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

Stand Out & Break Through The Noise | Jen Dalton, MBA

LoudounMayJune2016HighResNoBleeds_Page_35When I was in the corporate world, it was always heads down and work hard. I had built a reputation for being a hard worker and supporting the business. However, I decided that the work
I was doing was not fulfilling. After having my second son, I knew I wanted to be a gutsy role model for my children. It was then that I decided to become an entrepreneur. It is a journey I will always be on, always learning, focused on making a difference for others.

Have you found yourself in a similar place where you are not sure what value you add next? Are you thinking about starting your own venture or perhaps know someone who has started theirs? I wrote The Intentional Entrepreneur to help people accelerate their business growth by providing tools and frameworks to help them gain more clarity on what they bring to the table. Being intentional means planning ahead, and for most entrepreneurs it means making sure your messaging, offerings, and you, as the face of the company, are aligned.

In a world where everyone is making noise, posting online, talking about anything and everything, it is more important than ever to have a clear message and to be able to develop and share content that shows how you think. In order to cut through the noise, and be a noisebreaker, you have to know what resonates with your audience and what is authentic to you. From new college hire, to mid-manager, executive, CEO, and entrepreneur – if you cannot clearly and quickly be compelling and know how to have a conversation that involves really listening, you will fail. Building your personal brand is 90% what your audience thinks of you and 10% of what you think of yourself. Perception is reality.

If you are not clear on what you want, and what you can offer, you will miss opportunities that others will claim. Being an entrepreneur is not easy, or glamorous. I joke that I have freedom, but no free time. Whether you decide to be an entrepreneur or not, having clarity on who you are, what you have as strengths, and who will pay you for your expertise is critical to staying relevant. In order to stand out, and be a noisebreaker, you have to have clarity, confidence, and be gutsy. The Intentional Entrepreneur is your personal sidekick to help you become intentional and pursue your purpose and passion. Get your print version on Amazon and I will be more than happy to grab coffee, sign it, and help you stand out and cut through the noise.

By: Jen Dalton, MBA
CEO & Founder of BrandMirror
703.898.8691
www.brandmirror.com

 

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

Lessons Learned In 2015, New Beginnings In 2016|Kristina Bouweiri

LoudounJanFeb2016HR_Page_23As one year closes and a new one begins, I like to take the time to look back and review lessons learned as well as create new goals for the new year. This year my goals are professional, personal and health related.

Last year was a very difficult one because I lost my beloved mother. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January and passed in August. I visited her nearly every weekend, spending more time in North Carolina than in D.C. I will cherish that time forever. What did I learn? I learned that life is too short and you never know when you are going to lose someone in your life. I learned that it is never too late to create a stronger bond than ever before and show someone you love how much you care for them.

Professionally, I was able to watch my team take care of business and let me spend time with my mother. Our biggest wins at Reston Limousine were taking over contracts where other companies were failing. Once again, our flexibility to start quickly and grow or retract for our clients helped us win new business. Being adaptable is always a great strategy.

For my health, I gained 20 pounds taking care of my mother! Whenever I visited her, she asked me to get her out of the house and take her to a great restaurant. We got to enjoy all of her favorite foods together. After she passed, I made my annual visit to the Optimum Health Institute’s San Diego Campus for a week of detoxing and cleansing. The diet consisted of only raw organic food and a lot of wheat grass!

For the new year, professional goals remain pretty consistent: Grow revenue, grow profit and reduce expenses. We are looking to expand in Baltimore and Prince George’s County. We continue to develop relationships with our affiliate partners all over the world and we look forward to collaborating. We continue to attract and retain the best talent in the industry. We are constantly looking at technology and looking for better ways to do things.

Personally, my goals for the new year include visiting my father, who is 79, every two weeks. He lives on the Eastern Shore. Now that my mother has passed, I plan to spend more time with him. I hope to talk to him, listen to him and videotape him. I want to record our family history before it is too late.

In terms of health, I hope to continue on my journey of eating healthy, working out and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. My six-month goal is to ride a bike for 20 miles! I plan to get up early, exercise daily, meditate and write in my gratitude journal. As you look at your plans for the coming year, I wish you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Kristina Bouweiri
www.restonlimo.com
703-478-0500 ext 511

Growing Business Through Strategic Partnerships | Kristina Bouweiri

LoudounJulAug2015_Page_16In 2009 I was having lunch with a friend, Heidi Kallett, CEO of The Dandelion Patch retail stores. We were discussing the recession and how it was affecting our businesses. She mentioned that her Reston store was her biggest challenge. She said the rent in the Reston Town Center was high and that her sales were solid but only marginally profitable. I pondered her dilemma for a moment and then I suggested that the two of us join forces on an event to bring her more business.

Reston Limousine was founded in Reston — in fact, at the Reston Town Center where her store was. I knew I had a lot of clients in Reston but had never reviewed our client list by geographic area. I found 1,500 clients in Reston. I then narrowed the list down to the top 250 corporate clients
closest to the Reston Town Center. We then planned a lovely lunch at Il Fornaio Restaurant. The lunch would be superb with appetizer, choice of entrée and then to top it off, three desserts!

