It is no secret that I am the “accidental entrepreneur”. More than one media reporter has heard my story and then deemed me this title. And, it is true. I cannot deny it – 15 years ago I had no idea about the real definition of “entrepreneur” – let alone how to become one.
I was fortunate to have found other entrepreneurs via social media connections. Twitter was my “virtual rolodex” as I “met” some of my best mentors among the 140 character Twitter posts. I honed my skills by studying techniques, other websites, blogger writing styles and much more.
Now the roles have switched. This student has become a teacher. I now pass on knowledge to others after years of learning how to strategize, organize, activate and monitor digital marketing plans. Here is some words of caution – if you are seeking marketing support, especially on social media, review the credentials of the people who you enlist to help you. Some may call themselves “experts” in the field of social media or marketing, when in fact they dabble or use others to do their ‘grunt” work. This can result in a lot of woe. Find people who will conduct best practices with your company as they would expect others to do with theirs.
I hope these suggestions will help “newbie” business owners and perhaps save some unnecessary grief.
Grab ALL of your online presence for your company. If your company name is “Jane Likes Cookies” then be sure to get the JaneLikesCookies.com (.net) websites, the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest and other social media platforms.
Make it legal. That means get your DBA, business licenses, trademarks, etc. if that applies in your state/ city/ town.
Make a business plan. There is a famous quote from the author of the Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” We all have the wish to succeed, many fail because they simply didn’t take the time to make a sustainable plan.
Be realistic. How many hours can you dedicate to your new business? Sadly, good ideas that become businesses still need endless hours of labor to keep the momentum going and growing.
You have to spend money to make money. Be sure to add a marketing budget – and make it healthy. Even Facebook advertising costs money!
Make an editorial calendar. What will you post on social media sites and when? Here is a hint: make images and collect links to post ahead of time. Put them in folders on your computer to keep organized. Snap lots of photos of your growing company. Having a launch event? Post about it!
Use a consistent hashtag and track it. Following the #JaneLikesCookies hashtag can provide useful information about your audience demographics. Analytic programs that track a “hashtag” are available for fee and a few are for free. KLEARis one of my favorites as is Hashtracking.com
Ask for help. You have a great idea. You have made a lot of plans. But, you feel overwhelmed because you can’t do it all! Ask for help with what is boggling you down.
Network. Go to lead generation groups, Meet-Ups and other gatherings where people can share about their businesses. Remember you are there to get help and also to reciprocate by helping others.
Smile and laugh – often. Laughter is a huge way to release stress. And, who wants to be overly stressed when they should celebrate their new business.
Take your business online with e-commerce. There are a ton of sites to sell your goods, but one is getting a lot of attention. Check out TalkShop.Live for a great avenue for selling your products with very little fees involved.
Wishing you the best of luck on your entrepreneurial journey!
“Welcome to Signing Families”. I first wrote those words “officially” in 2006, the year that Signing Families became an educational / instructional company focused on teaching novice learners how to communicate with sign language.
Since then, hundreds of classes and sign language trainings have been conducted and thousands of DVDs and sign language communication charts have been sold or donated to people across the globe. My goal is simple – to build communication bridges one sign at a time.
How did it all begin? Well… one day while I was a School Psychologist working at an elementary school I was asked to attend a special education IEP meeting with a parent who had a child with moderate – severe Autism. Our school based team had just recommended that to help try to facilitate spoken speech or any communication, she may want to consider taking sign language classes. With tears in her eyes she looked at us and asked one simple question, ” Who will watch the child you just told me needs 1 on 1 assistance in his special education self-contained classroom due to his severe needs while I leave for hours to learn sign language?”
My heart stopped. As a mom of two children, I knew exactly what she meant. I had a child who was born with conditions that meant he needed specialized babysitting when he was a baby. I could relate to the challenges that this parent was facing. There was no way she would be able to leave her child with a “regular” babysitter. She was a single parent. She had limited financial resources. She was frustrated. But, most of all – she was upset because she couldn’t provide the one thing she yearned most for her child – an ability to learn to communicate.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning because I continued to hear her voice… “Who will watch the child you just told me needs 1 on 1 assistance..?” The next day I decided I needed to help this mom. It just wasn’t fair. She was dealt a tough situation and we just made it worse. That was unacceptable. So, after a while I created a temporary “fix”, I would make a sign language video with a few dozen basic words and put it on a basic DVD.
