Category Archives: Story Time

MOMPRENEURSHIP

Ten months ago, I became a mom for the first time. Four months after that, my second baby was born. I know the math seems kind of weird, but that’s because the second baby was my Etsy store, Casa Confetti. Yes, I started a business with a four-month-old. Yes, it’s been CRAZY. It has also been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, and although I’m still learning to juggle motherhood and entrepreneurship (a.k.a. mompreneurship), I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Maybe this will inspire some of you who are on the fence to take the plunge and join me on this crazy journey. Come over to the dark side. We have cookies. And milk (of a different kind).

Identify a need and carve out your niche.

I started designing invitations and printables while planning my wedding, when I decided to save some money by making my own welcome cards and favor tags. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son and planning my baby shower that I really hit my stride. I had become seriously obsessed with finding the perfect baby shower invitations, and no matter how hard I looked I just didn’t see anything that fit my style. I finally got so exasperated that I decided to design my own. Without realizing it at the time, I had found my niche!

Know your market.

By the time that I decided to take the plunge and start Casa Confetti, I was pretty much an expert in the Etsy printable invitation market. I knew what search terms yielded what kinds of results because I had run so many searches myself, which allowed me to tailor my product descriptions in order to maximize views. I knew what other Etsy stores charged for their products. And I had identified the major players in the printables market, because I had seen their names pop up in searches over and over again. A little more research into the nuts and bolts of setting up an Etsy store and I was ready to go. But I can’t stress how important doing this kind of background research is – you’ve got to know your market! And studying the habits of other, successful entrepreneurs is a must.

You can’t do it all, and that’s okay.

Being a mom is a 24/7 job. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job. So, yes, a lot of the time it feels like I’m trying to squeeze 48 hours into a 24-hour day. And I don’t really know how to do it. It means that a lot of the time, a lot of things don’t get done. And that’s ok.

As a mompreneur, you need to be realistic. Everything takes about ten times as long to do with a child. Of course I wish I could sit in a quiet space designing invitations all day, but that’s not an option with a tiny tyrant around. Instead, I work with what I have. Coming up with a new, original design takes lots of time and energy, so once I do one, I make tiny edits and squeeze out about ten different variations from it. It becomes a baby shower invitation, a birthday party invitation, and a bridal shower invitation. I make a few minor changes and, voila! Three additional products.

My best-selling items are baby shower and first birthday invitations, because that’s what I know best. It makes me happy to work with customers who are in the same life stage as me, so I try to stick with that. Eventually I’d like to break into weddings, but for now, I like where I am. Which brings me to my next point.

Love where you are.

The flexibility that being your own boss affords you is invaluable when you’re a mom. Even if I have to work until 2 a.m. to fulfill my orders from that day, and then wake up at 7 a.m. when my husband brings my crying baby to the bed, the fact that I can be there for the little things makes all the difference in the world. I can put off orders for an hour to take my son to the park. I am hyper-diligent about getting orders out almost as soon as they’re received, so that if my son, Levi, is having a bad day, I can afford to spend time with him and cut myself some slack.

Any entrepreneur can tell you that starting your own business is full of highs and lows. Some days I feel like I don’t even have time to breathe. I’ll be bombarded with orders and questions from potential buyers, and I find myself questioning how in the world I’ll get it all done. Other days are slower, and having Levi there as a constant makes it easier to ride out these lows. I’ll start to feel down on myself for not being at the level where I feel like I should be, but then I remember that part of the appeal of this job is having time to spend with my baby. If I can do that and still make money, then it’s going as well as I could ever hope.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Even before I had Levi, the question started popping up in almost every conversation: “So, are you going back to work?” The truth is that at first I didn’t know the answer. I knew that I didn’t want to work full-time, but if I was being honest with myself, I wasn’t sure that I was willing to go the full-on, stay-at-home-mom route either. Motherhood had given me this crazy surge of courage. I firmly believe that the best gift you can give your child is a happy mom. So I got to getting happy.