I emailed my clients and invited them to a client appreciation lunch. I told them that I was inviting 250 and we could only accommodate 50 people so they had to RSVP right away. We had 50 RSVPs in the next 24 hours!

So now I had a group of 50 clients for Heidi to meet and I thought to myself, “Who else would like to get in front of these clients?” Thanks to 10 years of networking, I had a vast list of companies to invite. The clients that were attending the lunch were the administrative assistants, HR managers and office managers of large corporations in Reston. I invited representatives from a florist, a catering company, an event planner, an office moving company, an office supply company, a bakery, a bank, a CPA firm, a housewares outlet store, an ice cream franchise, and a spa.

The day arrived and we had a wonderfully successful event. Each sponsor was able to pitch their business for one minute and give out a door prize. When it was my turn to speak I reminded my clients that I have sedans, buses, vans and limousines. Some of them were only using our sedans. Some were only using buses. I also reminded them of all of our offerings on our website: the wine tours, shopping trips to New York and brew tours. I also told them that we now offer a car in any city in the world through an affiliate network.

LoudounJulAug2015_Page_17When it was over, the sponsors sat down to a beautiful lunch. They all looked at me and said, “When are we doing this again?” We replied that it was a one-time deal. They then told me they wanted to do it every month. Then the bill arrived and it cost each of us $150 to take these clients to lunch. Out of the very first lunch, The Dandelion Patch got a $33,000 order for holiday cards. The event planner got a 500 person picnic! The florist picked up a 12 restaurant chain!

Reston Limousine has benefited greatly by these lunches also. We now book clients in other cities all over the world. This lunch triggered an account with an international relocation client that gives us 20 trips a day. So we started doing this lunch every month. We moved it around from Reston to Tysons to DC to Alexandria to Chantilly to Herndon. Each month after the event, the sponsors would sit together and try and figure out how to get more business from these clients.

Instead of trying to figure out ourselves how we could get more business from this group, I suggested that we start a focus group with our clients.
I invited top clients to another lunch at Morton’s. This time it would be a working lunch. They could order whatever they wanted but we would
be picking their brains.

Here is what we learned:
• Clients just want a great experience.
• Most administrative professionals are overworked and underpaid.
• They don’t have time to shop vendors.
• They want one reliable vendor they can call each time and not have to worry about the service/product.
• We learned that restaurants give incentives to admins to order to go lunches.
• For every six lunches they ordered to go for their office meetings, they would get a free one.
• We heard other catering companies were offering cash back incentives for online orders.
• We learned that just because one person was using us, it did not mean we were getting all the business!

It was a very interesting lunch. We received a lot of information from this group.

The other great byproduct of this concept was that we had now created ambassadors for our companies within large corporations. We now had an advocate in the building who was suggesting everyone give us the business. Lastly, the sponsors all became ambassadors for each other’s business and we all started referring business to each other.

The bottom line is people want to do business with people they know and like.

This idea alone grew my business by 27% and it was during a recession! It became so difficult to win new clients, we won by going back to our regular clients, thanking them for the business, getting to know them better and having a regular presence in their lives.

By: Kristina Bouweiri
CEO, 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

Riding Her Road To Better Business | Kristina Bouweiri

LWMMarchApril2015small_Page_20Most people don’t realize it, but the majority of Reston Limousine’s revenue comes from our bus shuttle contracts. As our name indicates, we started out as a limousine company 25 years ago. Back in those early days, we had about five vehicles doing charter work. It was through our shuttle
contract work that we were able to grow over the last two-plus decades into the $21 million company we are today.

In 1992, a gentleman knocked on my office door. He had seen my (one bus) driving around town and he asked me if I would like to bid on a government contract. I didn’t even know what that was! He told me that his wife worked for U.S. Geological Survey in Reston and the agency had a two-van shuttle contract shuttling employees to the Department of Interior in Washington DC. He said that if he brought me the Request for Proposal, or RFP, and we won the contract, he would like to drive for us. I said sure!

The following week he showed up with a one-inch-thick document. I took one look at the RFP and felt very intimidated. I started to read the document and I developed my technical proposal. To create the cost proposal I needed help, so I sat down with the CPA who prepared our taxes and together we came up with a cost proposal.

The contract started out very well. We were on time. Our vehicles were clean. Our drivers, including the gentleman who brought the proposal to us, were very friendly. We were safe. But there was one problem: We were not paying our drivers the appropriate wage. Out of ignorance we were paying $9.00 per hour. The government wage determination at the time was $9.20. Neither we nor our CPA knew any of the rules regarding paying government shuttle drivers. Very soon the Department of Labor came in to do an audit.

Looking back, this audit was a HUGE blessing. The dollar amount of the differential was very low and easily fixed. The audit took up a lot of my time and energy and I wanted to make sure I would never put myself in that position again. I decided to study government contracting to make sure that I would always be compliant.

