives for building Caulipower was I wanted to make better-for-you food accessible to as many people as I possibly could, and that's accessible in a number of ways. The way that the product looks, the way that it tastes, the way that our packaging is, the stores that it's sold in, the price that it's sold for, and the fact that we give a percentage of sales to help build Teaching Gardens and underserved schools across the country. Accessible nutrition is a key platform of who Caulipower is.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You've just brought up a point about scale that I think is worthy of a little conversation here. You not only had to master the food business, but by getting into Walmart that quickly, you had to scale in some pretty dramatic ways, I would think, in terms of production and ... I don't know. Raising capital and hiring.

 

Gail Becker:                Yes. You name it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I mean, Walmart does not take a chance on you. You have to prove that you're ready, I'm assuming.

 

Gail Becker:                I think it was both. I mean, they were looking to expand their better-for-you options, so it was a really nice partnership early on. They did take a bit of a chance on me. Luckily, we've been able to prove ourselves and make the relationship work. But you are right. Scaling as fast as we did was just huge when I think back.

 

                                   And we're still doing it. We're still scaling at a rapid rate. It's very much like building the plane while flying it, you know? We're trying to make it bigger, but we're also trying to run the day-to-day business. It was a huge hurdle for us. But I'm just thrilled and so proud of the team that we were able to manage and keep up.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm talking with Gail Becker. She's the founder and CEO of the company Caulipower. It's eatcaulipower.com. If you think I said cauliflower, I didn't. It's Caulipower, spelled exactly the same way but a 'P' instead of an 'F.' Eatcaulipower.com on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at Caulipower.

                                   So, this year as a sign of your success and your ability to have successfully scaled, you were awarded the Woman Business Owner of the Year award by NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners. Can you talk about how a professional network like NAWBO became a very important part of your success?

 

Gail Becker:                One of the things that struck me early on about coming into the food industry is I sort of thought, like all the other industries that I had encountered, this is one where there'd be a lot of women at the top and involved in sort of every level. Because somehow I thought, "Oh, it was food. Clearly there's going to be a lot of women running the industry." And maybe not surprisingly, I didn't necessarily find that to be true. Obviously there are some, but not nearly enough.

 

                                   I also struggled with seeing how difficult it was for female entrepreneurs to raise VC money. When I started to read some of the statistics, it blew me away. Only 2% of VC money goes to fund female-led companies. That's outrageous. Even though they perform better. So when I started to put that all together in my head, it really became important to me to support other female business owners and entrepreneurship.

 

Read next: Angel Investors Seek Women-Owned Business Startups: How to Find a Match by Steve Strauss

 

                                   As I always say, if you want to see more female businesses, there is only one thing you can do. That is support more female businesses. Buy their products, tell your friends, share their social media. That's the only way that we're going to ever break the cycle.

 

                                   As it relates to NAWBO, NAWBO was really a strong part of that. It's so interesting to me because I am new to NAWBO, but obviously now I'm forever a fan and a member. But when I went to the conference, I have to say I was just blown away by what I saw there. I have never been in a business setting like that where so many people were just cheering each other on. Doesn't matter who won the award for whatever category. People were dancing for each other and cheering each other. I had people fixing my jacket before I went on stage. I mean, when does that happen? It doesn't ever happen.

 

                                   I was just blown away by the camaraderie and the generosity. I have since had several other female business owners reach out to me that maybe we could do work together through Caulipower in some vendor relationship, and what have you. It's just this wonderful network to be a part of. And to remind each other that we're all in this together and we're all trying to make this world a little bit better than we found it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I find it really interesting that a large part of your initial motivation for going to your first NAWBO meeting and other organizations like that was not to get something, but to give something. Because I think ... I mean, it's a bit of a stereotype, but I think we find in business that often women just have a very different view of the world of business that men do. I think you've really just illustrated that.

 

Gail Becker:                Well, it's so interesting because there's been a lot written about this. This is not me saying it. But whenever you talk to female entrepreneur ... I've sat on a number of panels now and I've heard a lot of stories. They're always motivated by trying to improve people's lives, trying to make things better, trying to make things easier, trying to help people.

 

                                    I can't tell you how much I hear that motivation over and over again. I think that's one of the reasons that actually accounts for the success of female business owners, which has a better rate of return from venture capitalists than actually men do. I think the reason is is because that mission is so clear, and so empowering that it just ... you can't help but succeed. It's really quite remarkable.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Okay. So I have one last question for you, Gail. She's Gail Becker. She's the founder and CEO of the company Caulipower. It's eatcaulipower.com on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram @Caulipower. The question is this: you've grown so fast, what's next?

 

Gail Becker:                Sleep.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It sounds like you've earned that, and I'm not surprised to hear you say that. But once you wake up ... and I'm sure you're looking ahead to a new year-

 

Gail Becker:                I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. No, I would say that we have a lot of new products coming out that we're super excited about. Our chicken tenders, which are baked, not fried. And really a huge category buster in terms of what else is out there. Those are just launching now. We also have some new products coming out next year, which we're very excited about. And just continuing to grow our footprint, and help people, and most importantly, build a lot more Teaching Gardens.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to mention the name of the product, the chicken. We've been calling them chicken tenders, but the name really deserves to be called out.