At first when people asked me if I was back at work, I’d get embarrassed and kind of mutter under my breath, “No, just staying at home.” But I wasn’t JUST staying at home! I was working 24 hours a day! I had started a business and had already had more sales than I could have ever anticipated. So I’d quietly add, “Oh you know, it’s no big deal, I just started a little Etsy store on the side. It’s silly.” But then my store started taking off, and I started to feel immensely proud of my store and my ability. I realized that I had been selling myself short – if I were a man, I’d have been introducing myself as a CEO. So why as a woman was I “just a mom?” Once I changed my attitude, I started feeling so much more fulfilled and empowered. I get to spend time with my son and still make more than I was earning as a lawyer. As everyone says, the key to having it all is realizing that you already do!

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Gaby Abrams is the owner of Casa Confetti Party Designs on Etsy and a stay-at-home mom to Levi (10 months old). She lives in New York City with her husband, Jake. Prior to having a baby and starting Casa Confetti, Gaby worked as a lawyer. Follow Gaby on Instagram at @casaconfettishop or email her at casaconfettishop@gmail.com.

Casa Confetti Logo

Chipping Away at New Product Development

By: Jarrod Mains

What do you know about product development? If you are like me when I decided to start a company that makes a new golf training aid, then nothing! I had zero experience designing, producing, building, managing, sourcing, or engineering a new product. The only thing I have ever done professionally is sell. But I was very passionate about this product my next door neighbor invented and I truly believe that it makes people who use it a better golfer. So we decided to start Perfect Shot Golf Loft, LLC.

I have learned the hard way that the most difficult part of developing a new product is getting the design and manufacturing set up. The initial steps you take during this process are crucial. I could not afford to make any mistakes as my budget was very limited, but like anything you haven’t done in life before, you live and you learn. I have listed several of the lessons I learned during my product development cycle over the past 18 months below with the hope that they can help you develop your own product quickly, efficiently, and as equally important: within your budget!

Lesson #1 – Do your research.

I’ve always liked the saying, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I’ve never started a job I hadn’t researched and crunched numbers for prior to beginning and this venture was no different. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have, the better off you will be. Before starting a business you need to research the entire industry you are looking to enter and dissect any/all information available. Developing a business plan and researching how to make it happen is by far the most important step before you decide to start your own company.

Again, I had ZERO product development experience and really didn’t know what I was getting into but was so confident this product was going to be successful, that I didn’t care. I was focusing on what was going to happen several steps away, looking forward to the point where I had inventory to sell. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be so hard to get to that point! There is only so much you can do during the development stage as a sales/marketing guy. So like any smart CEO would do when he didn’t know what to do, I hired a consultant.

In August 2014, we sent our home built prototype to a company we contracted with in Buffalo, NY to look it over so they could build us a more professional, consumer ready product. They succeeded in doing this about eight months later. Which brings me to my next lesson…

Lesson #2 – Don’t contract with a design firm that is so far away.

The design stage of developing a product is critical. The more you can communicate and meet with your designers the better off you will be. Sam (my business partner) and I are in Florida; the consultants we hired were in Buffalo, NY. While we did do some Skype sessions and conference calls, it’s not the same as being able to drive down the street and check to see how your project is coming along.

Looking back, there were many small things these design consultants messed up which could have been avoided had we been closer to point things out sooner. Whenever somebody messes something up in the design stage, it not only costs time, but costs money too! Of course there will be some trial and error along the way, but the errors they made were pretty standard requests.

Sam was a foreman on large scale projects such as building power plants and skyscrapers, so he was very specific with how he wanted his invention built (our “blueprint”) yet these guys kept getting measurements wrong, spacing off, and all sorts of other things that seemed simple to us. We thought we were pretty clear as to what we were asking for and they always said they understood, but whenever we got a new part or sample piece the changes we asked for and things we stressed were not done properly until the second, third, fourth time.

For example, it was very frustrating having to tell professional design engineers to make sure the holes in the stakes are close enough together to where you have to squeeze the poles together providing more stability and friction on the unit, yet it takes them nine tries to get it right!

Lesson #3 – If possible, pay for the project as a whole, not on an hourly basis.

