Archive for November, 2010

November 29, 2010

Death of a business=time for reflection

by Kate W. Hall

A friend and client recently closed the doors of her business which had been alive and kicking in Richmond for six years.

This sort of stopped me in my tracks as I started thinking: what causes the death of a business?

The owner, a mom entrepreneur much like me, put her determination, heart and soul into the business. She spent countless hours building her brand, minding the store, creating promotions and sites and coupons and. . .the thought of it just breaks my heart.

I did some research on why businesses fail and found a great article on Small Business Trends called 5 Reasons Why Start-Up Businesses Fail. And while she wasn’t a start-up, I think you’ll agree that these probably apply to businesses in every life cycle.

The first is the one that sticks with me the most, because people always say to me. “Oh that’s so cool you have your own business, you get to choose your own hours!” I often think: Yes, that means early before my kids get up, during the day, and often after they go to sleep at night, while I’m at the gym, while I’m watching the kids at gymnastics. . .seriously, entrepreneurs never really stop working.

Not developing a Life Plan-People start small businesses for many reasons. They hate their job. They need extra money. They always wanted to open an art gallery or bakery. The trouble is that too many people do not take the time to really think about what they want out of life first, and then build a business around that.  They also don’t think about what their life would be like as an entrepreneur. How long do you think you could physically sustain working 7 days per week? . . .You need to develop a life plan because you just do not want to start a business that is NOT a good business for you.

I’m not sure anyone could’ve prepared me for this life as an entrepreneur, and there are days when I’d like to bag it all for a paycheck, but the passion continues to drive me. I’ll revisit these pitfalls often to try and ensure the business stays alive, at least as long as I’d like it to.

November 16, 2010

No, not yet.

by Kate W. Hall

The most feared, hated, frustration-inducing phrase in my house with our kids is: “no, not yet.”

We have chore lists that allow our three kids to earn tokens they redeem weekly for cash, which amounts roughly to a few dollars each. The kids may buy whatever they wish with their “hard-earned” cash and outside of that they don’t receive much (in terms of wordly goods.)

I too have had to learn this lesson with my business. If at all possible I pay bills via PayPal, snatching my payment from my business checking account & whisking it away, never to be seen again. When there’s no more, there’s no more.

When I want something, like some great online ads or a site improvement or an iPad (our toys are always more expensive aren’t they?) I’ve got to have the cash in hand to buy what I want.

I get as frustrated as the kids do–“it takes sooooooo long!”and often it seems like forever, but it causes me to reflect on the purchase, ensure it’s not emotional (ooh we’ve got to sponsor this!) And that it will show a return for the business, not just make me feel good/excited/proud to see Richmondmom.com prominently somewhere to build the brand.

Often I change my mind by the time it takes to purchase. This inability to make lots of knee-jerk purchases I regret later. Like my boys and those Bakugan, thrown in the corner and long-forgotten.

November 15, 2010

Set a goal, reach it, then double it.

by Kate W. Hall

Today Richmondmom.com will reach nearly 10,000 visits. This was my monthly goal when I launched into entrepreneurship.

Today’s the 15th of the month.

I wondered at first how it would ever happen:

Would we provide content Richmond moms and families would seek?

How would we showcase Richmond events & information differently?

Could we possibly provide enough content, contests, meat to bring readers to us consistently?

Yes, yes, and yes.

Through collaboration, thought diversity and good old-fashioned elbow grease we’ve grown the site.

Hiring friend and creative Kate Semp was one of the best moves I ever made. Redesigning the site was another smart decision (a bit premature as it goes live 12/01/10 but I gotta good feeling about this one).

Inviting guest bloggers was another: more voices are always more to chew on.

We’ll continue to improve the site by listening to our readers–intently–and taking action. Then we’ll set higher goals.

November 14, 2010

A Valuable Meeting

by Kate W. Hall

I’m fortunate enough to be asked for my advice & guidance by new entrepreneurs quite often.

This week was no different. When I received an out-of-the-blue email from a Richmond woman starting her own site it was flattering that she’d like my input.

We met for lunch & talked about Richmondmom.com, my humble beginning (and current humble status for that matter!), taking it from concept to cradle, and how we’ve grown to the “toddler stage.”

