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To what do women business owners owe their success—and what remains to be done to help the next generation of women entrepreneurs?

 

Bank of America recently released its 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight, its fourth annual study exploring women entrepreneurs’ goals and challenges. Here’s a closer look at the findings.

 

Women Business Owners Are Optimistic

 

Women in the survey are optimistic about their businesses’ futures, with ambitious growth plans. In fact, they are more likely than men to plan to hire, expand or apply for a loan in the next 12 months. (The survey polled both men and women entrepreneurs with $100,000-$4,999,999 in annual revenues and two-99 employees.)

 

Some 84% of the women surveyed expect their revenues to grow year-over-year. What’s more, 52% expect their local economies to improve, and 47% expect the national economy to improve.

 

Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Concerns

 

However, women business owners also have significant concerns about the future. Over the next 12 months, their biggest concerns are:

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Digging deeper into how women feel about access to capital, the report uncovered some unsettling news.

 

  • Although most women entrepreneurs believe access to capital has improved over the past 10 years, 58% say they don’t have the same access to capital as their male counterparts.
  • Only 34% of women surveyed believe women business owners will ever gain equal access to capital. On average, they believe it won’t happen until 2033.
  • And 24% of the women surveyed don’t think women will everhave equal access to capital.

 

Part of the problem: 54% of men entrepreneurs surveyed think women business owners alreadyhave equal access to capital. Business financing options such as venture capital, angel investment and bank loans are still predominantly overseen by men. If men don’t see a problem, it’s hard for the situation to change.

 

What Would Help Women Business Owners Most?

 

The survey posed several societal changes that could possibly occur in the next five years, and asked women which one would have the biggest effect on leveling the playing field for the next generation of women entrepreneurs. Here’s what they said:

 

  • Having more women in powerful positions of influence 35%
  • Pay equity 22%
  • Creating stronger networks of women 12%
  • Redefining gender norms 10%
  • Achieving equal access to capital 8%

 

Fortunately, there are things we can all do to help these changes come about.

 

  • Seek opportunities to promote women into leadership roles in your business. Mentor female employees or match women employees with mentors in your business to cultivate their skills.
  • Commit to pay equity in your business. Learn more about pay equity and do a self-audit of your business.
  • Grow your network of women. Join organizations for women business owners such as NAWBOeWomenNetwork or the American Business Women’s Association. Look for a local networking group for women or start your own.
  • Get involved in organizations that mentor girls and young women. (More than half of women in Bank of America’s survey say having a mentor was key to their entrepreneurial success.) Mentor girls in STEM careers, help girls “be bold” through Girls Inc., or be part of the Enterprising Women Foundation’s mentoring initiative.
  • Be a role model for girls and young women in your life. It doesn’t have to be all about business: The top factors women in the survey say contributed to their entrepreneurial success include getting a college degree (62%), participating in the arts (35%), playing competitive sports (30%) and serving on student council (26%).
  • Put your money where your mouth is by investing in women business owners worldwide through Kiva or Women for Women.

 

Women entrepreneurs can take heart in knowing we have the power to effect change. By helping other women, you can create a better world for all women entrepreneurs. 

 

    Read next:

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

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

Americans have long had a passion for pets, but millennials are taking that interest to new heights.

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Since 2017, when millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest single group of pet owners (35% vs. 32% respectively), they’ve been spending lavishly on “luxury, high-design and high-quality products and services,” JWT Intelligence reports.

 

Seven in 10 millennials own a pet; they spend $67 billion annually on pet dogs and $33.5 billion annually on pet cats.

 

What’s different about millennial pet owners, and how can you capture your share of this booming market? Read on.

 

Why Millennial Pet Owners Are Such a Hot Market

 

According to a Wakefield Research survey, there are three characteristics making millennial pet owners an especially promising target market:

 

    • Exhibitionists: Nine in 10 millennials are on social networks; many have a social media account just for their pets.
    • Conscientious: Millennials strive to keep their pets healthy with organic pet food, wellness supplements and dog day-cares for exercise. Not surprisingly then, 60% of millennials say their pets eat better than they do.
    • Impulsive: Millennials are more likely to splurge on pet products and services, such as fancy pet beds or expensive treats, than other age groups. In fact, many millennials say they splurge more often on their pets than on themselves.

 

What Pet Products and Services Are Popular?

 

Food

Food is the biggest pet-related expense for millennials, who prefer foods that are grain free, have “superfood” additions or limited ingredients for special diets. Millennials seek authenticity and demand transparency regarding pet food ingredients and where the ingredients are sourced.

 

Technology

Millennials use tech to stay connected to their pets. More than half of millennial pet owners use pet-related technology, including health and nutrition apps (24%), pet monitoring cameras (22%), smart toys (20%) and tracking devices (20%). Rover connects pet owners with pet services; PetSafe sells high-tech pet gadgets like training collars.

 

Home Goods

One-third of millennials who bought their first homein 2017 said needing more space for their dog was a factor. Among non-homeowning millennials, 42% say their dog (or their desire to get one) would be a factor in buying a home. Millennials seek home goods that not only serve a pet purpose (like hiding a litter box) but look good doing so. They also want products that help their pets get exercise, be comfortable and be safe at home.

 

Health Care

Veterinary care is the second-biggest pet-related expense for millennials; many are turning to non-mainstream alternatives to help keep their pets healthy. Nearly a quarter pamper their pets with aromatherapy, reflexology or naturopathy; 26% have given pets massage, chiropractic, acupuncture or physical therapy. Anti-anxiety products to reduce pets’ stress, natural wellness and healthcare products, and CBD products are all popular.

