Adopt a Startup Mentality to Freshen Your Business Practices

Capturing the entrepreneurial spirit of a progressive startup company can benefit businesses of all sizes. Even massive corporations can learn from upstarts that transcended their humble beginnings in home offices and meager corporate plazas to exceed investor expectations. Not everyone can make money hand over fist like a Facebook or eBay, but these wildly successful startups remind all business leaders, work at home moms, and direct sellers about what it takes to be successful in today’s digital business world. Here are ways to adopt a new startup mentality to freshen your business practices.

startup mentality to freshen your business practices

Channel Your Youth

Corporations tend to feel, well…corporate. The office can get stiff and the florescent light glare can be stifling. Companies with a startup mindset keep things light, fun and looking toward the future. Who can argue with having a pool table or video game setup in the break room? But it’s really more about fostering curious, collaborative thought to lead companies beyond mission statements and outdated methods. Forbes contributor Josh Linkner says “curiosity” tops his list of core philosophies that successful startups use to break the mold. Linkner should know. The venture capital firm leader helped orchestrate four startups in the last 20 years. The curiosity of young entrepreneurs or youthful thinkers can inspire and guide entire teams of people, especially when innovative thinking is paramount.

Personalize Products or Services

Startups have the remarkable ability to make their service more personal than corporate. Pandora, the personalized Internet music provider, has fostered a deep brand loyalty by maintaining the basic model of allowing end-users to control their experience with the product. The result, the company says, is end-users whose “musicological DNA” is available on their laptops, smartphones tablets and TVs. Inc. magazine says Pandora is slated to raise as much as $231 million this year in a new stock sale as it exceeds 50 million users. A company profile in The New York Times cited its “ability to harness intense loyalty from users” to grow from its humble inception of only $1.5 million in angel investment into an Internet behemoth.

Consider Your Model’s Evolution

Transitions with new technology require precision to succeed. In 2010, flower retailer FTD celebrated its 100th anniversary. What began around the turn of the 20th Century as an innovative fresh flowers delivery service startup has evolved today into one of the most tech-savvy home delivery brands. According to The Street, 95 percent of customers order flowers with FTD on their website. That success didn’t happen overnight. FTD explains that as more competitors entered their gift-giving market, it kept pace by offering partner florists “state-of-the-art technology modules such as delivery and accounting integration, gift card options and marketing solutions.” There’s a lesson there about how businesses should remember their roots.

‘Flatter’ Means More Creative

In a recent fastcompany.com article, branding and design specialist Emily Heyward says startups provide less corporate hierarchy. That means more opportunity for the higher-ups to join their peers in the creative process. Larger companies should keep this in mind. As Heyward says, the creative process of multiple approvals and dozens of meetings can seem like Chutes & Ladders in the office place. In today’s world, who has time to waste playing games? Companies of all sizes (including work at home moms with their own businesses) can take some of the ingredients that go into cooking up successful startups and apply them in their own workplace. Perhaps a little touch of startup spirit is just what it takes to solve a major corporate issue.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Planning Ahead Your To-Do List

Today’s Quick Tip Tuesday is brought to us by Erin, a successful work at home mom with a jewelry business*. Her tip? Planning ahead your to-do list.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Planning ahead your to-do list

Erin’s advice is this: take 5-10 minutes before bed every night to plan your to-do list for the following day. Doing so will set your mind at ease because you’ll know what you need to do tomorrow, and it will, literally, be planned out.

The other fantastic thing about doing this is that because it’s already made, as soon as you wake up, you can hit the ground running. AND, she says, with small children, it’s hard to know when you’ll be able to be productive and actually get work done. Sometimes, your kids need extra cuddles or stay home from school sick, or generally mess up your schedule.

Planning ahead your to-do list gives you a very real idea of what you can do when you get 10-15 minute pockets of time between kid interruptions. While the toddler is eating lunch, you know exactly which phone call you should make. Is the baby napping? Finish your invoices or put in your orders. All of those little things add up to a productive day, and you don’t waste those precious few minutes wondering what you could be doing.

Quick Tip Tuesday!

 

*Check out Erin’s Premier business page at www.JewelryErin.com, access code: Erin.