Design engineers are like lawyers. If you let them, they will rack up billable hours! We had the option upfront in this firm’s proposal to pay for the project as a whole, but we decided to go with the hourly option and have them send us monthly invoices for the time they spent working on our project. Maybe they were making all those mistakes referenced above on purpose to run up the bill on us, who knows. But we had to learn the expensive way that it would have been much better to pay one lump sum for the project instead of leaving it open to the engineers to “work” on it at their own discretion will while working on other projects for their other clients simultaneously.

This company itemized their hours so I was able to see how much time they claimed they were working on each portion of the product. After looking at the monthly invoices each month, I was getting fed up of seeing some of the same stuff on there each and every month for things that should have been completed already. Again, being so far away and never meeting these guys in person was a big mistake. The trust factor was lacking.

Lesson #4 – Search for vendors yourself.

Again, I had to learn this the hard/expensive way! The consultants we hired claimed they already had resources in place to get us all the parts we needed in their initial proposal. We soon figured out that was far from reality as they were simply searching online for vendors and charging us to do it. After a few months I finally asked them why it was costing us so much for them to search for vendors and why it was taking so long to find these resources they claimed they already had in place. After that conversation, I decided to take over this aspect of the process myself.

If you don’t search for your own vendors – which isn’t hard, just time consuming – you pay engineers $90+ per hour to do it for you! The consultants initially got us three quotes on injection molds, all of which were over $100,000. I made the mistake of simply sending them websites saying, “Hey look into these guys,” not knowing they were still going to charge me so much money to gather these quotes.

I finally told them to stop searching for vendors, I’ll do that from now on. And boy was that a great decision! I not only saved money by searching myself, I saved money by finding better priced vendors for virtually every part we needed! Plus, I learned a lot about manufacturing while doing my searches and talking to these vendors so this move was quite beneficial.

Lesson #5– Plan for your product to take longer than expected.

Our objective when we first started was to have a finished product in time for the start of golf season, spring of 2015. That didn’t happen. Designing and ordering custom parts that don’t exist yet takes longer than you probably think. For one, it was tough to find vendors in the USA to do it at a reasonable cost, so lots of times we had to get sample parts from China…which means waiting for them to get here. If you don’t want to spend the extra money on shipping overnight internationally – which can add up quick – you have to wait longer. But time is money so you have to consider what is best for your situation.

Around June of 2015, the product was finally designed the way we wanted it and we had found vendors for most of the parts. Now we were finally ready to go to production! Except there was one more problem…we didn’t have enough money to pay for the injection molds. All of our start-up funds went into product development and legal fees (patents, trademarks, operating agreements, etc.). While we could make our product cheaper and “dumb it down” a little bit, we don’t want to do that.

We want this to be the Cadillac of golf training aids instead of being like most of the other cheap crap out there on the market. We want people to use this product for years, not just once or twice and throw it away like a lot of other goofy golf gadgets. I’m smart enough to know that cheap doesn’t last and you get what you pay for, I’m a big believer in that. If we start cutting corners now and cheapening our product, it’s going to cause us more work and cost us more money in the long run. And we can’t afford that. So we decided to build it the right way rather than the quick and cheap way.

I hope these lessons and our company’s start-up experience have helped you understand the product development stage in some way. While it does require hard work, I want to encourage you to go for it, just be mindful of what it takes to be successful. We have passed a big road block but the route has only begun as we have many more obstacles to navigate through. Stay tuned for my next article on fundraising and creating a crowd funding campaign. Until then, to be continued… GOLFLOFTNoBackGround-500X500

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Jarrod Mains is the CEO of Perfect Shot Golf Loft, LLC. He has many years of experience working in the professional sports industry with a variety of leagues and in a variety of roles. He earned his MBA in Sports Management from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached here.

The BEST Approach to get Media Coverage for Your Business

Most entrepreneurs and small businesses do not have the budget to shell out high dollars for paid advertisements to promote their services. Instead, they need to rely on cost effective or free ways to get their message out. The same is true for public relations professionals who are tasked with gaining publicity and raising awareness for their organization. While their marketing and advertising colleagues often have a nice chunk of change to spend on ads or partnerships that promise coverage, the majority of the publicity the public relations team brings in is done with little or no cost.

