I recently had the great honor of recording a presentation for a class at Del Val College here in Buck’s County, PA. As a social media consultant I love sharing my knowledge with small business owners and this certainly feel into that category. The professor of the class had the students prepare some questions – some related to social media and some to building my business. During the conversation I realized this would make a great blog.
As I have maneuvered around in the world, I am often amazed how others think they can treat me. How my time, ideas and intentions are somehow secondary to someone else’s. How others can look into a part of my life, an event, or ask for a favor and then think they can somehow dictate everything about it…including how it impacts me…or what I want to do….or again, my time. Continue reading Boundaries
He cooks your meals, starts your car in the morning when it is cold, and has dinner with your boyfriend. Takes you on fancy vacations, checks your oil, and hugged you tight when dad announced he was going into hospice. He has helped your mom in too many ways to count…and held her up through the imaginable of this summer as she struggled to hold you up at that time. Continue reading Luke, I am NOT your father
The first birthday after a parent dies. I was told the day was going to suck …and that this day in future years will always suck. I prepared myself mentally which means I braced for tears…mine and theirs as well. The oldest has come home to be with us – I arranged for them to go out to dinner with your person. I’m sending them to Wawa for Treat-yo-Self Friday.
I want to erase this day from the calendar or race through it with lightning speed. For 30 years or so I have reached out to you on this day…in person and then on text with a Happy Birthday. You considered it a national holiday – I threw you elaborate parties – and even after our split helped you honor yourself in ways big and small. I laughed as you always took off from work – and now as I look at all that has happened, I am glad you did. It is also not lost on me that since your birthday falls in October it is the start of the holiday season – and this year that start is one of dread.
Look, I’m a happy person…glad to be the parent who is alive for sure. But their pain is so great I want it to be over with already. I’ll carry them on my back, wipe their tears, give them hugs…but at the end of the day this isn’t very fun, in fact it is profoundly sad. We all just miss you.
Over these last three months my heart has broken a thousand times for what you are missing – both for you missing it and them missing you – there have been so many moments each day when my eyes have filled with tears, and other times when I have sobbed. Drivers permits, college tours, campus drop offs, first days of school, new boyfriends (ughhh to that last one). I know you aren’t missing it, I can feel your presence, somehow watching over us. But to not be there with them, for them, and enjoying it all for yourself.
I know that wherever you are, and whatever the temperature, you have a beer in your hand and friends surrounding you. Just know that we are all sitting here thinking of you..and wishing you were still with us.
Yesterday morning , as I went running off to a meeting, I grabbed my tan jacket for the first time this season and bolted out the door. I realized there was a piece of paper in my pocket and came to see it was my Penn Hospital name tag from April 20, 2017 … the day I drove our daughters down to Philly so they could see you in ICU for the first time after your surgery.
I took a moment and decided this was a sign showing me the strength I had when you were diagnosed. When we visited that day my plan was to carry everyone on my back through your inevitable recovery. Yesterday that name tag was a reminder that even though these last two months didn’t go as I planned and have exhausted me (since that inevitable recovery did not happen) I had to find the strength and keep moving forward. Little did I know, with that one little sticker, you were speaking to me…
Little did I realize that in a very small way you were giving me a very very clear message to think of you that afternoon when I needed direction. You were reminding me that you still have say in the girls lives even though you are no longer here. You knew I needed a reminder that your network, your people, your connections could help me – and I should reach out to them…and that you wanted me to.
Little did I know it was going to be a horrific afternoon, as I spent some time on the phone sharing yet again with others that you were gone…asking for their help to sort out yet another unusual situation created by your death. Over these last two months so many things fall into this category and most have been uphill battles. As the details unfolded and I wrapped my head around the options, I knew I needed help… I had to make a call…but I was so unsure of who it should be to. My two closest friends didn’t qualify, so I made a list of those who would. The job at hand did not match the candidates, no matter how qualified or honored they would be to step up.
And as I have taught myself to do over these last two months, and as that little name tag in my pocket reminded me to do, I thought about what you would want me to do …and immediately knew the answer.
And so, I called her.
I called the woman you loved, the woman you planned to spend the rest of your life with…who stood by your side through the horror of the summer, and who was now alone. I have been saying for months that I hope she eventually heals enough to move on…and find someone amazing and worthy of her own amazingness. And yet here I was, calling and dragging her into our lives and a hole that only exists because you are no longer here. I felt horrible. But I knew in my heart you would tell me to reach out to her. I needed her and more importantly, our child needed her.
We chatted and caught up, she asked about the girls. And then I told her about my current dilemma. I explained I was calling because I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you would tell me to.
I was clear that she was my first call, but that there were others who would help. I explained that she could absolutely say no and I would completely understand. She was adamant, explained she thought she had mentioned it to you, and would do whatever I needed her to do. We commiserated over the situation, shared how sad we are that we have to even deal with it. Honestly John, I felt like I was talking to a sister-in-law who was dealing with her own grief but still so connected to our children.