 

Pet Care

Dog day care, pet hotels (that is, boarding), pet-sitting and pet walking are all reliable business opportunities, but you need to add a touch of luxury. Millennials expect a high-end, personalized experience, such as cameras to watch their pets remotely and detailed reports on the pet’s day.

 

Transportation

Whether they consider pets an accessory or think of them as part of the family, 61% of millennials say pets must be portable. (For example, 53% believe eating with their pets at restaurants is “essential.”) Pet strollers, tote-style carriers, and backpack or front carriers are popular, and retail site Zulily regularly sells out of “pet-pouch hoodies”—sweatshirts with a front pouch to carry a pet.

 

Pet Clothing and Accessories

Some 92% of millennial pet owners buy their pets gifts such as toys, clothing and treats; 51% do so at least monthly. Millennials are twice as likely as boomers to buy their pets clothing (60% do so). Essentially, any pet accessory that can create an Insta-worthy pet photo is likely to sell well.

 

Pet Parent Accessories

More than eight in 10 millennial pet owners have bought merchandise to advertise their proud pet parenthood. The most popular are calendars (43%), clothing (42%), cups/mugs (37%), door signs or welcome mats (33%), and wall art (32%).

 

Zulily reports millennials generally prefer to buy pet food, accessories and toys online, but would rather buy treats, bedding and clothing in person. If you’re planning to start a brick-and-mortar pet store, keep it “boutique” with unique, authentic and upscale products. Make sure you and your employees are knowledgeable about pets and product lines—almost two-thirds of millennials think they know more about pets than pet-store employees do.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

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

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In this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” 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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

Steve Strauss:       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 coworkers, 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:        We are speaking with Reema Shroff of Frost 321.

 

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.

 

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:       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.

 

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

Avni Patel started A28 Architecture in 2015.  She had a vision for the type of architect she wanted to be, but “when I first started, I was a very young idealist and I just wanted to create great buildings.”

 

As her career grew, the Chicago architect focused on inclusive, environmentally and tech friendly design ideas to “make life just a little bit easier or better,” Patel said. "There are ways to design that allow a space to be flexible and work for a multitude of users and design ideas.” Patel saw, though, in many of the current small buildings, these design ideas were not typically integrated.

 

 

Patel felt the only way to address such issues – “there were certain things about the building industry that just didn’t make any intuitive sense to me” – and to do it right meant to commission projects so “I could truly focus on the design,” she said. “That’s why A28 was designed to be a real estate investment and architecture firm.”

 

A28_AvniPatel_SBClientStory_Thumbnail.jpg“As I started working, I realized I have to work within the existing reality. Navigating that reality to find a path that led us here wasn’t easy,” she said. “It took a lot of preparation to really understand financing, real estate investment, business, architecture, design, technology, psychology, and engineering well enough to make them work together and develop a business to achieve their integration.”

 

Together with Bank of America she’s able to pursue her dreams of building, both on the job and for her business.

 

Video transcript:

 

[Avni Patel] Architecture was actually, kind of a calling for me. I just knew I needed to be involved with it. I think I just started thinking a lot about how our environment affects us.

 

[Super]

Avni Patel

Founder and CEO

A28 Architecture

 

[Avni Patel] I’m Avni Patel, an architect, and I started my own design firm, A28 Architecture.

 

I think architecture should be flexible enough to accommodate for everyone. It’s here for us.

 

I just want to be able to bring details that big projects get to have, like eco-friendly design, tech-friendly design, to smaller projects likes homes or residential. Whereas right now they don’t get that kind of attention.

 

Being able to get to a point where you’re financially stable. Where the business could then do the projects that we believed in, was very difficult point to get to.

 

[Super]

Gladys Castillo

Small Business Banker

Bank of America

 

[Gladys Castillo] I first met Avni when she came into the financial center for a simple transaction, and that’s how the relationship began.

 

So once I understood Avni’s business, the two biggest things we were able to help her with was how to save her time through our mobile capabilities. And we’re also able to help her establish credit, for her business.

 

[Avni Patel] Gladys is great. She knows what my goals are, and so these steps are aligning with that.

 

[Gladys Castillo] When I am able to work with strong women, and the fact that I can support them and be an advocate for their financial lives, that to me is amazing. I’m proud of Avni, and it makes me feel really good to be able to support her business.

 

[Avni Patel] I would like the power to bring great design to the everyday person.

 

[End Card]

What would you like the power to do?

Bank of America logo

Learn more: bankofamerica.com/Appointment

 

Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation.  All other logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used pursuant to license. Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading material for your discussion or review purposes only. Interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Neither Bank of America, its affiliates nor their employees provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC @ 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

Avni Patel started A28 Architecture in 2015.  She had a vision for the type of architect she wanted to be, but “when I first started, I was a very young idealist and I just wanted to create great buildings.”

 

As her career grew, the Chicago architect focused on inclusive, environmentally and tech friendly design ideas to “make life just a little bit easier or better,” Patel said. "There are ways to design that allow a space to be flexible and work for a multitude of users and design ideas.” Patel saw, though, in many of the current small buildings, these design ideas were not typically integrated.

 

 

Patel felt the only way to address such issues – “there were certain things about the building industry that just didn’t make any intuitive sense to me” – and to do it right meant to commission projects so “I could truly focus on the design,” she said. “That’s why A28 was designed to be a real estate investment and architecture firm.”