 

Gail Becker:                I like it. Go for it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          The name of the product is New Chick on the Block. And part of your advertising slogan is, "No Clucking Way!" I mean, you have just really ... I'm sure your background at Edelman didn't hurt. From the name of the company, Caulipower, to New Chick on the Block. No Clucking Way. You've really clearly identified a market. We know you have, because look at your growth, and your sales, and your success. But everything that I looked at in preparing to talk to you spoke to me exactly the way it should after identifying me as a potential customer. Really, I'm very impressed and I'm not surprised at all with the success that you've had. I want to thank you for joining us.

 

Gail Becker:                Well, thank you. That's really lovely to say. The industry has to remember that food is never precious, that the only thing precious about food are the people that you share it with. We like to have fun. We don't take ourselves too seriously. We remind people that food is joy, and there's nothing wrong with having a bag that makes you smile.

 

Gregg Stebben:          New Chick on the Block. I hope you don't mind me mentioning, I did not realize that the chicken tenders were just a few weeks new on the market.

 

Gail Becker:                Yeah, I know. Oh my gosh, I love it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Great, great. If you go to the website, again, it's caulipower.com. Just like cauliflower, but it's Caulipower. A 'P' instead of an 'F.' And when you get there, you can do what I did. There's a $2 off coupon for the chicken tenders. Very cleverly, you've picked a great vendor for managing that. Because when I printed out the coupon, it also gave me the address of the four closest stores. No matter which direction I went, I had to drive past a place that I knew I could get the chicken tenders, and I'm so glad I did. I had a great dinner last night. And I've had a great conversation with you, Gail. Thank you so much for joining us, and thank you for enriching my when-I'm-home-alone-and-hungry dinners. Because I'm going to be eating a lot of your Spicy(ish) Chicken Tenders.

 

Gail Becker:                Oh, well that's the best kind of endorsement I can hope for. Thank you so much. I had a great time.

Gregg Stebben:          Thank you.

 

Narrator:                     Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

At a recent event the CEO and Founder of Her Agenda, Rhonesha Byng, sat down to talk about how her organization is working to bridge the gap between ambition and achievement among women business owners.

 

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Kate Delaney:             I'm Kate Delaney with Gregg Stebben. We're from “Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America, and we're so pleased to be here at Luminary for the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, and we have Rhonesha Byng with us. Think HerAgenda.com, wow. I scribbled that down when that was mentioned.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Oh wow.

 

Kate Delaney:             Because I thought it was so interesting.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I love the name.

 

Kate Delaney:             I do too. So tell us about HerAgenda.com.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Her Agenda is the digital media platform, bridging the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women. We really believe in the concept that you can't be what you can't see. So every Monday we have a story called, “A Peak Inside Her Agenda,” where we feature a different woman in a position of power, from education to entrepreneurship to the C suite. We featured women like Arianna Huffington, Misty Copeland, Nadia Lopez, who went viral after being featured on the Humans of New York Instagram page.

 

                                   So it's very diverse. We feature diverse women across industries, across backgrounds, and the idea is to give you everything that you need to achieve whatever is on your agenda. And the motto is, no one ever slows her agenda, which was a personal motto that I came up with from a nickname of mine. My name is Rhonesha. My nickname is Nesha. So that acronym it stands for No One Ever Slows Her Agenda, and that means whatever your goal is, go for it. Don't let anyone or anything stop you. And we live in this age where media has the power to shape perception and has a power to shape how we think of ourselves and how the world thinks of ourselves. And we want to change how ambitious women are seen by the world and how ambitious women have access to resources and opportunity. So we also, in addition to our articles, have a database of event panels, networking and also a private community called Her Agenda Insiders, which act as a peer mentorship community where you get access to the hidden job market and exclusive events that we can't post publicly on the website.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Sometimes I want to be a woman.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Wow!

 

Gregg Stebben:          This is so beautiful.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         I get why you say that, but the reason we exist is because we live in a society where for a man this is easily attainable, and accessible, and for women it's not unfortunately.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I was not diminishing what you're doing at all. It's beautiful though. And I guess I want to hear from you. What was the vision or the catalyst for you to see this idea and then that it was possible and then take the steps to do it?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Well, it started a long time ago, way back when I was in high school and I was one of those young women that were ambitious and, as soon as I found my purpose in life, which was journalism, I hit the ground running. So at 16-17 I was at press conferences. At the UN, I was covering funerals of major figures like Gordon Parks.

