Posts tagged ‘entrepreneurship’

August 17, 2013

Same old, same old? Don’t let that be.

by Kate W. Hall

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This popped up from a friend’s feed on Facebook the other day and rings so true. What we allow to happen every day is up to us.

When is the last time I questioned why/who/how?

Whether in a corporate or entrepreneurial role, keeping this mantra front-of-mind is key.

I once knew a project manager who confided in me, “I get all the tough, detailed projects thrown my way because they know I’ll say yes.”

I responded, “If they’re not interesting or meaningful to you, given you have a choice without risking your job, why say yes?”

When I owned Richmondmom.com people would often comment (particularly early-on), “I think that’s already being done” to which I responded “but not like we’ll do it!” The new owners seem to hold that same fresh outlook, and I love it.

When I first drafted Richmond Rocks I thought: I’ve never written a book before, but now’s as good a time as any to start. If I allowed negative thinking to halt my dream, this book that is now in the hands of thousands of Richmond kids simply wouldn’t exist.

If we allow mediocrity to persist and resist our inner desires to build our dreams, we’re allowing frustration & creative suppression to continue.
No behavior/statement/sentiment has to continue on unless we want to let it–not competitors, nay-Sayers and most of all, doubters.

June 13, 2013

After the Business Sale

by Kate W. Hall

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Several of my friends (including my boss) have been watching me this last six weeks or so since selling Richmondmom.com. I’ve written a bit about life after entrepreneurship but haven’t divulged much.

I think they’re waiting for me to break down, crack-up or dive maniacally head-first into another project. Full disclosure: The third is likely true-I’m in the midst of moving my family of five during the last week of school. Please send wine.

The truth is: it was time. When I was able to sit at the closing table, sign the idea that became the home to dozens of writers and two hundred thousand annual readers away without tears, it was time. I needed my life back as for a couple of years there it wasn’t quite my own.

The blog, out of necessity when I lost my job became a business of which I was primary sales rep, bill-payer, recruiter, marketer & PR-rep. Even with a great team it came down to me being in two places at the same time & with a demanding family and full-time job it began to take its toll.

Plus, what about those Richmond Rocks books I wrote & barely had time to read in schools as I love to do?

Thousands were donated to charity. Scores of connections were made, ideas shared, lives touched through good deeds on the blog.

Missing the team & our fun advertisers is the toughest part, yet we still email & comment on each other’s posts.

I feel peaceful & hopeful about transitioning my blog to new owners and starting a new chapter (in our new-to-us home!) and excited about new adventures ahead.

May 27, 2013

Motivation

by Kate W. Hall

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It cannot be forced. It must be felt. Inner drive, light, words to inspire must be written, not forced.

When asked “How did you do it?” As I often am I respond “it’s passion, filling a niche, responding to a need with purpose.”

That is how a show-stopping (200k+ visitors to a hyper-local, unique and award-winning) blog is made, not born.

October 7, 2012

Investing in your Brand: Not Optional

by Kate W. Hall

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We’re often asked to promote new businesses (pro bono) on Richmondmom.com and when appropriate, when we have the space and our team isn’t super-stretched, we’re happy to oblige.

After all, I was a start-up five years ago with few resources and I’ve always felt compelled to pay the kindness I received from others forward. Here’s the thing that’s tough for us to verbalize to a brand-new business owner: one pro-bono ad on a blog with 150,000+ unique annual visitors sounds super-sexy, but truth be told it may not net you one sale.

True branding–staying power–takes an immense amount of investment, content, sources, links, and most importantly–relationships and proven customer service.

I’m not trying to be cold here; anyone who knows me knows I’m a bleeding heart. On this issue however it’s been a long time brewing in my message to new business owners: if you can’t afford to advertise or hire a sales rep (or be willing to market yourself), you likely aren’t ready to launch your business.

The first two years of my entrepreneurial journey were spent networking at women’s groups and Chamber of Commerce events, talking with small groups of parents at any (every) opportunity, and yes spending thousands of dollars on advertising, primarily on the web. Note: I’m not saying this because we derive our revenue from advertising. we’re a niche site and there are countless ways to market a brand.

I didn’t make a cent the first two years I was in business, and I was willing to make that physical, emotional and financial investment to make our blog polished, branded, stoic in the sea of come-again blogs that don’t stick.

I did everything myself at first from knocking on potential clients’ doors to mailing follow-up notes and business cards to standing for hours on end at children’s fairs in the hazy Richmond summer heat. Was I exhausted? YES! Was I frustrated? HELL YES.