 

A28_AvniPatel_SBClientStory_Thumbnail.jpg“As I started working, I realized I have to work within the existing reality. Navigating that reality to find a path that led us here wasn’t easy,” she said. “It took a lot of preparation to really understand financing, real estate investment, business, architecture, design, technology, psychology, and engineering well enough to make them work together and develop a business to achieve their integration.”

 

Together with Bank of America she’s able to pursue her dreams of building, both on the job and for her business.

 

Video transcript:

 

[Avni Patel] Architecture was actually, kind of a calling for me. I just knew I needed to be involved with it. I think I just started thinking a lot about how our environment affects us.

 

[Super]

Avni Patel

Founder and CEO

A28 Architecture

 

[Avni Patel] I’m Avni Patel, an architect, and I started my own design firm, A28 Architecture.

 

I think architecture should be flexible enough to accommodate for everyone. It’s here for us.

 

I just want to be able to bring details that big projects get to have, like eco-friendly design, tech-friendly design, to smaller projects likes homes or residential. Whereas right now they don’t get that kind of attention.

 

Being able to get to a point where you’re financially stable. Where the business could then do the projects that we believed in, was very difficult point to get to.

 

[Super]

Gladys Castillo

Small Business Banker

Bank of America

 

[Gladys Castillo] I first met Avni when she came into the financial center for a simple transaction, and that’s how the relationship began.

 

So once I understood Avni’s business, the two biggest things we were able to help her with was how to save her time through our mobile capabilities. And we’re also able to help her establish credit, for her business.

 

[Avni Patel] Gladys is great. She knows what my goals are, and so these steps are aligning with that.

 

[Gladys Castillo] When I am able to work with strong women, and the fact that I can support them and be an advocate for their financial lives, that to me is amazing. I’m proud of Avni, and it makes me feel really good to be able to support her business.

 

[Avni Patel] I would like the power to bring great design to the everyday person.

 

[End Card]

What would you like the power to do?

Bank of America logo

Learn more: bankofamerica.com/Appointment

 

Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation.  All other logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used pursuant to license. Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading material for your discussion or review purposes only. Interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Neither Bank of America, its affiliates nor their employees provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC @ 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

The 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight explores the unique goals, challenges and everyday realities of women entrepreneurs across the country. This year’s findings show high anticipation for year-over-year revenue growth

and optimism for a better 2020.

 

WSBM-Snap.jpgOver the next 12 months, more women entrepreneurs plan to expand their business and hire new employees than their male counterparts.

 

Women business owners maintain a positive economic outlook with confidence levels holding steady from last year while concern over health care costs and the political environment has decreased and concerns about consumer spending and credit availability increased.

 

This year’s Spotlight also explores access to capital and societal issues. Although women believe access to capital has improved more than half say they still don’t have equal access to capital.

 

Want to know more?

Download the 2019 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight

 

Learn more about resources for women entrepreneurs from Bank of America.

Holly Johnson is excited to get to work in her home studio each morning, surrounded by vibrant colored wool felt and Cheeky Monkey Home decorative pillows and accessories.

 

Holly.jpgIt wasn’t always so cozy. Johnson had a stressful office job, and when “my first son was born I was motivated to find a way to have a creative business where I could work from home and have the flexibility to care for my children,” she said.

 

In 2012, Johnson launched Cheeky Monkey Home on Etsy, an online marketplace for independent sellers of handmade crafts. She started the business for the same reason many people take the entrepreneurial leap: She couldn’t find meaningful and unique items to decorate her kids’ rooms, only mass-produced items.

 

“I was trained as a painter and grew up making my own toys and clothes, and I have always found it more interesting to make something tailored to my needs than to purchase off the rack,” Johnson said. “This hole in the children’s décor market ignited my creative determination to solve the problem and was my inspiration to create keepsake-quality home décor for children’s rooms.”

 

 

Cheeky Monkey Home started to grow, and Johnson  began to sell wholesale in 2017.  Along the way she encountered another challenge:  she needed help, in particular sewers.  That’s when her Sew@Home Program was born.  Now Johnson trains, mentors and employs recently resettled refugee women in the Boston area who seek flexible work from home.

 

Looking to grow her business substantially over the next several years, Johnson entered the 2018 Mastercard Grow Your Biz Contest, in association with Bank of America.  As one of four finalists she traveled to New York City to pitch her business to a panel of judges in hopes of winning the $25,000 grand prize.

 

Although she didn’t win the grand prize, Johnson received valuable guidance from the contest judges and in September 2019, she launched a new line of tote bags and handbags. Check them out at Cheeky Monkey Home on Etsy.

 

 

Grow Your Business

 

To enter the 2019 Grow Your Biz Contest, small business owners must share their business strategy by submitting a video (up to one minute in length) on the Grow Your Biz contest site that answers the question: “How would $25,000 help your business grow?*”

 

From the submissions, four finalists will be identified for their business strategy, video creativity and overall enthusiasm to receive a $1,000 Mastercard prepaid card and the opportunity to pitch their businesses to the Grow Your Biz Panel during the final event in New York City on November 14, 2019.

 

The panel of expert judges for the Grow Your Biz contest include:

 

  • Bonin Bough, host of CNBC’s Cleveland Hustles
  • Jaclyn Johnson, founder and CEO of Create & Cultivate
  • Ginger Siegel, Mastercard Head of Small Business,
  • Kelly Firment, Bank of America Small Business Banking executive

 

The judges will provide individual consultation sessions and select one grand-prize winner, who will receive $25,000 to pursue their business plan.

