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What Are Your Margins?

by Chris Atley

First, I want to start of this week’s article with us focusing on what is really important to you in terms of profit.

Have you taken the time to look at what type of lifestyle you are really wanting? If it’s been awhile, go ahead and do it again. Things shift, people change.

What do you really want? What is important to you?

We want to be really mindful of not falling into comparisons and “shoulds” here. What is important to you in life and business? What type of business do you ultimately want to run, what support do you need and what does it look like cost wise? Do the same in your personal life. What lifestyle do you want and what is important to you? Is it travel, experiences with your family, savings, college funds, etc.? What is it for YOU?

Get clear on this first and drop the judgment and comparisons from there. This is about you living life to the fullest on your terms and no one else’s.

Second, take what others are saying with a grain of salt. When a business owner talks about how much their company did in a given month or year, this is typically gross, not net. It’s not a criticism, but something to keep in mind when you hear this info. so that it doesn’t bring you down and make you feel bad for not being where you want to be.

You could be earning way less, but keeping way more. It’s all relative. A better determination of success is looking at your profit margin. How much are you earning versus how much you are keeping over a given period of time. That is a better indicator and most small businesses don’t look at that percentage.

* You can calculate your profit margin by taking your total revenue and subtracting your total expenses, and then taking that number and dividing it by your total revenue to get the percentage. The percentage is your profit margin.

Start looking at this for your own company and determining what you would like to see happen. The average standard for a healthy business is having a profit margin of 25% or over, generally speaking to give you an idea. Once you figure out your own profit margin, you can then use your own business results to compare to and not others going forward. Let’s get you to where you want to be in your business and what feels good for you, and not for someone else.

Happy calculating and planning!

Written by Success Speaker & Coach Chris Atley, CEO of Chris Atley LLC ~ Decisions by Design. For complimentary success tips for business and life, please visit www.chrisatley.com.

"List-Building for Your Business: What Works & What Doesn't" with Kerry Heaps on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Show #416

Topic: "List-Building for Your Business: What Works & What Doesn't" with Kerry Heaps on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™


Working to build your email list? There are a lot of myths around list-building. What works today and what doesn't? Kerry Heaps returns as co-host to discuss the ever-evolving rules of list-building for your business.

Kerry Heaps is the Founder and Publisher of Strictly Marketing Magazine.  She is also the host of Strictly Marketing Talk Radio. The magazine has recently spun off an online community for women (and men too) looking to gain more media exposure, Pitch like a B*tch Media.  She owns Knockout Marketing, a Business-to-Business telemarketing and lead generation firm.  Her passion is to help other Entrepreneurs with their marketing efforts to continue their dream of running a successful business.

Her story starts in the spring of 2005, working in the corporate world as a recruiter she spent a lot of time at networking functions and participating in putting them together for other organizations. "It's a lot of work putting together events and I thought to myself if I am going to do this, I should do it for myself. I was working part time to save money to start my image consulting firm so I figured this would be a great way to add in some revenue while the business gets up and running."

She left her corporate job in the fall and started getting business owners together at a local book store café. "I still remember my first Monday after I left my job, I got up that morning and thought, what have I done??? Although there's been a lot of bumps in the road I don't regret my decision one bit. My passion is helping others succeed in their marketing efforts, I know how scary it can be to start a business and no one should feel alone on their journey." The company currently specializes in marketing, with the Magazine, talk radio program and online community for Women in Marketing.

Kerry has an extensive background in Sales, Networking, Recruiting, and Training. She is a former Model who specialized in Trade Show and Print work. She is also an experienced judge on the beauty pageant circuit.  Kerry is also a contributing columnist for www.sbmarketingtools.com, www.entrepreneursenvogue.com and she also writes occasionally for www.sheownsit.com and www.womensprospects.com.  Kerry has interviewed celebrities such as Co-Host of Shark Tank, Barbara Corcoran, Authors Larry Winget, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Former Miss West Virginia and QVC Talk Show host, Kim Parrish and many more successful business entrepreneurs.

Websites: 

Pitch Like a Bitch Media, www.pitchlikeabitchmedia.com 

Strictly Marketing Magazine & Talk Radio:  http://www.strictlymarketingmagazine.com

Appointment Setting by Knockout Marketing website:
http://www.appointmentsettingbyknockoutmarketing.com 


Listen on Podomatic:
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dbcoach/episodes/2017-05-24T04_00_00-07_00

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How to Start a Fashion Business

by Heneka Watkis-Porter

There's no shortage of business ideas. What is missing most of the times is "how-to" get started. With the right guidance, it is possible to have a successful fashion business. After all, clothing is one of the basic physiological human needs according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

You must be prepared to answer very honestly, these questions:
  • Do I really want to run a fashion business?
  • Do I have access to the necessary funding?
  • Do I have the skills that are required?
  • What is unique about what I'm doing?
  • Am I able to identify partners to help me?

If you are willing to put in the necessary work, here are some considerations to go from idea to market.

Idea Development & Research

1.    What is the concept behind the brand you are creating? If you don't already have a name, it's a good time to start brainstorming ideas.
2.    Who are you targeting?
3.    What is the messaging you want your brand to communicate?
4.    What is the research saying about the industry?
5.    What are the current fashion trends?

Market Testing

Once you've got clarity on the idea, it's time to test the market to see how it will respond to your new collection.