I’d like to share what I have found to be one of the most successful methods of getting a news outlet to talk about your work and demonstrate how you can do the same for your business. It all comes down to identifying a great story and crafting the perfect pitch. Media with CHS 2

  1. Make your pitch a story and not a commercial

My first tip is the most important. Do NOT make your pitch a commercial. No one is interested in how wonderful and intelligent your product is. If your pitch goes on and on about why everyone needs to buy this product or how great of a business person you are, it will get thrown in the trash, along with your reputation.

The best way to promote your business is to dig a little deeper and find a real life example that clearly illustrates why something is news worthy. This will take more effort on your part but it will make all the difference in whether or not you get coverage, and ultimately, the story that comes out will resonate with your target audience much better than an expensive commercial.

  1. Find the essential “characters” for your pitch

Your pitch needs to focus around the main character. This should be someone who is not affiliated with your business; such as a customer or a client. If you are promoting a product or a service, find someone who uses it on their own (meaning they are not getting paid to do so) and who genuinely has a positive experience with it. Your pitch will highlight their experience and what led them to use your service/product and the difference it has made on their life.

Secondly, you need an expert; whether it’s yourself or a designated spokesperson for your company.   This role is to discuss how the service or product benefitted your main character. They should also discuss what they personally did to help this person and what their work means to the community. This role does not include showing off, gloating or trying to steal the spotlight.

  1. Is there a conflict and resolution?

In order to have a story, your main character needs to have a conflict that your expert has solved by his/her service or product. In addition, you need to make the case that this is something that can help all of the reporter’s audience as well. It can’t be something that will only benefit one person.

Once you have your two main characters, the conflict and the resolution, you can plug your information into a simple format. I’m going to coach you through this format using a recent story I worked on that resulted in coverage for one of my clients, Dr. Oleg Tcheremissine. Claire and the Oosterhuis's

  • Introduction of main character

Example: Peter Oosterhuis, a former golf pro and CBS sports commentator, is incredibly popular and respected among his peers, fans, and family. He has a long and storied career in golf and is known best for defeating golf legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

  • Describe the Conflict

Recently, Peter and his wife began to notice lapses in his memory and professionalism. He struggled with everyday tasks and was growing increasingly frustrated with the mental changes he was experiencing.

  • Introduction of your expert

Peter went to go see a doctor in Texas. The doctor diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s disease; and suggested that he go to Charlotte where the experts there would be the best to treat him. Peter went to Charlotte where he began seeing Dr. Oleg Tcheremissine, who enrolled him in a groundbreaking clinical trial.

  • Resolution

While we don’t know if Peter is receiving the actual drug or a placebo in the trial, he and his wife are on a mission to raise awareness and funding for the treatment and research of Alzheimer’s disease. They want to let others know that this trial is significant for the development of a drug that may ultimately lead to a cure for this devastating disease.

  • Impact- Why should anyone care?

Alzheimer’s can happen to anyone- even the greatest athletes like Peter. The more we talk about this disease, the better the chances of finding a cure. Everyone in Charlotte would appreciate that the world’s best doctors and researchers are located in their backyard and should they or a loved one ever need treatment for Alzheimer’s, they won’t have to go anywhere else.

Results:

WCNC, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, covered this story and ran it during their nightly news cast.

The Alzheimer’s Association shared this story as a message of hope and education for all of the patients and caregivers that follow their YouTube Channel.

Peter’s story remains one of the most viewed on the Carolinas HealthCare System’s Daily Dose blog, which is followed by thousands of people in North and South Carolina.

The Charlotte Observer did an in depth piece on Peter and his wife and describes the clinical trial that has the potential to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. B-Roll Media with CHS

To provide an additional incentive to reporters, you must find b-roll to support your story. According to the Content Marketing Institute, b-roll is the extra footage captured to enrich the story you’re telling. Instead of featuring only talking heads on video, you want to include additional video footage, still photographs, animation or other graphic elements.