 

*No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win. Void where prohibited. Open only to small business owners who are legal U.S. residents, and 18 and older. Ends 10/6/19. Restrictions apply. Click here for Official Rules and complete details.

 

Video transcript:

 

[Holly Johnson] I think I knew I wanted to be an artist at a very young age. I can dream something up in my mind, and then make that into something tangible. It’s the most rewarding thing.

 

[Super]

Holly Johnson

Designer & Owner

Cheeky Monkey Home

Bank of America customer

 

[Holly Johnson] I’m Holly Johnson, and I have a business called Cheeky Monkey Home, where I make wool felt appliqué pillows.

 

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child, that I realized working from home was my dream. And that was the perfect kind of transition point for me to start my own business where I could be at home and divide my time more thoughtfully.

 

In the first few years of my business, I was really managing everything. And as sales started to pick up, I found that delegating was really a very important next step.

 

I was also really interested in providing flexible work for mothers who had young children at home. That was the beginning of Sew at Home, where I can train, provide flexible work and community for refugees in the Boston area.

 

[Super]

Samirah Kelhoory

Sewer

 

[Holly Johnson] When I realized that I could actually make an impact, for me that just takes it all to a whole other level.

 

My goal is to expand my business ten times over the next three years. After meeting with my Small Business Banker from Bank of America, the doors really opened up wide in my mind about what the possibilities were.

 

[Tyrone Billingsly] When I first met Holly, we were able to sit down and really understand the ins and outs about her business and the direction that she wanted to go in. And from there, formulate some strategies on how to grow.

 

[Super]

Tyrone Billingsly

Senior Small Business Banker

 

[Holly Johnson] He said you really have to be true to yourself and true to your business. I felt that he was genuinely interested in my success.

 

[Tyrone Billingsly] When I think about Cheeky Monkey Home, it just puts the biggest smile on my face.

 

[Holly Johnson] I would like the power to make beautiful things that bring joy to my customers.Holly.jpg

 

[End Card]

What would you like the power to do?

Bank of America logo

Learn more: bankofamerica.com/Appointment

Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation. All other logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used pursuant to license. Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading material for your discussion or review purposes only. Interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Neither Bank of America, its affiliates nor their employees provide legal, accounting or tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC © 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

I’ve teamed up with Mastercard and Bank of America team for the third annual Grow Your Biz contest. It’s a contest for small business owners all across the country for the chance to take their business to the next level. The Grow Your Biz Contest began as a Boston initiative in 2017 and expanded nationally last year receiving applications from small business owners across the U.S. And this year, we are doing it again.

 

The grand prize winner will win business consultation sessions with each of the judges, including me, and a chance to win $25,000 to grow their biz, provided by Mastercard. 

 

Entering is easy. Submit a video by October 6th telling us how you plan to grow your small business.  Remember to tell us specifics about your plan to grow your business, have lots of energy like the first year’s winner Rachel Estapa of More to Love Yoga, and last year’s winner Arion Long of Femly. Be creative, but don’t worry about over producing. You can even use your phone to record your video.

 

Four finalists will have the chance to pitch their business live in New York City on November 14th to our Grow Your Biz panel for a chance to win $25,000 and industry expert consultation.

 

Every small business can use a jump start to get to the next level.  Go ahead. Take the leap.  Enter today.

 

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Void where prohibited. Open only to small business owners who are legal U.S. residents, and 18 and older. Ends 10/6/19. For Official Rules and complete details, click here.

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 for the chance to win $25,000 for your small business.

 

Mastercard, in association with Bank of America, is running  the third 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 would $25,000 help your business grow?

 

2. Pitch: Four Finalists will be invited to New York City on 11/14/19 to make their pitch to the judges. The four finalists each will receive a $1,000 Mastercard Prepaid® card, professional consultation with the Grow Your Biz Panel, and a trip to the live pitch event in New York City on 11/14/19.

 

3. 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 October 6.

 

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 Mastercard’s Grow Your Biz Contest. To enter the Grow Your Biz Contest, small business owners must answer the simple question, “How would $25,000 help your business grow?” 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 11/14/19 for the opportunity to win $25,000 and small business-expert consultation. Learn more at www.growyourbizcontest.com.

 

*No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win. Void where prohibited. Open only to small business owners who are legal U.S. residents, and 18 and older. Ends 10/6/19. Restrictions apply.https://growyourbizcontest.com/?utm_source=article&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=art_boa-SSClick here for Official Rules and complete details.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Is work/life balance easier to achieve for small business owners? Or is it harder? The answer is both, depending on who and when you ask.

 

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Owning your own business seems to offer greater potential for achieving work/life balance, but especially in the early years of starting up, reaching that elusive goal may seem impossible.

 

In a survey by GetResponse, almost one-third of small business owners cited work/life balance as a reason they started their companies. How did that work out for them? The numbers speak for themselves:

 

  • 25% work more than 40 hours a week
  • 69% answer business emails in their free time
  • 91% work weekends
  • 26% never stop thinking about their business
  • 16% haven’t taken a vacation in over 4 years

 

Personally, I don’t think work/life balance is possible to achieve. Instead, I like to think of it as a work/life seesaw. Most of the time, either work or your personal life will predominate; there’s only a very small fraction of time when everything will be equally balanced.And unlike riding a seesaw, there are times when both work and your personal life are making extreme demandson your time.