1.    Do a simple survey by asking persons in your target market to respond to things like price, quality, style, design, and brand image. A questionnaire developed in Survey Money for example could help.
2.    Who is your competition? What are they known for?
3.    Which top designer will you benchmark in your fashion business? - the idea is to look at someone in the industry who has already done it and to see what inspiration you may gather from them (not to copy what they are doing).
4.    What will be your unique selling proposition?
5.    How will you compete?
6.    What type of pricing strategy will you use to enter the market?
7.    What's the vision for your fashion business? Where do you see it 2, 5 or 10 years from now? Make sure to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound).
8.    Start putting a business plan/pitch deck to get partners involved and to stay focused on the vision. 

Funding Options
This is a vital part of developing your fashion business. Some possible sources include:

Personal funds

  • Loans from families and friends
  • Bank loan
  • Grants for small businesses
  • Investors

Be very cautious about taking out a loan from a bank at the early stage of your business. You want to ensure that your energy is focused on growing your business instead of worrying about the repayment of a loan which may attract high interests.

Grants are always a good option. Some donor agencies offer 100% grant funding while some require that you have some skin in the game and may go 70-30 for example where they will cover 70% of the cost while you cover 30%.

Creating Samples & Production

After carefully thinking through your idea and doing your market research, it's now time to create showroom samples to start seeking out prospective retailers. As you grow, you may decide to open your own boutique to offer your unique experience to your market.

1.    If your fashion collection is simple like t-shirts for example, you may source ready-made blanks from white-label sources and have them embellished with your custom designs.
You may also choose to identify a manufacturer to have them custom made according to your specifications as in the case of Patwa Apparel.
2.    If it is more elaborate, will you be the one designing or will you employ a fashion designer?
3.    Will you be the one manufacturing or will you outsource this to a production facility?


Once your samples are complete, you may opt to have the line produced on a larger scale by the facility that created your sample. If it isn't cost effective, there is always the option of manufacturing in Asia where production cost is usually relatively low compared to other places. The key to getting the best results from these sources which be very far away from you is to ensure that you take the time to research them properly. When you're satisfied, negotiate the terms to ensure it is a win-win for all.

Shipping & Distribution

You finally have your designs and you're anxious to get them to market. After all, what good is a product if it is not in the hand of a customer? A very important part of the process is the logistics of how this will happen.

Whether you will utilize drop shipping or ship directly to your customers, it is important to get familiar with the International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) to prevent any undue stress that can accompany the shipping process.

You've read this far which means that you are still interested in starting your fashion business. Consider these  questions as you prepare to get your product out to customers:

o    Are you targeting boutiques styled retail outlets?
o    How about department stores?
o    Will you sell direct to customers or direct to businesses?
o    Will it be offline or online or a combination of both?
o    Channels such as eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Craigslist and Shopify are great options to consider.

You will need to start actively market your product so that others can know about your business.

 

Network like a Rock Star

Trade Shows are a great way to connect with buyers. You can also host a fashion show to get your collection introduced to your market. Write a press release about this and share it with your local media houses, inviting your media contact.

Bloggers love to be in on the action; building a relationship with them from the get-go is a sure way to help to build your brand. As you grow, they will be more than thrilled to keep up with your progress.


About the Author: Heneka Watkis-Porter is a serial-entrepreneur, podcaster, author, speaker, and fashion designer. She wakes up every day with a grateful heart as she lives her purpose of “life transformation through inspiration”. She is the leading lady behind Patwa Culcha International, the company that owns the authentic Jamaica clothing brand, Patwa Apparel. Listen to her podcast at http://henekawatkisporter.com. Email her at henekawatkisporter@gmail.com.



5 Surefire Ways of Becoming a Successful Female Leader

by Yazi

Unlike the ancient times when leadership was particularly reserved for men, the modern world has seen successful women leaders from a broad range of industries, including fashion, politics, design, music, entertainment, and science. Perhaps you are wondering what these women possess to become extraordinarily successful, capture the hearts of their audiences, thrive in business, and create a huge following.

Wonder no more. The following guide will give you invaluable insight on effective management and leadership and how to become an inspirational leader who gets admired by many and leave a memorable legacy.

Be Assertive and Confident


All successful women will tell you that self-confidence is a major factor towards earning the trust of the people below you. This is where your assertiveness stems from; when you believe in your abilities, you can put your foot down as opposed to being a walkover. For instance, you should never open a discussion acknowledging your lack of business acumen as this would undermine your credibility as a female leader. Instead, you will want to learn everything you need about finance and identify the key metrics that give you the required insight in embracing financial knowledge.


Although true confidence has to come from within, one thing is certain: it has to with how you appear to people. By implementing confident body language techniques, you can improve your posture to seem more trustworthy. Practice these techniques and one day it will come out of you without trying hard.


Own your Destiny; Be Your Own Judge


The only way you can achieve notable financial goals is by creating a business that reflects your passions and ensuring to define success in your terms. You must focus on creating immense wealth for yourself while offering ample opportunities for your employees to thrive. Also, make certain to provide socially responsible services and products. Achieving your goals translates into you're moving a bar higher; think of your firm as a million dollar business from the onset and commit your efforts towards that direction.


Lead Like a Woman; Be Inclusive


Building effective leadership in business entails successful collaboration, consultation, and inclusion. These aspects will go a long way in building a culture where everyone's insights and ideas are considered while making decisions. Companies thrive on ideas; you will have to spend time seeking sources of innovative new products and services.

The easiest way you can propel your company forward is beginning by listening to others passively as a moderator and believing that there are no bad ideas. Subsequently, sieve through the information to leave what you don't need. Listening to your employees will lead a better brainstorming session and also open new growth opportunities. A workforce that comprises of people who feel valued will inspire commitment that helps you in achieving various organizational goals.