 

                                   And I was really taking myself seriously as a journalist and I got all these mentors who were editors of publications. I was also modeling for Seventeen Magazine, literally, I guess you could say. The media world was just so accessible to me because I'm from New York City and I got all these mentors. Then I go to college and take a women's studies class and it was almost like a slap in the face. Like wait a second, I was in a bubble. The world does not look like that. Women are not in power, and I just could not understand why. And so for me, I knew that my talent and my superpower was media. And so I knew the influence impact media had, and so I thought if more of my peers, and more of the world could see these powerful women and they were more accessible and at the forefront, then it could change the ratio of women in power ultimately across the board.

 

                                   Because like I said, you can't be what you can't see. So I literally as a college student was talking about this idea, and it was a friend that was like, you should start a website, and I said, "Oh, someone probably started something," did some market research. No one started it and looked up the URL, HerAgenda, because that was already tied to my motto I had for myself, didn't exist, created it and slowly but surely put it together and it grew into now what it is today. But it started from the fact that I was just shocked that there were not more women in positions of power because all the women I personally knew were empowered. They were in charge. They were not taking no for an answer. They were to me like how celebrities are to kids. Like if you see Beyonce, you're like, "Oh my God!"

 

                                   For me back then, I would freak out to see Danielle Smith who at the time was the editor in chief of Vibe, or someone who was more behind the scenes but had the power to make decisions. That was something that I wanted to see more of and it didn't exist at the time. That was in 2008.

 

Kate Delaney:             What's your ultimate goal for HerAgenda.com?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         My ultimate goal is for us to be more global and just more known and to reach women. Every woman, no matter where she is. If you have internet access you know about Her Agenda in terms of if you're looking for inspiration, if you're looking for information, it's just really to continue to grow what we're doing. Reach more women and have more resources and ultimately we actually want to do is we want to use that platform as a gateway for a pipeline to leadership.

 

                                   And so, we want to do more direct partnerships with companies like Twitter, like Google, like Microsoft that claim that they can't find women. Well, the women that read our website are the women that you want, and so why don't you partner with us, post your jobs with us so that you can reach those women.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Will you make us a promise?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Okay.

 

Gregg Stebben:          We need to talk to you every three or six months.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Okay, great.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Because you're the beacon, first of all, but you also have your pulse on something. I think you created something that's a pulse taking environment that maybe nobody ever had a way of taking a pulse of before. I'm stunned by what you've done.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Can I take you everywhere with me?

 

Gregg Stebben:           I want to take you with me everywhere I go. I'm really blown away by what you've done.

 

Rhonesha Byng:          Thank you.

 

Gregg Stebben:           I can't tell you how impressed I am.

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Thank you. It has not been easy. I started out, like I said, in college, so this was built from my college dorm room, went out into the working world, I thought I was a complete failure because I had branded myself as Her Agenda. No one ever stops her agenda, so I thought I'd be doing that full time after I graduated from college, and I ended up working as a producer at NBC. Now that is not a failure. But at the time I was like, I'm not living what I said I was about, and so I did that. But that in hindsight ended up being the best thing for me because I really got more experience as a journalist and more experience within a corporation itself. Then I went on to be an editor at The Huffington Post, which was also a whole other experience in terms of seeing the digital side of media at scale.

 

                                   And then at that point I got into an accelerator that allowed me to transition to full time. So that was 2015, so I started in 2008, side hustle up until 2015 and then full time in 2015 didn't make money for the first year. And then 2016, 2017 was when the transition in terms of becoming a profitable media company became more of a reality.

 

Kate Delaney:             What do you hope happens when people get in your funnel? I mean you hear their stories and that has to get you excited when there's someone who connects to HerAgenda.com, and because of you, they get the education, they get the mentorship, they figure out what it is they need through what you've given them and what you've written. What do you hope ultimately happens for those women that get in the pipeline?

 

Rhonesha Byng:         Simply that they achieve whatever their goal is. And then once they do that, naturally as women, our natural instinct is to give back and to pour into others. And so, that's really what the hope is, and with the insider community that we created, that private network - first you had the page to opt into that. And so that's something that's a value add service. But also in the community, we always say the mindset to get in is that you have to have the mindset of lifting as you climb. And so, really that's the idea is just to pour into others, share a resource, share an opportunity, invest in another entrepreneur once you've made your first $1 million. It's really just to pour back into the economy as a whole. And there's that statistic where if you invest in a woman, you invest in a whole community, versus if you invest in a man, you invest in that man. That's what the data says. That's not what I say.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I feel it's getting hot in here.

 

Kate Delaney:             Wow. Just absolutely amazing.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yeah. The website is HerAgenda.com and I'm telling you, this is one of the best things…I talk to a lot of small business owners, a lot of founders. This is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever heard. I can't wait to hear more.

 

Rhonesha Byng:          Well thank you. And we'll be in touch. This won't be our first conversation.

 

Gregg Stebben:           I have a feeling we'll hear from you if you don't hear from us. Thank you.

 

Rhonesha Byng:          Thank you.

 

Narrator:                     For more great small business tips check out Bank of America’s online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

Supporting women in business is the main goal of NAWBO and their NYC chapter president, Elizabeth Foster. She came on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” to discuss the tools the organization provides to women and the community that they’ve built together.

