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2018

Bank of America supports the power of women small business owners this October and all year long.

 

 

Each October, Bank of America shares its support of women small business owners by celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month. Last year, we introduced the names behind women-owned small businesses by placing their names “up in lights” on a theater marquee. This year, we’ve taken the “You’re Gonna Know Me” idea a step further by showing the faces of the women behind small businesses and sharing their stories with the world. By doing so, we also show the power of working together – the more women we can support in building their businesses, the more opportunity we create for other women.

 

Anthem-Screen-Shot.jpgBank of America presents “You’re Gonna Know Me.”

 

You’re gonna value our instincts.

You’re gonna use my technology.

You’re gonna get with my program.

You’re gonna know our policy.

You’re gonna read my book.

You’re gonna face the world with me.

 

The world’s gonna know you.  We’re gonna help. Bank of America Business Advantage leads the way for small business owners and celebrates National Women’s Small Business Month.

 

Get to know the small business owners in this video by visiting their websites.

 

Nicole Centeno – Splendid Spoon™

Sasha Stern & Jamie Scalera – Miss Smith

Alina Haranczyk – Initech Industrial, LLC

Emma & Ramelle Massey – Massey Insurance Agency

Erin Christie – Author of Same Starry Sky

Miri Torres – Arianna Skincare

 

 

Bank of America is not affiliated with any business featured herein.

Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation.  Banking products offered by Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. © 2018 Bank of America Corporation.

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Women Business Owner Spotlight: “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Episode 8

 

Women entrepreneurs are optimistic for the year ahead. Tune in to hear Sharon Miller, Bank of America’s Head of Small Business, share insights about economic outlook, access to capital, and the ongoing digital transformation as highlighted in the 2018 Women Business Owner Spotlight.

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

 

Sharon Miller:            I think as a woman it's increasingly—we have so much more ability I should say to be able to manage our life, and that's what a business is. A business owner is not thinking of themselves in terms of “I own this consulting firm,” they're saying, “I have a life, I am a mother,” could be a father, right if we're talking about men. But we're focusing on women here, and I need to manage my whole life, and my business is part of that life and so technology helps me to do that.

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com and Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

 

Kate Delaney:            Always a pleasure to talk to Sharon Miller, Bank of America, Head of Small Business. She's back to talk about the 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight. I love this. Before, Sharon—first of all welcome to the show—but before we get into your findings, can you give us a little background on this annual report, your Women Business Owner Spotlight?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, this is the third annual Women Business Owner Spotlight, and we conduct it just to understand how women are feeling about their business and how they’re feeling about the growth and what's coming for the next year ahead, including their revenue and hiring expectations, so really just getting our finger on the pulse, to understand what's happening, what's on the mind of women across America.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And how do you do this, this kind of an annual report? In this case, the Women Business Owner Spotlight. How many women do you talk with, and I'm assuming you talk with a good number of men as well. How does it work?

 

Sharon Miller:            We do. So every year, twice a year, go out and survey business owner across the United States and some of them are women, some are men, and then we take those results and we pull out the information specifically pertaining to the questions around women and how they're feeling. And so, we do the study twice a year at Bank of America, and this is the third year we are surveying and focusing specifically on women. And we've been doing this survey, Gregg, since 2012. So over the past three years, it's been increasingly interesting to understand what's on the minds of women and Hispanic business owners and to really start cutting our data into more information around those subsets.

 

Kate Delaney:            So let's dive into this. Can you give us a broad overview, Sharon, of what you found with the 2018 Women Business Owner Spotlight?

 

Sharon Miller:            I can, Kate, and just to add to what we were just talking about as well, at Bank of America we have 3.3 million small business clients and 40 percent are women-owned. So that's also why it's so important to us to really understand what's on the mind of women. Of the 29 million small business clients across the United States a third are women. Bank of America has been serving women and we certainly want to make sure we understand what's on their minds, so that we can help them and we can help them with their business and to continue to achieve their goals.

 

                                  And so Kate, for the top headlines this year, we found that women entrepreneurs are much more confident on revenue expectations compared to last year, and their growth plans and their economic optimism is up year-over-year as well.  I would say a tone of positive, a tone of growth, a tone of we can-continue-to-grow-our-business-in-spite-of-any-challenges-we-might-face.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And what do you think, Sharon, is driving that optimism about things like revenue?

 

Sharon Miller:            You know, we’ve seen the economy continue to improve, not only in our surveys, but in national surveys: for example, for the NFIB, the National Federation of Independent Business Owners, are finding all-time highs in their survey results as well. So, people are spending, people are traveling, we see consumer stability across the board when it comes to employment, and that is a key. People have money coming in, they're earning paychecks and they have more discretionary income to spend.

 

Kate Delaney:            And what are they spending the money on as far as the business is concerned, Sharon, how are women using it? I would imagine technology would be part of a cost.

 

Sharon Miller:            It is. In fact in our survey we always ask about how technology is impacting your business, how is it helping to improve your business? And we found that women entrepreneurs are increasingly dependent on capabilities related to technology. So for instance, when you think about the digital transformation, 33 percent of women entrepreneurs use a mobile device to process financial transactions within their business versus only 25 percent of men. So, they're way ahead. And they also foresee over the next five years a complete shift to digital payments. So, as we think about serving these clients so that they can serve their communities in the businesses that they lead, we have to make sure we're keeping up with how they want to help their clients. If clients are coming in and they're using their phone to pay for goods and services, we've gotta be able to help and partner with the business owner to be able to accept payments that way.

 

                                  These are some of the insights and how we use this data in real time to get better at what we do at Bank of America to serve the businesses so they can serve the community.

 

Gregg Stebben:          We're talking with Sharon Miller, she's the head of small business for Bank of America, we're talking about the 2018 Women Business Owner Spotlight and being the one male voice here in this interview, I have to ask because what may seem obvious to the two of you as women who are deeply immersed in the world of business—and I being a man so completely looking from the outside—how do the two of you look at things like the technology gap that you've just been describing, Sharon? How do you explain why women are ahead of men in many of these ways? Do you have any insight into that?

 

Sharon Miller:            We are ahead in a lot of ways, frankly.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well I was getting there. Right.

 

Kate Delaney:            We're just gonna focus on technology today, okay.

 

Gregg Stebben:          For those kinds of things where women excel, I think the more we talk about them the better it is for all businesses in technology and all kinds of areas because then businesses can get better at identifying best practices and who should implement them because they tend to have an advantage there.

 

Sharon Miller:            Yeah, I think so, and you know we just had a discussion in New York a week ago with women business owners and entrepreneurs across the country, and we asked that question: how are you using it, why are you using it? And I think that, some of the answers that came up that evening were around “I want to make sure I'm understanding all the ways to make it more efficient for me. I may not just be the owner of this consulting firm, but I also have a family, a life, I'm a wife, a mother, I go to school, I'm still doing all” ... so all these other elements of a life came up.

 

                                  It kept coming up in that conversation, and I think as a woman it's increasingly—we have so much more ability I should say to be able to manage our life, and that's what a business is. A business owner is not thinking of themselves in terms of “I own this consulting firm,” they're saying, “I have a life, I am a mother,” could be a father, right if we're talking about men. But we're focusing on women here, and I need to manage my whole life, and my business is part of that life and so technology helps me to do that.  I can do business wherever I want, whenever I want, however I want, and that's what my clients are telling me and asking me to do.