Fortunately, thinking holistically is a virtue that appears to be specific in women's leadership styles. You should, therefore, be able to go beyond the specific facts and numbers and take organization considerations and your personnel into account. This will aid in identifying opportunities, gaps, and risks that are often missed by your male counterparts, which will strengthen your competitive edge.


Create Exceptional Teams


The most common mistake made by a good number of leaders is the belief that success is only achieved by hiring executives from large companies. Avoid this error by appointing leaders who are capable of working effectively in a rapidly advancing entrepreneurial organization. Such people are capable of committing to a bigger cause while possessing values that are congruent with your own. These vital values include critical thinking, common sense, total respect, tolerance, and admiration for you as the entrepreneur. Giving thought to such characteristics will result in a team that is capable of identifying problems while implementing solutions that are concurrent with the evolving changes and challenges of the business.

Read this: Delegating to Team Members So They Pay for Themselves


Establish Priorities Based on Your Values


It is essential that you avoid getting so caught up in your work that you can hardly see the world around. You must establish priorities and focus on integrating all aspects of your life, and while at it, treat your time and energy as scarce resources. Most importantly, understand that a majority of successful female leaders are lifelong learners. You must, therefore, learn to create time for attending seminars and conferences, meet with experts, participate in networks that provide industry knowledge, and most importantly, read. Attending work-related events will afford you an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with like-minded individuals, while personal networks of friends will give you a cohort of people to support you during tough times and celebrate with you over achievements.

Final Thought


Modern women are going up the rank of leadership rapidly by understanding that career success is not dependent on the male-dominated status quo. They instead embrace the uniqueness of diversity and overcome their doubts, which would otherwise prevent them from reaching their full potential. Similarly, you must learn to access both your masculine and feminine qualities and integrate them authentically in your decision making and leadership programs.

If you are keen on improving leadership effectiveness, you must focus on the virtue of perseverance; learn to stay the course even when the going gets tough. No leadership skill beats the ability to remain committed while believing in yourself and your business even in tough circumstances. While it's common knowledge that women are emotional beings, that fact should never stop you from achieving larger than life goals. Ensure that you communicate your emotions in a healthy way, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and be personally responsible for your life.


About the Author:
Yazi is an inspired writer who enjoys writing about personal growth, self-help tips, and women’s lifestyle. In her parallel life, she loves reading and finding her own way to balance her time between writing, baking cakes, and personal training. Follow her on Twitter @yada_dadadada.

"Evolving through Entrepreneurship" with Intuitive Soul Strategist Imelda Arcilla on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Show #413

Topic: "Evolving through Entrepreneurship"

Imelda Arcilla is a Mystic, Writer, Spiritual Guide, Energy Healer, Intuitive Soul Strategist who assists in Transformation so you can thrive in every important area of your life.

Her ultimate message is you have everything within you to succeed.  She creates innovative classes and content to helps others reach their highest potential.

She believes women entrepreneurs are paving the way for global change and is passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs, leaders, and heart-based businesses thrive in their unique way.

http://imeldaarcilla.com


https://www.facebook.com/Imelda-Arcilla-148226671880228/?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/ImeldaArcilla1   

https://www.linkedin.com/in/imeldaarcilla/


Listen on Podomatic:
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dbcoach/episodes/2017-05-17T04_00_00-07_00

Subscribe on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/women-entrepreneurs-radio/id939410730?mt=2

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How She Does It: Rachel Hentsch & Sally Coldrick of InfinityFoundry

InfinityFoundry is building a global community of makers, innovators and entrepreneurs. We like to think of ourselves as “entrepreneurial amplifiers” and “community catalysts”--- hopefully this will become clear as we tell you more about our mission.

InfinityFoundry is a two-legged creature: on one side, we focus on educating people to embrace Entrepreneurship through our online courses and publications. We believe in the value of collaboration and sharing, in cultivating the entrepreneurial mindset, and in equipping our students with tools and a holistic roadmap for their lifelong entrepreneurial journey.

On the other side, we are conducting a global Alumni experiment: [The Hub] springs from the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp experience, which is also where InfinityFoundry was born. We are exploring and designing ways to harness, nurture and grow the community’s potential beyond borders and geographical circumstance.

To succeed in riding the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship in the long term, you need to maintain  stamina (mind and body). By building and sharing a ‘tools for life’ kit that will expand and evolve over time, we will help others be more creative, become better problem solvers, embrace diversity, to be more collaborative and importantly, to do it mindfully.

Our flagship online course, The Curious Entrepreneur, is designed to bridge the gap between curious entrepreneurs and ready-to-go entrepreneurs through storytelling and entrepreneurship education. It is grounded in MIT's Disciplined Entrepreneurship framework, holistic in its approach, and applies globally.

Deb Bailey: Welcome to the Secrets of Success blog. This sounds like a very ambitious project. Are there any “lessons learned” that you’d like to share?

 Rachel Hentsch & Sally Coldrick:
It doesn't matter how young or old you are: you have the ability to unleash the power of your curiosity!

And the same applies for entrepreneurship - you are never too old or young to start - and we all have unique entrepreneurial superpowers that can be applied to benefit what you do in any environment.

When it comes to taking the plunge into entrepreneurship, while we totally agree that you should follow Nike’s direction and ‘Just Do It’ we also believe that preparation is essential - not just about the framework to follow from a business perspective but you must also mentally and physically preparing yourself for the trials and tribulations to follow. 

So we would add to  Nike’s advice, this pearl of wisdom from Abraham Lincoln: "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

You owe it to yourself to “derisk the risk” and give yourself the best chance of riding the  rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship for a long time, versus burning yourself out financially and physically and risk being left with a one-off, very painful life lesson.