Word got out and before I knew I was in the DVD business – making dozens of copies for teachers, friends and even for relatives of people I didn’t know. The phone kept ringing. Email requests flooded my inbox.
That is when “Hubby” said… “I think you have something here.” So, we enlisted some talented people to help create the first DVD from Signing Families: Baby, Toddler and Preschool Sign Language with Louise Masin Sattler and Friends. The differentiator between my DVD and many others was that the audience was “language role models” and not kids. There were no dancing bears or signing birds. Moreover, I open captioned the DVD and added a Spanish – English – Sign Language component. I did this because there was virtually very little sign language instruction available for parents of children with communication needs who were from Spanish speaking homes but living in the United States or Canada.
Emergency Sign Language DVD
DVD sales started off slowly but then the momentum kicked in when Borders and Barnes and Noble started to order. Before long sales were in the hundreds, then thousands. I then created ancillary components to the DVD. A sign language chart to help with expressing WANTS and FEELINGS. This was followed by a website with a plethora of free learning opportunities. And, a very full nationwide training schedule for special needs groups, schools, preschool programs, Head Start and much more.
In 2010 my second DVD series and training program launched. The Sign Language For Emergency Situations was born out of necessity. Simply, we as a nation were not offering equal access communication opportunities to those who were Deaf or had limitations with functional needs. I have written about my journey in the field of emergency management on this blog before. Please feel free to ask me about resources in the comment section below.
Now it is 2019 and the world is a different place than 2006. Instead of DVD sales we have ‘streaming”. So, that means that I have to make a shift in the way I reach an audience. I have uploaded many free YouTube videos for people to either start learning sign language or continue honing their basic skills.
I must confess, a year ago I nearly closed Signing Families. I had lost my “WHY”. I wasn’t selling huge lots of product or traveling as much for trainings. I was the “lost entrepreneur”. But, then I started to look over boxes of materials I saved. Letters from families. Drawings from children. Emails from teachers. Commendations from First Responder groups. I was humbled and knew that I couldn’t stop. I just needed to reinvent. So, I started to teach ASL at a high school, I began to think of new ways to reach an audience yearning to learn to sign and clicked the keys of my laptop once more to inspire parents and teachers via media articles not to give up. At last, I remembered my WHY.
So… dear readers – thank You for allowing me to tell my story. You are groovy, indeed!
For nearly three years I have left my home on Thursday mornings at 6a.m to attend a women’s networking group that meets just as the sun is rising. The Beach Cities Breakfast Club aka BCBC is a diverse group of hard working entrepreneur who hail from the south bay area of Los Angeles.
I have participated in many networking groups where the goal is for “leads” to be given and received by members. Lead generation is considered the “golden egg” for building a business. Many lead groups don’t foster a sense of collaboration or cooperation but offer an environment of being “cut- throat”. Not BCBC as we are a supportive group of women who cheer and champion each other’s successes!
First some background about BCBC
Maria West and Anita Garcia started BCBC nearly 12 years ago. Their warmth and compassion are the backbone of the group. Maria has been a mortgage broker for many years with a dedicated clientele who rave about her meticulous and kit glove service with Platinum Mortgage.
Anita may be the most senior sales rep for Tupperware! Over 40 years she has sold this housewares staple. I for one have quadrupled my Tupperware since getting to know Anita. By the way the children’s toys are timeless! (Who doesn’t love the Shape-O ball or Noah’s Ark!)
It is my pleasure to spotlight many of the women who offer health, wellness, business and financial services to the southern Los Angeles area.
Selling homes with integrity is what makes Michelle Velasco of Keller Williams a success. Recently, Michelle cleverly used a drone to market a home in the gorgeous waterfront area of San Pedro. Check out the video she created (and bravo got an offer on the home in record time!)