 

                                    I don't know Kate if you have any other thoughts on there, I know-

 

Kate Delaney:            Oh no.

 

Sharon Miller:            You certainly talk to a lot of business owners as well.

 

Kate Delaney:            I do, and I talk to a lot of women, and I think, how can we do it bigger, better, faster, and for the reasons you said you're pulled in a lot of directions and I know for myself, I love technology. I didn't start out that way because I would get frustrated not learning it because I wanted to know it right away, but the more patience you have and the more that you embrace technology the easier it becomes to do the things that you need to do and all the things on the list I do, from mobile payments to whatever on down, to CRMs to using Zoom or other forms of technology to do what I do. So, I completely agree with it. I love that your survey found this because I think it's absolutely on point from everything that I've seen with my own friends who are either heading up big corporations or they have their own business.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's fascinating as a man, we hear stereotypes of course, and they've been around for a long time about how men are traditionally out of balance in their lives, completely focused on work, not balancing their family life well and I think what you might be suggesting, Sharon, is in the future we're going to see more and more emphasis on the healthy part of balance, work/life balance and that we're largely going to be thanking women in business for bringing that trend.

 

Sharon Miller:            Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think it's healthy. I think it's balanced. It's bringing your whole self to work. It's bringing your whole self to your business and I think it makes for better corporations and it makes for better business.

 

Kate Delaney:            How about this, this of course is on the minds of many. Sharon, access to capital. That's a big challenge for women business owners, or is it? What did you find this year?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, you know, access to capital is improving, and we did hear that loud and clear from business owners. But they do feel that they're facing bigger challenges when it comes to access to capital than their male counterparts. At Bank of America, we see our lending business is up. We see high demand for capital, and we are finding that for women, who represent 40 percent of our business, and I feel like we have a very strong representation of women coming to us every single day. However, at Bank of America we know that there are some issues and there are some items that we can help with, and so from our survey results we do hear that training or education or knowing what to ask for, when to ask for it, has been in the past perhaps a road block.

 

                                  So, we have recently launched the Bank of America Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship in partnership with Cornell University, and this focus is going to be all around access to capital as one element, training, education and making sure that women have all the information, because as women, and I read about this a lot, women want to make sure that every single box is checked, all 10 items if that's what's required for this, versus a male who may come in with two done and eight left undone. We're certainly hearing this from the panels we have, and so perhaps the male counterpart would understand that okay you have to have this, this and this, because they're getting the education along the way. Whereas a woman may wait till they have everything done and they still realize, oh, there was something else I needed to do. So, I think just that conversation, the dialogue, the information, whether it be online, across the desk from an advisor, is gonna be helpful in closing the gap on access to capital.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Wow, perfect place to wrap this up, Sharon Miller, Bank of America, head of small business. Fascinating always to talk to you, and this information is fabulous from your 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight. Thanks so much for coming on.

 

Sharon Miller:              Gregg and Kate, thank you so much for having me.

 

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

                                  Check out our Small Business Story Collection:

 

                                  The Unique Values Women Bring to Small Business Ownership on the Bank of America Small Business Community. 

 

                                  Learn more about how Bank of America invests in women.

For women business owners, there’s strength in numbers.

 

Networking with other women entrepreneurs can inspire and energize you, help you solve business problems, and open up new channels for selling your products or services.

As a busy business owner, however, you can’t join every business organization. You’ve got to pick the ones that will provide the most benefits for your business. Here are six worthy women’s organizations to consider joining.

 

1.  National Association of Women Business Owners

 

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One of the earliest associations for women entrepreneurs, NAWBO was founded in 1975 and now represents more than 10 million women business owners, making it the largest dues-paying organization for women business owners. It’s headquartered in Washington, D.C., and regularly advocates for women business owners’ interests on Capitol Hill. NAWBO welcomes women entrepreneurs in all sectors, with businesses of all sizes and stages of development. If there is not a local chapter in your area, you can become part of NAWBO-Virtual to network with others online. Memberships, available at different levels, offer benefits such as leadership development, networking opportunities, and access to resources, online training sessions, events and more.

 

                    RELATED CONTENT: Read about NAWBO CEO, Jen Earle

 

2.  American Business Women’s Association

 

ABWA brings together business and professional women in all industries, including both entrepreneurs and employees, to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally. Launched in 1949, this organization hosts the National Women’s Leadership Conference every year. Members meet monthly at more than 450 Chapters and Express Networks across the country to share their ideas, challenges, experiences, products and services with each other. Get a look at a local ABWA meeting.

 

3. National Association for Female Executives

 

Founded in 1972, the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) is an association for women professionals, executives, business owners and others. It has chapters in 15 states. Members gain access to networking opportunities, business education and resources through the organization’s local networks. NAFE also sponsors an annual National Conference and periodic Breakfast Club events in cities nationwide.

 

4.  WITI

 

If you're a woman business owner in the technology field, you know how lonely it can be. WITI can help. This women’s organization was founded in 1989 to help women advance in technology by providing access to—and support from—other professional women in technology. Today, WITI is a global network with over 2 million members, including business owners, employees and academics, who come from all sectors of technology. Members enjoy programs and partnerships that provide connections, resources, opportunities and a supportive environment.

 

5. Ellevate Network

 

This global professional network of women is committed to elevating each other through education, inspiration and opportunity. Ellevate Network offers four different types of membership. Innovator memberships are focused on starting and growing businesses, while the other memberships are targeted to professional women in the workforce. If you’re interested in joining but want to get a feel for the organization first, check out one of the many Ellevate chapters worldwide to see if any of their upcoming events are open to nonmembers.

 

6. Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

 

Do you have a passion for the issues affecting women business owners in America? Then WIPP could be for you. This national nonpartisan organization advocates on behalf of women entrepreneurs with the goal of creating economic opportunities for women and having an impact on public policy. WIPP’s members run the political gamut from Republicans and Democrats to Independents and more. WIPP regularly surveys members about their biggest concerns, from healthcare and taxes to capital access, and then takes their concerns to Capitol Hill. The group provides members with benefits such as advocacy training, assistance getting federal contracts, educational opportunities and access to events.

Read next:
Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png
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. 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
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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Starting a business can be difficult. As a matter of fact, an overwhelming majority of new businesses that start every year eventually go out of business within a short period of time. The question then becomes, how can I start a business and increase the likelihood of my success?

 

Whether you're starting a new business or you're trying to pitch a new idea to investors and new customers, there are a few things you should focus on to increase your success.

 

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In my Amazon bestselling book, “Start Me Up! The No-Business-Plan Business Plan” (you can grab a signed copy for free plus S&H here: https://free.StartMeUpBook.com), I share four focus areas every new business owner should know to increase the likelihood of a profitable business.

 

What I found in my experience pitching tons of venture capital funds, angel investors and customers, is there are three additional  areas of focus that lead to profitability.

 

1. What problem does my idea or service solve?

 

Your ability to identify the problem your business solves will improve the chances of someone investing in your idea, buying your product or service and becoming a customer. People spend money for two reasons: to get a desired result or to solve a problem. In many cases, those two things are related.

 

You don't spend money because of low prices. You generally spend money because there's a problem you want  solved. There are obvious exceptions to this general rule. However, an overwhelming majority of people who spend their money have a problem they have either consciously or subconsciously identified. That's why they're giving you their money in exchange for your solution.

