Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Rebecca Matthias on Business Success

Think big.  Focus.  Never give up.  That’s your mantra.  Everything else will fall into place. – Rebecca Matthias

Rebecca Matthias is CEO of Mothers Work (retail outlets include Mimi Maternity, Pea in the Pod, and Motherhood). This quote is from her book, Mothers Work, one of my favorite business books — an inspirational and informative biography detailing how a 28-year old new mother took $10,000 and built a multimillion-dollar retail company.

Are you thinking big enough?

Are you focusing your attention on your most important priorities?

Are you persisting?

How to Be a More Nimble Entrepreneur – Purple Clover

In my business advice post for Purple Clover, I share tips for the executive-to-entrepreneur career change. There are habits, beliefs and behaviors from your corporate days that you do not want to carry over when you launch your business:

Most people recognize that traditional employment and entrepreneurship are different and therefore require different skills and temperaments. But surely, the corporate experience helps, right? You have extensive networks — you might even be able to sell into your former employers. You have skills and expertise — these could be your first offerings. You have the savvy that comes with navigating different environments — and therefore the savvy to navigate the different clients you might call on. However, there are also behaviors and beliefs that might be a holdover from your corporate days that no longer serve you when you strike out on your own.

“Sales is someone else’s job”

A former corporate colleague of mine who went into business for herself proclaimed assertively, “I don’t sell.” When I asked how she expected to get clients, she mentioned that she knew enough people from her corporate networks to keep her busy. That worked for a few months. Last I heard, she hired a copywriter for her site and was figuring out how to explain what she does.

In corporate America, you could focus on what you did best, and someone else was selling. If you were in sales, you could focus on that while someone else took care of marketing, finance, operations, etc. When you’re in business for yourself, you take on all jobs, especially sales. Even when you expand your team and can outsource functions, you still have to know enough about each area and be active enough in each to maintain oversight and quality control. Even when you can bring on a salesperson, you will still be the backstop in selling as no one will advocate for your business like you will. Whatever business you launch, you are in sales.

Read more Big Corporate behaviors and beliefs to avoid at Purple Clover: How to Be a More Nimble Entrepreneur.

Coach World TV – On Extreme Career Change, Branding and Why Every Entrepreneur Is In Sales

I was excited to guest on Coach World TV with Laurie Lawson. We talked about a wide array of topics from my journey from employment to entrepreneurship, to personal branding (does everyone need social media, a blog, a website?) to sales and the small business owner:

One of the resources I mentioned is a free audio on the 5 Strategies I used to take SixFigureStart to multiple six-figures. You can request the free audio HERE.

How To Stop Attracting Deadbeat Clients – Purple Clover

In this business advice post for Purple Clover, I share three strategies for consultants, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to get clients who pay:

A Bureau of Labor statistic shows that by 2020, 40% of the workforce will be temporary. You probably already know someone who is a consultant or freelancer, and you may be one yourself. When you earn your salary project-by-project, it is critical that you get paid what you are owed in a timely manner. If you’re finding it difficult to collect, here are three strategies to follow:

Make collection a part of the process from the beginning.

Ask for a deposit. Charge a registration fee. The easiest way to avoid late payments is to make payment the first step in working with you. If you need to get started before money changes hands, ask early and ask often about getting paid. If you work onsite at the client’s office, ask to meet with accounts payable when you’re introduced to everyone else. Don’t wait till the end of a project before collecting on your fee.

Read two more strategies at Purple Clover: How To Stop Attracting Deadbeat Clients.

What Is The Better Metric: Feelings Or Numbers

What gets measured gets managed – Peter Drucker

I’m with Drucker on this one so I track things quantitatively:

  • revenues by client;
  • revenues by date (lots of businesses have seasons);
  • revenues by type of offering (sometimes ideas don’t do as well as you think they will!);
  • revenues by historical comparison (it’s helpful to understand exactly how you’re growing);
  • costs – whether recurring or one-time;
  • costs – whether fixed or variable.

On the personal side, I track my spending and my time (so I know whether or not I exercise as much as I intend to!).

…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

That said, sometimes feelings are the better metric. I’m not as good at this one, so I think of this quote often. If you prove a point but at the expense of the other person’s feelings, you probably still won’t get anywhere.

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. —  Albert Einstein 

Einstein has it exactly right. There is no one suitable metric for everything. You have to run the numbers and understand your data. But not everything can be boiled down to numbers, nor should it.

What do you measure in your business and in your personal life? How do you measure it?