While I was researching government contracts, I discovered a publication called the Commerce Business Daily. It was a weekly newspaper that published all government contracts and cost approximately $400 for an annual subscription. Soon I was finding other government contracts and I started bidding on all of them.

For the next five years, we won every government contract in The District that was up for bid. We had two vans running for the U.S. Geological Survey, then we won a four-van contract with the Department of Health and Human Services. Six months later, we won a four van contract for the Internal Revenue Service. Next came five buses for the Department of Justice. Soon after that, we won a contract with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Later, we went on to win contracts with FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and US. Fish & Wildlife.

As a shuttle bus company doing business with the government, we knew we were winning these contracts because a) we were doing a great job and b) we were classified as a small business.

Most government shuttle contracts are small business set-asides. We were not an 8A, we did not have minority status and we were not woman-owned at the time. We were growing very fast and we knew at some point that we would no longer be a “small business.” So, we started to look around for similar contracts that were not with the government. We found other shuttle opportunities with corporations and apartment management companies that offered shuttles to Metro stations, as well as with private schools, universities and hospitals.

Despite losing our small business status in 2002, the company has thrived, even tripling our revenues since then. How did we do it? We continued to diversify our business and we are currently in 13 markets. Government and other contracts keep our buses busy during the week. On the weekends we have wine tours, brewery tours, NY Shopping trips, buses for Gold Cup and weddings. In any business, you have to stay ahead of the market and ensure productivity is at the highest level it can be.

Kristina Bouweiri, President and CEO
Reston Limousine

Sky High Combat To Board Room Business | PVL Design Associates

LWMJanFeb2015-smallfinal_Page_26I always laugh when I’m asked this. Ostensibly, being the president of the leading regional Interior Architecture and Interior Design firm could not be more distinct from flying a combat mission. Little did I know when I took off years ago on my first mission that it was but another milestone preparing me for where PVL Design Associates and I am today. Our growth for tomorrow depends on the skill set and tenacity I experienced in my Air Force career.

My parents raised five of us. My siblings and I were taught to believe that we could do anything we wanted and become whatever we wanted to be. Growing up the daughter of an international airline pilot and living in America, Europe, Southwest Asia, and elsewhere, I was bitten early by the flying bug. To the chagrin of many of my Catholic high school nuns, in 1985 I graduated from the US Air Force Academy and a year later earned my wings as a US Air Force pilot.

I experienced a career that in many ways was pretty traditional: field operations, headquarters staffs, training and education, certifications, increasing leadership responsibility and command, promotions, all while moving every one to three years. But as a woman, and more uniquely at the time a woman officer and pilot, there were many times I was denied opportunities and endured “frat house” work environments. Frustration eventually evolved to creativity as I learned that obstacles meant to deter me – many large or of high rank – were merely impediments to be navigated around and it was just a matter of figuring out how. In doing so, I was able to break new ground for women officers and pilots.

By the time I retired from the Air Force in 2005, I had spent a career strategizing, planning, designing, and leading successful programs and operations ranging in scope from thousands to billions, and crumbling barriers to women serving their country. I joined a Fortune 500 federal contractor firm and navigated the often difficult path for Veterans of transitioning from our Military’s “bottom line” to corporate America’s “bottom line.”

I learned the business side of business: profit & loss, balance sheets, competitive pricing of goods and services, business development, networking, and the capturing and maintaining of business relationships. After almost 30 years, I had become a rabid dot connector, a passionate  “possibilitarian,” and a penultimate problem solver. I relished being thrown into the deep end of a pool– with or without water wings.

When the fiscal cliff arrived in 2009, it was not news tome having worked in the federal budget arena for the preceding eight years. I knew that it was time to figure out a new way to forge ahead. And I knew that the changes happening in the federal contractor industry would eventually lead to downsizing, which hit hard in 2011. My business partner and I had begun work in 2006 on a business concept and conducted extensive planning. We
were ready to launch in 2008 when the recession hit so we shelved the whole thing. In 2009, we identified and negotiated several deals which helped the course and change of positive beginnings. Taking the plunge having reviewed the opportunities we knew there was no looking back. The plunge was worth everything. “After all’ I told myself, isn’t that what IBM, McDonalds and Microsoft did?” Each started businesses in the middle of a
recession and the rest as we know is history.

This past summer was a highlight for our firm. We celebrated our 5th anniversary – the entrepreneur’s equivalent of medicine’s “golden hour”. Today, I have the privilege of leading an amazing team of interior architecture and design professionals who focus every day on taking care of our clients and working in trust and partnership with them to solve problems. We have grown, adapted, persevered, changed, and succeeded in the Federal, State, and private sector. Our culture is one of seeing opportunities to make a difference and finding ways to say “Yes.” Our philosophy is integrity always, service before self, excellence in all we do, and being good stewards to our clients – our planet’s greatest resource.

The skies of combat are not so far removed from the battles of business, after all.

By Eileen Isola, PMP
PVL Design Associates
www.pvldesignassociates.com
eileen.isola@pvldesignassociates.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

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