 

A lot of struggling businesses haven't adequately and eloquently identified the need of the customer, the desire of the customer, and the problem the customer has that really needs to be solved. If you can eloquently identify that problem and identify the market in which that problem exists and how your solution alleviates that customer's concern or problem, the likelihood of you getting investors increases as does the likelihood of you getting a stable influx of customers.

 

2. What's the cost of acquiring that customer?

 

I had a recent conversation with a startup who had a clothing line and related app. They were wondering how to get their app in front of the world. I asked them, "How much is it going to cost you to get in front of the right customer?" They didn’t know the answer and as a result, their business didn't take off.

 

Reality Check: If it costs $5 to get a new customer but your average sale is only $1, you will lose money on every new customer you acquire. This is why a lot of new companies and startups quickly go out of business. It's not enough to get a customer. What's important is how quickly and cost effectively I can get a new customer.

 

Ten years ago, all a new startup had to do was either get on Shark Tank, The Today Show or Good Morning America, pitch their deal and then they'd have an influx of orders. That's great, but that's not a long-term strategy.

 

A longer-term strategy is understanding how much did it cost for me to get my first customer and what's their lifetime value to my business and my company? And how much can I sell to them so every transaction is profitable?  You must know the customer acquisition costs.

 

3. Know your numbers, how much money you need to raise and why

 

People come to me because they need help getting a business loan, investment funding and/or new customers. When I ask for basic financial information, they either don’t know their numbers or aren’t sure of what they will use the investment for.

 

Reality Check: If you think you need to raise $100,000 for your startup, there's a very good chance you probably need to raise at least 10 times as much. A lot of startups don't know exactly what they need the money for, nor know how they will spend the funds.

 

Here's a secret: The investor's not giving you money because your idea's amazing. The investor is giving you money because they want to make money.

 

The more comfort you provide to the investor, the better chance you have of them investing in you if you can identify what they actually need, what they desire, and what they're looking for. The investor also wants to know that you're comfortable with your numbers. You don't have to be a CPA or a financial expert, but you should know some basic metrics of your business, your industry, and what you plan to use the money for.

 

If you want to increase the likelihood of getting investors, customers and winning business competitions, focus on these three tips.

 

Remember that bonus idea about $25,000? Well, Bank of America is working with Mastercard on the Grow Your Biz Contest* giving small business owners across the nation the opportunity to take their business to the next level. For your chance to pitch your business to the Grow Your Biz Panel in New York on Nov. 8 and win $25,000 to grow your business, all you need to do is answer one simple question – “How will I grow my small business?”  in a video submission up to 1-minute long. If you are up for the challenge, here are some video tips for your submission, which should be useful for any video needs your business may have. Are you ready to grow your business? To Enter and learn more, visit www.growyourbizcontest.com.

 

*No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to small business owners in the 50 US and DC, 18+. Ends 9/30/18. Restrictions apply. Click here for Official Rules and complete details.

 

About Ebong Eka

 

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Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. 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.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Would you buy a mattress online? Probably not, unless someone you trust highly recommends it. According to statistics, word-of-mouth referrals increase a customer’s likelihood of buying four-fold.

 

Leesa Sleep learned this lesson well. They generated enough referrals to build a $45 million business in less than a year — with no brick-and-mortar presence. If they can sell mattresses sight-unseen, just think of what your business can do by proactively encouraging everyone to spread the word.

Here are 5 ways to do just that.

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1. Form partnerships inside and outside of your business

 

Satisfied customers are vital for referral programs, but they’re not your only source. You can form referral partnerships with just about anyone who touches your business, including customers, vendors and, of course, your employees and contractors.

 

Uber has mastered this concept by offering referral rewards to drivers. All drivers receive points for certain tasks that sign up new drivers, as well as riders. Riders can receive referral rewards as well, of course, and everything is easy thanks to app dashboards on everyone’s phones. This is definitely a win-win program.

 

Finally, don’t forget about other businesses. Anyone from your suppliers to a local coffee shop deals with people who can become your customers. Strike a deal with them to make some mutual referrals when appropriate.

 

2. Generate online reviews from happy customers

 

Nearly 90 percent of all online shoppers base their buying decisions on posted product reviews or testimonials. Unfortunately, customers don’t always think about making positive online comments… unless you ask them to put it in writing.

 

Of course, physical products benefit from reviews that are posted on all sites that sell the goods. It’s easy to compare multiple brands of yard equipment based on reviews at big box store sites. If you sell services, however, you are likely to count solely on your own testimonial page. But, customers review your products on other sites as well, so don’t forget the power of review websites and social media.

 

And, if you have the resources to go big, consider creating video testimonials from your most ecstatic customers. The sky’s the limit on the web.

         

               RELATED CONTENT:  How to Boost Positive Online Reviews for Your Business – And Deal with Those Pesky Bad Ones

               RELATED CONTENT:  How to Increase Authentic Business Reviews on Facebook

 

3. Offer referral incentives

 

Wireless providers are notorious for discounts and other incentives they offer for customer referrals. Usually, referred new customers get incentives, too. This type of deal is what most people consider to be referral incentives, but they don’t have to stop there.

 

Can you and a local health club offer mutual customer discounts? You offer their customers a free initial meeting with one of your firm’s knowledgeable financial advisors, while your customers can get fit at a discount. Even charitable donations incentivize referrals; millennials might bring in more customers if their referral will help them support an important cause.

              

               RELATED CONTENT:  5 proven ways to get more Referrals

 

4. Use social media wisely

 

Active engagement in social media is essential for most businesses. Your timely responses to tweets can directly and indirectly generate more customer referrals. But, there’s major power in the genuine relationships that you can develop through LinkedIn connections or Facebook friends.

 

These sites are all about building relationships you can use to request referrals, just as you would ask friends and family members. Share personal stories and humanize case studies. A few stories about how you helped customers in a jam illustrate you are truly a friend in need — and can drive referrals from readers who know others that face emergency situations.

 

               RELATED CONTENT:  The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

5. Make referrals virtually automatic, whenever possible

 

Referral programs should be a labor of love, rather than laborious, so try to build them into your business process and make it easy for customers to invite new customers. Dropbox’s simple referral program helped it grow a whopping 3900 percent! Granted, people learn about the service when someone wants to share files with them, but the actual referral program requires additional customer action. The program is well-designed (and the rewards are worthwhile), so that customers and prospects are happy to jump through a few extra hoops.

 

You can also automate partnerships with an affiliate program, like the one that is offered by my Future File® business. Even gargantuan companies like Amazon use such systems to develop partners that drive more traffic to their sites, but you don’t need to be huge to automate.

 

Referrals are a great way to build a business, but even the world’s most generous referral offerings can’t generate miraculous sales unless great companies, products and services are behind them. Make sure that your company does everything right for customers, so that your customers don’t hesitate in making the recommendation.

 

 

About Carol Roth

 

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Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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

In the latest Bank of America Small Business Podcast episode, Reema Shroff, owner of Frost 321, shares how she beat the competition by turning liquid nitrogen ice cream and cocktails into an experience that tantalizes the senses and leaves a lasting impression. Listen to her story—and get great tips for standing out from the crowd—below.

 

 

 

Reema Shroff:            The reward is that when people try it, when people see it, when people talk about it, that's really what's satisfying, and that's something that I couldn't as easily get in being a lawyer. So here every day, no matter what the challenges I face are, there's definitely something very rewarding at the end of the ... To have been creative and have someone taste the product.