Anita and Michelle were both guests on my radio program a few years ago. Listen to our interview here.
Travel, Travel, Travel! A premiere travel agent can be found in Malaga Cove at the Travel Store thanks toLinda Kahn- Ferrell. Her enthusiasm for traveling to the Pacific islands, such as Fiji or far away places such as Thailand is infectious. One thing I learned from Linda is that having a travel agent during these challenging times can be an insurance policy! An here is my confession- I really would love to have her job!
These women strive everyday to make you feel healthy!
Did you know that essential oils can be a benefit to your health and wellness. DL Sweet has convinced this skeptic that lavender and peppermint can have a positive impact on improving health in ways never imagined. Who needs an allergy pill when you can have some peppermint oil do the trick to unclog a snuffy nose!
Talking about health – acupuncture is one of my new favorite ways to keep back pain in check! Again, I was not the person to run to an acupuncturist for a fear of being ‘needled” but- Jean Morris has me totally convinced that acupuncture can give amazing relief to those in chronic or acute pain and also help with regular wellness regimens.
Aches and pains also are no match forFlorence Datin, massage therapist. Florence is the newest addition to BCBC and originally from France. She is quickly making her mark on the group as someone with much expertise and compassion.
Sabrina Quinene is passionate about women being vigilant with breast health. She offers through her chiropractic practice breast thermography. Learn more about this very important and potentially life saving technology. It is painless and so worthwhile! (The image affixed shows what a unhealthy breast would look like on a thermography result – red areas signal need for more investigation!)
Debbie D’Aquino wants to help you be healthy and a better you – inside and out! Her website is charming and this dynamo wears a lot of “hats”. From teaching meditation, swing dance or being a distributor of Kangen water – I am beginning to think she doesn’t sleep! Debbie is quite the professional dancer and this video proves it! ( I told you the women of BCBC are an eclectic group!)
Money, Money, Money!
I am not going to even pretend that I understand the complexities of the stock market or the insurance world. That is why I depend on the wisdom of Kelly Markowitz and Lynn Cardarelli. They are two of the most money wise women I know! Kelly is a ball of energy and Lynn is an insurance agent by day and master knitter by night! (Not to mention that she is a cat aficionado!
And protect your money and family with a good Estate attorney! Heather Miller Law helps people plan for the inevitable by creating sound wills, estate and trust plans and more. Heather is uber wise when it comes to the legal system and has an interest in helping with adoptions (coming soon – we hope!)
Helping our furry friends…
Country Hills Animal Clinic (CHAC) in Torrance, California. I am such a fan of Dr. Jennifer that I bring both of my shepherd mixes to this clinic. CHAC recently started a great set of techniques to give animals a calmer experience while be examined. FEAR FREE is great! Don’t just trust my recommendations, see their YELP ratings!
Also, helping animals and their owner is Anne Jones, aka Anne the Pet Nanny! Busy career keeping you at the office late at night? No worries Anne will take care of your pet! Coming soon will be an expansion of her business. Connect with Anne and her pet care services here.
When life gets rough…
It is a privilege to know Janet Dion, Linda Benecke and Tiffany Kane. These remarkable ladies help put back together lives of people who have experienced difficult challenges in life.
Janet is a therapist who specializes in helping people find their true direction. She recognizes that the first step in helping is to listen. She is an excellent communicator and as a Psychologist, I am duly impressed with her abilities to help others feel safe and comfortable. Connect with Janet here.
Tiffany Kane knows that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. She had to learn this lesson the hard way when she became a young widow and a single parent with the unexpected death of her husband. Tiffany took her emotional turmoil and persevered. She began Widows with Kids to help others. She also became a best selling author. Find Tiffany’s trilogy series here.
Linda Benecke knows first-hand how to be a survivor, too! As a past victim of abuse, she wants to educate and empower others via her business Damsel Pro Gal,a subsidiary of the Damsel in Defense franchise. I truly admire this woman who gives 200% in order to make sure that women (and men) are safe from predators and abusers. Listen to her story during an interview with Margaret McSweeney of Kitchen Chat TV.