 

A survey by FlexJobs found employees value work/life balance more highly than salary when considering taking a new position. There are some ways you can help both yourself and your team find better work/life balance.

 

For your team’s work/life balance:

  • Allow remote work. Set your employees up so they can work outside the office at least some of the time. Using cloud-based data storage and collaboration tools such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft’s Office 365 makes it easy for you and your team to work from anywhere you have an internet connection.

 

  • Be flexible: If you can’t allow employees to work remotely, try to offer as much flexibility as possible. For example, can your employees work from 7 to 4 instead of 9 to 5? Can they work four, 10-hour days and have the fifth day off? At a minimum, giving employees time off for things such as doctor’s appointments or children’s school plays will help improve your employees’ sense of work/life balance and keep them happier.

 

For your own work/life balance:

  • Prioritize. When you feel swamped, take a look at what’s on your plate and focus on what’s truly important. Usually, that means work only you can do, that delivers high value (such as growing your business), and that serves your most important customers.
  • Negotiate. Do you have a dozen deadlines all hitting on the same day? You’d be surprised how often clients are willing to be flexible. If you know the project is not an urgent priority for the customer, see if you can talk to the customer and extend your deadline. Use this tactic only with established clients who know your track record—and only in dire situations—so it doesn’t damage your reputation.
  • Get help. Many small business owners hate to delegate work, even when they have perfectly capable employees who could handle it. If your work/life balance is out of whack, identify tasks you’re currently doing that someone else could handle, and train them how to take over.
  • Don’t have employees? Look into hiring part-time contractors or virtual assistants or handing off some of your personal life duties, like cooking, cleaning or picking up dry cleaning, to your family. Make sure you are taking advantage of business apps that can automate and streamline time-consuming menial tasks, such as scheduling blog posts or email blasts, coordinating meetings or generating invoices.
  • Schedule some downtime. Whether it’s a short meditation every morning, a vigorous game of tennis on Sundays, or a weekly lunch with a friend, build in a little bit of time every week to decompress. Even when you’re working your hardest, having that downtime in your calendar and sticking to it will make you feel like you’re not just a work machine.

 

Work/life balance may be almost impossible to attain, but trying to get as close as possible will give you more energy for both your life and your business.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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

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

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No amount of sophisticated technology will ever take the place of live, in-person connecting. However, the next best thing is video. Especially live video, when possible. I’ve said this for over a decade and it’s never been more true than now, given the incredible access businesses have to video and streaming technologies.

 

As a small business owner, you can really stand out with creative use of video – both recorded and live. The benefits of showcasing your business with more video include:

 

  • Better tell the stories
  • Draw your audience in with emotionally connecting videos.
  • Stand out in Facebook and Instagram news feeds. With so much competition for attention, it’s the autoplay feature that catches people’s eye.
  • Facebook has been increasingly favoring video in the news feed and especially recently with the global release of the Watch platform.

 

Facebook is determined to become a destination digital streaming video platform, right up there with YouTube, Netflix and Amazon. Facebook’s video mission is:

 

“Create shared experiences and a sense of belonging through video.”

 

It’s not just about creating and publishing more video content. It’s about building more community and sparking meaningful social interaction with your videos. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of publishing more video content across all your social media channels.

 

Last year I asked my audience to share their No. 1 challenge with getting measurable results using video on Facebook. We received over 300 responses, and these were the top five challenges people shared:

 

 

#5. Gear: Which professional yet affordable lighting, microphone, camera and accessories to use

#4. Confidence: How to overcome fears of looking silly, making mistakes, feeling too old and more

#3. Differentiation: How to stand out when it seems everyone is doing a lot of the same things with video

#2. Content: Knowing what to say; how to map out an effective content plan

#1. Time: How to find the time to create and shoot quality, professional videos for business

 

Speaking of contests, Bank of America recently teamed up with Mastercard for a fabulous contest where one lucky grand prize small business owner will receive $25,000.* To enter, you simply submit a one minute video to www.growyourbizcontest.com, explaining how $25,000 would help your business grow. All submissions will be judged on the strength and opportunity of the business plan, creativity in the use of $25,000, and overall appeal, personality and enthusiasm of entry.  Four finalists will be selected and flown to New York City to present their pitches in front of a panel of judges and live audience on 11/14/2019.

 

Entering this contest is a terrific opportunity to practice your video skills. I suggest sketching out a storyboard of your one minute video first. Less is more. Don’t cram too much in. It’s better to make one clear point, versus packing five points into one minute. Ideally, talk into the camera, looking into the lens. Here are three simple tips for how to frame a talking head.

 

If you’re already clear on your business growth plans, it might be really easy for you to shoot a one minute video. However, remember it can take more time to craft a short, concise message.

 

Easy-to-use video tools abound

 

Time consistently comes up as a challenge when it comes to creating quality video and all social media content, for that matter. However, the good news is there are simple solutions to dramatically speed up the time it takes to create terrific videos.

 

First, compile existing photo and short video clip footage you may already have on your mobile device. Check with your team members, too, for useable footage they may have as well.

 

Then, using a free tool like Adobe Spark (available on both desktop and iOS), you can easily and quickly create eye-catching video montages with text overlay and music. Animoto is another great video tool to create compelling video montages from scratch or using their array of creative templates.

 

You can also take advantage of terrific stock photos, video clips and music. Wave.video includes access to over 200 million premium assets – that’s a vast library! You’ll never be stuck for just the right photo, graphic, illustration, video clip or soundtrack to clearly communicate your brand’s message.