Deb: Who are your ideal clients for InfinityFoundry? 

Rachel & Sally: Fostering an entrepreneurial mindset is beneficial for everyone and our mission is to help people flex and grow their entrepreneurial muscle!

Our audience for The Curious Entrepreneur online course spans a wide group:
  • students looking to start their own business or ramp up their entrepreneurial thinking skills 
  • the parent returning to work
  • the corporate professional thinking of entering the world of entrepreneurship
  • the intrapreneur, looking for ways to create positive disruption internally
  • Entrepreneurs wanting tools and a roadmap to improve their chances of success

The Curious Entrepreneur is, by definition, curious. They are not afraid to ask the tricky questions to uncover their true entrepreneurial purpose, passion and superpowers.


Deb: What are some of your successes and challenges?

Rachel & Sally: Put people first. Creating and building is in both of our entrepreneurial DNAs - we made The Curious Entrepreneur to help us really bring to life what we stand for, to share what we see as key elements to long-term success as an entrepreneurial thinker, in whatever shape that takes. For example, as a duo, we both build and create very differently, but have learnt how to interplay our own strengths. It was a tremendous test of our working relationship.

Frame all challenges as learning opportunities. Selling is hard. Being fully immersed in what you are doing can leave you blind-sided. Be brave and bold and ask for help when you need it. We ask regularly. On the flipside - offer help too: aside from the obvious reward of knowing you have helped someone out, you also get to learn new things and it helps strengthen human connections besides being wonderfully energising.

Find a trusted support network. When you are bootstrapping, a trusted support network is critical both as a sounding board and to lift you up. We formed our first collaboration with DNA Unwrapped and now speak with its CEO and Founder, Rebecca Fielding every Wednesday. We share “war stories”, brainstorm ideas, and just find such comfort in knowing that we have each other’s backs. People need to come first. Believe in what you do, otherwise how can you expect anyone else to?

Politely ignore the naysayers. This will sound cliché but you simply must not let them get under your skin and distract you from achieving your vision. It is tempting to want to respond to them with how they really make you feel at times-- but don’t you want to invest that energy in building relationships with the people who believe in what you are doing? We do!



Deb: That's great advice. What inspires you to do the work you do?


Rachel & Sally: InfinityFoundry sees the world as a borderless, richly diverse ecosystem. There is an opportunity for greater human connection and mutual empowerment, that could allow each of us to contribute to one another's success. Knowing the power that this holds drives us to look for ways to create more opportunities for human connection in a meaningful way.



Deb: What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are just starting out?


Rachel & Sally: Two things.

1 - Curiosity is the starting point for growth.Cultivate your curiosity - get comfortable asking questions, learn to ask the right questions at the right time! And do not stop talking to your customers and asking them what they want so that you fully understand their problem, so you can solve it.

2 - To be an efficient and effective entrepreneur, you must look after yourself in a holistic way. We believe that this aspect is often ignored, but it is in fact all-important. If you ‘skip’ this aspect you will not have the stamina required to succeed. We want to encourage you to be mindful and care for yourself while you build a new venture.



Deb:  Even though you love what you do, there has to be some downtime. What is your favorite activity to relax and unwind?


Rachel: this may sound totally counter-intuitive, but my personal formula for rebooting my mind and body is to indulge in a day of dirtbiking with my husband, once a week.

Sally:
A vinyasa yoga class and then reading a physical book, ideally overlooking water or somewhere with a view. Recharging, learning and escaping all at once to be recharged and ‘available’ for my family and work. Audio books to a lesser extent.



Deb: Looking back, what do you wish you could tell your younger self?


Rachel: I think my mother actually told “my younger self” the most important thing of all: do what you love, the rest will come.

Sally: Don’t stop being curious, keep challenging the status quo.


Deb:  I'd like to hear more about your online course. How did you come up with the idea for it?

Rachel & Sally: Our first online course just seemed to flow organically as a natural consequence of the experience we had acquired over a lifetime of learnings and experiences, of our coming together as business partners, and of our passionate desire to help others swiftly get to a place of awareness and empowerment.

By blending our collective experience and our MIT New Ventures Leadership teaching accreditation, we see ourselves being able to create great impact. The Curious Entrepreneur is the entrepreneur of the future. We have created a Toolkit to help people not just during a short burst of interest, but to last throughout their lifetime.

Entrepreneurship is hard. Really hard. You need to be able to dig very deep to get through some of the obstacles. We will all fail at some time (we’ve had some great stories!) but we feel compelled to help others create the best possible odds as they work towards building success.

We curated and built The Curious Entrepreneur because entrepreneurial skills and thinking are needed now more than ever. You need to possess the right toolset, which is acquired through developing your existing skills, acquiring new ones, and learning how to be anti-fragile.

As we started to distill our knowledge into our first online course, other ideas began to flow and so we already have mapped out a collection of other courses that will soon follow.


Deb: What do you hope the course participants come away with?


Rachel & Sally:  Our aim is to provide our participants with tools for life - not just a fun course on entrepreneurial theory. What we teach is much more all-encompassing and will touch upon all areas of your life, including listening to your body, growing your grit, how to draw strength out of your weaknesses and worst moments, and how to unlock your curiosity as the starting point of joyous discovery and creation. Investing in yourself and understanding your own entrepreneurial strengths (and these are different from your strengths in the corporate world, or as a parent!) as well as learning to cultivate your curiosity, will provide tools for life.


Deb: Thanks for stopping by! Please share website and social media URLs.