Etsy Seller Spotlight: Juncture9

I’m sharing another Etsy Seller Spotlight today, this one on Teresa at Juncture9, a jewelry designer.

Etsy seller spotlight: juncture9

How Etsy Helped My Jewelry Business Grow

When I was asked to write this guest post about my Etsy business I was quite excited!  I am just getting my feet wet in the world of blogging and I appreciate this opportunity. Thank you Today’s Work at Home Mom!  You will definitely be asked to return the favor.

Hello, I am Teresa Walsh, interior designer by day and jewelry designer by night and weekends.  Let me tell you a little about myself.  I am from St. Louis, MO, where I currently reside.  I have also lived in Chicago, IL – twice!  I have been an interior designer for the past 25 years.  All of my work in commercial design – office, healthcare, government and facilities work.  About 20 years ago the jewelry bug hit me.  I would see pieces at art fairs and say to myself – “I could do that”.  After some time I pushed myself and took some jewelry making classes and never looked back.  Over the years I made jewelry for family and friends and also made a number of sales.  But in 2010  I was at a juncture in my life and I realized I really wanted to focus more on my jewelry – fill a creative void that needed to be filled.  One day a friend at work suggested I open a shop on Etsy.  Etsy was new to me, but once I checked it out – I was hooked.  I knew that this was something that I wanted to do.  So, in January of 2010 I opened my Etsy shop –  Juncture9.

Most of the pieces in my shop are beaded using Czech glass beads  (I have a bit of an obsession with them).  I also use lampwork beads, paper beads and Swarovski crystal.  I have also incorporated my love of photography into my jewelry.  I take photos and create pendants, bracelets and key chains.  It is a nice way of capturing a memory!  Custom work has also been a big percentage of my business.  Some of the custom work that I have done – bridal party jewelry, necklace/bracelet/earring sets, rosaries, photo pendants – have been the most enjoyable to do.  There is something about meeting with someone (or via messages with Etsy) collaborating and then delivering his or her vision.  I guess I approach custom work like I approach an interior design project!

Etsy Seller Spotlight: Juncture9

From the start I realized that Etsy was a perfect fit for me.  A lot of people dream of having a brick and mortar shop to sell their goods  – I know that I did.   What I found with Etsy, it allows you to sell your items to a broader spectrum of people – worldwide.  I have sold my jewelry to people in my own metropolitan area all the way to Australia.  Their format is easy to use and is being updated all of the time to grow with requests or functional changes that make it easier for the sellers as well as the buyers.  Etsy also has a great community and great resources.  If you have a question on listing your items,  photographing your items, pricing your items, etc.  They have an article or forum about it!  I have also taken classes on starting a jewelry business, photographing your items and pricing your items from local resources as well.  The Internet, of course, is also a great resource as well.  There will always be new things to learn.  Etsy is always looking for these new things to help you and your business move forward.

I do have to say, Juncture9 would not be where it is today without the love and support of family and friends.  I feel   it isn’t a bad thing to ask for help.  It is a busy world we live in and sometimes a little support  can really make a difference.

I eased into the world of jewelry making and I feel Etsy really helped my business grow.  There is always room to grow though and I plan on making jewelry for many years to come.   I am looking forward to see the evolution of Etsy and Juncture9  throughout the years to come!

juncture9 2

Find Teresa at her Etsy shop, Facebook,  Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Be More Productive Working From Home

Kari at Driskotech is sharing a SUPER easy tip she learned on how to be more productive working at home. Check this out.


What do you think? Do you do this already, or are you going to try it?

Quick Tip Tuesday is just what it sounds like…a super quick way to make your life easier, more manageable, more organized, more SOMETHING. Simple, yet effective. Ingenious even. If you love it, pin and share it!

quick tip tuesday: carpool secrets (looking like you've got it together)

Etsy Seller Spotlight: Alma Boheme

For the next few weeks, I’m going to be featuring Etsy sellers. They’ll be answering some questions about how and why they do what they do with their shops on Etsy. First up on the Etsy Seller Spotlight: Alma Boheme.