There is a formal process she will now walk through with me, some hoops to jump through, some very official signing we will need to do together. And honestly, I can not think of anyone better person suited for the job. I have no doubt she will care as if she was her own.
John, the woman you love is standing right beside me, helping us move forward as we still try to process your absence. It is a testament to you John, that your ex-wife can call your girlfriend and ask for a rather significant favor, and that we can work together out of our friendship and love for you to get us all through these obstacles.
Thanks for the message yesterday morning my friend…it helped me find the prefect solution to an incredibly difficult situation. As for the name tag, well I’m keeping it in the trench coat as a reminder that we have all the support we need to move forward, no matter how hard.
Still wishing every day that you were with us…we all do.
On April 12, 2017 my life changed forever. Those of you who have walked this path with me over the last several months have listened, cried, worried, hoped and prayed alongside our family. The writing I feel compelled to share now is a recount of my experience…the details of what we went through.
At the wake and the funeral so many people asked…what happened? They hadn’t even heard he was sick and yet he was gone. John R. Wengler, my ex-husband passed away on July 2, 2017. Not even three months after his initial diagnosis.
So back to 4/12 – I was sitting in a conference at the Pyramid Club in Philly. I knew that John was scheduled to be at UPenn medical that day. He had found a lump on his neck and was meeting with a surgeon to have it removed. Tests had shown it wasn’t cancer but the doctors were sure it still was. Before I left that morning I commented to my husband that it wasn’t good that he still had the appointment. Afterall, they always call with good news, you go in for the bad stuff.
At about 10:30 I heard from John with a text… “I have Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.” My heart sank for my dear friend as I envisioned the surgery and radiation would wreck his summer – and John R. Wengler LOVED summer. My next thoughts were kind of strange and ranged from “for the love of gosh John, cancer…like we need to now juggle this right now? Our girls were settled after the move, life was good, I needed time to spend on my business” I quickly realized I had never heard of Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer…so I looked it up….
What the hell? I have a few friends who have had thyroid cancer…a little surgery, a little radiation and they are good to go. But as I read in those first few minutes that he had a 10% chance of living a year, that treatment would be brutal, and most patients live just a few months…well I started to cry.
John was my friend, my co-parent. What was he going to go through? And what about our girls? He was young…so young to get this…maybe his age would save him. A myriad of questions filled my head as I continued to search on the small screen of the phone. I texted my husband to let him know…and just continued to cry.
On April 12, 2017 while attending a conference in Philadelphia I received a text from my ex-husband. I knew he was also down in Philadelphia, his trip was to visit a surgeon at Penn hospital to remove a growing bump on his neck.
“I have anaplastic thyroid cancer.”
I originally thought, “oh jeeze, like me need this. But whatever, we will get through it.” Having never heard of this type of Thyroid Cancer I immediately looked it up.” Tears filled my eyes, my hands started to shake, and stresses ripped through my body settling with that tingling feeling in my calves as I read…
I immediately asked him what stage he had…afterall, isn’t that one of the first thing they tell you? I thought of our three teenage daughters…but as I dug a little deeper into the internet from my phone, I learned that this cancer is always stage 4.
As I look back on these last six weeks (it seems like I have been in a time warp, I have realized that at that moment John shared his news with me the plane our little family usually travels on started experiencing extreme turbulence. And just like a flight attendant, my job would be to stay calm and just keep handing out the peanuts.
But let me tell you, that has not been easy. He left his original surgery with a tracheotomy and was not able to speak for weeks. Upon learning the results of surgery (which did not produce the miracle we hoped for), and many times since I have been the one to share news with our three daughters, and none of it has been particular good. I was the one who told them the actual diagnosis, “dad is back in the hospital.”
I’m just now realizing the importance of writing about this. My dear sister Susan reminded me of my gift and the cathartic impact. Not to mention that I have a resounding message, that every divorced parent needs to hear…which will be shared with every post…
For the sake of your children make friends with your ex. As divorced parents it is the greatest gift you can give to your children.
Do you need help starting a business? When I started my business I had an idea, expertise, a newly printed PhD. I had my buddy Marcus Padulchick by my side (and even sitting on my shoulder), friends who would support me through anything, and a belief that I could build an empire. With all of my grit and support I stumbled…many times. I can remember hearing at a networking group that I needed a business plan…prospect management list and book keeper. I searched for how-to’s while also managing a business that was taking off at warp speed. I was struggling and I did not have to.
Don’t struggle through like I did…when you are starting a business your first stop should be the SBA.
