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31 Oct 2013 Written by FarrahKennedy In

Women in Business: Optimism Reigns Supreme

The government shutdown ended a week ago, and while business is, well, back in business, there was a ripple effect that the economy felt. But don’t count female business owners among them; according to a recent survey, women business owners are optimistic about their future success.

Riding on the coattails of National Women’s Small Business Month (did you know? It’s every October), the Cox Business Snapshot of Women Entrepreneurs surveyed 624 US women business owners and found that about three quarters of US based female entrepreneurs are optimistic about their businesses, despite recessionary fears due to congressional failure to permanently raise the debt ceiling.

Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors in the area of small business, currently accounting for a third of all small businesses today, which is a major improvement over figures from 1970, when women owned only 5 percent of small businesses.
31 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Amex Open Forum: When To Fire Your Customers

"When we started the company we were struggling. We started understanding that we had the wrong customer." - Avi Wazana

In the video When To Fire Your Customers 
featured on the American Express Inside Successful Small Business Series, Avi Wazana describes how he let go of his best customers. This is something that not many people talk about but we have definitely experienced at Chic CEO. Firing a customer is a very harsh way of saying that it's not a good fit and that is one of the most important things you can do for your business. It's vital that you understand what it is that your company provides and to whom. 
 
Here's are two different scenarios that we experienced:
 
1) A advertiser that was not the right fit. When Chic CEO was first conceptualized, we believed that advertisers would provide the main source of revenue and fuel the fabulous content that we provide so we were hungry to find advertisers that were interested. In that hunt - we overlooked a big issue. We have two customers, you - our community and the advertisers and we need to satisfy both in order to have a successful, scalable business. One of our biggest advertisers and one that we worked the hardest to land, turned out to be wrong for our community and in turn, we had to sever the relationship - man, that was a really hard decision, especially because they were helping to pay the bills. Looking back it was the right decision for sure!
 
2) Believe it or not, Chic CEO is not right for everyone. I know - shocking! But seriously, we know who we intend to serve with our content, tools, resources and events and we speak directly to them (you). If we are able to create that bond that we try to create by offering the right mix of products right when our community needs them, we've hit the nail on the head and we get really happy about that. However - we have heard from some women that weren't connecting with what we were putting out there and in those circumstances we had to really weigh if they were our target market and we should be making drastic changes or if they were the minority. In the case that these few were not satisfied we had to open the door for them to exit gracefully instead of trying to satisfy their needs beyond the scope of what Chic CEO offers. 
 
30 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Amex Open Forum: Always Be Open To New Ideas

"There's not only one way to do something and if you're stuck in that rut of 'this is the way we do it, and this is the only way we do it' you won't be successful" - Benjamin Grossman
 
In the video, Always Be Open To New Ideas, featured on the American Express Inside Successful Small Business Series, Benjamin Grossman and Craig Samuals, owners of B&C Restaurant Group believe that they have something to learn from everyone in their company. Their example of cutting tomatoes is a great lesson on allowing the people around you to innovate. 
 
Being open to the ideas offered up by others is how they've been a successful team so far, cut costs, cut labor time and maintained a thriving business. 
 
If we pay attention to the people and things around us, we will start to notice little efficiencies that tend to pop up while doing menial tasks. Finding new ways to sort inventory, file emails, organize events and even cut tomatoes can result in big impacts for your business' bottom line. 

In addition, it's great to figure out ways to add in double checks so that you don't have to back track when a simple mistake is made. With Chic CEO we have at least 2 people look at every important piece of communication that goes out so that links are correct, images are fine, and misspellings are caught. Little mistakes like that can lead to duplication of work, upset clients and lost productivity. 

 
Take some time to evaluate new ways of doing things, of asking friends in completely different industries how they might handle a certain task - do some research.  You might find that you are able to do things faster, smarter and for less money than if you had stuck to how you've always done it. 
 
30 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

YOU-Training by Brandon Hawk

Brandon Hawk, a member of our Brain Trust, will be holding an event in Dallas on Nov 8-10! If you are in the Dallas area, you definitely don't want to miss this!



30 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Amex Open Forum: Relationship Marketing

"Relationship Marketing has to be from the heart and has to be real. Those people will come back to you and help your business grow." - Isabella Hewitt
 
In the video Using Relationship Marketing, featured on the American Express Inside Successful Small Business series, Isabella Hewitt runs a retail shop called The Spot. As she describes in her video, she tried magazines, newspapers, the Internet, social media and more. Relationship marketing is her best tool. By building a relationship with her customers, she found it to be the most effective way to retain them. 

Almost everything we do in business has to do with creating relationships - that's why getting referrals is so important. Entire industries like real estate or insurance are powered by referrals. Referrals are an extension of building strong relationships with your current customers.