 

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Narrator:                     Now let’s hear from Elizabeth Foster, the President of NAWBO NYC, and CEO and founder of Maison Visionnaire, talking with us from the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight

 

Kate Delaney:             I'm Kate Delaney with Gregg Stebben. We're from “Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. We're here at the 2019 Bank of America, Women Business Owner Spotlight and wow, we have a great guest with us. Elizabeth Foster, Gregg, I mean, I'm telling you, people beat the drum for this woman. All I did was tweet something out, and the people are all over me.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It helps that she is the President of NAWBO NYC. Elizabeth, welcome. And I think first, let's talk about NAWBO, and then we want to get into your career. Tell us about NAWBO. Not everyone's familiar with it.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        NAWBO is a National Association of Women Business Owners. That's what it stands for. It actually came into creation in 1975, when a woman business owner could not get a loan without a male family member co-signing. And what happened, there was a woman that went into a bank, she had no male family member. The bank manager said, I'm really sorry. These are the rules. Isn't there somebody? She had a 17 year-old-son, and the bank manager said he'll do.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Are you serious?

 

Elizabeth Foster:         I'm serious.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So I want to interject, that I think a year ago, this was a very big anniversary for NAWBO, or maybe it was two years ago, you'll correct me, but we just celebrated the 30th anniversary of making those rules go away. Correct?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So only 30 years ago?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Well actually yeah, it's actually less than 30 years ago. NAWBO started in '75, and what happened was, this event happened in '75, and she went out, she said, no, you're not going to have my son as a guarantor. And basically what happened was that she got together with a group of other businesswomen and she said, we need to do something about this.

 

                                   So she was a woman of action, and she met with other women of action, and they got together and they created NAWBO. Then, it took them 13 years, 13 years, till 1988, which was 30 years ago last-

 

Gregg Stebben:          I knew there was a 30 year anniversary. Listen to Gregg’s interview about the 30th anniversary of HR 5050 on “The Heartbeat of Main Street”

 

Elizabeth Foster:        That was the one. Yeah. And it's crazy. I'm like, seriously? It took you 13 years to pass a bill to say that women had the equal rights? 1988? I'm like, shame on you.

 

Gregg Stebben:          A creditworthy woman.

 

Kate Delaney:             That's just sad.

 

Gregg Stebben:          If you were not creditworthy, that's another conversation. But you could have the greatest credit, and you still couldn't get a loan because you were a woman.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         Correct, correct.

 

Kate Delaney:             And obviously you have a beautiful accent, so we know that you were born and raised in England, I'm guessing, and I bet you had that entrepreneurial spirit as a young woman. And I know that you got into the fragrance business. How did that start? Tell us about your journey.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        You're right. I'm not a native New Yorker. I was born in Bath, and grew up there, and then went to London as soon as I could, basically. And I started…I had a few jobs doing this and that, whatever. And then I found a product, and I really wanted to...it kind of came to me as there was something, and this is a skill that I have: I kind of look at something, and then I'll say, well, if you just did this, and if you did this, and if you did this, then you could make a whole different product, and it would be, oh, so much better.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So you're good at leveraging assets.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Correct. So that's exactly what I did. And the product was an aroma therapy-based product, and I knew a lot about aromatherapy anyway, just out of personal interest. So that was something that was very near and dear to my heart.

 

                                   And we just basically started on the kitchen table. We started at very, very, very humble beginnings. And then, within two years, we had a billion-pound turnover, which is kind of cool actually.

 

Kate Delaney:            So your journey, I mean this has to be more than near and dear to your heart, to see women thriving in entrepreneurial spaces all over the place, right?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Yeah. Well, very much so. And actually going back to me being here as well. So I've been here for five years now, and I was kind of "fresh off the boat." And I met a woman at an event and I'm like, where do I meet some smart savvy businesswomen? And she's like, you need to go to NAWBO. I'm like-

 

Gregg Stebben:          What's NAWBO?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        What's NAWBO? So she said, she told me what it was, and I'm like, huh, I can give that a go. And then you know, I think the thing is, that you need to be open as well. You need to be understanding and give things a go. So from that point of view, that's what I did. I was open, I went along, and I found my tribe.

 

                                    I found those women that were smart and savvy, and I do consider myself that as well. And I fit in, and it was great. And then they obviously saw potential in me, and they're like, “Hey, you want to come hang out with us?”

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, so I want to make an observation here. You earlier used the phrase, I think you referred to yourself, as a “woman of action,” right?

 

Elizabeth Foster:         Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And what's interesting is, you moved to an entirely new, not just to a new city, but to a new city in a new country five years ago, and you're now the President of NAWBO NYC. My guess is, they saw in you a woman of action, and you saw in them a lot of women of action, and I'm bringing that up just to really say to other women who are not familiar with NAWBO, if you want to meet like-minded, savvy businesswomen, women of action, NAWBO's the place to go, whether you're in New York City or not.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        Absolutely, yeah. We've got 60 chapters around the country, and even if you're in the middle of nowhere, we have virtual membership too, so you can still connect with us women, no matter where you are in America.