 

Another aspect I especially appreciate about Wave.video is you can simultaneously create multiple video formats. For example, let’s say you create a landscape version of your video for sharing on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. And then export the square version for Instagram and Twitter. And the 9:16 vertical version for an Instagram or Facebook Story – organic Story and/or Story ad. Plus, there’s even a Facebook Page covering video aspect ratio.

 

So, by taking one video concept, you can quickly create multiple variations and repurpose that same video for a successful cohesive campaign and save a huge amount of time. Then, when you launch a promotional campaign using your video content, your videos literally start popping up everywhere and your audiences across your various social channels will pay more attention.

 

To address some of the other challenges with creating video content mentioned earlier, do take a look at my new 3-part Video Success Kit with super helpful free resources!

 

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, in association with Bank of America. To enter the Grow Your Biz Contest, small business owners must answer the simple question, “How would $25,000 help your business grow?” 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 11/14/2019 for the opportunity to win $25,000 and small business-expert consultation. Learn more at www.growyourbizcontest.com.

 

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Void where prohibited. Open only to small business owners who are legal U.S. residents, and 18 and older. Ends 10/6/19. For Official Rules and complete details, click here.

 

About Mari Smith

 

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

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

My dad thought he had a foolproof plan for success. In his will, he divided his carpet warehouse five ways: one share each for each of his four kids and a fifth for his store manager who would run it until one or all of us were ready to take over.

 

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My sweet dad died young and unexpectedly and clearly he never anticipated what a headache his plan would become. The manager did not like doing 100% of the work but keeping only 1/5th of the income.

 

Eventually we had to sell out to her.

 

When it comes to retirement, planning ahead should provide peace of mind. But that’s not always true. With so many options, how can you decide what is best for both you, your business, and your family?

 

While planning for your future, here are three of the best options on what you can do with your business when you are ready to retire:

 

1. Sell it

 

There are obviously many advantages to selling your business. First and foremost, putting your business up for sale is a great way to cash-in on the investment you made in building it from the ground up.

 

But it is not as simple as you might think to sell; many small business owners try and fail when they attempt to sell their businesses. In some cases, they overestimate what their business is worth, and in others, they don’t prep the business for sale as they should and it doesn’t generate any interest.

 

As a general rule, a business is worth three to five times profit in any given year.

 

The key then is to treat the business sale as akin to a home sale. Spruce it up. Have it be impressive both physically as well as financially. Get a good broker.

 

Indeed, a good business broker should prove to be invaluable in this process. They will not only help set the right value, but will also have access to potential buyers for their business, and will know the legal ins-and-outs.

 

The Right Way to Prepare Your Small Business for Sale by Rieva Lesonsky

 

2. Give it to someone you love

 

Many people choose this option when it comes to retirement, and for good reason. Not a few entrepreneurs start a business with the idea that they will give it to their kids when the time is right.

 

But there are several challenges with giving it away:

 

      • You will not be able to get your equity out of the business
      • Your kids may not want it
      • Or they may all want it and will squabble over it (See Succession on HBO for worst case scenarios!)

 

The key then is to create a viable succession plan (better than my dad’s for sure.) Talk it out openly with your family. A succession plan lays out who will take over your business, how the transition will be handled, and irons out other details in the process. This can be a helpful way for business owners and their heirs to know the timetable for when their business will be transferred, to who, and how (if any) employees will be affected.

 

The Importance of Succession Planning for Your Businesses

 

3. Simply close the doors

 

In some cases, a business can’t easily be sold or given away. For example, if you are a consultant, you and your personal skills and contacts are essentially the business. There is nothing much to sell. If this is the case for you, then you might want to consider just closing down the business entirely.

 

While there may not be any intellectual property to sell, it is possible that you can sell valuable parts of the business - like machinery, inventory, or even a customer list - and make a small profit before shuttering your doors.

 

This can also sometimes be the best case scenario for small business owners who are ready to hang up their hats as soon as possible.

 

Whatever option you might pick, the key to retirement planning is just that – planning.

 

Podcast: Retirement Tips for Small Business Owners

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

After spending a summer looking at your friends’ and colleagues’ vacation photos on social media, you might be itching for a little time away yourself.

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For busy small business owners, a two-week trip to Europe may be out of the question. Just 9% of small business owners surveyed by OnDeck say they take two-week vacations. But that doesn’t mean you have to go without any R&R. More than half (57%) of small business owners surveyed plan to take a vacation of some sort and combining business and leisure on a long weekend trip is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

 

Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your get away.

 

Look for a destination with plenty to offer. Is there an industry convention coming up in Hawaii or New Orleans? Do you have a client in New York City or San Francisco? If so, see if you can’t combine a business trip with some time off in one of these popular vacation destinations. If you’re planning to bring your spouse or children along, make sure there will be activities to occupy them during the times you’re meeting with the client or attending your business events.

 

Plan ahead. For many small business owners, the idea of completely unplugging from their businesses increases panic. If this is you, you’re not alone: more than two-thirds of the business owners in the OnDeck survey say they check in with work at least once a day while  on vacation. A trip that combines business and pleasure gives you the perfect excuse to relax a bit while still checking your emails. On the other hand, if you do want to enjoy some real downtime, make sure your team back at the office is prepared to handle things during the days you’ll be vacationing.

