Entrepreneurs Are Crazy People! I Should Know! | Kim Lysik Di Santi

Va_Woman_Magazine_July_Aug_2016_Page_33Are you an entrepreneur? According to the SBA, 1 in 11 women and 1 in 10 men are.

Dictionary.com defines an ‘entrepreneur’ as: A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

Over the past 16 years, I have worked with over 300 individual clients, with at least 200 of them being entrepreneurs. Today I will embellish upon three of the characteristics I have observed in the entrepreneurs that I know.

Brian Tracy said, “You have to put in many, many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile.”

That brings me to the first characteristic:

  1. Most Entrepreneurs Started Working At An Early Age

At the risk of sounding all… – I walked to school uphill both ways in my bare feet in the snow – I started babysitting when I was 10. I was the only girl with a paper route at age 12, for 3 years. I started at a fast food restaurant at 15 and then was a lifeguard from age 16. Most summers I worked 2 jobs; a few I worked 3. Like many of you, my work life has continued pretty much like that.

Kathy Ireland said, “I work with wonderful people who support me. And, my beliefs are that the business needs to serve the family rather than the family serve the business.”

That brings me to the second characteristic:

  1. Most Entrepreneurs Have Exceptional Drive

Dictionary.com defines the verb ‘drive’ as to strive vigorously toward a goal or objective; to work, play, or try wholeheartedly and with determination.

Drive is that feeling in your gut that tells you that you want something and that you’re going to do whatever it takes to get there. It is the part of us that will get up early or keep us up late looking for another way to do it, pushing ourselves to keep going. Entrepreneurs have an excess of drive. I have described it to other people as a low-grade buzzing noise that I always hear.

So we have this drive that sometimes other people think is crazy, and we know what we want. I consider drive my default. I tend to take this path.

I have one 11-year-old son. So, how does this kind of overriding drive mix with being an “older” mother for me? I will tell you that it’s hard and I’m torn, often. I want to go, go, go for my business and be at the place where my age peers are with their empty nests and college graduates and weddings. But I’m not there in my life. I am here and I am present.

I override my default. I stop work at 4pm so that I can meet his bus. It’s hard for me to get to morning and evening events. Even though the drive is ALWAYS there.

Michael Gerber said, “The entrepreneur is not really interested in doing the work; he is interested in creating the way the company operates. In that regard, the entrepreneur is an inventor. He or she loves to invent, but does not love to manufacture or sell or distribute what he or she invents.”

This brings me to the third characteristic:

  1. Entrepreneurs Are Typically Impatient; More Of The Hare Than The Tortoise

This is a tricky one. I say that because, in order to actually pull off many of the things that we say that we can do, we really need to be hares; moving at fast speeds and getting on with it. Another way of wording this is – entrepreneurs tend to be inconsistent.

For us exciting hares, the tortoise seems boring. And yet, we all know the end of the story, the tortoise wins. So while I am definitely more of a hare, I have needed to learn when to use tortoise behavior.

These are just three of the many characteristics that entrepreneurs share in common. I hope that you have enjoyed getting a closer look into the entrepreneur mind set.

By: Kim Lysik Di Santi
kim@total-strategy.net
703-834-7597

The Reality of Running A Small Business | Karen Williams

Va_Woman_Magazine_July_Aug_2016_Page_28Starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart. Being your own boss offers rewards—and plenty of challenges as well. Transitioning from working for someone else to running your own company brings changes that not only you need to navigate, but that your family and friends also need to adjust to.

“Realistic expectations are required by both the entrepreneur and close family. It must be a ‘team sport’,” explains SCORE mentor Steve Spencer. As you prepare to start your business, keep these things in mind so you— and your loved ones— can more easily transition into the brave new world of entrepreneurship.

Income might be unpredictable at first Without a steady paycheck coming from an employer, you might find it challenging to keep up with expenses both professionally and personally. When you’re starting out, revenue from your business will take time to ramp up. It takes time to build a network of connections and clients.

You may need to forego some luxuries Prepare to make some personal sacrifices when self-employed. A daily caramel latte and Friday dinners out at your favorite five-star restaurant probably won’t be in the budget for a while.

Working from home requires discipline

If you decide to run your business from an office in your home, you’ll face a whole new set of distractions that can threaten your productivity. Tuning out the personal to-do list and spontaneous requests from friends to meet up for coffee during the workday demand concentration—and the strength to say “no.”