Favorite Takeaways From The Inside Edge Small Business Conference

I had the good fortune of attending a fascinating business conference organized by The Corporate Agent. Inside Edge 2013 (April 17-20) focused on how small businesses could effectively pitch and win business with big corporations. There is too much to summarize from the 4-day event but here were some of my favorite takeaways:

As entrepreneurs we aren’t reward on our efforts. Our results are our rewards. – Angelique Rewers, The Corporate Agent

Sometimes improving your results is not about what you need to do; it’s what you need to STOP doing – Angelique Rewers, The Corporate Agent

The only person who can stop, limit or restrict your success is you – Angelique Rewers, The Corporate Agent

Knowledge not acted on is useless trivia – Larry Broughton

Representation, Observation, Interaction = ROI of LinkedIn – JD Gershbein, Owlish Communications

Be flexible about how you do things, but be inflexible about why you do things – Scott Robley, Infusionsoft

Successful businesses quit survival marketing – Scott Robley, Infusionsoft

Branding is not a logo, tagline, name, design, message, marketing, social media, or website. Branding is a desired perception. – Re Perez, Branding For The People

You don’t own your brand; you shape it – Re Perez, Branding For The People

Great marketers don’t make stuff. They make meaning – Seth Godin

People buy people. Who you are is always more important than what you do – Eiji Morishita, Genius Marketing Academy

Make the pie bigger. Be the tide that lifts all boats – Eiji Morishita, Genius Marketing Academy

Don’t confuse business with charity. Serve clients who can afford you. Give to those who can’t – Eiji Morishita, Genius Marketing Academy

Content isn’t King. Insight is King – Angelique Rewers, The Corporate Agent

It was so nice getting away from the daily grind of the business to think more broadly, get inspired, and meet new people. An added bonus was staying in an ultra-luxurious resort (and yes, I made time for a spa treatment). There was the requisite swag bag, including a treat from one of my favorite boutiques, Pink Olive.

While I’m climbing my way back after four days away, it’s a worthwhile investment. What investment or conference do you have on tap to forward your business in 2013?

Business Lessons From Shark Tank Judge Barbara Corcoran

I was excited to get a free ticket to an all-day seminar on entrepreneurship, sponsored by the World of Business Ideas, featuring Shark Tank judge and real estate entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran, along with other diverse thought leaders such as Alexandra Wilkis Wilson of Gilt Groupe, Will Pearson of Mental Floss, and Slava Rubin of Indiegogo. Here were some key takeaways from the day:


  • Be great at failure.

Barbara shared how she was fired several times over 20+ jobs before coming into real estate and selling her company for $66 MM.


  • Know how to work the press.

Barbara was able to compete with the big firms by issuing a regular report on the state of the real estate market, which gave her credibility and a platform for sharing her work. She also was ready with quick sound bites to keep the press interested. Finally, she nurtured celebrity relationships to attract publicity.


  • Put pressure on yourself.

Barbara always rented double the office space that she needed to use the pressure of the empty desks and the fixed costs involved to spur on the growth.


  • Hire people who complement you.

Barbara talked about two types of personalities, Expanders and Containers (the dreamers and the detailed). She was an Expander, so she partnered with a Container to mind the details. I found it particularly interesting that she offered her partner 1% equity per year over 10 years, so 10% total when she sold. A partnership does not have to be even close to 50/50 to work!


  • Get ready to fire poor performers.

Barbara had a systematic way of ranking her staff and firing the bottom quarter. She did give regular reviews and offered three months to turn things around, but she was ready to fire if her clear performance benchmarks weren’t met.  Barbara also didn’t tolerate complainers, “thieves of emotional energy.”


  • Take care of superstars.

Barbara offered manicures, massages, parties and offsites to the rest of her staff at a cost that could have supported more runway for poor performers. Instead, she deliberately chose to invest her money in the winners. She also focused on fun, outrageous party themes (e.g., a cross-dressing party!) to build culture and team spirit. Barbara justified her preference for the bizarre because it is the “kissing cousin of innovation.”


Barbara shared a story of her top real estate broker, Carrie Chiang, who made $18 MM in commissions (at an average 6%, that’s $300 MM in sales!) by becoming a specialist in the Taiwan market. When the Taiwan economy collapsed, Carrie didn’t miss a beat, immediately hiring two Japanese assistants to break into that booming market and had an even more successful year after losing her key client base.


Don’t dwell on bad conditions. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Your own choices and actions trump market conditions. How can you pull a Carrie Chiang in your business? Which lesson from Barbara Corcoran will you implement today?