 

Kate Delaney:            What do you think is the most difficult thing that women entrepreneurs go through? What stops some of them from achieving what they could possibly achieve?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        That's a very good question, and I think there's various answers to that. I think that often for women it's actually confidence. I hate to say that. We still don't believe in ourselves enough. And when we don't believe in ourselves, others don't necessarily believe in us. So I think that level of, you've got to just go there, you've got to put yourself out there. That’s what you know…don't hold back.

 

                                    And if you struggle with that, if that's something that you know you struggle with, then get some support. Get a coach, get a whatever you need, even just a friend, like a good strong friend.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And I would imagine also…again, not to spend the whole interview plugging NAWBO, but if one of the things you need is confidence, go be with other women who are being successful.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         Correct.

 

Gregg Stebben:           They'll tell you what you're great at and support you in the things that you need to grow in.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         That's exactly the case. Exactly. And no, we're not just plugging NAWBO, but they are a great organization. So, hey.

 

Kate Delaney:             So we have one last question for you.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You haven't even told us about your business.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         That's because I'm such a good advocate for NAWBO.

 

Gregg Stebben:           You are, but you should tell us about your business.

 

Elizabeth Foster:         I can do that. I'm the founder of Maison Visionnaire, and what we did is, we invented the reed diffusers.,So it's a home fragrance business. What we did, is we brought art to fragrance, and we made it a whole experience for your home. So instead of, I'm sure you've seen them, you know the jars with the oil and the sticks. Well, I'm sorry, but they're not very beautiful, and they're not creative, and they're kind of ugly, and you want to hide them away because you want the fragrance, and you want the benefits.

 

                                   So I decided to make it beautiful. So it's a wooden art piece that has been carved, and that acts as a diffuser, but it's also beautiful to look at. And it also, it's a fusion that accentuates the home. So we also have a product behind it. It's a CDF, a composite diffusion fiber, which kind of acts like the fragrance engine, so to speak. It really pumps out the fragrance, and it's totally natural. So, that's what I'm doing here. That's my business.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And the website for it?

 

Elizabeth Foster:        MaisonVisionnaire.com.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Spell it for us.

 

Elizabeth Foster:        M-A-I-S-O-N-V-I-S-I-O-N-N-A-I-R-E .com.

 

Narrator:                     For more great small business tips check out Bank of America’s online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

 

Read more about Elizabeth Foster, Founder of Maison Visionnaire, on The Small Business Community.

Women entrepreneurs are continuing to grow their leadership stake in the small business market. Bank of America Head of Small Business, Sharon Miller, spoke about how she’s seeing more opportunities for women, including increased woman-to-woman mentorship opportunities, and the positive impact its having.

 

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Kate Delaney:             I'm Kate Delaney with Gregg Stebben. We're from Heartbeat of Main Street with ForbesBooks and Bank of America, and we are so pleased to be here at the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight. And we are with, I've got to call her my nickname, the grand dame of banking, Sharon Miller, who is the head of Small Business for Bank of America. It's so great to meet you and be here at this fabulous event.

 

Sharon Miller:             It's so great to be here, Kate and Gregg. Thank you so much for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Absolutely. This is one of your premier events of the year.

 

Sharon Miller:             It is. It is.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So tell us about the event and about the data and the statistics and the research behind it.

 

Sharon Miller:             For the last four years, we have produced a Women Business Owner Report just to understand how women are feeling about the economy, about what's happening with their own business and their revenue outlook. And this time, for the first time over the last four years, women have a higher expectation for hiring plans, for revenue growth of their business and the outlook than their male counterparts. So, that's a pretty fascinating data point when you think about the optimism out there in the economy and what's happening in the political climate right now.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You talk to a lot of women business owners. Do you have theories of your own about why there would be that change?

 

Sharon Miller:             You know, women, I mean Kate, we're women, right?

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm always the guy here.

 

Kate Delaney:             Yes, you are.

 

Sharon Miller:             You're always the guy.

 

Gregg Stebben:          The lone guy.

 

Sharon Miller:             You're the lone guy. And we are sitting in a fabulous place that is dedicated to women, Luminary, that is a co-op of women entrepreneurs working together, that's why we chose this spot in particular here in Manhattan. And to me, women, we are more and more getting out there, starting our own business, wanting to take control of our own destiny. And I think that as that settles in, as you see sustainability, women are understanding, "Hey, I can do this. I feel confident, I feel good about what's going on." And I think it's just time.

 

Kate Delaney:             I love numbers and I'm wondering if there's some trends or stats from the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight that we should look at, that we should call attention to for people who are listening to us.

 

Sharon Miller:             Well, 84% of women told us that they expected their revenue to be higher at the end of this year in 2019 versus last year. So, that's a pretty good majority of business owners out there.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's also—they're predicting that for themselves after a previously great year.

 

Sharon Miller:             That's right.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So, it's not a reaction to something bad, but it's a greater reaction to something great.