Today I had the good fortune of attending the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Women In Business Committee where Sonya Smith (Economic Development Specialist at the SBA) told the group about the the services offered. Over the years of building my business I have often said “they do not teach you about running a business in PhD school,”
Let me just state again, that SBA is a federal agency…the resources provided are free of charge for you. So, when you have a business, starting a business, building your business (should I stay an LLC, how do I hire an employee) you can find resources to teach you what you need to know and make decisions.
Sonya Smith is an expert in helping small businesses grow in the greater Philadelphia area. I have personally called Sonya with questions regarding the process of getting certified as a woman owned business. She is as kind of a person as she is knowledgeable and encouraging. She helped me make a big decision and then encouraged me to run a workshop on social media at the SBA.
The SBA has many different programs, workshops and connections for you to take advantage of as you start and build your business including:
- Business Plans
- Government Contracting
- Disaster Recovery
- Women Owned Business
This is not meant to be one of those “oh look, I have something to say and I’m going to cleverly tie it to getting my hair done” This is an actual concrete real-world example when I learned the basics of business out of a life experience.
Let me start off by saying that for quite some time I have not loved my hair. Up in a clip it has gone on all days. I tried to get it highlighted before the wedding in July but the stylist told me afterwards “I didn’t give you the blond highlights you asked for because I didn’t think you would like them. ” Guess what…I didn’t like my non-highlighted blond hair or the $200 I spent to not get what I asked for. In fact I sort of have issue when I don’t get what I want especially when I ask and pay for it.
My husband is convinced I was scared to get my hair highlighted and he is in large part 100% correct. I would love it if we could all just age gracefully allowing our hair color to change over the years. While I am a non-conformist in many ways I am also a realist and know that if everyone else is going to try to look younger I am not going to sit in a self-righteous slump and go grey.
So back to the same salon I trekked before Christmas. Why? Because it is the only organic shop in town and the thought of all those chemicals on my hair makes me a bit crazy. When I called to make the appointment I did speak to the manager. I explained that I was not really happy last time I visited and asked for the best colorist she had. Oh my gosh, I walked out with the perfect result. I mean, I love my hair. So let me explain a few things I learned.
- You need a support team – this cut and color was in the works for months and required tremendous support from my bff Dannielle as well as the suburb hair coloring ability of Erin. Without them this might not have happened.
- When you are not happy with a service you need to speak up – look, I wasn’t happy the first time around and the manager needed to know. I didn’t scream, rant, rave or even ask for my money back. I wanted her to understand that I was coming back for specific reasons and really was committed to finding a better person there to cut my hair.
- You need to be clear – I showed up with pictures and wording from Dannielle. Basically I could have prepared a power point presentation on what was wrong with my hair and what I really wanted.
- You need to show grace – I am the first to admit that I had no idea what I was talking about when it comes to cut, color, decorating, styling, trends, (or cooking for that matter). Yet, I am the client and should walk out happy. This means I may have to go above and beyond and do my research to properly communicate what I want, and I need to do that in a non-superior tone that conveys I need the stylist’s help…no matter how much I hate spending (wasting) time being with her.
In building my business I have learned that grace, clarity, preparation and tact can go a long way when coupled with your expertise. After all, I am the first person you should call if you have a social media or blogging question…no doubt about it. But, I am the last person you should call to cook you dinner (unless you REALLY like pizza).
Michael Davis, CPA was at the first networking I ever attended as I started my business. Over these years I have found him to be one of the most honest individuals who is giving of his time (and knowledge) to his clients and friends. Mike sat with me as my business started to grow and walked me through the systems I needed in place. He gave me an abundance of advice in the type of retirement accounts I should set-up (what really is a SEP account anyway?).
Mike dedicates a significant amount of time to helping small businesses make more money and grow their businesses. He has built a successful business for himself and wants to teach you how to do the same for your endeavor. Mike is one of the most connected networkers I know and is happy to introduce you around.
While I am gifted in my expertise (haha) and the service I provide to my clients, I am continually learning about the running of a business. This includes how to manage business finances, tax exposure and a 401k. When Mike speaks I listen closely and today he spoke at the networking group we both beyond to. Today, Mike shared these 5 key financial reports and how to use them:
- A daily profit and loss – how much money have you made today?
- Sales report by product or customer – who spends the most with you and what product of yours is most successful?
- Accounts receivable – who owes you money?
- Accounts payable – what are your outstanding financial obligations?
- Cash on hand – how much cash do you have available?
Mike gives other great tips:
- Pay as much of your business expenses on your credit card – you get miles.
- Check out Quicken for your personal finances
This is not just a guy who can handle your personal and business taxes. Mike will take the time to go over each detail of your business and look for the opportunity for you to maximize your efforts.
Out and about promoting my business today I meandered to the home of Jamie Broderick owner of Network Now Connections. Jamie brought together thirty women for a morning of networking and building our businesses. Our speaker today was no other than Sue Guiher of Thrive for Success. She is an author, speaker, professor, and also an intuitive who helps you align your business with that which you truly value.