If you’re not willing to do that, it’s like launching a business and going out for a swing. It may be a while before the breeze whips through your hair, but with careful investment of time and money + a boatload of passion, it’ll click.

September 1, 2012

Sacrifice for Life

by Kate W. Hall

I’m re-posting this as a reminder that entrepreneurial life is a wave we ride–rolling back occasionally into full-time “9-5″ is not an admission to failure but a part of the plan to keep our dreams alive.

Sacrifice for Life.

August 2, 2012

Good Things Come

by Kate W. Hall

Good Things Come

Within the last week we reached 100,000 unique visitors this year on our blog. That was our entire count for 2011, and we’re on track for a 50%+ increase to over 150,000 in 2012!

Who would have ever thought a little spark of an idea at my kitchen table would be burning like an inferno five years later?

Thanks to the Richmondmom.com team for their amazing contributions & helping us get this far!

July 10, 2012

What’s our Disability?

by Kate W. Hall

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On a recent water taxi into the city of Boston, our captain’s t-shirt immediately caught my eye.

So simply stated, rudely ironed-on, begging the reader to absorb the message while soaking in the hot morning sun: it’s telling of our success on our blog and with our readers and clients.

Positivity. (Is that a word?!) it’s in the way we approach topics, respond to readers’ questions, coaborate with charities, brainstorm with our clients.

No disability of disposition here.

June 18, 2012

Project Management has Helped us Reach over 1M Page Views

by Kate W. Hall

I had just received my Project Management Professional certification in June before my company (LandAmerica) befell massive layoffs and ultimately bankruptcy late 2011.

Richmondmom.com was a fun hobby and something to keep my head busy at night, but not a focus until that pink slip arrived.

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It was raining with no post-storm rainbow in site. Either way, it was a painfully emotional & financial time of my family. Losing half our income & having the bulk of savings tied up in a 401k plan did not make for a strong safety net.

One thing I’m extraordinarily grateful for is that project management training which helped me stay focused once the decision to launch Richmondmom.com as a business was made.

“Requirements” are the building block of any project; what was missing in the marketplace & how could we deliver? What tools did I need to make this happen? For starters, a professional web designer and social media education were paramount.

“Risks”: falling flat on my face, not growing our readership & advertisers, not seeing a return on my investment: not options.

To avoid all of these, I made a plan & remained über-focused in listening to what readers & advertisers wanted.

1) Readership: Capture our audience’s desires via Google Analytics & increase unique visitor growth 20%+ each year.

2) Advertising: Innovate & continue to offer options that aren’t readily available elsewhere.

How could I prevent any PM’s nightmare, “Scope Creep?” The site content had to grow, but we couldn’t be all things to all people. This has continued to be a challenge as our reach has expanded & requests to post information flood in.

“Team” is one aspect I couldn’t afford the luxury of early on, but as we grew, hiring smart, creative folks to manage various aspects o this growing blog has been a win-win.*

Admittedly I do not always follow the plan & tend to veer off for fun projects but for the most part, this PM stuff has served us well! The pot of gold at the end of our rainbow also includes over 1M page views in 4 years, .5 million visits and almost 300,000 readers we’re thrilled to have stop by.

*More on this soon.

December 20, 2010

Try, try again. . .

by Kate W. Hall

Reading a great article from the Wall Street Journal digital network today on deciding when it’s time for Plan B reminded me of an important lesson that several entrepreneurial friends have shared with me:

If at first you don’t succeed, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Try, try again.

The business owners in this article are doing just that–and realizing greater results by changing their business plans.

Likewise, so many of my clients and I work together throughout an entire calendar year for this very reason to work on various ways of marketing their messages; this works well because it’s very difficult to knock a “one-hit-advertising-wonder” out of the park. If everyone could advertise somewhere once and have huge success, that advertising source would likely be so highly-priced as to squeeze some smaller or start-up businesses out of the market.

Although the article itself focuses on the business plan and changing that up if results aren’t seen, the same thing is true with marketing.

For example, if your social media plan isn’t working for you, try something new: we’re working with a client now to tap into the mommy blogger market as she never has before and growing her Twitter presence; both are helping greatly with SEO.

If your web ads aren’t providing the desired results, try surveying customers to find out what publications they read–perhaps their answers will surprise you.

In this economy, many high-end retailers have failed: this is the perfect time to diversify inventory and focus on services if the high-end schwag isn’t moving.

Making changes doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong, it just means working hard to try and do the right thing. So we work hard and try, try again.

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.

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