Etsy seller spotlight: Alma Boheme

What do you sell? Do you make everything or find it somewhere else?

My shop is a joint collaboration of both my husband and I, our shop is full of handmade wool and wood accessories. In our shop Alma Boheme you will find unique handmade knitted accessories from bags to scarfs I mostly designed. I select only the highest quality yarns, mainly from Peru, Uruguay and South Africa.

The wood items my husband designs and crafts are rustic seasonal pieces for the home or garden. He carefully selects  his wood from reclaimed pallets, mostly Oak, Pine, Fir and Poplar.

Etsy seller spotlight: Alma Boheme

What made you decide to open an etsy shop vs. selling in a brick and mortar shop?

My husband and I both have created wood and wool items at home for our own pleasure for many years. I was taught to knit at a young age by my mother, but I only started to take it seriously after my children were born. Then I started to make gifts for friends and family. At the time I was a working full time at a corporate office. Anyone could find me knitting while I was on the phone or, any moment my hands were free, but it was never enough for me.  Unhappy with the 9 to 5  corporate life (in reality 7 to 7 when you factor in transportation time), I decided to make a change and bring the once distant dream of working for myself to reality. Opening an Etsy shop seemed like a simple and easy way to start, and it was. I quickly became evident that the hard part would be the marketing and making connections online.

Even when I decided to open an Etsy shop, those initial weeks it was mostly for my friends. At that time I moved to a new city and having an online shop meant that not only could I take my shop with me – but I could easily take my customers too!

Do you do custom items, and do you prefer ready-to-sell or custom (sell then make) orders?

We both enjoy making custom items, we take it as an artistic challenge, as well as the biggest compliment for people to trust in our creativity. I encourage customers to choose their own color and a design variation of the item; make it their own. My husband makes  many items with a personalized touch with customers choosing special wording, sizes,  and colors. Many special requests have sparked completely new ideas for us, and forced us to think and create “outside the box”.

My shop has not reached the point where all my items are ready to sell since most of my knitted items are one of a kind and take time to make. However, whenever I am not completing orders I design and create new items and remake items so that they are ready to sell. I believe there are  many people who like when items are readymade because they don’t need to wait a long time for shipping. We make sure that we have identified the items in our shop that are ready to ship, and have production times listed for the other items. When we do get custom orders we make it a priority to keep in contact with our customer to advise them of the progress and shipping of the item.

What advice would you give someone thinking about opening an Etsy shop?

My shop has been open for a little bit over year, but I can say I have learned a lot.

Before opening the shop ask yourself if you truly have fun doing it, and have a clear understanding of why you want to do it. For us our passion stems from the fun of creating not necessarily making a profit from it. We never want this to become a burden, but a way for us to share our creations.  Ask what makes you “YOU” , what sets you apart and share your story. Customers like a personal touch and want to know more about who they are buying from. You are your ‘brand’, so your bio, your items, and your pictures need to be cohesive and styled to represent you correctly.

One of the most important selling tools on Etsy is to take a great picture, because it is the only way for customers to experience your product. The picture will not only show the customer what your product looks like but it can also convey your shop’s specific style. Look at catalogs from large retailers and see how the way the take their photos creates a consistent recognizable style.

Where there any surprises, things you didn’t expect when you opened your shop?

I was not expecting the shop to grow like it did in a year. I feel humbled by the friends and connections I have made through the shop. A nice review in our shop always makes our day, its a great motivator to keep going at it.

I was also surprise how big social media plays a part in getting your shop out there. It is a challenge to find  ways to promote yourself online. The key, I think,  is to get creative with it and ask your friends to help market it.

How did you decide on pricing?

Pricing is one of the most difficult parts of having your own shop. We continually struggle with putting a price on our items because they are completely handmade, there is no formula we use. To come up with a price we take into consideration the cost of materials, and the design and labor hours. We have tried to use the formulas suggested by Etsy and other sites for handmade items and the price is always comes up much higher than what we actually price it.

The true value of a handmade item is priceless, so coming up with a selling price is tricky, but we try to find an affordable price in the end.