In the case of Peter’s story, we reached out to the Quail Hollow Golf Course who allowed us access to film Peter playing golf there, we supplied reporters with old photographs of Peter and his wife and coordinated with Dr. Tcheremissine at the neurology clinic to film a checkup with Peter. Those visuals really made the story come to life and allowed the viewer to see what it was like to experience what Peter was going through.

  1. Fact Sheet

If you are pitching a story idea to the media, it is your responsibility to know your topic inside and out and you must be able to teach the reporter about it. Often times, the expert may be so advanced they don’t break down the information in an easy to understand way; so the reporter will often rely on you to explain it to them. Or if you are doing the interview yourself, you must absolutely be prepared for every potential question they can ask you. Plus, reporters are on tight deadlines so they don’t often have the time to research each topic. This is where you can be a huge help to them. I like to supply reporters with a fact sheet before and after each interview with suggested questions, key messages, and data. You can even go as far as to write the story for them and supply quotes, photos and links for more information.

Recently I worked on a story about a young woman who got married in her father’s hospital room just days before he passed away. A reporter with People Magazine was at the airport so couldn’t be there in person- so I took photos for her and provided as much information as I could so she could write her story.

  1. Share and Follow Up

Now that you put in all that work to get your story in the spotlight, it’s time to share it! Post the link on social media, your company’s YouTube page, and email your family, friends, and contacts. When the share the coverage with their networks, it gets even more exposure! Plus, it’s a great way to build relationships with everyone involved and if the experience was positive, it will be that much easier to work with that reporter on another story in the future. When reporter Lena Sun with The Washington Post covered the behavioral health integration model, we shared the link and connected with Lena on Twitter to immediately to promote the story, which resulted in greater exposure of the report and our behavioral health team.

Conclusion

According to research done by Paul Zak and his team at the University of California, Berkeley, stories “shape our brains, tie strangers together and move us to be more empathic and generous.” These are all the emotions we should try to evoke when reaching out to our target audiences. Anything less than that and they will change the channel, skip over the story, and stop engaging with you. I encourage you to put on your own reporter hat and ask questions to find that great story that will resonate with reporters and audiences to ultimately help you achieve your goal- showcasing the great work of you/your company and getting your audience to respond and connect with you.

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Claire Simmons is with the clinical public relations team at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C. She is responsible for developing strategic communications initiatives and coordinating public relations activities for women and children’s services, behavioral health and neurosciences. Claire develops and manages annual communications plans that promote new programs, facilities, services and other activities for her various clinical specialties. As a former news producer and reporter, Claire’s favorite aspect of her work revolves around telling stories that connect with the community while promoting her clients. Connect with Claire on LinkedIn or email her at Claire.Simmons@carolinashealthcare.org.

THE WIMS GUIDE PIVOT

The WIMS Guide Pivot

I originally launched my blog, The WIMS Guide a little over a year now, and have been writing sporadically ever since. I mostly receive positive feedback with each post, which is nice, but to be brutally honest with myself it wasn’t going anywhere. And to keep doing it in that perpetually half-assed manner is just not in my nature. So I made it a point to redo the blog in order to breathe new life into and to tweak the approach as well. Here’s a brief overview of the concept, let me know what you think and perhaps even go one step further – and actually subscribe.

Now I read a ton daily, not just books but lots of blogs and how-to articles like “The Top X Things to Improve Your Y” type stuff. A lot of them are just subtly trying to sell you stuff, and usually they’re written by some intern but placed under the by-line of a famous entrepreneur or a partner at a large firm who most likely didn’t even read it before posting (I know this because I used to and still write for some).

I’m not just trying to bash Inc., Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Elite Daily, etc. of the world as a lot of their content is quality. However so much of what’s out there is the same. Its lessons learned, tips to keep in mind, success stories from people who have already made it. At times I love reading them of course, but other times I’d prefer a different approach and angle.

So, rather than focus solely on the destination, I want to create content that focuses more on the journey. I want stories, insights, and life hacks from the people who are still in the trenches, scratching and clawing their way to success but haven’t quite made it yet. I want to read the words of the hungry hustlers and learn what they’re doing on a daily basis to achieve their goals.