 

 

Frost-321d.jpgSteve Strauss:            Hi. I'm Steve Strauss, USA Today's senior small business columnist, and you're listening to the Bank of America Small Business Podcast, a podcast where we speak to small business owners about their journey and uncover useful tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners everywhere.

 

                                  Today we're really pleased to be speaking with Reema Shroff of Frost 321. Frost 321 uses an innovative technique to create ice creams, sorbets, and I like this one, frozen cocktails, right before your eyes at events. How do they do it? Well, by using liquid nitrogen at negative 321 degrees, Frost 321 creates these unique concoctions.

 

                                  They have been doing this at corporate events and important celebrations and backyard gatherings and all sorts of other places for years, and they don't just deliver delicacies. Frost 321 brings a unique ice cream and cocktail bar designed to be chic and sophisticated, blending with any event's distinct look, and letting the experience itself really shine. So Reema, great to have you on the show today. Welcome.

 

Reema Shroff:            Thanks Steve. Great to be here.

 

Steve Strauss:            So I explained a little bit about what makes Frost 321 unique, but I think it would be far better if you did it. So tell us about your ice cream and your cocktails and how you make them and what is different about them.

 

Reema Shroff:            Absolutely. You're right on the mark. What we do create is unique cocktail and dessert experiences. What we're doing is using liquid nitrogen as a freezing agent to freeze right in front of our guests frozen cocktails, sorbets, ice creams, boozy snow cones. The newest thing that's hot for the summer, a drink called a Frosé.

 

                                  What we can do is take an experience, take a menu, take an event, take a celebration, take a company gathering, make it unique, make it customized, and do this right in front of our guests. So what it is, it's not just a great product, it's not just a great frozen cocktail or an ice cream, but truly what it is is an experience. So when we have the gathering, when you see us, you not only remember the product, you remember the experience. This is an experience you can share with your friends, you can share with your co workers, you can tape on social media.

 

                                  That's what we love about it and that's where we get most of our repeat business from, is that memorable piece of this which is the experience. Now what makes the difference is liquid nitrogen has been used for years by chefs in their back kitchen. It's truly a great way to make an ice cream or a frozen cocktail.

 

                                  However, what we try to do is also to make it truly an experience where people can enjoy seeing it being made, where we can tailor the experience to the actual event. Also what we've done is, because my background is ... I'm a lawyer, and my business partner is a West Point grad and an amazing engineer ... We have tried to make this as safe as possible and as scalable as possible.

 

                                  So let me kind of explain on that a little bit more. From a safety standpoint, you are dealing with liquid nitrogen that's a negative 321 degrees below zero. So what we want to do is just make it safe, make it where any staff member we can train on safely operating this machinery, to make it safe at any event.

 

                                    As you know, we have done this in backyards, we have done this on golf courses, we've even done it on a yacht, on top of a rooftop, so we have to make it safe in a lot of different instances. Then on the scalability standpoint we can do parties of 500, but we've done parties of 5,000. So we need to make sure that we can produce these cocktails and ice creams in a very efficient manner.

 

                                  In fact, the way that we've designed the machines is one of our machines taken to its capacity could easily make about 500 servings in an hour. And when we do very large events, like our 5,000 person events, for example in Vegas, we can put several machines on and make this experience for all of our guests.

 

Steve Strauss:            Oh, that's super. You're doing lots of things right, but one of the things I really love that you're doing that other people can learn from is you're personalizing it and you're making it an experience. Those are kind of the buzzwords in small business these days. Because there is so much competition and there is so much technology available, people love a personalized experience and they love an experience experience.

 

                                  So you're doing that right, and I must say as a former lawyer myself, I love that you too have come to your senses and found something better to do. So let me ask you this Reema, how did you get started? How did you leave the legal world and end up becoming an ice cream entrepreneur?

 

Reema Shroff:            Well, as fellow lawyer you know one of the big things in being a lawyer, and I was a healthcare lawyer, and especially in the healthcare sector you're always telling physicians what not to do, what business they should not engage in, here are the risk factors, all of that.

 

                                  Whereas I loved that ... Both my parents are physicians, my husband is a doctor and all of that, I wanted to actually create something. I mean there is ... Every day as an entrepreneur working in this business there's a challenge, there's a reward, there's an opportunity, and it's really, really satisfying to me to be able to create something, to go to an event and see what we have created.

 

                                  The reward is when people try it, when people see it, when people talk about it, that's really what's satisfying, and that's something that couldn't as easily get in being a lawyer. So here every day, no matter what the challenges I face are, there's definitely something very rewarding at the end of the ... To have been creative and have someone taste the product.

 

Steve Strauss:            Absolutely. I mean that's what I love about it too, working with entrepreneurs and being one, is the idea of you're creating something. But how did you come up with the idea of creating ice cream at negative 321 degrees? That is really different.

 

Reema Shroff:            Well, that is a great story. You never know how things happen, but truly this was a great story. I was actually in Paris. I was at an amazing wedding and I saw this in a certain way being made, using liquid nitrogen to create this experience for great cocktails. You know, it's something ... On the way back from Paris to Texas, you know, we had an eight hour flight, so over a glass of champagne just kind of talking about the wedding, what really stood out was this really interesting cocktail.

 

                                  You saw it being made, you saw the mist, and it was a good cocktail. So it's actually funny, my family was like, "Wow, you like cocktails and you like parties. This is something you should try." It really started with something like that.

 

                                  So I started researching it, found a couple of articles on it, found some companies that actually were working on these type of systems, and literally ordered one and started in my kitchen. Invited friends over for a party, got some feedback on it, and it really just kind of took off from there. But I had no idea of kind of where this would be four years later, but it's something that I just had to try.

 

Steve Strauss:            Did you ... Obviously your parents aren't entrepreneurs. They're both physicians, your husband is a physician. Did you have entrepreneurial bent earlier in life or was this all together something out of the blue for you?

 

Reema Shroff:            You know, looking back on it I think that ... You know, I was fine being a lawyer, but I think that there was always something missing. I'm pretty social. I'm an extrovert. I like to engage and be with people, so I think this type of business for me allows me to really, you know, focus on what I really enjoy and I think what my forte is.

 

                                  So it just kind of all came together, and I'm so happy that I had the support of my family, my friends, and I was in a position to be able to reach out to my network and be able to develop this. So it's been a great ride.

 

Steve Strauss:            Yeah. In fact you've grown it pretty substantially pretty quickly. You're not only in Texas now, but you're also in Las Vegas, and I think you're branching out into San Diego, if I'm not mistaken?

 

Reema Shroff:            Oh, yeah. So I mean we started this in San Antonio. We've grown to Dallas, Houston, Austin, and then slowly took this to other markets, I mean Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, Chicago. So it's been an amazing journey and I think what we've right now done is hit national markets.

 

                                  In fact that's a great question, because what we've been wanting to do is figure out how to expand this nationally, and in fact in about mid-October we're working with a franchise company to be able to franchise this and expand nationally, so we're really excited about that.

 

                                  But the key to all of this was ... And this is a very interesting story. It comes to how I met my business partner. As I mentioned, I was still practicing as a lawyer in the early days of Frost and I actually was working on a legal case, and I happened to sit next to a gentleman, Mark, who was helping on that same case, and we started talking about my business and he said something very interesting, and that is, "Wow, you're working with liquid nitrogen. It seems like a great concept. You've actually done a lot of events. You seem to be moving quickly, but hey, you should own your own system. You shouldn't rely on other people to do that. You should actually build your own. That's the core to your business."