 

Keep good records of your expenses. Some of your business travel expenses may be deductible, including the cost of transportation to and from your destination, lodging, meals, tips and taxis or other transportation at your destination. In order to claim these deductions, you’ll need to keep careful records and separate business from personal expenses. Shoeboxed is a great, simple app to scan, digitize and organize your receipts.

 

Know the tax laws. In order to be deductible, your travel destination has to be outside your business’s “tax home” (the city where your business is located) and the business purpose of your trip must require an overnight stay. Any expenses you deduct for business must be considered “ordinary and necessary” and directly related to your business.

In order to deduct any part of your trip as business travel expenses, the business portion of your trip has to be longer than the vacation part. A day counts as a business day if the majority of your time during business hours are spent on business purposes. Traveling to or from the business location also counts as a business day; so do weekends if they are in between two days that are devoted to business. This makes a Friday to Monday trip a perfect way to maximize your deductions and your downtime, as long as you conduct  business on Friday and on Monday.

 

The IRS has strict rules for what you can deduct as a business travel expense, and recent tax law changes have affected many formerly allowable deductions. Visit the IRS website for more on deductible business travel expenses and talk to your tax professional before making travel plans.

 

As busy entrepreneurs, we all need time to rest and recharge to keep our businesses functioning at peak performance. Combining business with pleasure over a long weekend can help you re-energize while growing your business. What could be better?

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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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

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Join Bank of America Merchant Services as we walk through the steps for setting up an eCommerce website.

 

From accepting payments to addressing common cybersecurity issues, this educational webinar will feature experts from Bank of America Merchant Services and Visa who will show you what every successful online business needs to get started. Whether you are looking to expand a brick and mortar business online, or planning to launch a new business altogether, join us for helpful information.

 

Session topics include:

  • The 3 P’s of eCommerce
  • Fraud & Security risks
  • Creating positive customer experiences

Date: Wednesday September 18th from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

 

To register for the Bank of America Merchant Services "Click to sell" webinar, click here.

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Authenticity is what can take "that shop down the street" to a go-to spot. Small Business Community contributor, Chris Brogan shares his thoughts on how small business owners can achieve an authentic voice on this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

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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.

 

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 Chris Brogan. He's the president of Chris Brogan Media. They offer business and marketing advisory help for mid-to-larger sized companies. If you're not a big company, he also helps small business owners through classes and webinars at Owner Media Group. Chris Brogan Media is at chrisbrogan.com, Owner Media Group is at owner.media. Chris is also a New York Times bestselling author, and his 10th book is coming soon. It's called Dented, Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age. Chris, welcome.

 

Chris Brogan:             Thank you so much for having me.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Chris, we're going to talk about brand building today, and focus very specifically on one word. It's the word “authentic.” And you're the perfect guy to do this, because you do a lot of work with brands, like Disney, and Coke, Google, GM, Coldwell Banker, Titleist, Humana Health, Cisco, Sony. I could go on, and on, and on. This must be something you think about a lot, because people talk a lot about the word authentic.

 

Chris Brogan:             Well, it's one of those pet peeves of mine. I think that the word authentic is thrown around a lot from marketing types, and I think it's one of those things where ... I had a friend a long time ago talk about marketers and say, "This is why we can't have nice things." I think that the basic term of “authenticity,” taken away from marketers just means you do what you say, and you say what you do, and what you come to the table with is who you really are.

 

                                   What happens in technology, and marketing, and all that sort of thing, is we come away with this sort of weird space-aliens-pretending-to-be-humans kind of version of this. And we're like, "What can we do to seem like a human?" And it's so pervasive right now, especially as more and more digital tools allow us to automate everything.

 

                                   And while I'm not saying, “Don't use digital tools,” while marketing automation is a really important part of business these days, I would say that trying to engineer how to be human is a lot different than helping people better interpret how to bring their real self to their customers at a distance, the way we're so comfortable doing across the counter at a store in a small town.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Again, you're the guy with the upcoming book called Dented, Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age. So, if authenticity should not be the goal, what should small business owners aim to accomplish when interacting with their customers and prospects?

 

Chris Brogan:             I guess it's not that it's notauthenticity, but I guess the real focus, if you're really worried about that, the real focus comes in two directions at once, which is looking at yourself and making sure you feel comfortable bringing your whole self to the picnic. I use the analogy “picnic” to mean anywhere where you're wondering what you bring. So, if you are coming to work at a company, you want to know what your skills and qualifications and capabilities are. If you're working with clients, you're going to make sure that you've got that thing that they need.

 

                                   And so, on the one side, as the business side of things, you're saying, "What am I going to do that's going to be of use and service to the people that I hope to do business with?" and also be thinking about those people I hope to serve say, "How do I stay clear on seeing the whole person? And really seeing very specific people?"

 

                                   We want to buy from people who have similar, shared values. There was this stat out there somewhere, and I'm making this number up, high 70's or 80%, saying that we want companies, we believe in some way that it's a company's responsibility to be out there doing things that support our shared value. If you think about that, it's a little crazy.

 

                                   If you're a local, small town hardware store, how much are you going to deal with climate change? However, you can. You could say, "We're not gonna do this kind of packaging. We're going to make it super important that we don't sell you little tiny disposable plastic bags." There's all these things that help endear you to the needs of your customer and the people you hope to serve.

 

                                   What we used to think we had to do is look perfect, look shiny, look like the best of everything we've ever been and maybe even if we have a few dents, a few scars, a few marks, maybe we could still show up and be of service. And I think that if we acknowledge instead of ignore or hide those things, that's what we get to when people say they want authenticity.