I was able to share my mistakes, which are plentiful:

1. Not hiring a professional web designer from the start.

2. Not hiring someone to help me sooner.
3. Trusting that clients would pay on time & not having a back-up plan. (As my husband says “Notoriety is great but we can’t put it on the dinner table.”)

She asked fabulous questions, causing me to reflect & often only offering-up an “I don’t know” as a response. . .after all, I’m no expert, I’m still learning, too!

What I took away from our satisfying lunch together (literally & figuratively) was that I learned surely as much as this kind woman did, and that there still remains much to learn on this bumpy business-owner’s road. The time spent reflecting&  sharing was as valuable to me as I hope it was to this once-stranger from whom I expect much success.

November 9, 2010

Yes, you can.

by Kate W. Hall

Lately I’ve met with some amazing women who consistently say to me: “I can’t do what you do, the networking, relationships, the building.”

Yes, you can.

There is nothing special about me in that regard. when we’re in business for ourselves, we are positive, forward-thinking, collaborative, “always on.” In fact, most successful people build relationships that last, provide value, truly care.

Stop holding yourself back with self-applied labels, do whatever you dream of. You can.

November 7, 2010

What do you need to be more successful in 2011?

by Kate W. Hall

When reflecting back at 2010 now that we’re almost mid-way through November, it dawned on me: this year has been a great one for Richmondmom.com & Richmond Rocks.

We’ve grown our readership to over 10,000 unique visitors per month consistently, peaked at 17k hits in our highest month, and have increasingly grown our e-subscriber list. We’ve sold 2,000 Richmond Rocks books and are reprinting, and debuted in Richmond Grid as a print magazine. More importantly, we’ve helped our clients build their brands and reach more Richmond women while donating to non-profits in the Richmond community: thousands of dollars+.

So what’s next?

Being so fortunate to have grown this brand in super-supportive Richmond, VA I’ve had many women come forward and ask how I’ve done it. The answer is multi-faceted, but one that brings me back to this point always: we help each other build our businesses.

To this end we’re considering launching a half-day seminar at a low-cost to help fellow entrepreneurs build their brands. Primarily women, but we’re surely open to men in the audience, too! We’re planning sessions on social media, Twitter, public speaking, and whatever you tell us is most important!

 

Please take a second to answer a few questions & let us know your thoughts on what would help you move your business forward in 2011, and we’ll help you get there.

November 1, 2010

Speaking to 400 women was like a cocktail party. Really.

by Kate W. Hall

When I was invited to speak at the first-ever HCA Virginia Spirit of Women Girls Day Out on Friday, October 29, 2010 it was a bit overwhelming: why did they ask me? Was no one else available? Would I be able to entertain/inspire? It was such a compliment to be asked, yet still a daunting task.

I assembled some thoughts from the heart and the gut, invited my closest friends and family, and showed up in my prettiest dress. And it ended up being just like a cocktail party in my livingroom. Truly.

One of my dearest friends, Allison, suggested I tell a silly joke to start off, and it got everyone laughing. . from there on out, it was how/why/what was Richmondmom.com and how did I get here from there.

To be more specific:

There: a mom-of-three standing in November 2008 holding a pink slip.

Here: a mom-of-three who owns a business, Richmondmom.com with a site readership of of 112,000 since then, who is able to earn a living as an entrepreneur.

Key lessons if you missed it:

1) tons of support.

2) finding a team–for me, it was my running team.

3) having fun & reminding yourself that every day’s work counts

4) treating yourself: for me it’s with this guy: 

on television, of course. and occasionally while getting a massage.

5) do what no one says you can do. I wanted to write and publish Richmond Rocks within the same year. Some said it couldn’t be done. Why not?

6) give credit where credit is due: for me, it’s largely to my mom, who raised four of us single-handedly. We applauded her. We cried. It was the best gift I could ever give her, and I meant it.

7) laugh at yourself. Even when being bitten by a dog while on your morning run, roll with it. What else can ya do?

Bottom line: We are infinitely able to do far more than we can imagine. The women who came up and spoke with me personally mirrored this sentiment. I  knew they knew it about themselves, they just needed a little reminder. What do you want to do? I’d love to hear.

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