 

Sharon Miller:             It is. It's continuing that increase, it's continued optimism. And we're already in October.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Right.

 

Sharon Miller:             So when you think about, a lot of the year has passed. We're in the 10th month of the year and we're hearing this from business owners, so that's a pretty good indicator of how they feel they'll end the year.

 

Gregg Stebben:          One of the things I want to ask you about, Sharon, because this really fascinated me, partially I think because I am a man, but I think it's going to be really eye-opening for women as well. One of the things you asked as part of this was, "I believe blank will be impactful in helping women in business over the next five years." And first of all, I love the question, I love the collection of responses you got, but I love the fact that the number one thing that women said they thought would be impactful was achieving work-life balance. Because I think that's also aligned with more and more people, thanks to millennials, are looking for in their business whether they own it or they're an employee. And I want to hear you talk about that.

 

Sharon Miller:             I agree, and I think that's not just for entrepreneurship, but it's for corporate America.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes.

 

Sharon Miller:             And I think about Bank of America and the benefits we give: 16 weeks of maternity or paternity leave when someone has a baby. Whether you're the man or the woman, you get that leave, you get to spend time with your family. More and more, people want to spend time with their family, and it's a blurred line of work and life. And when you can have it both together, and you can do what you love and still be with your loved ones, and your company is committed to that, or you're an entrepreneur and you lead that type of organization, he's got greater followership and greater commitment. And especially in the millennials, we're finding that.

 

Kate Delaney:            Talking about the millennials, here at the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, what would you tell young women as they jump into owning their own businesses?

 

Sharon Miller:             I think it's important to be positive. Be confident. Follow your passion, follow your dream. Because the more I hear and I read articles and I listen to business owners about, "Why did you do it?" "Well, I followed my dream, I followed my passion." Then don't limit your dream and don't limit what's possible, because when you got into this business, you felt the sky's the limit.

 

                                   So keep dreaming, keep thinking about how I can do things differently, how I can continue to expand or go into different markets, and don't ever stop that creative engine that got you here to begin with. Because when you just get stale and you don't keep thinking, "Okay, how can I do this better, faster, more efficient?" You're not going to keep growing. And so that's what I would encourage any business owner to do, but especially millennials as they're getting into the start of their own business.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Millennials, yes, and women, yes. Because one of the things you mentioned early on as we've been talking today, and I think one of the things that's so visible at this event today is that—and you found this in the report—the more there are women who are successful in business, the more it impacts other women and empowers them to do the same thing. For a lot of reasons, including, "Oh, there are lots of mentors now. There's lots of women that have experienced this. There's more women in banking, so that I do have access to capital," on and on and on and on. And I want you to talk about the network effect of that for women, that your report really beautifully displays.

 

Sharon Miller:             I think it's important, and especially when you think about networking and mentorship and connecting with other women, many times when you have a man and a woman coming together to network or mentor, you're going to have differences. And what we found from clients, and we talk about this a lot, many times men are talking to women about, "Okay, maybe you need to navigate this politics or that," versus the tactical, operational, "Here's the finances, here's the P&L-

 

Gregg Stebben:          Oh my gosh, you sound like my wife and I.

 

Sharon Miller:             "Here's how you operate a business." I mean, so it's important. And I think the more women that know those types of functions and how to do it and how to drive it, they're going to be able to pass that on and understand that, you know what, yeah, there's politics involved, but there's also brass tacks of how to run a business, how to operate a company. And that's all very, very important.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You're talking about a cultural shift as a result of more and more women being in business and owning business and being in positions of leadership.

 

Sharon Miller:             Absolutely. And what we find is that women bring that back to their communities more so than men. Women are coming back, they're investing in their communities.

 

Gregg Stebben:           Why are you both looking at me?

 

Sharon Miller:              We're not trying to!

 

Gregg Stebben:           But you, I mean it is, there's research to support that. Women share, and men don't.

 

Kate Delaney:             But that's exciting, because that means that the more of those tactics that spread, the more the fear or the barrier to entry will lower, I think, for women. What do you think?

 

Sharon Miller:             Yeah, because I see someone, "Oh, they're like me. They can do it, I can do it." You have to, when you can see what's possible and people paving the way, these great women, then you can say, "Wow, I can do that, because I see they're like me."

 

Gregg Stebben:          What kind of programs do you have at Bank of America that are taking advantage of the things you're learning from the report?

 

Sharon Miller:             Well, my favorite is the Women Ready to Lead Conference, and we do this in various cities across the country. And really it's about women understanding that, you know what, you don't have to have all of it right here and there. Raise your hand, let us know you're ready to lead, let us know you want to grow with the company, and we're going to support you, and we're going to help you get to where you want to go.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So in other words, what you're doing is saying, "If you have the right mindset, we'll help you get the right skillset."

 

Sharon Miller:             Absolutely. Absolutely. And we're here to support you, to train you, to mentor you, to connect you with other women within the company. When I think about Bank of America, 40% of our management team is women.

 

Kate Delaney:             Wow.