 

                                    Of course I laughed and I said, "Hey, that's easier said than done. I don't really have manufacturing contacts. I'm not an engineer. I've never designed anything before. My forte is marketing, business development, creating these experiences," and he basically looked at me and he said, "Well, guess what? I have those contacts and I would love to be able to help with this."

 

                                  So it's one of those really amazing moments where I sat next to the right person at a business dinner, and it has been a great three years, where we complement each other very well. He is the technology, the brains behind the operation. He's a former West Point grad and a engineer, and he's developed the whole liquid nitrogen system. So where he has the strength on the technology and operations, I'm able more to focus on the marketing and the business development. So it's been really, you know, a great combination of strengths and attributes that really have helped us along quite well.

 

Steve Strauss:            Boy, everything is really working out so well for you, because that's exactly what I think you want in a partnership. You want somebody who fills in your gaps and can do things that you can't do, and then all of a sudden the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts, and obviously you're doing that well.

 

                                  Can you tell me a little bit about the alcohol aspect of it? Because you're not just making ice creams, but you're making adult beverages with your technology. How did that come to be and how is that ... How popular is that among your clientele?

 

Reema Shroff:            Well, I cannot underscore more that alcohol really is what drives a lot of our business. Almost 80% of our revenue comes from our spirited ice cream, our frozen cocktails, our boozy snow cones, our spirited floats. So yes, because that is really what's unique about this, because there's no other way you can freeze alcohol.

 

                                  So when we actually do one of our most popular items, is our wicked chocolate whiskey with Maker's Mark. That is a true shot of Maker's Mark in your chocolate ice cream. It's an awesome after dinner treat. People love their Maker's Mark, so here now we're putting it into ice cream. We do the same with tequila, with rum, with vodka. We've been able to partner with a lot of different alcohol companies because it's a different way to feature and showcase their spirit.

 

                                  Remember, we can do this not only with the liquors, but we can do that wine and champagne and, gosh, even a great beer for a stout ice cream. So we've really tried to come up with innovative ways to do frozen cocktails, to bring something new to the market on the spirited ice cream side, and really that's been ... That's done very well at our corporate events and galas and parties and all of that.

 

Steve Strauss:            It sounds like that's probably a unique niche to you. Is there a lot of competition for that aspect of your business?

 

Reema Shroff:            Most of our competition is on the ice cream side. There's a lot of brick and mortars in the space and different types of franchises that you have, or there's retails that are serving ice cream. I think on the special events and catering where our focus ... A lot of it has been on frozen cocktails and the spirited ice cream. We don't find as much competition, but what Mark and I tired to do very early on is to forge really good relationships and partnerships with hotel groups, convention centers.

 

                                  For example, we work in McCormick Place, one of the largest convention centers in Chicago, where they offer our services. The same thing with the MGM group. The same thing with Marriotts all over the country. So that's been very nice, is that they are able to sell our services as part of their catering and special events menu.

 

                                  That has helped us, where now we have a lot of different arms, a lot of different sales and catering departments selling our services, and we can focus on what we do best, and that is executing and doing our special events and focusing on our creative ice creams and frozen cocktails for the events.

 

Steve Strauss:            Super. We are speaking with Reema Shroff of Frost 321, and we will get back to her in a second, but first I want to ask you this.

 

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                                  So Reema, I want to ask you a little bit about the challenges you've faced as a small business owner and entrepreneur, because as we all know it is not just a clear path from idea to execution, right? There are bumps along the way. What are maybe some of the bumps along the way that you faced and how did you overcome them?

 

Reema Shroff:            That's a great question Steve. What I would say is, especially with a small business, you wear a lot of hats. You do operations, you do marketing, you do finance, you're HR, and that all can get overwhelming and sometimes maybe some of these are not your key strengths.

 

Steve Strauss:            Now let me get back to our special guest, Reema Shroff of Frost 321.

 

Reema Shroff:            We've had to learn along the way all these different aspects, all these little departments that usually you could call HR or you could call somebody to help with, and now that's it. You're on our own. So what I've learned from that is it's essential to listen, it's essential to build the right team, and whereas you might have weaknesses in certain aspects, there are others that can fill in those gaps for you.

 

                                  Mark and I, our biggest challenge is we had no experience, prior experience, in the food and beverage industry, so the first thing we did is try and surround ourselves with the right mixologists, the right chefs. Our biggest consultant when we came to designing our menu is one of the top pastry chefs in the country. We listened to people that have worked in retail and worked in food and beverage before, because those were not our areas of expertise.

 

                                  So because we were dealing with so many things that were unknown to us, we didn't know what was out there in all these different landscapes because those weren't our prior specialty, what we needed to do was create the right team and build the right network to fill in those gaps.

 

Steve Strauss:            Yeah. I think that's a common lament from many small business people. I guess the good news is you have to become or like being a lifelong learner if you're going to be a small business owner, because you're always having to learn something new, whether you want to or not, right?

 

Reema Shroff:            Yes. Really what I've also learned from that is people are to help. I think there are a lot of resources out there. I think that it's ... Now with the internet, with technology, you can always go onto social media, you can read blogs. There's so much you can do to give you ideas and to help strengthen your position on things and to really every day, just like you said ... I mean we're learning something new every day, so we never stop reading, we never stop talking and building relationships and learning from people around us.

 

Steve Strauss:            Like going to the Bank of America Small Business Community site, right? Exactly like that?

 

Reema Shroff:            Exactly. Exactly.

 

Steve Strauss:            I love that site. I love writing for them and I love what I learn there. So let me take a few minutes to ask you some final questions about what you've learned along the way and get some insights there. How has technology affected your business? I mean obviously you have kind of a technology business I guess, but have you used technology in ways ... Aside from making ice cream?

 

Reema Shroff:            Absolutely. Technology makes our life easier, it makes us more efficient. It allows me to balance my personal life and business life. A perfect example, I'm in the carpool lane waiting ... Sometimes you got to wait for about 30 minutes ... To pick my daughter up, who's nine. And I'm really on a Bank of America website and make payments to our staff, to check my balances, to pay bills to vendors.

 

                                  I mean that's something before you would never be able to do and that 30 minutes is just wasted, but here, you know, at the touch of my hands I'm able to do all of that, and I think that really helps, because that's time then that I can dedicate towards other things when I get home.

 

                                  Also especially when we travel on the road and we're between all the multiple cities, to be able to use technology, to be able to communicate with your employees, to be able to FaceTime at events ... All those things have been such a great benefit for us, to be able to official run operations across all the different cities.

 

Steve Strauss:            In fact how do you get customers, right? If you're branching out into Vegas and you're branching into an area you've not gone before, what ... Is it social media, or how do you attract new people to your business?

 

Reema Shroff:            It's a combination. It's a combination of number one is we focus on our relationships, so we work with people maybe we've worked with in different cities. For example, different hotel groups that we might have worked on in Dallas, we reach out to them when we're in different cities. We think one of the biggest ways that you can grow is by cultivating relationships, making them feel comfortable to trust you and your business to execute events, what they've been doing for years and you're a newcomer. They need to trust you, they need to know that you would do a good job, that you will be on time, that you will be able to execute the way they and their clients will be happy.