So how can you build strong relationships with your customers? Isabella recommends finding out what is the most important thing in their life at the moment and recognize it. More marketing isn't always the answer, she says, it's the impact you are making in their life with relationship building.

Sending flowers, notes, remembering birthdays - these are small gestures that ultimately foster and create a great relationship with your customer. 

What’s one lesson you’re learned as either a business owner or aspiring entrepreneur? Share your response with us using #sharingadvice on Twitter or Facebook!

sponsored by American Express
 
28 Oct 2013 Written by LauraRenner In

A lesson from the fitting room

Thought Leader Blog Post

Ever buy an outfit or article of clothing only for it to sit in your closet with the tags still on for years? How about the opposite side of the spectrum where you bought an outfit you absolutely loved and couldn’t wait to show it off? What was the difference in those outfits? Could there have been a way for you to know which scenario would happen prior to your handing over your credit card to the salesperson?

28 Oct 2013 Written by LauraGiveMe10 In

Is a Failed Goal Better Than No Goal at All?

Thought Leader Blog Post

a guide to doing anything: jugglingI'm in a spiral. That's what my husband called it and he's right. I've gotten so into my head about potential failure at this goal I've set that I'm paralyzed. And then that crisis of confidence leeches into other areas of life, too. Basically my mojo is non-existent -- it's not just skill-based things that challenge me anymore, it's daily necessities like parallel parking and finding my cell phone. Does this ever happen to you?

It all started back on October 1st with three bean bags and a dream -- I was going to learn to juggle. How hard could it be? Watch a couple of videos. Put in the required time. And then boom -- I'm a juggler.

Sounded so easy. Instead, I've been trying too hard, and am way too anxious to say, "Look, I learned to juggle in a month and you can, too!" I've completely psyched myself out. Even the simplest throws that I mastered weeks ago I'm a mess with now.

My family is trying to be supportive but their comfort boils down to, "If you're not having fun, just stop." And "Does it really matter if you can juggle?" Of course that's true, but what does it say when you can't master juggling?

28 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Amex Open Forum: If It's Not Working, Change It

In the video If Your Business Isn't Working, Change It featured on the American Express Inside Successful Small Business series, Angela Jia Kim provides some really key insights in her quick video about changing the plan. I’m very familiar with the resilience and innovation that is constantly necessary in order to run a successful business. There has never been a successful business that has not made changes to fit market and customer demand. It’s something that is very seldom talked about however.
 
When you are just starting out people either say that “you absolutely have to have a business plan” or they say “I never had a business plan and did just fine.” But the truth is that every business has a plan whether it’s written out or just in the entrepreneur’s head. I happen to be a fan of creating an actual business plan, at least in the form of an outline so that you have direction.
 
Our business changes constantly and as the owners of the company, it is our responsibility to react, reiterate and respond but even more importantly is to look ahead and try to anticipate the needs in order to plan. That’s the plan that is most important. Having direction keeps things in focus so that when opportunities arise, you have a filter to run the opportunities through.
 
We ask successful entrepreneurs all the time to talk to us about their mistakes, successes and learnings. Inevitably they all include a pivot or a time when they had to change their plan. Often the changes they make – take their businesses in very different directions than they ever originally intended. Just like Angela’s change from just creating a skin care line to creating a spa, she listened to what her customers wanted and in turn, found a brand new channel in which she could sell her skin care products.
 
27 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

10 Ways to Improve Your Board Meetings

 

A VC who is a veteran of hundreds of board meetings explains how to make sure yours aren’t a waste of time.

By Rachel Pike (Senior Associate, Draper Fisher Jurvetson)

 

A great VC is four things: a fundraiser, a manager, a deal-spotter, and a board member.  At DFJ we learn by doing. As part of my training for role #4, I’ve been to almost two hundred board meetings. Some were productive and energetic, and some were a waste of time. What was the difference?

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25 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Exclusive Brand Personality Workshop in Orange County

Partner Update

Hi ladies!
 
We have a special announcement to share with you...Michelle Ghilotti, owner of MGI, a branding, coaching and empowerment agency for women and one of our most recent partners, will be in Huntington Beach, CA on November 15th (10-2pm) to teach an eight-woman BRAND PERSONALITY workshop she likes to call the "anti-workshop".

24 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988

Partner Update

 Women Entrepreneurs Mark 25th Anniversary
of the Passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988
 
Washington, D.C - October 25th marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 in the United States. The legislation, designated as H.R. 5050 – for the equality it set out to establish – was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
23 Oct 2013 Written by janisk In

The Lonely Life of an Entrepreneur

Thought Leader Blog

I am a solo entrepreneur. I am the only employee of my company, and aside from a talented team on consultants, I work alone. I run my business out of a home office, and because of this, I am alone much of the time.