Expect to work really hard

Starting a small business requires a significant amount of time and effort. Many new entrepreneurs find themselves working harder and for longer hours than when they worked for an employer. Finding ways to maintain a comfortable work/life balance might be challenging in the beginning, but it’s necessary for the well-being of you, your family, and your business.

According to Spencer, “Realize that your new business will need a variety of help and advice. You will need to form relationships with professionals you may not have needed to collaborate with before. To better your chances of success, consider creating a business development board comprised of legal, accounting, banking, and industry experts who will agree to provide pro bono guidance as you begin. Having a team to guide you can help you prepare yourself—and your family—for what to expect from running your
own business.”

SCORE mentors, with their breadth of experience, are often willing to serve on business development boards. Also consider talking with other entrepreneurs in your community who have walked the same path and can offer valuable insight and experience about the realities of entrepreneurship.

If you need assistance in determining if you and you are suited for small business, there are resources out there to help you. Consider taking advantage of the free mentoring services from SCORE (find more details at www.SCORE.org) and also check out the information on the Small Business Administration website (www.sba.gov). Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 9 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 13,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a
small business request a SCORE mentor at www.washingtondc.score.org.

Karen Williams
Washington DC SCORE Chapter Chair
karen.williams@scorevolunteer.org
202-619-1000

The Reality of Running A Small Business | By Karen Williams

Va_Woman_Magazine_July_Aug_2016_Page_28Starting a business isn’t for the faint of heart. Being your own boss offers rewards—and plenty of challenges as well. Transitioning from working for someone else to running your own company brings changes that not only you need to navigate, but that your family and friends also need to adjust to.

“Realistic expectations are required by both the entrepreneur and close family. It must be a ‘team sport’,” explains SCORE mentor Steve Spencer. As you prepare to start your business, keep these things in mind so you— and your loved ones— can more easily transition into the brave new world of entrepreneurship.

Income might be unpredictable at first Without a steady paycheck coming from an employer, you might find it challenging to keep up with expenses both professionally and personally. When you’re starting out, revenue from your business will take time to ramp up. It takes time to build a network of connections and clients. You may need to forego some luxuries Prepare to make some personal sacrifices when self-employed. A daily caramel latte and Friday dinners out at your favorite five-star restaurant probably won’t be in the budget for a while.

Working from home requires discipline If you decide to run your business from an office in your home, you’ll face a whole new set of distractions that can threaten your productivity. Tuning
out the personal to-do list and spontaneous requests from friends to meet up for coffee during the workday demand concentration—and the strength to say “no.”

Expect to work really hard Starting a small business requires a significant amount of time and effort. Many new entrepreneurs find themselves working harder and for longer hours than when they worked for an employer. Finding ways to maintain a comfortable work/life balance might be challenging in the beginning, but it’s necessary for the well-being of you, your family, and your business.

According to Spencer, “Realize that your new business will need a variety of help and advice. You will need to form relationships with professionals you may not have needed to collaborate with before. To better your chances of success, consider creating a business development board comprised of legal, accounting, banking, and industry experts who will agree to provide pro bono guidance as you begin. Having a team to guide you can help you prepare yourself—and your family—for what to expect from running your own business.”

SCORE mentors, with their breadth of experience, are often willing to serve on business development boards. Also consider talking with other entrepreneurs in your community who have walked the same path and can offer valuable insight and experience about the realities of entrepreneurship.

If you need assistance in determining if you and you are suited for small business, there are resources out there to help you. Consider taking advantage of the free mentoring services from SCORE (find more details at www.SCORE.org) and also check out the information on the Small Business Administration website (www.sba.gov).

Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 9 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 13,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business request a SCORE mentor at www.washingtondc.score.org

 

 

By Karen Williams

The Leader In The Mirror | Jen Dalton, MBA

LoudounMarApr2016HRNB_Page_15The Intentional Entrepreneur: How to be a Noisebreaker, Not a Noisemaker shows CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs the importance of  intentional branding, highlighting the intersection of personal and company branding, and provides advice for leaders just starting out as well as those looking for fresh strategies.

The reputation management concepts come alive through anecdotes of dozens of entrepreneurs, illustrating and inspiring readers to take action to enliven their personal brand.

For so many women who are solopreneurs, or entrepreneurs of any kind, understanding the power of strategically “showing up” online and in-person, creating and maintaining a strong personal image to support the company’s promise and values, is critical. How you position yourself influences how you are perceived. According to a recent Weber Shandwick report, The Social CEO: Executives Tell All, non C-Suite executives surveyed thought seeing the CEO on social media made the company seem 75% more innovative, enhanced market credibility and increased appeal of working there.