 

                                  So that's number one. However, with social media we're able to post a lot of the things that we do all over the country, so that's a great way for others to see the different types of parties we can do, the different types of venues we serve, the different types of frozen cocktails and ice creams that we can create to customize their events.

 

                                  So that is a great tool, because that's constantly being updated, and it's a great resource for really anybody who's throwing an event to think of us, because not only are we tagging ourselves, but others are reporting on us and taking visuals whenever we go and do an event for them.

 

Steve Strauss:            Reema, you're doing great work. I love your business and I love your energy and passion for it. We're unfortunately out of time, but I could listen to you for a long time. Let me ask you this in closing. What maybe do you wish you had known about being a small business owner, about being an entrepreneur that you didn't know when you started, and what do you think people can take away and learn from your experience that might help them grow their business?

 

Reema Shroff:            I would it's the importance of having a network, having a support structure. I think that it's so important, and I think in this day and age especially with technology and use of email and texting and all that, it's really important to develop personal connections. I think that being in this business kind of underscored the importance of that for me, because it's very easy to sit at your computer and send out emails and do direct marketing and then text people, and I think people forget sometimes that even though technology has allowed us to do amazing things, that critical to all this is that building a connection and building a relationship. I think that that brings me a lot of joy, I think there's a lot of reward in that, but I think that it's also been critical to the success of our business.

 

Steve Strauss:            Fantastic. Reema, if people want to know more about you, about Frost 321, where should they go to learn more?

 

Reema Shroff:            Our website is a great place, frost321.com. We can answer any emails, we answer any event requests, and we would love to personally speak to anyone that has questions on our business.

 

Steve Strauss:            Fantastic. Thank you so much for being with us today, and continued success to you.

 

Reema Shroff:            Thank you so much Steve, appreciate it.

 

Steve Strauss:            And thank you everybody for tuning in for the latest episode of the Bank of America Small Business Podcast. For Bank of America, I'm Steve Strauss.

 

 

 

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 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 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

We are living in a world of part-time work and multiple jobs – that’s right, it’s the gig economy. The gig economy remains a contentious topic, but it is growing and will continue to grow. In fact, the gig economy is “expected to be 43 percent of the work force by the year 2020.”

 

Even small business owners may look for a ‘side hustle’ to earn extra income until the business gains more traction, or even consider hiring a ‘gig’ worker.

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For workers, making a living as a gig economy contractor requires a lot of self-motivation and

perseverance. Even though you don’t technically have a boss (except yourself), there are plenty of challenges that come with being a part of the gig economy.

 

The biggest one? Finding gigs.

 

The gig economy is tough because it doesn’t guarantee ongoing work – that is exactly what the word “gig” implies, after all. That means it’s up to you – the freelancer – to find work, again and again. This can be exhausting.

 

However, the good news is that finding your gigs doesn’t have to be a gig unto itself. Knowing where to look for work is half the battle, which is why we’ve compiled this list of six of the best freelance platforms to help you find your next gig.

 

Freelancer: It’s hard to beat Freelancer – the name does speak for itself, after all. There are thousands upon thousands of listings on Freelancer. The concept is pretty cool: you get to browse all the listings, click on a project, view its details and budget, and then bid on the gig. Think of it as eBay for freelance gigs.

 

Freelancer is also nice because it isn’t exclusive to any one category; you can find work whether you’re a writer, editor, graphic designer, assistant, etc.

 

Unfortunately, because there are many different freelancers competing for a single gig on Freelancer, the pricing on this site is quite competitive. Meaning, you might not make a ton of money this way. It’s great, however, for building your portfolio and being able to work on several gigs at once.

 

UpWork: UpWork is another extremely comprehensive website with hundreds to thousands of listings. UpWork differs from Freelancer in that you do not have to bid for a gig. In fact, the company or person that posted the listing will often reach out to the freelancers they think would be best for the gig. Your response rate will be public on your profile and will affect your visibility to people looking to hire.

 

99designs: If you’re a designer looking for some extra work, this is the website for you. 99designs has a contest element involved: a company will post they need a new logo for instance, and freelance designers make their submission, and the company gets to choose their favorite. Pretty neat.

 

Craigslist: Craigslist is one of the first websites to help people find new work, and it is still one of the best to this day. If you click on the “gigs” section, you will find an array of people looking for freelancers to help them out with various projects. Work for photographers, artists, computer programmers, interior designers – it’s all here.

 

Etsy: Etsy is the place for you if you’re looking to sell crafts, art, jewelry, etc. Etsy is hugely popular – in 2017, 30 million users spent $3 billion on the website. You’re sure to find gigs this way.

 

Freelance Writing Jobs: This one’s for you, writers and editors. Freelance Writing Jobs gives you a list of hundreds of different writing gigs, curated just for you.

 

Yes, the search to find new gigs can be intimidating and at times overwhelming. But if you know where to search, you are already well on your way. You can do it, freelancer!

 

Read next:

          A Guide to the Gig Economy

          Is the Gig Economy right for you? Some things you should consider

          Which Gig Economy Delivery Service is Right for your Small Business?

          How to Adjust Your Business to the Gig Economy

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.png

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 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 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.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Entrepreneurs are smart, savvy people. Hard working, industrious, creative, and the kind of crew who would take a financial windfall (like the one we are offering you below) and make it work for them, unlike, let’s say, some numbskull lottery winners….

 

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    • In the mid-80’s Evelyn Adams won the lottery not just once, but twice. So, did she invest her $5.4 million in real estate or buy a business? Did she save it? No and no. Ms. Adams hightailed it to Atlantic City and promptly gambled it all away. Today she lives in a trailer park.

 

    • Denise Rossi won the $1.3 million California Lotto and promptly filed for divorce . . . except she never disclosed the lottery winnings in the divorce proceedings. Two years later, divorce completed, her husband learned the truth and sued. The judge awarded him every single penny of the payout.

 

Like I said, entrepreneurs are different, and that is why I am excited to let you know about an amazing opportunity to win $25,000 for your small business.

 

Mastercard, in association with Bank of America, is running  the second annual Grow Your Biz Contest.* One lucky winner will get $25,000 to do just that – grow their business. This really is a great opportunity.

 

Here’s how to enter:

 

  1. Create and upload a video (up to 1-minute long) that answers this question: How will you grow your small business? Not sure what to put in your pitch video? You can get entry tips from judge Bonin Bough here.

 

  1. Pitch: Four Finalists will be invited to New York City on November 8 to make their pitch to the judges. The four finalists each will receive $1,000, along with some business consulting and help from the judges.

 

  1. Win: The Grow Your Biz Panel will select one winner, who will receive the $25,000.

 

You can enter here, but remember, the deadline is September 30.

 

So, I will ask the question again, what would you do with an extra $25,000?

 

Let’s think about that for a moment. Unlike a loan, you don’t have to pay this back. And unlike income from the sale of goods, you don’t have to do work to receive it. This is money, and as such, I would suggest it be maximized.

 

What about using it on marketing for example? You could launch a very robust Facebook or Google ad campaign. And the great thing about marketing is that it is the type of investment that tends to pay off long after the actual promotion is over.

 

Or what about opening a new location? Yes, that may be a bit of a challenge on $25K, but then again, you are an entrepreneur. You eat challenges for breakfast. And the great thing about opening another location is that you are creating an additional profit center; something that can pay dividends for years to come.

 

Or what about implementing a new product or service?