Sue discussed the importance of knowing what you stand for and creating a business based on your values and purpose.
Now let me just say that Sue Guiher is brilliant. I worked with Sue to get to my core essences which are : Trust (my lense), Uniqueness (fuel), and Courage (anchor). When I worked with Sue she had me dig deep into myself and get to own who I really am. As we uncovered those core values, so many pieces of my life that had caused great confusion or questioning to me in my life suddenly started to make sense.
Taking a Stand: Connect with what you do. So for instance, I stand for attorneys and business owners who want to build their businesses. If you want to build and run a successful business you need to make sure you not only know your values but live through them every day.
The question is, what do you value and how does that connect to your stance?
Why are Values Important for Your Business:
Having done the values work, I will share that my core values not only seep into but also guide my businesses. The problem is when we do not think about about our values and how they connect to our work. Aligning our core values with our business can bring harmony to your whole person. In fact, when you are out of alignment with your core values something doesn’t feel right, suffocated even adrift.
So the question is then, how strongly can you stand on your values. What would sacrifice to maintain your values. For instance, if you value integrity but knew a potential client was dishonest in their own interactions, would you still work with him/her? What parts of you would you sacrifice for the sake of building?
Maybe, right now, you are having problems in your own business and you can not figure out why – maybe it is because you are out of alignment with your values and you do not even know it.
Sue’s mission is to help your business Thrive. She wants to see each and every small business succeed. She wants you to think big, then think a little bigger. You are challenged to look inside and bring forth that which can propel you forward.
Remember, no value is good, bad, right or wrong.
As most of you know, I have courage that knows no bounds…I am not scared of nuthin.’ I will speak in front of thousands, climb telephone poles and zip line, start a business, reach out to a stranger on a dating site (hey, a girls got to eat, right?), and ask for meetings with power partners with ease. However…
As it turns out, we have found a bound – that which nearly paralyzes me, stops me in my tracks with the voice in my head screaming NO!!!!!!! I DON”T WANT TO!!! What could this activity be that stops my heart and sends my blood pressuring soaring at the same time?
Teaching my teenage daughter how to drive.
She sits in the driver seat, me in the death seat. She grips the steering wheel at 3 and 9 white knuckled. I sit in the death seat and realize how dangerous this is. This is not fooling around type of stuff. I look at this as if I am teaching her to shoot a gun…only this gun is moving and can hit a variety of objects including neighbors and garbage cans – all at the same time. I clutch rosary beads given to me by my Aunts on my First Holy Communion (and I’m not even religious). If I am going to die I might as well go down with Jesus in my palm clutching one of my oldest possessions.
I wonder, how can it be that the little girl who read Teletubby books upside down in the family room while babbling about fish and frogs, now has my life in her hands?
And more interestingly, how can it be that this child, who takes 5 honors courses and has already formed opinions about gender equity NOT remember to look both ways when turning a car? Why does she slow down when turning a corner into oncoming traffic (well it was ‘all clear’ but since you were driving slower than my grandmother we just kissed death – again). As we make our way to school there is a parade behind since we sometimes forget to put our foot on the gas – well, that is except when we are heading down a hill around a curve in the rain – my gosh I could not have been closer to that guardrail unless I was sitting on it.
It is almost like her brains fall out of her head when she gets behind the wheel.
My biggest question to date when teaching a teen ager to drive is how is it possible that driving permits are not issued with a parent valium prescription or gift certificate to the liquor store? And how is that parents are not allowed to drink alcohol in the car when their child is learning to drive? This would considerably cut down on stress and screaming.
A few notes from our journeys (you can also put these in the archive ‘things I thought I would never have to say’).
- I am on the white line, move the car over. I am about to hit that tree – move the car over.
- A stop sign means stop, all motion ceases. It does not mean, ‘wow, that is a pretty color red on that octagonal sign let’s keep going! ”
- Stop speeding up to red things…tail lights, stop signs, red stop lights. When you see red of any kind – for instance stop light or tail lights of another car, slow down.
- I scream STOP and SLOW DOWN interchangeably because I am scared for my life. You do not get to throw the traditional millennial BS in my face of “you are confusing me mom.” Pay the freak attention to the road.
- Just because you WANT to switch lanes does not mean you just switch lanes. You need to make sure there are no cars where you want to go. Two cars cannot occupy the same space at the same time. That is called an accident.
- When I am screaming it is probably best to just stop the car.
- Yes, you have to learn how to park. No, there will not always be a bit open empty lot waiting for you. Yes, the white lines mean something.
- When driving in the rain do not speed up to red lights (seriously, what the hell is wrong with you?).
- When you are exiting the car it is best to first put it in park – that way it will not continue to roll as you are trying to get out. It is also a good idea to bring the car to a full stop before putting it in park…that proces will avoid the car lunging forward.