Overall, the CEO gave a company a human face via social platforms. Do you have clarity on how you are unique? When is the last time you drafted your leadership promise statement? Many leaders don’t even know where to begin. The book provides actionable exercises to help readers do so, by identifying strengths, values, and developing evidence that supports how they are different and which audiences care about that.

So how do you actually think about being visible and intentional? From start-up to CEO, how do you leverage your reputation to grow your business? Are you intentional about thought leadership, content strategy, customer relationships, and protecting your reputation?

Being “out of sight” makes you “out of mind.” It is important to have a reputation roadmap that identifies where, when, and how to be visible to grow your business with clarity and meaning. From LinkedIn to your company’s logo, colors, and name, how you make yourself visible impacts your brand and relationships.

LinkedIn is the first place potential customers will research you online – how well does your profile showcase your skills and call to action? Did you know that people without LinkedIn profile headshots are skipped over 14X more than someone with a headshot? We include a bonus chapter in The Intentional Entrepreneur which provides tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile.

The Intentional Entrepreneur is your guide through the process of intentionally discovering, validating, and building a reputation that delivers value for you and your business. Each chapter will enable you to be more authentic, generate trust, and create relevance through your reputation as the CEO. The Intentional Entrepreneur is now available on amazon.com.

Jen Dalton, MBA, CEO & Founder, Brand Mirror
703.898.8691
www.brandmirror.com

Leading Limousine Lady Starts with Heart – FIRST | Kristina Bouweiri

LWM_MJ15_web_Page_24In its 25 years in business, Reston Limousine has a long history of supporting charitable causes, with a focus on organizations that help children with illnesses. This is a cause close to my heart, because for the first five years of my marriage and my business, I could not get pregnant. I was working 16 hours a day, seven days a week and answering the phones from my house in the middle of the night. The doctors did not find anything wrong with me so they just kept doing procedures on me and nothing seemed to help. Finally, in 1996 I gave birth to healthy boy girl twins. I was so overcome with joy that I felt a deep desire to give something back in appreciation. As a limousine company we project an aura of wealth and luxury, and so we are always fielding requests for donations – both monetary and in kind. We decided early on that we would focus our corporate philanthropic mission on children’s medical charities.

A few years later, we were in Detroit for a holiday and I saw that a local Lebanese baker had won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. My husband at the time was also a Lebanese entrepreneur and I thought that he deserved to win that award. I hired a PR firm (Myers Public Relations) to submit a nomination on our behalf. As the president, Marion Myers, got to know the company she said she would be applying for many other awards as well. She said we could get a lot of PR for all the community service and charity work we were doing. We told her that we weren’t doing it for awards; we were doing it because of our own personal struggles with infertility or five long years.

That year we did not make finalist for the Ernst & Young award, but we were recognized with many more accolades over the years including Washington Business Journal’s Philanthropy Awards for CEO Leadership in 2009 and SmartCEO’s Circle of Excellence Award in Philanthropy in 2010. As a result of all the publicity about our corporate philanthropy, more and more charities started asking us for money and/or in-kind donations. We were so honored  that we were being asked to donate to so many worthy charities that we started handing out gift certificates left and right. Six months later, during the month of December, nearly every reservation was paid for with a gift certificate! We learned the lesson then that you cannot give out so many gift certificates or the clients can utilize them all at once and the company can lose money.

We also have expanded our community contributions to extend beyond financial donations. As the company grew, I was offered board seats either on the chamber boards or other groups. Today, I sit on the Board of Directors, Advisors or Trustees for the following organizations: Loudoun CEO Cabinet, Loudoun Education Foundation, Dulles Regional Chamber, Route 28 Benefactor, Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, DC Chamber of Commerce, SmartCEO Magazine, Inova Loudoun Foundation, Enterprising Women Magazine, Fairfax 2015 (The Police & Fire Games,) 100 Women Strong and the George Mason University School of Business Dean’s Council. As a director in these organizations, I am expected to give my time – and my talent for fundraising!

For the George Mason University School of Business, I co-chair the Women in Business initiative. As part of my responsibilities, I plan five events and fulfill the mission of helping the students, alumni, staff and business community come together to learn, grow and network. For the Loudoun Education Foundation, I chaired the Agnes Meyer Excellence Awards Gala twice and raised more than $20,000 annually for the foundation to give to the teachers. For Inova Loudoun Hospital Foundation, I sat on the annual gala committee and helped encourage other members of the business community to attend the gala and or become donors. Reston Limousine also offers $15,000 in in-kind services annually to Inova Hospital (mostly to enhance their fundraisers) and has partnered with other local businesses, most often with Fortessa, on bi-annual fundraisers to raise money for local charities.

