Last night was time to confront Cash Flow in the 15-week entrepreneurial training course I teach for the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) in White Plains, NY. It’s always the class that gives everyone headaches and anxiety attacks…and even the big jar of chocolate coins I bring along to “sweeten the pot” doesn’t help.
Having a business idea is the fun part. Figuring out what it will earn….not so much. But it’s so important to track your start up expenses, overhead and other costs, and figure out exactly what you need this business to do for you financially. Is it going to simply cover the “extras” in your household, or is this going to be a serious income that keeps your household afloat. I always say, cash flow is no different than budgeting for your household expenses…no different than balancing a checkbook. You know what bills are coming up…you know what money is coming in… and whether you’ll have enough to pay them, with ideally, some cash left over. Same principle with cash flow. If you take time to periodically plan your business spending and earning goals, you’ll have money in your pocket. And I don’t mean chocolate coins!
It’s not often that I get the chance to trade in my boring yogurt-at-my-desk lunch for a 3-course meal at Abigail Kirsh’s Tappan Hill Restaurant in Tarrytown, New York. But last Friday, I shared amazing food with some amazing women at WEDC’s annual spring luncheon and microenterprise fair. For those of you unfamiliar with WEDC (which stands for Women’s Enterprise Development Center), its mission is to encourage entrepreneurship in and around Westchester County, New York, through training programs, support services and microenterprise funding opportunities. I am lucky enough to be a WEDC trainer, and I teach their 15-week Entrepreneurial Training Program in the spring and fall.
The luncheon is always the highlight of the season, offering an opportunity to network with other business women, hear inspirational advice from the featured speakers, and catch up with former students (like Tsahai Martin-Wright of Shima & Sahai and Kim Jones of Urban Tranquility, who both exhibited their products at the microenterprise fair beforehand.
But this year’s WEDC event was extra-special because it included the inaugural presentation of the LEAP Awards, micro grants made possible by local philanthropist Patricia Lanza. They were awarded to qualifying women entrepreneurs who have completed WEDC training; and I was thrilled to learn that two of the LEAP award winners were from my current class! I was a proud mama as I gathered with other students to cheer on these inspirational ladies.
Margie Nugent, of Making Faces Parties, had to rebuild her life after arriving in a domestic violence shelter with 2 little boys and just $20 in her pocket. She always dreamed of owning a business that tapped into her artistic abilities and degrees from FIT. In 2009, she launched Making Faces Parties, an entertainment company offering a variety of body art services. The business—run on nights and weekends—supplements her fulltime job working in a school, and was profitable in its first year. Margie will use her grant money to purchase more equipment, get additional training, and exhibit at body painting competitions to broaden her exposure.
Jenifer Ross, of W@tercooler, spotted the emerging trend of co-working, and is capitalizing on it. W@tercooler is a collaborative office space in historic Tarrytown, New York, available for part-time or fulltime rental to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other mobile workers. But this is no ordinary office suite rental place. Jenifer’s space is unique because members work side by side in a shared loft-like setting, gaining a sense of community and a place to exchange ideas. The open floor plan has a variety of options—private desks, shared desks or tables, and a lounge area—with access to a shared kitchen, a private phone booth, and a state of the art conference room. All members enjoy complimentary WiFi, faxing, printing, and coffee. And (in a move that I think is sheer genius), clerical help is available through the intern program Jenifer has established with her local high school. If you’re in the Westchester area and need an alternative to working in your lonely home office, come check it out. You may just see me there! (Look for me with my laptop on that cool settee)! Jenifer is using her grant money to build a deck overlooking the Hudson River, providing members with yet another scenic and collaborative place to work.
Other LEAP award winners included:
•Cary and Meryl Gabeler, a mom-daughter team who run Anjolie Ayurveda, organic soaps imported from India.
•Beatriz Messina, of BM Consulting of New York, a proposal writing and project management firm
•Juana Pinyol, who launched Details Custom Cleaning Services, a residential cleaning service which uses green products.
•Beverly Turner, of Casaco, Inc., which provides financial literacy and home ownership counseling.
•Maria Valente, of Chocolations, a chocolate shop and café (and the only chocolate factory in Westchester County, NY!)
If you’re in the Westchester, NY area, check WEDC out. If you’re not, research the women’s business development groups or other SBA-funded organizations in your community. Organizations like these are a great resource for support, networking, and training. And sometimes they even provide a nice alternative to eating lunch at your desk!
Hello hello! The other night, I was watching American Idol when I get an email on my phone. Robert was down in his house in Miami shot me a quick note that the grilling and barbeque accessory buyer for a BIG BIG account want to talk to me! Since then, the buyer and I have chatted and samples have been sent off! The BIG accounts (more mass retail outlets) work about a year out, so really soon they will be doing their product reviews for spring and summer 2011, (which is fine just fine) but he also said that it isn’t to late to test market Grill Charms in a few stores for this year. Keep your fingers and toes crossed!