Check out Alma’s shop, her Facebook page, and her Twitter

 

Ways To Relax When Working From Home

There is nothing better than avoiding the daily commute to and from the office by either having a fully work from home job or being allowed to work your job from home on specific days by your boss. Working from home is great for many reasons, but it can be just as stressful, if not more, as working in an office as many people feel that they have to prove, and more importantly show, that they working even harder than they would under the watchful eye of their manager. This can lead to working from home being difficult and you needing to unwind at the end of the day or, if you can manage it, during work hours. My top ways to relax when working from home are as follows.

How to relax when working from home.

  • Shopping

No, not food shopping, the shopping used to relax yourself while working from your own home office, sitting room or even bed is spending your hard earned cash on something irrelevant or an item that you have been after for a while. I find that firing up Ebay or Amazon and spending a relaxing couple of hours browsing the sites before settling on something eases the tension of putting in the extra work while at home to justify the fact that I did not have to travel into the office for the day.

  • Gaming

This can take many forms with either playing the standard games of Minesweeper, Solitaire or Hearts on your machine or web games available all over the internet both excellent ways to wind down for 4/5 minutes while you’re still busy with work. Sometimes while dealing with stressful customers or even jealous colleagues on communicator who are stuck in the office a quick game of cards or Pac-Man online is a great way to recompose yourself.

If you have a little more downtime for some gaming action, then I find online gambling to be a perfect way to relax, especially when I win some cash! I like to play online bingo when I get the opportunity as the game is automated and is relaxing to watch, while taking a relatively short time to complete. Playing online slots is also a greatly relaxing thing to do while staying sat at your computer and if you can manage a 15-20 minute break at minimum then a few hands of Texas Hold’em poker is also refreshing and gets me back in the right frame of mind for more work. You can play on my favorite site, just click here.

  • Exercise

Exercising is known to release ‘feel good’ endorphins in your brain so if you’re suffering from a lack of motivation or are feeling lethargic, possibly as you’ve got the cover pulled over your head after going back to bed with the laptop sitting on the floor to show as online to your colleagues (not that I’ve ever done this!), then five or ten minutes of exercise – such as some sit ups, crunches or even turning the music up loud and dancing around like a loon – helps you feel less stressed, more awake and completely relaxed and reinvigorated.

  • Baking

This is one of my favourite ways to unwind while I’m meant to be working from home as I have a tasty treat as a reward at the end of it. I bring my laptop into the kitchen and leave it on the table with the sounds on the communicator turned up loud so I can hear if anyone is looking for me and then throw myself into baking myself some cupcakes following the recipes on Fantasia Cakes that I can sit down and pig out on once they’re done. The best part is that I don’t even have to share them with my colleagues! Good times!

How do you relax at home when you’re working from your home office?

Thank you to ButlersBingo.com for sponsoring this post. Amazon link is an affiliate.

How to Start Off Strong in a New Business

I went to college to be a high school teacher.  I was taught, trained, and educated on how to do that job.  I was given many opportunities to practice it before I actually had to do it all by myself.

Four children and ten years later I found myself in front of a new job working in network marketing.  There was no college course to pass before I started.  No practicing.  It was sink or swim!   Jump or fall!  Hit the ground running or watch from the sidelines!  As fate would have it, I found myself amongst the best of the best.  The leaders of our company are my up-line and I was able to learn from them.  Very quickly! So today, I’m going to share my guidance on how to start off strong in a new business.

how to start off strong in a new business

I was able to get a handle on what I had gotten myself into with just a few key tips:

1 – WHY?  I quickly created my why.  Why had I decided to join take advantage of this once in a lifetime business opportunity?  There is no right or wrong reason but there needs to be a reason.  That reason can change as you grow your business.  Your why will be the reason to keep going when you’re not sure you did the right thing.  When the doubt creeps in, go to the why!

2 – Enthusiasm and confidence!  Right away, announce to your friends and family what you are doing.  You are so excited to share your new business opportunity and you can’t wait to tell them all about it!  In my particular company, Rodan + Fields, we have many success stories to use as examples.  Whether it’s a nurse that retired her husband, a stay-at-home Mom that’s supporting mission trips, or an already successful business owner that saw the power in partnering with our DRs…. The stories are out there to be used while you create your own success story!