Alone, both physically and mentally.

When I grab a fresh cup of coffee in the morning, there is no prospect of anyone else being in the “office” kitchen also refreshing their mug. When I take a bathroom break, there isn’t a chance of bumping into anyone else in the hallway with whom to share a quick quip or bit of office gossip. And when I have a problem or idea that requires some “noodling,” I can’t pop my head into a co-worker’s space and run something by them.

22 Oct 2013 Written by maryellent In

The Three “V” Communication Continuum Strategy

Thought Leader Blog Post

Underdstanding The Three “V” Communication Continuum Strategy For Greater Success

Regardless how intelligent you are, your success depends on your ability to communicate effectively.  

To do so you must first realize that there are different CHANNELS of communication; and that you must master each of these CHANNELS.

21 Oct 2013 Written by Yasmine In

Testimonials: Your Secret Weapon to Market Domination

Thought Leader Blog Post


We are all social creatures, social proof gives us validation and every single business Chic CEO needs to use this!

Brand associations grow out of consumer experiences with a brand and that those experiences with a brand are linked to our memory in an unconscious way. "The psychology of consumer behavior," Ryan T. Howell, Ph.D says "it is when we as consumers recall a brand, not only are the features and benefits, but also our feelings associated with a brand. You can use customers' feelings about YOUR brand to boost sales by properly implementing testimonials into your marketing strategy."

16 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Amex Open Forum: You Can't Always Do It All

I hear busy entrepreneurs say things all the time like “Instead of getting a bookkeeper, I'll just enter everything into Quickbooks myself” or “I’ll just save the money I would have spent on a designer and use Photoshop to create an ad.” But, when it comes down to it, they spend so much more time than what the project is worth.
 
In the video, You Can't Always Do It All featured on the American Express Inside Successful Small Business series, Jessica was so right that it’s a fallacy that time is money. Time is not money. In fact one of my favorite quotes by Carl Sandburg is: “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
 
What I interpret the quote to mean and what Jessica said are the same. Your time is more important than money for precisely the fact that you cannot make more of it even though time is often spent as if it were money.
 
As a busy entrepreneur with limited financial resources it seems intuitive that you can just save costs by doing the work yourself. No one said it was going to be easy, right? But, you know what  - you can’t do it all. And if you think that you can – you will drive yourself crazy because there’s always more to be done.
 
16 Oct 2013 Written by chicceo In

Insurance is Sexy

Wait, what? Oh you heard me, hot stuff. 

Business owners rarely stop to assess their need for insurance because they don't think that it's as sexy as all of the other areas of their business. I'm here to tell you - that's just not the case, sister.
 
• What's sexier than peace of mind? If you own a retail shop, go into other people's homes to work with them, or you are just a general consultant - having business insurance will give you some reassurance that you are doing what's right for you and your clients. 
 
• What's sexier than being protected? We use seatbelts, sunscreen, knee pads, etc. We protect ourselves so that we live longer, live healthier, and look better. Your business deserves that too!! Getting insurance is like sunscreen for your business. Use it everyday. 
 
• What's sexier than buying shoes? Insurance isn't that expensive and leaves you more money to buy shoes. Simple. 
 
Get sexy - get insurance for your biz. Our friends at KTL Business Insurance are so excited to help you find the best way to insure your biz so you are totally protected. JUST GET A QUOTE so you see what I mean - it's affordable and you'll feel so much better. 
 
Now go break in those new shoes. 




15 Oct 2013 Written by KB In

Developing Leaders Requires Content That Rises Above

Thought Leader Blog Post
1
Too much information, too much noise is not good for productivity or developing leaders. And for learning professionals, the task of getting the right information and knowledge to the corporate leaders amidst the cacophony of news and inputs makes the task even more daunting.

Our research* completed earlier this year revealed that as much as 80% of people are struggling to ‘fit’ everything into the working week which now extends well beyond the old 9-5, Monday through Friday period. Many (55%) are distracted frequently throughout the work-day with more than half unable to disregard these distractions and get on with the job.

15 Oct 2013 Written by rebekah In

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business

Thought Leader Blog Post
1
Starting a business can be scary; there is no doubt about it. When you finally decide to take the plunge, and quit your cushy, full-time job with benefits to create your own way in the world, it can be terrifying, isolating and exciting, all at the same time. It probably feels like you are jumping out of a plane with no parachute. Yet, the only way to know if your idea will work is to just go for it, and hope for the best.

14 Oct 2013 Written by LauraRenner In

A Sure Fire Way To Get Good Employees

Thought Leader Blog Post

Recently, I’ve spoken with a few business owners who are considering positioning themselves as gateways to bigger companies. What do I mean by that? Consider this case study in a textbook I once read (I recognize not all case studies are real but the point still resonates):

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