We live in a world today that anyone can realistically become a pseudo-celebrity. With the compounding nature of our social networks, any one of you can create a massive following and loyal audience. I want The WIMS Guide to help enable that, not by only writing content myself, but with A LOT of help from my friends.

I’ve enlisted the help from members of my network, spanning across an extremely diverse range of backgrounds and expertise. The content will be primarily geared towards entrepreneurship and ways to enhance the daily grind in the lives of young professionals but with an occasional curve ball thrown in there to keep you on your toes.

We’re going to have entrepreneurs, consultants, health care professionals, bloggers, MBA students, lawyers, bankers, accountants, real estate brokers, investors, and on and on. The main goal is to provide an outlet to empower and raise each other up rather than focusing so much on celebrity entrepreneurs that we don’t even know.

If you have a compelling story you’d like to share, or know someone that does please send an email to mike@wimsguide.com with an overview of the concept. If you’re not a writer but want to share your thoughts on the concept, I’d love to hear that too.

Finally, to end with a shameless plug: please make sure to subscribe and share!

Marketing Process Outsourcing

The New WIMS Inc: Putting In-House Marketing Departments on Notice

Unlike my typical blog posts, this one is certainly going to piss people off, including current and former colleagues, friends, clients, and prospects. While I usually try to avoid that, I can’t any longer as some things just need to be said. Change can be a scary and complicated thing, but there’s just a better way to do business and it’s nothing personal.

Now, the trend of outsourcing is far from a new or innovative concept. Yet companies like professional services firms continue to allocate extremely high budgets of $500,000-$1,000,000 and often much more to their in-house marketing departments. They do this despite the fact that they could spend a fraction of the cost while simultaneously getting significantly better service and results.

Regardless if you prefer to keep your team in house or to use a consulting firm, one thing is constant in either case, you need to DEMAND to see ROI. There are some advantages to keeping the team in-house I’ll admit that, but you should at least be able to make an apples to apples comparison between both approaches.

The way to do that is ROI, the objective metric that evens out all playing fields. I’ve seen many CMO’s apply the “smoke and mirrors” strategy year after year. They avoid accountability by overlooking past failures while waving the amazing, shiny new “marketing strategy” that they’re going to deploy this year. This is often just the old strategy repackaged to appear new however. CEO’s looking to avoid conflict accept it as a cost of doing business and then proceed to kick the can further down the road.

Now while there are plenty of exceptions, as there always are when dealing with people, there’s something I’ve often observed in the corporate world, I call it the “comfort theory.” Essentially, when you’re paying someone a predictable and stable salary it inherently allows most people to start cutting corners and reducing the quality of their work because they can get away with it. Not only is there a reduced quality of work, but why subsidize employee’s internet browsing time and social media addiction when you can just pay for the work that’s actually done. Besides, I doubt they’re going to give you a cut of their fantasy football winnings despite squandering hours a week of your time managing their team.

Don’t just take my word for it, conduct your own experiment and see for yourself. The next time you’re in a meeting with your marketing department demand more out of them or suggest changes, and watch the level of pushback, reluctance, and resistance you get. On the contrary call a consultant about a new project idea and watch them passionately geek out about all the possibilities.

I understand the comfort of familiarity and the status quo believe me, but is it really worth spending $50,000-100,000 on a salary for someone to just write an occasional blog post or article, blankly stare at a twitter feed, or create an occasional ad. You can get the same result or better for a tenth of the cost in many cases.

As another experiment, this Friday afternoon say around 3pm, take a walk around your building and see how empty the offices and cubicles are. The mentality of being an employee and working for your boss vs. being a client and working for your business partner can’t be compared. Working with independent contractors that need your business takes the quality of work to another level. They are mini-CEOs trying to better their lives, they’re not just punching a clock while desperately waiting to leave the office early on Friday afternoon. They’re the ones working at midnight on a Saturday because they’re hungry and ambitious.