3 – Create a list.  For me, it was a list of everyone I knew with skin!  Whatever the product or business you need a network.  You need a dream team of names that you think would be awesome as business partners.  You need to grow your social network contacts.  Create a list and grow that list every day.  Use that list and go back to #2!

4 – Goals.  Not just empty goals like I want to make a lot of money.  Instead use a method I taught my high school students… SMART goals.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound.  I encourage my new team members to have 1 short term SMART goal (first 30 days) and 1 longer term SMART goal (6 months).

5 – Get organized.  It’s easier to start organized than it is to organize all of your unorganized stuff.  Everything from business card contacts to receipts for tax purposes.  Have folder, binders, notebooks, hi-liters… whatever helps you stay on top of things.  I’m a teacher at heart and there’s nothing more exciting than new school supplies!  Binders, pens, dividers, clean notebooks!  It’s worth the trip to the office store to feel ready to go!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly I believe a good attitude can get you anywhere.  I coach my team on two things: patience and faith.  I am full of faith, the patience department lacks a bit.  However I fully believe that it’s not a question of IF it’s going to happen.  Instead it’s a question of WHEN it’s going to happen.  I have been disappointed, discouraged, even hurt but I always keep moving forward.  I have faith that I am creating my success and am patient enough to let it happen when it’s supposed to!

Jamie Walker is a work-at-home Mama of four little people ages 7 and under.  She has always enjoyed teaching and helping others reach their goals. Jamie is a Level 4 Executive Consultant with Rodan + Fields.  When she’s not working with her team to help them grow she’s trying to convince her husband she needs to hire a maid… oh and someone to deliver Starbucks on demand!  Connect with Jamie on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Starting off strong in a new business

Turning a Blog Hobby into a Career

My blog started as a requirement for school. After the class was over, it transformed into a hobby that led me on a new career path as a work at home mom. The transformation from hobby to career has had its ups and downs, but I’m happy I stuck with it. I am able to work from home with a very flexible schedule that allows me to spend more time with my family while also earning an income. Along the way I’ve learned a few things about turning a blog hobby into a career and am I’m going to share them with you today.

Focus on what you enjoy doing

When starting a blog, you have complete control over the content. Focus on what you are passionate about and enjoy doing. For some it’s cooking, for others it is DIY projects, photography, writing, etc. Find that passion and embrace it in your blog.

Don’t be afraid to change

If you realize along the way what you’re doing no longer fits you, change your path. Depending on what the change is either start a new blog or rebrand your current one. Take that new idea and run with it.

Network, network, network

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make connections online. In today’s world, people are connected like they never have been before. Get out there and network with as many people as you can. Connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, whatever. Be friendly and authentic. Help people where you can and in the future, you might find a few of these people will help you when the time comes.

Find your balance

It’s very easy to get sucked into the online world, especially when you first start blogging. You want to grow your blog and connect with as many people as you can, but it takes a lot of time. Find a balance between the online world and the real world. Stepping away from the computer and phone while you spend time with your family won’t hurt your blog or your future career plans.

Be patient

Turning your blog hobby into a career takes time. You need to establish yourself in the online world and make connections. For most of us, we won’t start making money right away. In fact, it could take a year or more for you to start seeing opportunities to make money. Be patient and keeping working. It will pay off in the long run.

Jessica Torres is the chief cocktail creator at One Martini. When not playing bartender in her kitchen or on the Internet, Jessica can be found improving her food and drink photography, spending time with her family or attempting to nap. Jessica also works as a freelance writer at allParenting and Savvy Sassy Moms. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter where she shares even more about cocktails.

Balancing School, Kids and a Full-Time Job: Yes, You Can Do It

If you work from home full-time and have young children to take care of, you might think going back to school is not an option. But that is not the case. According to WorkingMother.com, more than 60 percent of students earning a degree online are women, most of them over the age of 25. Balancing school, kids and a full-time job can be difficult, but with motivation and the right strategy, you can do it.

How to balance school, kids, and a full-time job

Time Management

This should probably go without saying, but the only way this is going to work is if you manage your time properly. If you have young children, you won’t be able to devote hours at a time to your studies. There are too many distractions and kids have too many needs, and you will only wind up frustrated and unable to focus.