- School busses are required to stop before they cross railroad tracks. This means all the cars behind them must stop as well (or crash into the bus). If you are behind said cars stopping behind the bus, you must stop as well…so stop…no, I mean STOP…STOP THE F’IN CAR RIGHT NOW!!!!
Once you get past the fear (oh who is kidding who, you NEVER get past the fear), teaching your child this major life skills is awesome. I will tell you that I did like snuggling in with her on the couch and teaching her to read much better than this. There was FAR less stress and fear involved in that.
One week ago today (Friday) she had no skill in driving and was shaking in her Doc Martins about the idea. We started driving one mile home and at that point set a goal of having her drive the full 20 minutes to school by Wednesday (thinking that I would give up at points and take control). Not even 24 hours later she not only wanted to drive but got us safely to her swim meet at school. Goal achieved early – we were still alive. All good.
My daughter was scared herself, very nervous about learning to drive. This was one of those times when I got to share with her my boundless courage and how I walk through paralyzing fear. When we share with our children that we are also scared, we teach them to walk through that fear, that is a valuable life lesson as well.
Seriously…who is bringing me my French Martini?
If you are a small business owner, you know that importance of marketing your business. You need a comprehensive marketing plan (and one that you execute) that includes video. I had the good fortune today of watching a presentation on the basics of video as part of the Business Growth Series at the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce. Ann Marie and Don Polec of Sun Blossom shared their best tips.
Let me start off by saying that I have spoken about video and have helped my clients through many a video shoot. The biggest hangup that many have is they do not want to see themselves on video. You do not need to, nor do you have to ever watch your own video. Let’s move on.
How do you shoot a video and what do you do with it?
Videos come in all shapes and sizes. You can shoot them off your computer, your smartphone, a high-def camera, or you can have them shot by a professional. How long should a video be? About 90 seconds. Here are my best pieces of advice:
- Have a professional video shot for each of your core business areas.
- Shoot more informal videos of your blog posts off of a high def camera from your desktop or phone.
- Upload ALL videos to YouTube. Make sure they are each well-tagged and transcriptions checked and corrected.
- Facebook: Facebook live shoot off of a smartphone over a very reliable internet connection. If you are going to use videos in ads, have them professionally shot.
- Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn – share them from your YouTube Channel
- Website: Embed the professional videos on the related pages on your website.
- Blogs: Shoot off of a high def camera right off of your laptop. Upload it to YouTube and embed them into your blog posts.
Some great tips for making videos:
- Have a plan – this should come right off of your editorial calendar.
- Have a strong call to action (cta)
- Show boundless enthusiasm – coffee helps.
- Remember your target audience.
- Each video should solve a problem of your target audience.
- It is all about who are you talking to – what challenge do they have – how can you solve the problem?
Here are some more tips that Don and Ann Marie shared with the group:
- Do not hold your smartphone vertically. You want the wide screen format
- You do not need to be in the center of the frame. Rule of thirds applies here – there are golden areas of attention – this has to do with the lines of intersection when you divide the screen into thirds – ask Don.
- Background is important. Random background with noise and people haphazardly walking around can be distracting.
- Know, like, trust factor of marketing – video helps you with each of those.
- Connections are made through eye contact within three seconds of meeting people – when you can not meet someone in person a video can give you that edge.
- Always give away information in a video.
- The attention span of the average American is about 9 seconds according to Don.
- Video is the most effective marketing tool available to you today.
- Nothing is more effective in getting your clients to know you than video.
- Be enthusiastic – solve a problem – make them feel welcome
- People will stay longer on your website if you have a video
- It is good for SEO – better indexed
Video is fun…most importantly having video as part of your marketing plan can drive traffic to your website, service, and/or storefront.
Ok everyone…I challenge you to get out there and go viral.
This Saturday I had the great honor of attending my daughter’s swim meet. I won’t go into details about where they were held or for what team. That would not be fair to the bitch at the door.
I arrived at the meet a little frazzled trying to get too much accomplished – I had dropped off said daughter and ran to a coffee shop to work. I was popping in to see her first race, then off to food shopping, then back to volunteer to work at the meet and enjoy her last race.
I was a bit suprised when I arrive that they were charging admission at the door. Back in NJ we do not – so I never expected to need cash. I was relieved when I realized that the mom at the door taking cash was from our team. I quickly introduced myself, explained that I was running in to see a first race, and I would bringing back my $5 when I ran out between events and volunteering. I was thrilled to be meeting a mom from the team since I am the new mom on the team.
This woman blasted at me with a vengeance and tone fit only for someone who just ran over a puppy – she cited league rules with a bitterness that literally made me take a step back, “I can not let you in without paying,” “everyone would be running amuck,” “you probably will not come back with the money.” I explained that I had given my daughter cash for the team breakfast yesterday and had yet to get my change – she suggested I text my daughter, pull her away from the team, even though cell phones were not allowed on deck. She told me to text another parent on the team to come and give me cash, I replied “I’m new, I don’t know anyone here.”