Beyond fundraising, one of my proudest contributions to the community has been to mentor and empower other women in business by sharing my experiences and business strategies. I am on the board for the national publication Enterprising Women, and I attend an annual board meeting in Florida where I participate on a panel as part of the educational component. In years past, I have been part of panels on social media, marketing and how to grow your business in an economic downturn. As a result of my work with Enterprising Women, I was asked to get involved with the GlobeBusiness Summit for Women. I have taught seminars in China, Turkey and Greece, and attended the conference in Paris; I’ll be attending this year’s event in Brazil in May.

However, I truly enjoy more direct relationships and partnerships with local women entrepreneurs and professionals, particularly through the monthly networking lunch I founded six years ago, Sterling Women. This event showcases women in business in our local community and features one hour of shopping followed by a great lunch with a dynamic speaker – typically an entrepreneur who runs a local multimillion dollar company or a professional whose talents and skills have earned her national acclaim. This lunch has been so popular that the concept has been licensed and duplicated in four additional cities. There was no venue like it that focused on showcasing women in business and helping them grow their businesses, and it has spawned other groups with a similar concept.

By: Kristina Bouweiri
Reston Limousine
www.restonlimo.com

Top Tactics That Solopreneurs Know… And Do!

LWM_MJ15_web_Page_37As a Small Business Coach, I work with a large number of Solopreneurs. Many of my clients are women. Let’s look at the case of female Solopreneurs and the facts.

FACT: In a study by the SBA, Women owned 6.5 million or 28.2% of non-farm US Firms. More than 14% of these women-owned firms were employers, with 7.1 million workers.

INTERPRETATION: Therefore, this means that 86% of women owned firms have no employees, or are Solopreneurs.

FACT: Almost 80% of women owned firms had receipts totaling less than $50,000. Further, total receipts for firms in this under $50,000 group
constituted about 6% of total women-owned business receipts.

INTERPRETATION: 80% of us make up only 6% of the revenue. Banded together, small woman-owned companies do make an impact. As each individual company grows and increases, we can make an even bigger impact. …Now for the tactics.

What do Successful Solopreneurs Know and Do?

Here are Eight Top Tactics:

1. Write your Business Plan. Whether it’s MBA-style-needed-for-financing or something simple, get your ideas out of your head and down on paper. Don’t wait for the perfect format. Do it. Set this as an objective along with a plan to complete it.

2. Write your Marketing Plan. How will you decide where to invest your marketing resources without a written plan? Again, get your ideas out of your head and down on paper. Remember that your time is your most valuable resource; carefully consider and then decide where to invest your marketing time.

3. Write your budget, both revenue and expenses. It’s not enough to take in money and then decide how to spend it or to spend it and then figure out
how to make it. Use your budget as your projection tool for income and expenses. Budgeting is a skill that you can learn!

4. Emphasize Profit. Many businesses focus just on what they bring in. That’s the revenue side. Remember–If you have lots of revenue and even greater expenses, you do not have a business. Profit is the defining factor.

5. Establish, maintain and leverage key business relationships for mutual gain. Business relationships are key for your business success. None of us can succeed alone. Decide who you can help and who can help you. Work to help each other to succeed.

6. Analyze your referral sources. Everyone agrees that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. Where is your business coming from? Are some referral sources stronger than others? What are you doing to foster those relationships? Make a plan. Execute it and watch your business grow.

7. Have a written vision for your product and business. When you know where you’re headed you have a better chance of getting there. Clearly understand what you offer and who your ideal clients are. Be able to articulate that in a way that attracts your target audience.

8. Focus. Most Solopreneurs, who are Entrepreneurs at heart, are very creative people. They have great ideas. They move from one idea to the next.
Focus will ensure that you follow through and complete those great ideas and bring them to fruition.

In this article, we’ve taken a peek at the tremendous potential that exists for Solopreneur Women as well as looked at specific tactics to pursue that. Now it’s up to you. Do you want to grow your business? How much do you want to grow your business? What actions are you willing to take to make that happen?

I’d like to end with a quote from Fashion Designer Tory Burch:
“Think of negativity as noise and always believe in what you are doing.”