You create the best work when you absolutely need to, like when writing a paper the night before it’s due. There’s something about having your life depending on it that generates this hyper-focus of productivity. Imagine having a team of people producing this kind of work every day because that’s how they approach their live, very deliberately.

Typical counter-arguments for in-house departments include things like, “oh but we know the brand so well,” or “what if someone urgently needs a brochure for a sales call?” It may not be a popular sentiment, but people are easily replaceable. We work with various brand guidelines all the time and pick them up very quickly. Also, I’ve seen countless desks with stacks of brochures piled high collecting dust, as much as marketers may try to convince you otherwise, your beautiful brochure is not what’s going to win you new business, relationships are.

Perhaps this post is like that old “Magician’s Greatest Secrets Revealed” show where the masked magician showed you how the tricks were really done and made a lot of magicians extremely angry. If you’re feeling that way right now I hope you take this opportunity to step your game up and prove me wrong.

Changing a decades long mindset of keeping marketing teams in-house is going to require evolution and a rebuilding process, but there’s definitely hope. It will force people to BE BETTER. Think about the Golden State Warriors a few years ago. They were very bad, but they had some decent and promising players, they stuck to their long-term plan to build their team, make a few strategic moves and then a few years later they won a championship. The metaphor is very relative in business as well.

For the sake of full transparency, this long-winded blog post has the additional goal of announcing the new WIMS, Inc. We now offer a complete suite of marketing, CRM, and business development services that are provided for literally a fraction of the total cost you’re paying for your entire marketing department. By leveraging strategic partnerships and a deep team of independent contractors we are now able to offer literally any marketing service, and to any size firm in any industry. If you’re interested in video, we can develop the content, build an entire distribution network, and even create your own online channel. If audio is your thing, we can help with the creation, publishing, and promotion of your own radio show and/or podcast. If you need a website, an ad campaign, online content creation, or social media network, whatever it is you’re looking for, we can help facilitate.

Give us a call or send us an email and we’ll be happy to provide you with a FREE consultation to see if our companies would be a good fit to work together. Part of building strong long-term relationships includes occasionally offering some free advice, which we do happily. What do you have to lose by at least evaluating whether it’s worth pursuing a potential 6-figure a year cost reduction in your marketing expenses?

cut your teeth

Cut Your Teeth

Little did I know when I first heard this rather graphic and cringe-worthy phrase how literal it could be. If you haven’t heard it before, this will explain it for you.

But first to quickly digress, after receiving such positive and encouraging feedback from my post last week (if you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here) I figured why not tell another embarrassing and self-depreciating yet important lesson learned story. That being said, if you want more of these types of posts please let me know, and on the contrary if you’d rather me go back to providing more practical marketing/entrepreneurial advice I can accommodate that as well, regardless I’d love to hear your thoughts! Now back to the story.

A couple months ago on a Friday evening, I had just arrived to Miami for a business trip. I had driven about 11 hours straight on limited sleep as it is after a few late nights working. Needless to say, I was extremely relieved to arrive at my best friend’s place where I was staying that first night and immediately poured a glass of wine after walking through the door. I didn’t even make it through the first glass before getting up to walk to the bathroom. But on the way, disaster struck!

Somehow out of nowhere I fainted, falling face first into his granite sink and literally cut my tooth in half, while chipping several others, and bit through my lip. To add insult to injury my limp body subsequently collapsed into a kitty litter box, which thankfully at least had recently been cleaned out. I came to a few minutes later laying in the litter box, and lots of blood all over me. For full disclosure’s sake, the picture above is not of me, my accident looked much worse.

Luckily my friend and his girlfriend were there to help clean me up, and get me back to the couch where I promptly received 1950’s era medical treatment, i.e. a towel, a bag of ice, and aspirin. Of course I didn’t have health insurance at the time (nor dental) so I essentially had to just suck it up. That’s one of the trade-offs you have to sometimes make when going from a corporate gig to becoming an entrepreneur.