 

If you are sensing a pattern to my suggestions, you are right. The chance to receive an unencumbered $25,000 is a rare thing. The savvy entrepreneur would use that windfall to create a long-term investment in the business that will multiply and pay off for years to come.

 

And anyway, it sure beats betting it all on red.

 

Are You a Small Business Owner Interested in Winning $25,000?*

 

Entrepreneurs will receive the chance to win $25,000 when they enter Mastercard’s Grow Your Biz Contest. To enter the Grow Your Biz Contest, small business owners must answer the simple question, “How will you grow your small business?” by submitting a video up to 1-minute long online . Four finalists will pitch their business to the Grow Your Biz Panel in New York City on 11/8/18 for the opportunity to win $25,000 and small business-expert consultation. Learn more at www.growyourbizcontest.com.

 

*No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to small business owners in the 50 US and DC, 18+. Ends 9/30/18. Restrictions apply. Click here for Official Rules and complete details.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.png

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 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 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.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

 

BOA-Heartbeat-Soundcloud-header-TEAM-2400x750-150dpi.jpg

What defines a great leader? This week on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” podcast, Adam Witty – founder of Vantage Media Groups and ForbesBooks – dives deep into leadership. Tune in for great tips and insights for entrepreneurs and business owners.

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

 

Adam Witty:                Leadership is a journey that candidly does not have a destination. You will not be crowned king or queen as a leader. You will not arrive as a leader. Whether you're 30, 40, 60, or 70, no matter how old you are and how many years of experience you have, the leadership journey will continue because there are all these new things that you can learn, there's new insights you will glean, and there are better ways for you to lead.

 

Announcer:                 Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Adam Witty is the Founder and CEO of Advantage Media Group and ForbesBooks. Advantage Media Group is one of the largest business book publishers in America. In fact, just a few weeks ago it was named to the Inc. 5000 List of America's most rapidly growing private companies for the sixth time. His latest book is “Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant,” with Rusty Shelton; the forward was by Steve Forbes. No surprise, Adam is the CEO of ForbesBooks.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to say, Adam, we're thrilled to be doing this “Heartbeat of Main Street” interview with you. Of course, we're doing it in partnership with Bank of America and ForbesBooks. I've known you for a long time, and only recently have I been part of a ForbesBooks team, but one of the things I have always admired about you, marveled, is that you are an incredible leader, and my sense is you have always been working to be a better leader every day. So when we, here at “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” decided we wanted to do an interview about leadership, I knew you were the guy to talk to.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Welcome to the show. And I want you to talk a little bit about your interest in leadership and how that drove you to create a company like Advantage Media Group and ForbesBooks.

 

Adam Witty:                Well, if you think about any business in the world that's world class at what it does, and if you think about any business that's a big business, there's one thing that they all have in common, and that is that they all require lots of skills and talented people on a team working together towards one mission and goal. As an entrepreneur who is an ambitious guy, who has a dream and a vision to create a very, very large company that makes a significant impact on the world, I think a long time ago I came to the realization that if I was going to build a large world class organization, the one skill that I would have to have that would be better than any other would be that of a talented leader, and understanding what true leadership is.

 

Adam Witty:                So candidly, in a selfish manner, I really pursued a path of learning, and I took my own leadership journey. But as I've now realized as our company has continued to grow quite rapidly, is that at the time, before it felt selfish, now it's a gift that I realize that I can share with others, and creating a world class company is not something that's selfish at all. In fact, it's something that's very selfless because when you have a world class organization that's filled with skilled and talented people that are working together to achieve something far greater than anybody could achieve on their own, it has a pretty significant impact, a positive impact on the lives of not just the people within the organization, but all of the people that are a part of your team members' families and close centers of influence.

 

Adam Witty:                So it's become quite a fulfilling journey for me, and it's reaped a lot of benefits, not just for me, but for everybody associated.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, and you've said two things, Adam, that I think are really interesting. Just everyone associated with you benefits. But I want to paint a picture of how big I think that circle is, because there's lots of leaders in the world, and there's lots of leaders that share their leadership through their company or their organization, or in other ways that are very focused. But you became a great leader and built a company that empowers other great leaders to share their expertise.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Were you always planning on publishing books on leadership and business books? Was that a coincidence that that's where you took your publishing company, or was that always the goal?

 

Adam Witty:                Well, I've always been a great lover of books. I've always been a voracious reader myself. Each year, I'll typically read somewhere between 25 and 40 books, and in most cases, almost all of those books are business books or leadership books or some type of nonfiction topic related to personal achievement or personal bests, if you will. So I've always had an interest in books, and what I realized was that some of the greatest wisdom in the world, some of the greatest knowledge that I believe can propel society forward is contained within the pages of books.

 

Adam Witty:                And to have the privilege to lead a company that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders and CEOs share their story, their passion, and their knowledge with the world, it's a really great honor because I truly believe that books are our windows to the world, and I believe that the right book in the right person's hands can change that person's life forever. So having the great responsibility to lead a company that this year will publish over 200 new books into the world, and those 200 books will sell hundreds of thousands of copies into the marketplace and affect so many lives, it's a pretty awesome responsibility.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm talking with Adam Witty. He's the Founder and CEO of Advantage Media Group and ForbesBooks. ForbesBooks is at ForbesBooks.com. Advantage Media Group is at AdvantageFamily.com. Adam's latest book is “Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant.”

 

Gregg Stebben:          I want to go back to something you said, Adam, that really interests me, because not everyone in a leadership role is actually a very good leader, and many of them don't know they're good leaders, or they know they're good leaders but they don't even know where to turn to transform themselves from where they are to a great leader. There's also a lot of people that are just young and being put into positions of leadership that also don't know what to do to be the great leader that their job will call on them to do.

 

Gregg Stebben:          What would you suggest for people who recognize in listening to you the value of being in great leadership, the recognition that they could and should be doing better? Where do they go? How do they start to get started on the kind of journey that you've been on?

 

Adam Witty:                Well, the first thing I would say is I believe that most people in some type of leadership position want to be a good leader. If they want to be a great leader, to your point, Gregg, they may not know how, and they may not know what to do. But I think most people genuinely want to do good as a leader. The second thing that I would say is being a leader in any size organization, whether it's five people, 50 people, 500, or 500,000, leadership is one of the greatest responsibilities that there is. And the person that holds the baton, the person that leads the charge in any size organization, they number one have to see it as the honor that it is. The second thing that they need to know is to serve is to live, and leadership is one of the greatest services that you can give to your fellow teammates. So pursuing a path of improving and growing as a leader is simply pursuing a path of increasing your service to the world.

 

Adam Witty:                So I would say, to answer your question directly, the first thing is, you got to want to be a better leader. The second thing is you got to be self-reflective and have enough self-awareness to know that no matter how good you think you are, number one, you're probably wrong, and you're probably giving yourself more credit than you deserve, but there's always ways to be better.

 

Adam Witty:                If I look at myself and the leadership journey that I've been on since I founded Advantage and ForbesBooks, this was in 2005, that was now 13 years ago, the leader that I am today pales in comparison to what I will become, but if you look at where I am today to where I was 13 years ago, it's amazing the strides that I have made. So as I like to say, as a leader, I'm not where I want to be because I know there's so much growing that I have to do, but I'm certainly not where I used to be. I've made tremendous growth as a leader.