She was so mean from the minute I put out my hand to introduce myself to the point where I was at least five feet further back. She is on my team…our team…I was coming back…I explained to her that I was also about to miss my kid’s first race. I’m new, explained that but not as an excuse, just please do not make me miss my daughter’s first race.
To gain entrance she demanded my PA driver’s license. I surrendered it quickly and dashed up the stairs and made it just in time to see my daughter’s first race. As I left the building (to run errands and get cash) she said “Ma’am, did you forget something? You owe me $5.”
I wanted to ask her where the ATM was in the stands – since, as the NEW MOM I had clearly missed it. Instead I clearly explained AGAIN that I was going out to get the money. I didn’t even know where a cash machine was in town!
Her sidekick behind the folding table suggested I take my license back since I would be out driving. I snapped “oh, thank you, I was not dare going to ask for it back.” Bitchy, yes – ok, we all lose our cool.
At the heart of this I felt really bad for this poor woman. Afterall, she had the opportunity to make a friend, do something nice for another mom, take care of a newbie, and put out some great karma to the world. She knew who I was, could easily track me down if I never paid, but instead chose to be a complete bitch. She clearly does not know how to be team player, help others out, or most importantly how to help another mom out.
But here is where I can show her the way – so, to the bitch at the door – if you ever need anything from me…AT ALL…I am here for you. You see, I am the type of person who understands that we all make mistakes and when I can fix a problem for another I do, or help another mom out, on her best or worst days…I jump at the chance. Need something retweeted, an onion from the grocery store, your kid needs a ride home, a blue sweater on spirit day – knock on my door, heck give me a call and I’ll bring it over. And for the love of all things holy – if you ever need an IOU on a swim meet admission I’ll just give you the money. To repay me you can take me out for a cup of coffee and we can get to know one another – mom to mom.
If you are setting up a business in Bucks County, PA, there is a significant amount of behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done. One of your first stops on the business set-up list should be a meeting with a business attorney. Being properly set-up wtih legal documents in place is critical.
Marshall Davis is an business attorney in Bucks County, PA with Powell Trachtman. He helps businesses and non-profits of all sizes set-up legal agreements and protections. When he works with you, your current business, or your start-up you are educated in options and walked through the paperwork with the goal of you understanding. While he likes to help you properly set-up, he is also available to help you untangle your do-it-yourself mess.
Marshall was instrumental to me in explaining several aspects of my business when I moved to the Bucks County area. Of particular interest were the concepts of “piercing the corporate veil” and fictitious names.
During his recent presentation Marshall explained that all small business owners want to know how long it takes to get set-up with a business. Marshall moves with you as quickly as you need to within reason. He can get you a tax id number and start the entity formation process immediately – set-up may take only a day.
So, if you are starting a business, selling a business, or working out agreements with a supplier and other contracts within your business you should contact him to see if he will be a good fit. As a side note Marshall also claims to have a 100% success rate in helping you reduce your tax assessment.
Always important when you are working with an attorney is to really understand their background and education (and lawyers LOVE to talk about their education) – Licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey Marshall is lifelong resident of Bucks County, PA, Marshall has completed enough education to make this PhD shutter with memories. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Florida and then attended Temple University in Philadelphia for a JD, LLM (in tax), and MBA.
As always I always walk away from this meeting with a tidbit of inspiration: You will find the key to success under the alarm clock…Benjamin Franklin – thank you Lisa Fry of Core Financial for the wake-up call – this early bird will get the worm.
If you network in the Doylestown, PA area, you have undoubtedly run across Nickey Hollenback. She is the founder, and business woman extraordinairre of Personal Touch Concierge Service. She is in the business of helping you run and market your business…virtually.
As a new member of the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, I have joined the Women in Business Committee (run by one of my new favorite networking buddies Catherine Cavella). And today Nikki was our featured speaker on “Fresh Ideas for the New Year – Web Marketing.” Here are the highlights of her presentation that can greatly help you in the marketing of your business:
- If you have not heard Facebook has rolled out some rather large video initiatives. You can now live stream and run video ads. Guess what? Users love them.
- Get an app for your business. They are the wave of the future.
- Wearable technology is the future. We have seen hints of this with Google Glasses and the iWatch. Apparently Tommy Hillfinger is designing cell phone charging pants.
- Do not let your website get out of date. Your website is the center of your internet presence and should be modern, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing.
- Content is king – so keep blogging and building your site. But the shift will be to longer tail keywords and phrases that users are searching for as they talk into their smart phones to surf the web. I have often stated you need to write content that your ideal market is looking for – how are you going to help them solve their problem?