I spent the rest of the weekend sleeping, recovering, and mulling over whether or not to just head home with my tail between my legs and finish recovering with my fiancé in the comforts of my own home. Considering I can be a little vain, and didn’t want people to see me looking like that, I came very close to making that decision. Not to mention I had a feeling my reputation as a partier would generally be considered the culprit for my accident, and I wanted to avoid the condescending, “uh huh, sure that’s how it happened…” comments that would likely ensue.

Obviously, I didn’t make what in hindsight would’ve been a very poor decision or I wouldn’t be telling you this story now. Come Monday morning I decided that despite how much pain I was in, and how bad my face looked, I needed to rally and make the best of the trip.

As an entrepreneur you don’t have the luxury of taking a paid sick day. I knew I desperately needed to close business while I was there so I mustered all the courage I could, bought a BIG bottle of ibuprofen, and got to work.

An hour after making this decision I got a call about an opportunity I hadn’t even anticipated with a potential dream client. Since I was still in town I was able to make some moves, and ended up landing it! That client then led to another big opportunity with another client in Miami as well. Not to mention I was still able to attend the HYPE Awards with an interesting yet lisp-y story to tell.

Not only does being an entrepreneur, or any professional for that matter, require skill, intelligence, and hard work, but it also requires a little grit and relentless determination as well. The easier and comfortable decision is always to give up and call it a day, but that’s not what’s going to make you successful. Sometimes you have to learn by figuratively cutting your teeth, and sometimes it takes literally cutting them to learn what you’re capable of.

Running out of Runway

Running Out of Runway

Typically I don’t discuss my personal life or experiences in this forum, I now realize how much of a missed opportunity that has been. While people sometimes enjoy reading how-to guides and the “Top 10 Tips for X,” it’s the personal, and hopefully relatable stories that really move people and resonates with them. This story is about the moment when you get the sobering realization that you are speeding rapidly down the runway, and you better take off very soon…

So, a couple of weeks ago, my fiancé and I were invited out to dinner with my future in-laws. Initially it seemed normal enough, and I didn’t think much of it as dinner with them is pretty common. But then all of a suddenly it dawned on me, I was about to get grilled.

To set the scene a bit, while my future father-in-law is one of the nicest men around and we do have a great relationship, he is also a typical alpha-male and very successful self-made entrepreneur in the aviation industry. He knows better than anyone the struggle it is to start your own business, but at the same time he also has his only daughter’s present and future to be concerned about, and he wanted reassurance that both were in good hands.

Now, I’m an eternal optimist for the most part, so I excitedly began telling him about all the amazing opportunities I have going on, the wonderful current clients and projects, the great prospective ones coming up, etc. Success is a foregone conclusion in my mind, and only a matter of time. The thought of failure doesn’t even cross my mind.

Needless to say, he was thoroughly unimpressed. He had heard similar things like this from me before but at this point wanted to see real tangible results. He now wanted me to put a deadline on when, if I wasn’t making enough money that I would give up my dream, face reality and get a real job to make real money. Up until this conversation I hadn’t really made the connection that what some people (like myself) consider optimism, others consider bull shit. I can’t say I blame him. After all, over a very long career he’s seen it all before, and seen many optimistic young men just like me with all the passion in the world still fail.

Gulp!

While I was feeling pretty down after this conversation, I certainly wasn’t going to let it defeat me. After the initial sting wore off I realized that I had two choices: I could take his advice and go update my resume, or I could use it as motivation to light a fire and get back to work.

Obviously I chose the latter, as some of the recent success I’ve been having prior to this was extremely encouraging and I just know that this is what I’m meant to be doing. But I also knew that I needed to tweak my approach.

Now I have simplified my priorities to the following: provide exceptional service for the clients I already have, track my time and bill them regularly (unfortunately collecting is by far the hardest part of being an entrepreneur), and then focus on bringing in new business after the first two are covered.

At the time it was a very awkward and uncomfortable conversation with my future father-in-law, but in hindsight it was very necessary. In the couple weeks since I’ve been much more focused and disciplined in the day-to-day operations of my business. I’ve always had a keen instinct for self-preservation (that’s even more so now that I have others to take care of as well) so there’s really no greater motivation than realizing that if you don’t soon take off, you’re going to crash and burn.