 

Adam Witty:                That's what I think every leader should attain for, is that leadership is a journey that candidly does not have a destination. You will not be crowned king or queen as a leader. You will not arrive as a leader. Whether you're 30, 40, 50, or 70, no matter how old you are and how many years of experience you have, the leadership journey will continue because there are always new things that you can learn, there's new insights you will glean, and there are better ways for you to lead.

 

Adam Witty:                So to me, the sign of the best leaders are the ones that are always wanting to learn and grow because they know that they have not arrived, they are merely on a journey.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Your latest book is titled “Authority Marketing,” and I want to talk about that because just as we just talked about people who are in leadership roles who should or can know that there's more they can do to be better leaders, in fact you're encouraging that forever, but I also suspect that there are people who are leaders in their company, in their industry, where have you, that are afraid or timid or don't understand the value to the world of making their position as a leader, as a thought leader, as an authority, available to the rest of the world. I imagine that that was probably at the root of what had you start your company Advantage Media Group and then ForbesBooks, was that recognizing there's people who know things that should be shared with their world to make their world, and perhaps the bigger world a better place. Can you talk about what you mean by authority marketing and why it's so important in business today?

 

Adam Witty:                Well, to your point, Gregg, there are so many leaders that have so much incredible knowledge and great passion. They have phenomenal stories that can educate. And unfortunately, most people feel very reticent about, let's call it tooting your own horn. So because we're humble and we don't want to toot our own horn, we leave the music inside of us. It never comes out. I believe that there are so many phenomenal leaders that have so much to share that if they did share, they could have a very positive impact on others. That is what we hope to accomplish by helping leaders become authorities in their field.

 

Adam Witty:                Now, from a technical side, Gregg, authority can be manufactured. What I mean by that is that authority marketing, as defined, is a strategic and systematic process of positioning a person as a leader and an expert in their field. And the reason people want to be seen as a leader and an expert is because of the influence it gives them, and the, for lack of a better word, unfair advantage it gives them over their competition. But between us, the other big reason, the important reason is because these people have incredible stories, passion, and knowledge that can and should be shared that can help others improve their lot in life.

 

Adam Witty:                The others that they improve can be customers, they can be employees and teammates, they can be spouses and children. So we take our authors on a journey where we help them strategically and systematically build their authority status in the world, and we help create a leadership and expertise halo that surrounds them, that makes them magnetically attractive to customers, to prospects, to future employees, the people that want to work with them because they're an authority in their field.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And part of what you're saying is recognizing that you have within you or your organization or your company that kind of authority, and not to share is, you're wasting an asset, you're not leveraging an asset. So when you say it's manufactured, of course, one of the most important raw materials is actual authority to start building with.

 

Adam Witty:                That's right. You're doing yourself and the world a disservice by keeping that knowledge bottled up inside of you. And when we help business leaders build authority, how do we do it, Gregg? We first help them author a book, because when you write the book on the topic, not only is that a great piece to then amplify your stories, your passion, and knowledge with the world, but of course, you know and I know that people perceive authors as experts. Because you wrote the book on it, you must know a lot about this topic. So by writing a book and getting a book in people's hands that you can truly help, you're immediately doing the world a service, but in addition, you're doing yourself a great service because now as the author of that book, you're the guy or you're the gal that everybody wants to talk to and everybody wants to work with because you wrote the book on it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Will you talk a little bit, Adam, about the relevance of books today in 2018? Because most people think we live in a world that's 90% digital today and it'll be 100% digital tomorrow, and books can be digital, but that's not really the root of them, and I think statistically, we're even reading more and more hard copy books today than we were a few years ago. So can you talk about the relevance of books today and why they are not only so important today, but why they're going to be even more important in the future?

 

Adam Witty:                Books are extremely relevant and continue to be relevant. In fact, the percentage of all book sales that are digital, electronic books, right now is at about 27, 28%. So that means that about one out of every three books purchased are digital. It hit its peak three years ago when that number was 31%. Over the last three years, the percentage of book sales that are digital have actually declined slightly. It looks like, based on trend lines, that it's going to stay in that 28 to 30% range.

 

Adam Witty:                So, this, of course, has confused and confounded so many all-digital folks that thought by the year 2020, physical books would all but disappear. As it turns out, we humans really love the tactile feel of a printed book in our hands. And sitting on the couch or curling up next to a fire where you have a book where you can literally flip the pages, there you can take notes, it still is something that is really, really important to people.

 

Adam Witty:                So I believe that physical books have a story place in our history and will continue to have a significant place in our future. I can tell you that based on the number of books published and the number of books that are consumed, whether it be electronic or physical, books will remain a very, very relevant way in which we as society learns, grows, and educates the next generation.

 

Gregg Stebben:          We're talking with Adam Witty, he's the Founder and CEO of Advantage Media Group and ForbesBooks. ForbesBooks is at ForbesBooks.com. Advantage Media Group is at AdvantageFamily.com. Adam, I'm going to ask you a couple of loaded questions because you're the publisher of a lot of business books, and you have been for a long time. Is it fair to ask you which business books have had the greatest influence on you and others in the field of thought leadership and leadership that have had a great influence on you so others can check them out and learn from them as well?

 

Adam Witty:                Absolutely. I do have my favorites. I try to temper that as the publisher of now over 1,000 business books. I try not to pick favorites, just like a parent ought not choose a favorite child. But I do have some books that have had a significant impact on my life, so I'll throw out just a couple.

 

Adam Witty:                One of my favorite leaders, and one of the leaders that I've studied intimately over the last five or six years is a guy named Alan Mulally. Alan Mulally was the CEO of Boeing, and he was also the CEO of Ford Motor Company. Probably listeners would remember Alan Mulally because he was the guy that saved Ford from bankruptcy when GM and Chrysler both declared bankruptcy. In fact, Alan Mulally is largely credited with saving the American automobile industry. And Alan is an incredible leader. A great book was written about him and his leadership skills, and how he put those to work turning around the Ford Motor Company. The title of that book is “American Icon,” subtitle is “Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company.” That's a phenomenal book that has had a deep impact on me as a leader.

 

Adam Witty:                Another book that I really like, titled “Scaling Up.” “Scaling Up” is one of my favorite books because it really gives a phenomenal blueprint on how entrepreneurs of fast growth companies can scale up their business. The reason most businesses don't get big is because there's so many traps, there's so many potholes, and there's so much danger as we try to grow. And the book “Scale Up,” which was authored by a gentleman named Verne Harnish, really goes a long way in providing a blueprint and an operating roadmap of how entrepreneurs can take that growth journey and do it successfully.

 

Adam Witty:                The final book that I'll share with you is titled “The Discipline of Market Leaders.” “The Discipline of Market Leaders” was a phenomenal book written many, many years ago, where it emphasizes that leaders in businesses must choose what category of business they want to create: product innovative companies, customer intimate companies, or operationally excellent companies. The author makes the point that most businesses try to do all three and they fail at that. Instead, pick one that you're extremely good at, and be mediocre at the rest. That's how the true world class companies created industry dominating strategy that makes them world class and a leader in their field.

 

Adam Witty:                So there you go. There's three quick book recommendations to help your listeners on their road and leadership journey.

 

Gregg Stebben:          He's Adam Witty. He's the Founder and CEO of Advantage Media Group and ForbesBooks, ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com, Advantage Family at AdvantageFamily.com. Adam's latest book is “Authority Marketing: How to Leverage 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant.” Adam, I want to thank you so much for joining us, and we hope you'll come back and join us again on “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

Adam Witty:                Thank you, Gregg.

 

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

 

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