Rachel & Sally: Thanks! We enjoyed it. Here are the links.


 Business URL: https://www.infinityfoundry.com/

Twitter Account info: @InfinityFoundry (https://twitter.com/InfinityFoundry)

Instagram: infinityfoundry https://www.instagram.com/infinityfoundry/

Facebook Company Page: https://www.facebook.com/infinityfoundry/

Medium Channel: https://medium.com/infinityfoundry-by-mitsisters

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFXkhdR6lhEDd0dzAWKiB2A

The Key to Creating Your Personal Fashion Style

by Claire Ashley

When you stay true to your personal style, you'll be standing out for the right reasons. Your style is part of your personal brand - your way of showing up in the world.

Standing out in business is easy when you align with your unique brand. But when it comes to fashion, it can be a bit challenging. Just one more thing to add to the busy entrepreneur's to-do list!

Tired of being bombarded with fashion suggestions from different shows, magazines and advertisements? Those suggestions might be terrific for some, and totally wrong for others.  So forget all the advice that might not be a fit for your personal style, and check out the tips below.


Dress to showcase your natural style

Start by choosing the clothes that best compliment your features. Get to know about your body type and then dress to accentuate it. Whether your style is quirky, "boho" chic, dressed down or dressed up - it's all about feeling good in your own skin.

Clear out unnecessary items

Screen your closet for the unnecessary items: such as outdated outfits or items you no longer wear.  Donate them or give them away to friends/family. Clear your closet and make room for new items that are a fit for your style right now.

Wisely choose the color of your clothing 

Colors are very important and can accent an outfit. For instance, if you prefer dark colors, a bright scarf can add style. Accessories can make an older outfit look fresher and updated (just in case you can't bear to part with your older items). Not sure which colors look best on you? Here are a few tips for finding the right colors for your skin tone.

Do not over-accessorize

As Coco Chanel rightly said, "Get yourself fully dressed and then, before walking out of the front door, pause by the mirror and remove one item." Always keep in mind that simplicity is the key to a stylish look.

Keep it simple. For instance, a pearl necklace, a ring or a cute belt can pull your outfit together in an exceptional way.


About the Author: Claire Ashley is a Fashion Designer and Blogger at https://www.menssuithabit.com/ who loves to share her professional views on latest Men's styling trends. She is a creative dynamite who believes that the world should honor two things limitlessly: Ideas and beauty! :)

What’s the Difference between Network Marketing and a Pyramid Scheme?

 by Katie Kapro


Marketing. Every successful business has to do it. But in this age of social media marketing, with consumers getting bombarded from all sides with advertisements and promotions, being fully informed about the subtleties of person-to-person marketing is of the utmost importance.

The best marketing strategies are simple. Yet it is valuable to infuse that simplicity with an understanding of the full scope of network marketing - including its shadow-side, the pyramid scheme - as a means of avoiding their pitfalls and protecting yourself and your business.

What is Network Marketing?

Amway, a network marketing company that's been around since the 1960s, has one of the most recognizable names in the marketing biz. Anyone over the age of 25 probably has a friend, relative, or coworker who has sold Amway at one point or another. It's that big. But in this situation, brand recognition comes with its own devils.

The kind of marketing that Amway uses - known as network marketing, direct marketing or multilevel marketing - is defined by the Better Business Bureau as: "A system of retailing in which consumer products are sold by independent salespeople (distributors). Earnings in MLM are based on effort and ability to sell consumer products supplied to the distributor by the company."

It essentially incentivizes people to invest in a product-line and share it with their friends. Of course, there is a lot of room for nuance there, and that's where the line gets blurred.

All in all, there are really three tiers in the field of people-oriented marketing:

1.    There are the legit network marketing companies that reward their salespeople and guarantee that unsold products will be bought back for a percentage of the original price.
2.    Then there are MLM scams that masquerade as real companies, taking advantage of the anonymity that network marketers are often obligated to use in initial job interviews.
3.    And finally, there are straight-up pyramid schemes. We'll dive into those next.

What is a Pyramid Scheme?

According to the BBB, "Pyramid schemes concentrate mainly on making quick profits earned by selling the right to recruit others. Pyramid schemes focus more on recruiting other participants than selling the product or service."

Essentially it is a campaign without a purpose. A bee hive without any honeycomb. Investors are required to pay hefty start-up fees (which is where all the money for the scheme comes from), and then they are pressured to sign up as many new investors as they can. If they do so, they're promised returns of thousands, even millions of dollars without putting in much work.

The biggest difference between network marketing and a pyramid scheme is that for the latter, income is generated by signing up other investors. There is no basis in selling a product, it's all about selling the idea of opportunity-a particularly snaky form of deception.

Another, rather important, difference is that while legit network marketing is legal, pyramid schemes are most definitely illegal.

What do They Have in Common?

If you're thinking these two marketing techniques must have some similarities, you're absolutely right. If they didn't, we would not be here discussing them together. The reality is that multi-level marketing campaigns are often viewed with skepticism and compared to pyramid schemes. But why?

From the consumer perspective, independent distributors are the most visible part of the process in both network marketing and pyramid schemes. In traditional salesmanship, the tendency is to highlight the products over the people selling them, but multi-level marketing uses the exact opposite approach. It encourages people to use their personal relationships to sell and promote products.

In short, from the consumer perspective, both tactics can be really really annoying because they target consumers in spheres where they don't usually have to have their guard up for ad-inundation. Of course, skilled network marketers, like any good salespeople, can navigate the waters of promotion without being annoying. But not everyone is skilled, and not everyone cares if their product promotion plasters your social media channels. The result is that consumers end up purchasing a product or buying into a campaign, whether it's legitimate or not, simply as a way to support their friends. It's a weird twist on capitalism, for sure.