- Have a social media stream on your webiste – I add to this and say make sure this part of your site is well designed and integrated. Most of the streams I see are not well done. I also add make sure you have social connect and share buttons prominently displayed so your visitors can share with you and share your content.
- Have a WordPress webiste. The platform is SEO friendly, easy to use, safe, secure and media friendly.
- Do not ever have your webiste privately hosted. You lose control. I use GoDaddy, WP-Engine and Blue Host. Nickey recommends Sucuri (which I will be checking out based on her recommendation).
- Mobilegeddon (not sure if she coined that term or not) happened in April – this is when Google started to devalue sites that were not mobile friendly. What does that mean? Your site should be mobile friendly. According to Nickey, 87% of Millennials are never without their phones – mobile is important.
- While your website is your most important digital asset, your social media is critical. Facebook and Pinterest ads should be part of your strategy. Do not forget about Linkedin and Twitter (the cocktail party of the internet). And Nickey perfectly described Google+ – that uncle you do not want ot invite to Thanksgiving but have to. My experience: Google+ is critical for search and the health of your webiste.
I have known Nikki since I started networking and was actually virtually introduced to her through Denice Whitely, another virtual assistant (talk about a woman who believes there is no competition). We have occassionally crossed paths at other events and I am thrilled to have an opportunity to see her more at Chamber events.
As it turns out, you absolutely should not just pay someone to do some work for you in your business. For operations big and small the hiring of any person to do any work should have a well thought-out plan with a keen eye on the law.
According to Christina – here are the 10 things you should consider when hiring:
- What is the job and how is the employee classified? The Department of Labor mandates that employees be paid for every minute they are working. Is an employee going to be considered full-time…salaried? Hourly? With limited exceptions, employees need to be paid overtime, measured by the week.
- Write your job description first. What specifically are they going to be doing for you in addition to general tasks.
- Are you posting your job on your website? Is your website ADA compliant?
- Where else can you post/advertise your job opening? Post in two places – at least – one should be print.
- Job application – does it comply with Ban the Box? Is it an off the shelf application and has it been checked by a local attorney?
- The interview – who gets called in? How do you choose? Are you weeding out a protected class? Think about who you are calling in and why – are they all business reasons?
- The interview part 2 – ten questions to never ask – this one I’m putting in a separate post it is so good.
- Background checks – FCRA requirements – you must inform the applicant of the background check – they must sign acknowledging it will occur – and the applicant should have the opportunity to review it and rebut anything you find. Running them often on your employees – they have to know so it is best to have a company policy.
- Social Media checks – you can do them – but you cannot ask applicants for passwords and you cannot stand over their shoulder while they sign into their accounts, and you better do the check on the applicant pool or at least your top 5 candidates.
- You’re hired!! Have a handbook, set of policies and clear explanations of hours and benefits. If you have no handbook, you have no defense against any lawsuit. For instance, if an employee sues becuase he was sexually harrassed, you best have a formal policy stating that behavior is not tollerated.
The biggest issue in the arena right now is paying people for their time…what happens when an employee takes your call at night, answers emails on the weekend, drives to the airport to catch a flight for a business trip…that flight is cancelled…they wait in the airport…eeeegadddsss….as you can imagine, I was able to think of lots of scenarios where there are grey lines…and Christina wisely warned us, make sure anything an employee needs to do for work is clearly spelled out in your handbook, job description, and company policies.
Christina is a powerhouse of information. Her knowledge and expertise in this area is not simply a career. You can see she has a passion to protect the small business owner and would rather work with you now before you need her to defend you in court.
Nothing makes me happier as a social media consultant than when I sit down with a new client and they say “I have a website, the blog can be activated, and I have my messaging, logo and graphics in place.”
I recently had the opportunity to hear Laurel Cavaluzzo of Madison Marketing Communications. Laurel is an accomplishment marketing consultant who can work with you on a full marketing plan, marketing message, coaching, training, and support. She steps in to make sure your expertise matches with your goals, message, logo, color,….and just about everything else.
Here are her top tips for
- Write things down – you will not remember your great ideas.
- Have a marketing roadmap – this should be a cohesive strategy
- Who is your audience? Know your target market and why they need you.
- Goals – and goals with no plan are just a wish. Know your audience and how you are going to attack each one.
- “If you try to be all things to all people you wind up to be nothing.”
- Know what you do, how you do it, and who can use it. Then make sure your messaging is clear. Keep your wording simple. How do you put your expertise into words?
- Messaging is one of the most important parts of your marketing strategy.
- Brand to position yourself as an expert.
- How will you measure your marketing efforts?
- Always be ready to move, shift, and do things a bit differently if you see opportunity to require changes.
What should be part of your marketing strategy? Here is the list (I LOVE lists):
- Website: well written articles about your core business areas and a blog to show your personality and highlight news, case studies, and short pieces of advice
- Data base and a newsletter
- Partnerships with powerpartners
- PR: are you in the news, on the radio, in the paper, available to get links from online publications?