 

Sharon Miller:             I mean, it starts at the top with Brian Moynihan and our board setting the vision. 30% of our board, women. You don't find that in corporate America. So it's not just we talk about supporting women, we are-

 

Gregg Stebben:          You're doing it.

 

Sharon Miller:             ... a company made of great women and men.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You mentioned few minutes ago about mentors. And you told us off mic that you know, you had had some great mentors or still have great mentors that were men.

 

Sharon Miller:             Yes.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's easier and easier for women to have great female mentors, because there's women who have now succeeded at higher and higher levels. But it also occurs to me that there will be another shift culturally when men can find great female mentors. Because now you're cross-pollinating all of these things in a very deep way.

 

Sharon Miller:             You are. And I think you're bringing together the best.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes.

 

Sharon Miller:             Because women and men, they bring together different perspectives, and different backgrounds, and that's what diversity inclusion is all about: bringing your whole self to work and feeling comfortable doing that. So it may not be just a man, woman, it might not be just race. It's where did I grow up, am I from the Northeast, am I from the West coast? Very different, very different culturally. And I think that the best companies and the best organizations allow that to come through so that you're able to get the best outcome.

 

Kate Delaney:             What's your ultimate vision? What would make you get up in the morning and say, "Wow, I just completely have nailed this. I am so happy with where I'm at." Because you're growing, growing, all these different programs.

 

Sharon Miller:             I think every day we have to get up and say, "What can we do more of?" I don't think you ever arrive and say, "Hey, it's here," right? We've got to keep thinking and keep getting better and keep growing, because every day, you learn something new, and how can we be better at supporting all people?

 

Gregg Stebben:          Everybody.

 

Sharon Miller:             All people.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Everybody. And I want to ask you about one last thing. We've talked about this with you before in previous interviews. The program you just told us about, it's called Ready for Leadership?

 

Sharon Miller:             Women Ready to Lead.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Women Ready to Lead. It reminds me of something you told us about before, the Bank of America Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship at Cornell.

 

Sharon Miller:             Yes.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Can you update us... first of all, remind people what it is and then update us on what's happening there today?

 

Sharon Miller:             So it is a program that we put together in partnership with Cornell University to help women entrepreneurs. Anyone can access the program, but we put it together with women in mind around education, around training, around how to access capital. Because in this report too, we talked about access to capital, and it's still a barrier or a perceived barrier of many women. And so it is an online institute where you can sign up, your company can. We've got courses and professors and students that are coming together, every single session that we have. And there's different sections, there's different focuses, but what we've heard from business owners going through is, "It has made the world of difference to my business." We have over 13,000 businesses that are in the queue going through this program, which, that's, doesn't sound like, I mean it's a lot of businesses, but how many more can we reach?

 

Gregg Stebben:          How much bigger is the opportunity?

 

Sharon Miller:             How many more can we reach?

 

Gregg Stebben:          How do you scale?

 

Sharon Miller:             That's right.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yeah. The website is bofainstitute.cornell.edu, bofainstitute.cornell.edu.

 

Kate Delaney:             Perfect place to end us. Sign up.

 

Sharon Miller:              Thank you so much.

 

Gregg Stebben:           Thank you Sharon.

 

Sharon Miller:              Thank you.

 

Narrator:                      For more great small business tips check out Bank of America’s online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

 

 

Sometimes, when I write for you, my customer for worthy content, I look around to see if there’s a trend emerging worth considering for your business. tim-mossholder-JfO62I4YRnY-unsplash.jpg

 

Today was like that. And I concluded maybe the time for making everyone love your brand is over. Work through this with me. It’s important.

 

Be Who You Are and Who You Want to Attract

 

There’s a weird fast-food war going among sellers of chicken sandwiches.

 

One company is thriving because their food is high quality and because they are very open about their religious values. While another has had much success introducing a tasty alternative for those who don’t want to support the other company.

 

In the sneaker business, one shoemaker supports a man who has made headlines standing against police violence. It’s a strong stance and revenue has gone up a lot because of it. Yet a different global firm sold sneakers made from ocean clean-up materials and easily sold 2 million pairs.

 

You don’t have to pick the same fights. You can support what makes sense for your brand.

 

Yet one detail is true: You must support something these days.

 

Reflect Your Buyer

 

This isn’t a piece about what’s right and wrong. Your business is yours to run.

 

Some companies thrive because of their commitment to inclusion. My schoolmate Doug Quint successfully launched a food empire with his Big Gay Ice Cream company, which started as an ice cream truck in New York and is now a regional staple in restaurants and grocery store freezers.

 

Maybe your buyer comes from a different upbringing than the whole Brady Bunch life that was reflected so often in advertising. Maybe they didn’t see people that reminded them of themselves in commercials or representing products they love.

 

Be Bold but Mean It

 

In 2019 and beyond, more buyers than ever say they prefer to buy from companies who share their values. But if your company doesn’t reflect any obvious values, how will someone know that they align?