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of the things I'm getting from all that you just said, it seems to me that business owners would be really smart to think about the thing they do that provides usefulness and service, and think of that separately from who am I? So the who am I part, can be dented. You are dented, I think you would say and otherwise you wouldn't write a book called Dented, Retrofitting Humans for the Modern Digital Age. So, who you are is who you are, dents and all, right?

 

Chris Brogan:            There's so many ways to implement this. In my mind, sort of leaving our flaws and foibles behind for a quick second. I was out with my two kids yesterday, and we were having lunch at a Japanese place, and they wanted sushi. And so we were talking amongst ourselves about a big event, a trade event for video games, and the server who is standing very nearby came over and just sort of politely said, "Oh, are you talking about the E3 conference?" And he became part of our conversation.

 

                                   Well, most companies, most owners and whatnot, try to dissuade people from adding their personal touch to things. And there are definitely times where it's useful and times when it's not. But I think that in the process, in kind of accepting that we're not all perfect, we're being asked to go faster than we've ever gone. We're being asked to collaborate and in a lot of times we're being asked to be forced extroverts.

 

                                  People are blown away when they hear that I'm an introvert, but I am. It's kind of a weird role to be a keynote speaker, an advisor consultant, that sort of a thing, to be out on the public stage and also be not necessarily the first person to want to touch other people and connect. So, I tell people, in a world where we all have to be visual now, in the world where we have to be brief, we have to use video, the mobile devices are taking over the world, et cetera. Well, we still have to bring who we are to that.

 

                                   And if that means accepting that we're too whatever we think we shouldn't be. We're too fat. We're too old. We have a stutter or whatever. Where our big problem is, we have to find a way to bring that. The second part of what you said about worrying about delivering perfect service, we don't necessarily want to make mistakes that impact our customer. That hasn't changed. That'll never change. It's all fine that someone's, quirky and whatnot, but if you ordered a salad and they bring you a hot dog, it's not the right thing.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Or a salad of wilted lettuce.

 

Chris Brogan:             There you go. So we need to protect for that, but it seems like the past version, it looks... salad and wilted lettuce. Someone brings out the salad. It looks terrible. You look down and go, "Oh my gosh, I didn't even notice that." In the old days, the way companies would tend to do something about that is they would either just say, "We didn't do that." They'd brush it off. Nothing like that happened. It's like Jedi mind trick. These aren't the salad leaves you're looking for. And it doesn't work that way anymore. It's too public. Everything's too visual. It's never that we should have been deceptive, but now the tools all point to, "You darn well better do what you say."

 

Gregg Stebben:         Chris, I want to ask you one last question. I'm talking with Chris Brogan. He's an author, keynote speaker, and business advisor. His website is chrisbrogan.com. He works with mid to larger sized companies. He also has another company called Owner Media Group that works with small business owners. Owner Media Group is at owner.media. The last question I want to ask you, because we've been talking about this whole phenomena of the appropriate and misappropriated use of the word authentic. Have you heard of other words like authentic that set off alarms for customers?

 

Chris Brogan:             Oh my goodness. So I think at this point with all the... I think customers, by the way, customers are so tuned to catch BS. And I think we have this weird thing when it comes to marketing or promoting our own company, that we always forget that if we wouldn't want to receive it, why would we think it would be effective to send out? They say, when you send it, it's a well-crafted business letter designed to really drive value to someone else, and when you receive it, it's called junk mail.

 

                                   And I think that when it comes to authenticity, we've just had so many examples of companies not doing what they say or not treating us well, etc. Every single day it seems you can read a new version of what Facebook may or may not have done, or that your wireless carrier is selling your data without your permission, etc., etc.

 

                                  Trust is just at an all-time low. And sort of circling back to my first book about trust agents with Julien Smith, we wrote that saying, there's such an opportunity to really connect with people and to earn their trust and to be open. And where it gets scary for everybody is that to be open means to be a little bit more vulnerable. And I would say going with the word authenticity, the other word is vulnerable. We know this even with a significant other. We could have a conversation, but sometimes we have to let our guard down and if we don't, it's just not going to go the way we need it to go. And it's not going to work for the mutual appreciation of everybody around us.

 

                                  These are not the kinds of things you think about when you run a small HVAC company or something like that. If you're a plumber putting in piping systems, you don't normally sit around thinking, "Am I vulnerable enough to my customer?", but maybe there's some places where we have to think about that, and maybe there are some places where if we're going to try to reach and earn the kinds of customers we most want to sell and serve, then we're going to have to open the kimono a tiny bit.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Well said. He is Chris Brogan. His company is Chris Brogan Media at chrisbrogan.com. That is really targeting mid-to-larger size companies, offering business and marketing advisory services. For smaller companies, he is also the owner of Owner Media Group. They offer classes and webinars there. It's at owner.media and Chris is on Twitter @chrisbrogan. Chris, where can our listeners find out more about your book, Trust Agents, your new book, Dented, and get more of your great marketing tips for small business?

 

Chris Brogan:             If anyone wants, swing by chrisbrogan.com. And I always say the same thing. The little newsletter sign up that pops up. That's the best thing I do every single week. You can always hit reply and talk to me directly, and I think that you get a real fast taste of whether or not you want to connect with me further just from that.

 

Gregg Stebben:         That's great. And for more great tips from Chris and other small business experts, check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community. It's at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Chris, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Chris Brogan:             My pleasure. Thank you.

 

Narrator:                     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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