By Kim Lysik Di Santi, CPBA, CPVA,
Founder & Executive Coach, Total Strategy

The Amaaazzing Accidental Entrepreneur | Kristina Bouweiri

LWMNovDec2014small_Page_23CEO Reston Limousine and Founder of Sterling Women “Co- Founder” of VA Business Women’s Conference. Shares Her “not so accidental” Life Journey and Success Story

The first thing people always ask me is “How did you get into the limo business?” I always laugh and say,“It’s a great story because I am the Accidental Entrepreneur!”

I was born in Japan to parents who were teaching English in Japanese schools.Soon after our tour in Japan, my father joined the Foreign Service. I then spent my childhood in Brazil, Portugal and 10 years in Africa.It was a great childhood with many exotic experiences!

I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps so I studied International Affairs at George Washington University.My senior year I was working as an intern at the Overseas Education Fund and when I graduated they  offered me a job. I went back to Africa and worked in Somalia to uplift the status of women!

After two years in the nonprofit world, I decided it was not for me.I returned to the United States and the only job I could find was a sales advertising job. It was cold-calling through the yellow pages that introduced me to Reston Limousine.I sold the owner an ad and soon after we started dating.Within one year we were married – and that is how I got in the limousine business.

When I joined Reston Limousine it had five cars. I diversified the business, first into weddings and then government contracting.By the time my four children were born, we had 100 vehicles and we were doing $5 million a year in revenue.It was at that time that we decided that the founder of Reston Limousine would stay home with the kids and I would take over as CEO.

Since then, we have diversified into hospital and university shuttles, wine tours, brew tours, NYC shopping trips and more! Somewhere along the way we realized that 85% of our customers – or at least the person booking the reservation – were women. It was usually the CEO’s executive assistant, the HR manager, office manager, wife, sister or mom.Let’s face it, women are the event planners in the family and groups!Because of this, Reston Limousine has always aggressively marketed to women.

In 2008, I founded Sterling Women, a monthly networking lunch for women.After 10 years of networking I felt that I had created the perfect networking experience for women: We shop, we eat and we enjoy an inspirational speaker! If we are lucky, we win a door prize!This concept is so popular that it is now licensed and being duplicated in other cities.

When I saw how strong the need was in our community for women to come together and grow together, I partnered with JP Events & Consulting to produce an annual women’s conference right here in Leesburg. It is becoming just as successful as our monthly event, with more attendees coming every year.

I am grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way over the years and that I have had the network of support to create yet even more opportunities … not bad for an “Accidental Entrepreneur!”

By Kristina Bouweiri
www.restonlimo.com

Fueled by Girl Power! Lend A Box

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 8.28.41 AMWhen we were young, my sisters and I loved the expression, “Girl Power!” We used it obsessively. It was the ultimate answer to life’s most interesting questions. But digging deeper into my memory, I realized that Girl Power was our mother’s gift to us. She taught us at an early age that we could in fact do anything we wanted to do, all we had to do was try. She led by example, encouraged us to try out ideas and expected nothing but the best, no matter what the result was.

Fast forward to today. Girl Power still rocks our life. Our company, Lend A Box, isn’t just about the boxes. It’s about the empowerment that comes with being an entrepreneur, a business owner, a market disrupter, and having the ability to say, “Yes!” to help others achieve their goals. You can see the positive (and sometimes negative) effects of your
daily decisions manifest in a million different ways. What I love is that we are active participants in creating the story. When we work with a client, and she tells us
that we made her life just a bit easier, that her move was a success, or that her project is done – that’s Girl Power paying it forward, fueling us and others.

Creating a company is one of the most fun, scary, difficult, exhilarating, exhausting and crazy experiences one can have. The inspiration for sticking to the plan comes from many, but first and foremost, for us it came from our Mom – our number one cheerleader, the first investor, and the person we want to show that we can do it,
just like she did before us.

Our responsibility is to continue the tradition that was started by the strong  women we admire, and to nurture and inspire our daughters to follow in our footsteps. That’s not so easy is it? In our households, it starts with a fist bump. Life lessons, important messages, and restarts are always punctuated with a Girl Power fist bump. (High fives definitely work too, but our kids are partial to the many modern variations that come with the fist bumps!) Every day when I wake up, I make an effort to do my best, and hope that I can inspire Girl Power to work its magic in those we love most and the wonderful people we work with in the many different facets of life.

– Stephanie and Janice

All rights reserved Ruby Red Press LLC 2016