 

The idea of this piece is to ask you to think about who you support and who might find strength in your alliance, and it’s to dare you.

 

You don’t have to be controversial, but please find ways to connect with and support people who will benefit from the association. Microsoft, for example, supports many different groups, including women in the gaming industry and fostering gaming inclusively for people with physical disabilities, and more. Where’s your group?

 

Put the Eggshells Away

 

Put the eggshells away and support a group that you feel aligns with your company’s beliefs and values. Purpose and beliefs and just plain support are the way forward.

 

Be more than just another place we can buy from. Be the place we want to support any day of the week. Your customers want to believe.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better chris-brogan-headshot.jpgsupport modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Ya gotta believe!” While this was the rallying cry of the 1973 New York Mets, it also serves as an entrepreneurial mantra for many. If you want to succeed in business, it helps to be optimistic. Optimism is what allows small business owners to surmount sometimes impossible odds to achieve improbable outcomes.

 

According to the just-released 2019 Bank of America Small Business Owner Snapshot, “Entrepreneurs remain optimistic about the strength of their local economies” and 82% mike-petrucci-c9FQyqIECds-unsplash.jpgsay they’re “poised to end 2019 on a high note…anticipating higher revenue” than last year.

 

They’re not quite as confident about the national economy, with 49% saying it will improve, down from 55% in last fall’s Snapshot. The political climate in the U.S., GDP growth rate, inflation and interest rate concerns have impacted their national outlook.

 

Trade Winds

 

Nearly half of the small business owners (44%) report being affected by “recent U.S. trade tariffs and policy.” Of those affected, 19% experienced a negative impact, 16% said the impact was “mixed” and 9% claimed a positive impact.

 

Put Adam Rizza, Chief Creative Officer of Sunscape Eyewear, in the negatively impacted bucket. Tariffs have affected his business—and what’s worse, he doesn’t think they’re going away anytime soon—if ever.

 

“The tariffs were inevitable,” he says, “and they’re here to stay. Sunscape currently manufactures their eyewear in China and Rizza says the factories there have “been advised not to give discounts” to American companies. Companies like his are “being squeezed,” he says. Retail buyers don’t want to pay more for wholesale goods and consumers don’t want to pay more for products in-store or online. “So ultimately,” he adds, “we’re going to have to eat it. Small businesses will suffer. The big guys have ways to get around it.”

 

But being the quintessential entrepreneur, Rizza found a solution. “We had to adjust, so we cut overhead and operational costs. But we can’t jeopardize quality, so we have to look outside China.” Sunscape, which has been doing business with Chinese factories for nearly 20 years, is now looking at moving production to Vietnam and is already manufacturing a new line of products here in America.

 

Like Rizza, the Snapshot shows 61% of small businesses have experienced an increase in the cost of goods. Most (55%) have raised their prices and 24% have lost customers as a result.

 

Tis the Season…

 

And while the Snapshot shows small business owners intend to enjoy the holidays (38% are going on vacation), 54% are stressed. Some are worried about balancing work and life (42%) and staffing issues (18%). To combat these concerns, they’re embracing some extra self-care (48%) and hiring seasonal employees (15%).

 

Other holiday season challenges are more customer-centric, such as creating customer demand (37%), keeping prices competitive (36%) and competing with the big box stores and online retailers (15%).

 

How will they cope with these challenges? Some plan to power through by developing new processes to handle a business influx (25%) while others, like me, will just guzzle more caffeine (21%).

 

Developing a 2020 Vision

 

What comes next? Despite those holiday stressors, as we head into the new decade, the entrepreneurs are embracing their inner Pollyanna – 80% plan to grow their businesses next year. Their top three goals: significantly increase revenue (47%), prioritize their online/social media presence (28%) and expand into new markets (23%).

 

Marketing smarter can help small business owners achieve those goals. Consider:

 

  • Embracing digital marketing. According to The Performance of Small and Medium Sized Businesses in a Digital Worldmall businesses that use digital tools are three times more likely to experience customer growth and two times as profitable.
  • Personalizing your emails. Instapage82% of marketers have reported an increase in open rates through email personalization. Plus, personalized email marketing generates a median ROI of 122%.
  • Increasing video marketing. According to HubSpot, 56% of 25-34-year-olds and 54% of 35-44-year-olds would like to see more video content from businesses.

 

For a better 2020, you’ll need to combine a positive outlook and practical business solutions.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business Rieva+Lesonsky+Headshot.pngand entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

SBOR-Callout-sm.gifThe bi-annual Small Business Owner Snapshot, conducted by Bank of America, explores the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners throughout the U.S. and across 10 major cities. The fall report explores a range of topics important to the constantly evolving small business landscape. Some important insights from this report explore:

 

  • Strong business growth indicators despite continued concern about economic factors
  • The impact of U.S. trade tariffs on small businesses
  • Both challenges and excitement linked to the Holiday and New Year seasons

 

For additional insights, see the Small Business Owner Snapshot infographic below.  For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the Fall 2019 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Snapshot here.

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