Last week I was a guest speaker at a conference here in Charleston for The Center for Women www.twitter.com/c4womenchas It was and amazing gathering and I’m so honored to have been asked to speak. Since most of you don’t live here, I thought I’d recap the things I went over. I was paired with an amazing woman, Jo Ann Studtmueller. www.twitter.com/joannepicvu I was asked to speak about social media and Jo Ann TRULY is an expert. As most of you know, I’ve always considered myself technologically handicapped, so when the Center for Women asked me to speak on this subject, I thought there must be some mistake. I love talking to a brick wall, so ANY chance to speak in front real people, especially fellow women in business, I jump all over, but when I met with Jo Ann the first time, I confided in her my fears. I said “Jo Ann… I’m not really sure why I’m going to be up there with you. I’m successful in business, I’m pretty darn good at getting my brand out there, I can talk all day about inventing, entrepreneurship, marketing and PR, but I’m truly technologically inept. She said… “do you use twitter”… I said “yes”, “do you blog?” I said “yes”. “do you have a FB account and business Fan page?” I said “yes”. She said “are you Linked In?” I said “yes”. She said “do you link your blog and website with your YouTube videos?” I said “yes” and low and behold, she said “YOU’RE IN!” And in preparing for this presentation I began to realize just what a vital part social media and content marketing has played in getting where I am today. I’m living proof that it does not take technological know-how to get started. There are tons of folks out there that are much more tech savvy then I am, but I’ll give you a few easy tricks of the social marketing and PR trade.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I used this mystical, magical box called a computer during all of the different phases of my business. First I entered into what I call the “Research and Development Phase”. So I had my spicy light bulb moment… now what?!
The first thing I did was turn on my computer and got to googling. I scoured the blogs and forums for information on the two things I identified myself with most at the time and that was: a mom and a budding entrepreneur. Regardless of your industry and what business you are thinking about going into, “Join the conversation!”
Comment on blogs; praise the contributors and bloggers if something they said helped you. Post questions (or answer questions) on forums. There is a blog and/or forum for EVERYTHING!! The true benefit in “joining the conversation” might not be apparent right off that bat. You might think that praising a blogger just makes them feel good and maybe brightens someone’s day and that getting active on forums helps because it answers questions you have but it does so much more than that. It helps you build your virtual village. It gets you connected to people already “in the know” that can help you later when you need it most.
Our fearless leader over at the Center for Women Jennet Alterman www.twitter.com/jeannetalterman made a truly profound statement at a networking function, but I have found it equally if not more true in the cyber world.
“It isn’t who you know, but who knows you and knows what you do.” These people you connect with during this pre-start-up phase are the people that will be rooting for you and who will help you along the way. They will become your virtual village.
3 places I started were
www.mompreneurslonline.com OF COURSE!
Okay…. this is getting a bit lengthy for a blog post (Thanks to Jo Ann, I learned that blog posts should be between 250 and 500 words and be posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays) Who knew??!! So, with that, I will continue this discussion next week with more from my presentation “Don’t be a Twit”. See you next week!!
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms™ www.grillcharms.com
I’m new to blogging with Mompreneurs, so I feel honored to start out today, having just received some great news, which I’ll share in a minute. But it has all happened because of setting goals on a dry erase board. 10 or so years ago, I purchased a huge dry-erase board. It has been the center focus of my office, in the last 3 places I have lived.
I started it one January, and wrote all of my short term (1 year) and long term (2-5 year) goals and things that I need/hope to accomplish on the board . As the year progressed, I’d refer to the board regularly, not always consciously, but it was always there. I now do this every year.At the beginning of the new year, my brother and I visit the board, check off all the things we accomplished, re-assess what wasn’t, and set new goals for the year. Then we high five all that was accomplished and wipe the board clean and start anew. (This year, cuz we’ve been so dang busy, we weren’t able to get to this til yesterday, but I’m glad it was somewhere in the first quarter!)
WOW!! We accomplished over 95% of the things we set out to do last year!!! What an amazing feeling!!! As we wiped clean each goal met, I felt amazingly proud! I had to pull my hubby and son in the room just to show them how empty the board was!!!?2007 was a great year (and a quarter!) And 2008, even with the Writer’s strike, we are kickin’ butt in the goals department.
By the way, “finding other Moms online that are in business” was one of my goals – and it lead me here to Mompreneurs Online – one of the happiest goals I’ve met this year! The other on the top of my list – win a Grammy for 2009 – I am now an official voting member for the Academy, as of yesterday!! “Stardust” will be submitted for Grammy consideration at the latter half of the year. I also just received a letter a couple of hours ago that we have been selected to sing the National Anthem at the 2008 College World Series – OPENING DAY!!? Two years ago, this reality was just simply a hopeful dream? written on a dry erase board!
What are your wildest dreams?? Write them down.??Visualize?them every day. Take the daily steps you need make?them happen, and before you know it those dreams?are unfolding just for you.
Music Mom Cher