How to Avoid Scams and Schemes

Avoiding pyramid schemes and marketing scams is all about knowing your weaknesses and honing your instincts. If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it likely is. (I know, I know. Thanks for the advice, Mom.)

Before jumping into a new opportunity online, in person, or even over the phone, ensure the company you're investing in is above-board by taking the following steps:

1.    Verify the company is real by researching and confirming the company name, address, phone number, website, and principals.
2.     Be clear on all start-up costs and what you should expect for return on investment.
3.    Carefully read all materials like marketing booklets and sales plans.
4.    Talk to people who work there currently and ask them how much money they make.
5.    Clarify company policies about contract cancellation and product buy-back.

Have you had personal experience with network marketing or pyramid schemes? Share your experience in the comments!

About the Author: Katie Kapro is a nonfiction writer and life long supporter of the women-run local movement. She's especially passionate about finding and supporting unique, crafts-based ventures that unite creativity with business. To read more of her ideas, follow her on Twitter [https://twitter.com/kapro101] and Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/kapro101]

"How to Use Networking to Grow Your Business" with Kerry Heaps on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Show #408

Topic: "How to Use Networking to Grow Your Business"

Kerry Heaps returns to discuss networking and how to use it maximize your opportunities. What's changed about networking? What's stayed the same? Listen in for "do's" and "don'ts" and get tips on how to do it right.

Kerry Heaps is the Founder and Publisher of Strictly Marketing Magazine. She is also the host of Strictly Marketing Talk Radio. The magazine has recently spun off an online community for women (and men too) looking to gain more media exposure, Pitch like a B*tch Media.

She owns Knockout Marketing, a Business-to-Business telemarketing and lead generation firm. Her passion is to help other Entrepreneurs with their marketing efforts to continue their dream of running a successful business. http://www.strictlymarketingmagazine.com

Listen on Podomatic:
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dbcoach/episodes/2017-05-09T04_00_00-07_00

Subscribe on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/women-entrepreneurs-radio/id939410730?mt=2

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How She Does It: Laurie A. Watkins Author of "Go from Stressed to Strong: Health & Fitness Advice from High Achievers"


Laurie A. Watkins is an accomplished writer, public speaker, entrepreneur, communications specialist, and seasoned political strategist. She is the author of Go from Stressed to Strong: Health & Fitness Advice from High Achievers (Skyhorse Publishing, April 2017). She has worked on two presidential campaigns, served in positions from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon, and more recently guest lectured at West Point, the United States Military Academy.

Laurie was recently a guest on Women Entrepreneurs Radio. Listen to her interview here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dbcoach/episodes/2017-05-03T04_00_00-07_00


Deb Bailey: Welcome to the Secrets of Success blog, Laurie. Excited to hear about your new book. What prompted you to write "Go From Stressed to Strong?"

Laurie A Watkins: Great to be here, Deb. I wrote Go from Stressed to Strong to help motivate people to get started in achieving a healthier life, even in the most adverse situations. After I got myself on the right path to health and better self-care, healing my own body after decades of abuse, I wanted to share my discovery and tools with others.

For those who keep putting themselves off, neglecting your health and well-being with the excuse that you just don't have time, energy, resources, etc., you do have the opportunity to change your current status. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be healthy. But, you have to put in the hard work if you want to see and feel real results.


Deb: Isn't it difficult for high achievers to admit that they're pushing too hard?

Laurie: Yes, absolutely! Most people won't see burnout coming, because it usually happens when they are doing something that they're passionate about, and quite good at.

Burnout is not some made-up thing lazy people pretend to have (like a cold) so they can stay home, avoiding the office. It's a force stronger than a hurricane that can knock you out completely, making even the simplest of tasks like getting dressed and showered, cooking a meal, or answering email seem impossible. People don't get burned out because they're weak. They get burned out because they've tried to stay strong for far too long.

Most high achievers have a hard time admitting that they're pushing too hard because in order to alleviate some of their stressors, they have to admit they need help.

There are many possible reasons that might be influencing their reluctance to seek help from others. One is their concern about how others view them, or that they don't want to inconvenience someone.

Are you someone who battles with fear of rejection or has a tendency toward perfectionism? All of these motivations can cause a person to avoid accepting help, for fear of failing or being seen as a failure.
   
If you're a professional or business owner, you may be worried that needing help can demonstrate a lack of professionalism or even be seen as a sign of weakness. Consequently, you might feel that someone not handling their own affairs is inferior or incompetent. Well, the same goes for managing your exercise schedule, health, and wellness. 

No one should settle for less than feeling healthy, strong, and capable of doing whatever their heart desires. I'll be honest with you: this will not happen overnight. But, I do promise that you'll feel a difference almost immediately.


Deb: Most entrepreneurs I know don't get enough sleep. Why is it so important to get a good night's rest? 

Laurie: Everything changed after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, giving us the ability to stay awake at any time of day. With the use of artificial lights and stimulants such as caffeine, we are able to fight off the physiological need to sleep. The danger is that we need sleep to feel refreshed, for hormonal balance, for physical and mental repair, and for memory consolidation.

When we don't get enough sleep, we take away our ability to undergo a very important process that allows our bodies to heal and feel refreshed, increasing the chance for long-term consequences.

Most individuals suffer the occasional sleepless night or periods of poor sleep during stressful life events such as a job or home struggle, an illness, the birth of a child, a marriage, or a death. For many people, the occasional sleep problems can evolve into chronic insomnia.