Linda, knowing I was writing a blog about BCBC, wanted me to share this information in order to help others.
Via Damsel Pro Gal – Bruises of the heart take a lot longer to heal. If your internal flags tell you that you are being abused, you are; regardless of who it is. Abusers love to demean, criticize, direct and control you and find every reason to judge and orchestrate your every move to invalidate you. Rarely will they tell you something positive. If you try to express your feelings, they will see this as a personal affront to them, and attack or reject you for their own inability to see themselves. They interrupt you when you speak because their words are more important; they don’t care to take time to listen to you, nor do they have patience with you; especially if you’re an elder parent or a special needs person. This is not love if someone treats you this way; it’s their guise of ‘loving you’. It is their problem, acted out on you, being abusive and rationalizing their behavior toward you, and blaming you. Sad irony is that their love typically comes as a present, in a box, as a gift, but not one of the heart; patience, compassion, and simply accepting you and loving you for who you are. Sociopathic and narcissistic behavior is prevalent in our society. I hope their mirrors don’t break as they gaze upon their own imperfect perfection telling themselves how wonderful they are.
Our BCBC group is growing in numbers and presence on social media. Find us on TWITTER, FACEBOOK and NING!
It is very hard not find inspiration on Thursday mornings with this group of amazing women! If you are a women entrepreneur in the LA area and interested in learning how to join BCBC please go to MEET UP for information.
Coming soon – part 2 will be a way for you to meet more service providers and women with creative and talented businesses!
TOMORROW, April 2, 2013 isLIGHT IT UP BLUE for AUTISM AWARENESS. So, it is my pleasure to introduce you to SWEET CRUSH ICE, a Los Angeles based dessert company who will be helping to give back to the Autism community with every taste of their incredible low-fat dessert on this special commemorative day!
What makes this the perfect synergy is that SWEET CRUSH ICE is a healthy, low-fat dessert with gluten free, lactose free and sugar free options. It even is certifed Kosher. Flavors range from creamy vanilla, chocolate, espresso and coconut (to name a few) to non – dairy options such as guava, strawberry-lemonade (the kid favorite) and lychee (exquisite and so unique!)
I first met, Yael Lustman, owner of SWEET CRUSH ICE at an OSCAR party given by OMGInsider. This high energy entrepreneur impressed me so much with both her business savvy and her delicious sweet product that I invited her to be my guest on the 411 VOICESradio network SPOTLIGHT show. (Click here to listen to our interview). What I discovered is that Yael didn’t want to skimp on the taste of her shaved ice nor the quality of her storefront (Which rocks with non intrusive changing lights and ipads which take photos of happy customers!). All this truly shows from the moment you enter the SWEET CRUSH until you take the last bite of this naturally flavored shaved ice with oodles of toppings sprinkled with Asian flair! I thought it would make the prefect place for kid birthday parties or ladies’ night out.
During our interview I discovered that family and wanting to do “more in life” was what prompted this once Wall Street attorney to leave it all behind for the long hours and the trials and tribulations of owning a food based business. Yael shared her pearls of wisdom on air (won’t give away too much here), as she stressed that the smiles of people young and old and the versatility of owning a community shop gives her much joy and feelings of accomplishment. She also mentioned that without the power of social media she wouldn’t have met as many connections resulted in garnering the attention OMGInsider and the OSCAR committee.
If you are looking for a company that provides something yummy, healthy and has a heart for giving back to the community please check out SWEET CRUSH ICE. Address is below. Conveniently located next to Whole Foods in Brentwood.
Help them LIGHT IT BLUE for AUTISM on APRIL 2nd! A portion of their proceeds on this day will be donated to local Autism charity.
11753 San Vicente Blvd. · Los Angeles, California · 90049 MAP
Note: I received nothing more than a groovy t-shirt and free Sweet Crush Ice to sample in exchange for this blog.