- Social Media (click her to learn about a GREAT social media consultant).
- Advertising – is it worth it to pay for PPC (Google adwords, Facebook ads…) newspaper ads?
- Event Participation and Sponsorship
- Networking – and what are you doing for follow-up?
- Testimonials are critical
Need to work with an expert like Laurel to get your message out? Visit her website, give her a buzz at (703) 629-5693, or find her on Twitter at @LaurelinMadison (Oh, and I’m @DrJennyLynn), Linkedin, or like her Facebook Page
I recently attended a Coffee Talk, NJ networking event centered around providing information to small business owners. Connector extraordinaire, Hillary Morris, put together a program including blogger extraordinaire, Reesa Lewandowski. Based on her experience building Momma Lew, Reesa discussed the benefits and a few details of having a blog for your business.
If you are here on the interent talking about the importance, I would assume that you are in resistance about starting one. Why? Well you are established, have a website, and have already been told time and time again that blogging is important. It helps to continually build your website (which Google loves), shows your clients/customers your personality, and allows you to show expertise in a way that your regular website articles do not.
I provide blogging support to a select group of clients on a weekly basis. They typically are too busy running their own business, they hate writing, and/or they want an expert researching exactly how to talk to their target audience. On the other hand, I love to blog and have a knack for writing to reach a core audience. My clients go to sleep knowing that their website is naturally building and for them, this is marketing money well spent.
Now, you may be wondering what golden nuggets of information I took from Reesa’s presentation. There were a few:
- Let go of your fear. I have found that most business owners have a fear of putting themselves out there either on social media or in a blog. They have no idea what they should say and are fearful of getting started.
- Make sure there is an easy way for your readers to share your blog on social media sites. On each blog post your social share buttons should be prominently placed allowing the reader to share no matter where they are in your article.
- Twitter is where “it” is at. Twitter, the cocktail party of the universe, is the hot social media platform. Build a following on Twitter to help drive traffic to your website. Connect with me on Twitter.
- You want to make Google happy. Most small business owners are, in some way, looking to rank in Google search. To do this you need to pay close attention to the important factors of SEO. Adding new fresh content to your website is the best way to improve the health and SEO of your webiste.
I’m writing this particular blog from a Starbucks in Bucks County, PA. It is very early on a Saturday morning and I just dropped one of my daughters off at swim practice. Taking regular time to write is important for me. Plus, as a swim mom there is lots of coffee here which is good because my kid loves to be under water early in the morning these days.
There are an infintesimal number of articles here on the interent about blogging, seo, best practices, and just getting started. If you have any questions, give me a call.
Lately, I’ve noticed a swirling around me. Clearly unalighned, the universe has put people and messages in my path reminding me of the unique intense power I possess in attracting what I want into my life. And I’ve realized how completely out of alighnment I have been in my thinking vs. what I really want. It all has reminded me of a little story.
Years ago when my children were much much younger, we arrived at the beach and they told me they wanted to collect shells. We went to the waves and could not find a thing so we decided to take a little walk to the little lagoon – not a single shell to be found. And then my middle child suggested we keep going and climb over the sea wall at the other end of the lagoon…to where we have never been. And I thought to myself:
We have to climb over the wall, is that safe? Will the girls get hurt climbing?
We have never walked that far. Can they make it that far?
What if they get tired? Thirsty? Hungry?
Before I knew it the perfect middle child was well on her way climbing right over the wall. Perfect path? Safe? Didn’t matter. She was determined. My other two daughters and I quickly followed. And as our toes touched the sand, and we looked to the water we saw…exactly what we were hoping for…more shells that we could have imagined. And these were the big shells. We could not have picked them up quick enough or carried them all. There was an abundance of shells – those big ones – exactly what we had been looking for since we arrived at the beach.
We collected as many as we could carry (remembering we had to get over the wall and had a long trek back to our stuff). More just kept coming in with the surf. We turned our coverups into shell carriers and brought our booty down the beach. And just as we passed that lagoon another mom with her kids was walking up the beach. They saw our shells and asked where we had found them all.
I was so excited to tell her that they are right on the other side of the wall. I explained that all that they had to do was climb the rocks over. Her response to me…
That is too dangerous. We can do it.
They could get hurt or tired.
And she turned and walked back.
It was amazing to hear the exact same limiting beliefs come from her that I had in my own head before my daughter blazed ahead with unending belief that we would find the shells we were seeking.
Even with this profound story behind me (and btw, I did do this with $10,000 at one point, but I know you will think I am NUTSO if I tell you that one) – you would think I would have turned a point and just started living my life from the law of attraction. But the truth is, I have not always. I am grateful this series of events has brought me back, reminded me of this fabulous little story, and will propel my life not only back on track, but to the moon.