The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep, and it is biologically determined for each individual so that different people need different amounts of sleep within that range. However, people who say they can get by on less sleep are often masking a physiologic tendency towards sleep, often by staying very active.

Let's face it, each of us is more likely to be a professional powerhouse if we aren't asleep at the wheel. Just as I do with all of the Strength Seekers in my program, I challenge your readers to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than their usual bedtime tomorrow night. That's right, this will require readers to better manage their time, getting all of those To Do's checked off their list before bedtime.

I guarantee they will feel more rested, have increased energy levels, and will be less likely to hit the snooze button the following morning. 


Deb: Do you have a few time management tips you can share?

Laurie: To help your readers get started on making positive changes, I have included the following tips that will help them gain an hour back each day, allowing them the time to exercise, eat a healthy meal, and be more present in their relationships.

Here are a few to help get them started:
1.    Do the most important thing first
2.    Make a list and actually use it
3.    Favor trusting relationships
4.    Be on time
5.    Be authentic
6.    Get good at saying "No" to people
7.    Maintain a lifestyle that will give you maximum energy
8.    Set 3-5 priorities and stick to them
9.    Stop over-scheduling yourself
10.    Always look for ways of doing things better, faster, and cancel out repetitive tasks



Deb: Those are terrific tips, Laurie. What inspires you to do the work you do? 

Laurie: Every time I meet someone who shares their story of struggle, stress, and the challenges they frequently come up against for balancing work and life, I am inspired to share my knowledge of how to help them gain the motivation towards better self-care.

Just the other day I gave a talk to a group of young leaders, and afterwards a gentleman came up to me and told me that my words cut through him like a knife. He had been struggling for quite some time to find balance, freedom from his job, and the grueling schedule he kept. My tough-talk about respecting oneself by keeping the promises we make to ourselves about exercise, better time-management, and eating a healthier diet affected him in a way he wasn't expecting. With tears in his eyes, he told me I inspired him to start making th necessary changes needed to take back control of his life and the priorities he had made for himself - not the following day, but right then and there… TODAY.


Deb: What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are just starting out? 

Laurie: Find your passion.
You are going to spend many long hours working in and on your business, so pick an industry that you don't just like, but are passionate about. When you are passionate, it shows, and your enthusiasm and belief in what you are doing translates to your customers, sparking their enthusiasm about what you are offering.

Start a business that works for you and fits with your personal life.
There are no rules as to what a "real" business looks like. For some business people, success might mean an international operation with hundreds of employees and annual revenues in the tens of millions. For others, a small consulting firm that pays a healthy salary and allows generous personal freedom might be considered the pinnacle of success. The key is to take the time early in the planning process to consider this question and decide for yourself what your ideal vision is for your business and your personal life.

Taking Risks is Important.
When I started my company, I was unemployed and writing my book full-time. Instead of going back to working for someone else once my book was finished, I decided to go out on my own. Sometimes, a little risk has to be involved if you want to see the big payoff in the end. While women may face additional challenges along their journey, there are countless women who have proven that with the right idea, a little confidence and a strong work ethic, any aspiring female entrepreneur can find the success that she deserves.

Foster relationships with contacts before you need help from them.
For example, if you need the support of a local politician on an upcoming city zoning decision, you'll have a better chance of getting the politician's vote if he or she already knows you and thinks favorably of your business than if you place a call to his or her office out of the blue.


Deb: Wonderful advice. Since you're a busy high-achiever, what's your favorite activity to relax and unwind?

Laurie: My favorite thing to do to relax and unwind is to be amongst nature. For me, there's something magical about being inside a forest. Whenever I get to witness the sun peek through the pine branches of a beautiful landscape, my heart soars - it literally skips a beat. There's a peaceful calm, along with the silence of the forest that allows me to be still, taking in everything around me. I am quickly reminded just how small I am compared to the immensity of the universe, and that new perspective enables me to have a different perception of myself and my life.

Exposure to nature has been shown repeatedly to reduce stress and boost well-being. There are a number of suggestions for enjoying nature: watch the sunset alone or with someone special on a blanket, enjoy a roaring outdoor fire, go out at night and see the stars, go on a guided nature hike, visit a National or State park for a quick day trip, do a power-walk in your neighborhood, go fishing, paddle boarding, or my personal favorite; take your dog on a long walk somewhere that you have never yet explored.

With prior planning, and the right gear, anyone can enjoy a day with Mother Nature. Choose your adventure, and have fun!


Deb: What do you think are the top 3 traits an entrepreneur must have?

Laurie: Ambition, Focus and Drive.


Deb: Thanks so much for sharing! Please let everyone know where they can find out more about you and your book.

Laurie: I enjoyed it, Deb. Here's where you can find me:

http://laurieawatkins.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LaurieAWatkinsAuthor/

https://twitter.com/laurieawatkins

https://www.instagram.com/laurieawatkins/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurie-a-watkins-9129439/


"Go from Stressed to Strong" with Author & Entrepreneur Laurie A. Watkins on Women Entrepreneurs Radio™

Show #415
Laurie A. Watkins is the author of, Go from Stressed to Strong: Health & Fitness Advice from High Achievers.

An accomplished writer, public speaker, entrepreneur, communications specialist, and seasoned political strategist, Laurie has worked on two presidential campaigns, served in positions from Capitol Hill to the Pentagon, and more recently returned to guest lecture at West Point, The United States Military Academy.

A native Floridian, Laurie currently thrives in California.


Go from Stressed to Strong: Health & Fitness Advice from High Achievers is about the war with the unhealthy habits of our stressful lives.  Laurie A. Watkins provides readers with practical and proven tools she designed with health and wellness experts on how to get on to the path to a healthy lifestyle in a 24-7 world.