A great piece of advice from The Bump: Break up the work in sections. Instead of watching an hour-long lecture while the kids are nagging, watch 20 minutes and then hang with the kids for 10 minutes. Get them a snack, change a diaper and put on a new show. That can buy you another 20-30 minutes straight to watch or work. Moms can complete an hour lecture in an hour and twenty minutes by doing this, rather than it taking two hours with constant stopping and no focus at all.

Focus

Another important aspect of time management is focus. If you’re not understanding the material because you’re distracted, it does not matter how much time you set aside. One of the most difficult parts of online learning is how easy it is to shop, chat and surf instead. Use a tool like RescueTime that tracks what you are doing and enables you to block online distractions.

Reduce Stress

Seek and spend time with other student/working moms who are going through the same things. Consider sharing babysitting expenses a few nights a week so you can get work done. Having an in-person support group can really help, especially when your classmates are all online. Visit a site like CollegeOnline LLC for more tips and resources about being a successful online college student in nursing.

Be Realistic

Don’t take on too much at once. Set realistic goals about how many classes you can juggle with the rest of your schedule. Plan your daily routine; figure out how many hours are left after work and taking care of the kids, then determine how many hours you will need to devote to each class. And do not forget budgeting time for yourself and sleeping.

No one is saying this is going to be a cake walk, but you can do it. Maintain the right attitude and put a good strategy in place, and you can get that degree for your nursing profession.

Five Things To Know About The First Year With An Online Business

Starting a new business is an exciting prospect! One of the things that we’ve found in beginning our own business and in helping others launch their new businesses is that business owners have no idea what to expect that first year. It’s easy to get thrown for a loop – or ten – with your new business. Here’s a great list of five things you should expect to encounter in your first year with an online business.

twahm online business first year

1. Ramping up takes time Once you’ve had your big idea, it’s easy to expect things to all fall into place. However, that likely won’t be the case. There will be a myriad of things you’ll have to decide before you even get started. Your brand message, your imagery, your target audience are all things you’ll have to take time to strategize. Don’t be discouraged that the time from when you decide to get started and when you actually get started is a little longer than you’d like.

2. Startup costs will exist To start any business, even one that doesn’t have the costs of a brick and mortar store, takes some capital. At a minimum, you’ll likely need to pay for hosting for a website, a logo, and possibly some marketing materials. You also should consider if you need to create a formal legal entity such as an LLC. Investing in your business can be the key to making sure your business actually takes off. An online business website that is hard to navigate or looks like spam can easily turn potential customers off.

3. You need more business than just friends and family I have no doubt that your friends and family think your idea is great. They likely will support you and even buy some of your products or services when you start. However, you can’t expect them to be your sole source of revenue once you’re off the ground. It’s unreasonable to expect them to buy something from you every single month. Your customer base needs to be larger than just the people you already know. To get this, you’ll need a marketing and/or advertising strategy to reach people who will be likely to become repeat customers.

4. People will unfollow you Social media can be a huge driver for many businesses. New followers can be extremely exciting! While it’s something no business owner likes to see, the truth is: people will unfollow you online. This can happen for a number of reasons. Perhaps they’ve decided to only follow friends and family. Perhaps they were only following you because they’re playing a numbers game and looking for a follow back. You may never know the reason that someone unfollowed you but take heart: it happens to every person and every business. There’s no reason to take it personally. Just keep on chugging away with your awesome content.

5. You owe taxes Hooray! You just made a big sale. That money is all yours, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. If your business is making sales, you owe taxes on that money. One of the things we’ve seen with many small businesses is that they forget to take taxes into account when they set their prices. It can be tempting to set your prices low to make sales. However, you need to be sure that after the cost of materials, labor and taxes, that you’re still making a profit off these sales. Without planning for this, it can be a shock when the government comes knocking on your door.

Have you started your own business? If so, what would you add to this list?

Kristin Zaslavsky is co-owner of Eli | Rose Social Media, LLC, a small business online marketing firm. Find more small business and social media wisdom on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.