Prompted by Watkins's own experiences while working inside the world of two presidential campaigns and other high-stress working environments, she shares her own stories as well as stories from prominent men and women across a wide range of industries on their experiences and how they came out the other side.

Go from Stressed to Strong is for anyone with a busy lifestyle who thinks they can't fit in being healthy-whether a CEO, a full-time student, a CPA during tax season, or a full-time parent. Watkins reveals how to handle specific challenges to health-sleep deprivation, poor diet, and stress. In doing so, she encourages readers to command their day now, giving them the energy and strength today to make it through tomorrow and the day after that.



http://laurieawatkins.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LaurieAWatkinsAuthor/

https://twitter.com/laurieawatkins

https://www.instagram.com/laurieawatkins/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurie-a-watkins-9129439/


 Listen on Podomatic:
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dbcoach/episodes/2017-05-03T04_00_00-07_00

Subscribe on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/women-entrepreneurs-radio/id939410730?mt=2

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Listen on Libsyn:
http://womenentrepreneursradio.libsyn.com/go-from-stressed-to-strong-with-author-entrepreneur-laurie-a-watkins

Listen on Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/deborah-a-bailey/go-from-stressed-to-strong





5 Major Ways Freelancers Will Change the Economy

by Yazi

If you are a traditional employer in the current economy, change is on its way - rapidly. If you are a worker at a "traditional" job - the kind you hold for several years or an entire career - you may already be watching workers around you wondering what the heck is going on.

In other words, traditional jobs are out and the gig economy is in. American workers are liking everything about this transition and the freedom it gives them to pursue the traditional American dream in fresh, new, innovative ways. In this post, we explore five ways this new crop of freelancers will transform the American economy.

1. No such thing as the "same ol', same ol'."


In the context of how the gig economy is growing, the word "freelance" can have many meanings. It can refer to contract workers who spend months or years working for one or several employers on specific types of projects. It can also reference entrepreneurs who start their own venture and shepherd it as it evolves.

And it can include freelancers who work in one or a few areas of specialization and who have many short-term clients over the course of their careers. Whichever way you slice it, the days of watching the clock over the course of a 30-year career are largely gone for good. Variety is king, and every day holds the promise of exciting opportunities still to come.

2. Same perks, new platforms.

Gig economy workers will still need many of the same perks and resources as traditional careerists. Healthcare, sick time, vacation time, parental leave, elder care, retirement planning - these services will still be in demand, but the avenues for providing them are already beginning to change.

Independent resource and information platforms are even now evolving to provide gig economy workers with options to control for risks, acquire necessary services, oversee their own income streams, learn new skills to advance in their careers and plan well for the future.

3. Headhunters, thy time has come.

When your ship comes in, you had better be ready. For talent scouts, head hunters, peer-to-peer work platforms, workforce agencies, recruiters and other third party facilitators, that time is now.

Traditional employers, and especially large corporations, will increasingly rely on these facilitators to find the right talent for the right projects at the right moments.

Small businesses and solo-preneurships, which will increasingly represent the backbone of the American economy, will also look to facilitators to identify their short and longer-term talent needs and find the right fit.

Everyone involved will be called upon to get creative about how these connections are facilitated, cemented and developed, since many of the traditional barriers to entry are expected to dissolve in the face of a riveting portfolio and street (freelance) credentials.

4. American workers earn, and earn, and earn.


In the midst of the whirling primordial soup of this new gig economy, all kinds of barriers are coming down. Gender, orientation, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic - talent is talent, and that is the new gig economy currency of choice.

Consider this - a whopping 34 percent of the American workforce today is made up of freelancers in all their many forms. Even better, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), one in five firms today with revenues in excess of $1 million dollars is women-owned. Even better, a full 31 percent of all private firms are women-owned.

This spells tremendous opportunity for all sorts of "non-traditional" entrepreneurs and employers, who also tend to think outside the box in other key areas other than just money and wages. For instance, to show their troops that they care, many employers are willing to invest and harness the power of health-related technology to monitor how their employees are feeling. They can track whether the employees are tired, stressed, or likely to develop any symptoms or injuries. Then, design a wellness program accordingly with the data collected. Many companies have adept this idea including BP, Bank of America, IBM, Kimberly-Clark, and Time Warner.

Flex time work hours options, bleisure (business + leisure) travel and vacation perks, work/study career advancement opportunities and so much more are examples of a non-traditional benefit that businesses can offer.

For those employees who continue to prefer a more traditional career path, these new perks will keep them on board and loyal for longer - as opposed to the current millennial job-hopping trend - reducing overhead costs related to recruitment, training and employee retention.

5. The world is your oyster.

This is great news if you are the world. If you are the oyster, not so much. Everyone will be vying for the same pearl in ever more innovative, creative and often unpredictable ways.

Each worker, whether traditional employee, entrepreneur, freelancer, contract worker or peer-to-peer worker, will be fully responsible for generating favorable opportunities for career advancement, recognition and success.

Perhaps heralded by the downfall of traditional advertising and the rise of influencer marketing, relationships will become as essential as oxygen in the new gig economy.

In this new world without rules but with infinite opportunities, the good old-fashioned "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" American success story is about to get a fascinating facelift!

About the Author: Yazi is an inspired writer who enjoys writing about personal growth, self-help tips, and women’s lifestyle. In her parallel life, she loves reading and finding her own way to balance her time between writing, baking cakes, and personal training. Follow her on Twitter @yada_dadadada.
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